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5.0 out of 5 stars Pioneering Researcher, May 15, 2014
This review is from: Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer: Theory and Experiments (Paperback)
I had a copy of this book as well as two others by Lilly that I greatly treasured. After moving house more times than I care to count, I confess to having lost those volumes somewhere along the way. A pity because Lilly's work has always been an inspiration to me. He was a controversial and scholarly researcher who was not afraid to undertake research on a particular issue simply because it made his colleagues uneasy. LSD's potentially useful mental health applications and the value of complete sensory deprivation in a flotation tank to learn more about psychosis brought on by prolonged isolation made a lot of scientists treat Lilly as a pariah. That never deterred him. However, Dr. Lilly was ultimately most famous for his research in interspecies communications using captive wild Dolphins. His methods and procedures were scientifically impeccable but he came to realise that the Dolphins had a level of consciousness on a par with or superior to that of humans. The finding shocked him. The ethical implication of keeping a sentient species captive for his scientific convenience was clear to him: it was not acceptable. What he had learned from his work with the Dolphins in his specially designed tanks was that interspecies communication was not only feasible, it was inevitable once we stop assuming that animals are "inferior" to humans. At the time (early 1960s), the primary differences between Humans and Animals were the human invention of language and the use of tools. Starting in the late 60s and early 70s, however, it became apparent that animals are capable of creating both language and tools and had done so for a long time. As better field observation protocols developed, the assumptions based on unique human language and tool-making began to fall away. Much of the credit for that should go to Dr. Lilly. He had a brilliant mind and an independent spirit that refused to conform to other people's definitions of "normal" which was only a synonym for mediocrity in his book.
I am delighted that Programming and Metaprogramming is back in print. Some books should never go out of print.
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Initial post: May 15, 2014 6:06:04 AM PDT
Thanks for the wonderful review, and for sharing some of John's history. It's a great pleasure for us to bring this book back - definitely let me know what you think of the edition!
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