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Intended Evolution: How Selection of Intelligence Guides Life Forward Paperback – April 15, 2015
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About the Author
Dongxun Zhang is the creator of both the theory of intended evolution and the Intended Evolution Fitness system. Zhang is a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine (DAOM). He was one of the earliest licensed acupuncturists in Texas and has run an Oriental health clinic in Austin for the past 25 years. In 1997, he was recognized by the Sixth International Traditional Chinese Medicine Conference with the Yellow Emperor award.
Bob Zhang was born in China and moved to the United States at the age of ten. He went to middle school, high school, and college in Austin, Texas. He is married and has two children.
Editor David Kincade holds BS degrees in biology and economics and an MS in Oriental Medicine (MSOM). He practices Oriental Medicine in Austin, Texas.
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Top Customer Reviews
To begin with, the book's authors set the tone by not saying that Darwin's theory is inaccurate. It is just that Darwin and his theory of natural selection is evolving and needs to be updated because of, well…but...of course! Triple-I: Internal Intentional Intelligence.
Before you buy the book you should know that Intended Evolution is not entirely based on researched data, but more on Dongxun Zhang's theory of and extrapolation on the process of evolution that is meant to update and not replace current theories of evolution. Both authors, Dongxun and Bob, believe that their restricted use of "theory" in the general sense may lead to potential insights into various areas of the biological sciences. They also clearly state that bias for Creationism or Intelligent Design is counterproductive to understanding the process behind modification of life-forms over time.
The first few pages of the book quickly arouse the reader's interest when Dongxun and Bob Zhang reveal that they believe organisms can intentionally interact with nature in order to improve their own place in the universe. Later in the book they explain why to them it appears that today's world is safer with fewer threats from deadly predators and more comfortable, stable living spaces. This gives us as humans a unique historical opportunity to exercise our intelligence within a gym-like virtual environment in order to express self-modification for a longer healthier life span.
At this point in the book you might be inclined to quickly turn through the pages, searching for clues to a method for longevity. Unfortunately, you will only be reminded by the authors that the book is but a framework of ideas for discussion on the "why" intended evolution happens and that there is no step-by-step guide as to the "how" of it. Dongxun did, however, briefly mention that he created a mind-body fitness class based in Austin Texas called Intended Evolution Fitness where specific exercises are taught to help you self-strategize a more favorable future existence filled with health and vigor.
One of the more captivating chapters in the book is The Information Cycle. It describes a new outlook on evolution where an organism's Internal Intention to survive can, at times, drive it to shorten its own life span or sacrifice itself after reproducing offspring during periods of excessive external pressure, in order that its Knowledge Library stored in DNA be passed on to future generations for more rapid evolution.
What is very, very interesting and thought provoking is how the authors simplified their theory of Intended Evolution into the makings of a card game. If I understand correctly, the process of evolution has an Information Cycle which is a sort of card table with a dealer, players, chips, and rules where the intention is to survive and prosper. The chips might be compared to an energy source, like wind, water, fossil, nuclear, or solar, which are traded in to bring about desired changes in one's life or even just to maintain your current status.
If the theory of the game holds true, no matter the cards we are dealt in life, there appears to be infinite possibilities for positive growth although certain handicaps might prevent some from staying in the game long. The authors explain in so many words that, for the better players, leaving the game early is an option and not a detriment.
At this point of the presentation, men with priestly training cleansing for doomsday might miss a heartbeat if they are not following the staged play with scientific detachment.
Fortunately, for those that crap out early, there is a Life Cycle Strategy whereby their selected reproductive offspring can continue to play the losing hand while adding to or exchanging their own dealt cards, In this way the new players can continue to build upon their inheritance and increase the extended family's fortune in chips. And no one can ever win the entire pot.
The book is not clear on whether, over time, there are any actual losers or winners in the game. It only says that organisms evolve to become better players at it, with no beginning or end point.
Regardless of how one subjectively feels about navigating the elusive cycle of life, Dongxun and Bob have successfully laid out a basic framework for why the process of life works through the use of a simple card game and other friendly, easy to visualize symbols and comparisons. Who would think that the extremely complex nature of evolution could be transmitted within a mere 201 pages of text? Yet, the book does just that by using a soft approach to a hard subject. Not by challenging the reader's subjective perceptions, but by inviting him into the discussion.
By diving deep into the Information Level the authors managed to bring to the general public, because that is where meaningful intellectual change on the subject must occur for the human race to thrive, a brilliant, precise, and yet colorful detailed account of a new outlook on the process of life.
Intended Evolution might become a real game changer but the book will require more than one push-up to assimilate. It can be a bit tedious to read with its new ideas and terminology that try to describe why the external environment interacts with the will to survive in order to develop intelligent and novel ways of living. The descriptive print under the pictures is too tiny to read, and there could be a few more pictographs or brief outlines inserted between key paragraphs to help understand and visualize the concepts presented. And I think the book would be better served with more information on the unique feature of a "panda's thumb"? to help understand that comparison.
It helps to keep in mind that the book is only one condensed segment of information on evolution and, if I understood the authors correctly, rereading it in order to repeat its pattern of ideas will have long term benefits making its basic principles easier to use by life's driving force for accelerated self-growth.
In summary, the theory of Intended Evolution is a significant contribution to current theories of evolution. Dongxun and Bob Zhang believe there are three basic factors in the evolutionary process and that the organism's genome consists of five characteristics that intentionally interact within the process. Dongxun's idea of the Information Cycle helps reduce the complex nature of intelligent process into an easy to comprehend system of input, storage, analysis, and output which is well thought out and succinctly described in the book.
Intended Evolution is a theory, both novel and exciting. The theory, that we can affect the future of our own evolution, is open for discussion. Its basis is perception, intelligence, and potential action. The book is sold as a limited edition signed hard cover and as a retail paperback, both in an easy to read and understand format.
In any event, the Zhang father and son team have, at the least, brought a new game of life into town. You are invited to sit at the table and play your hand at it. If you fancy their idea that "(we)…can affect the future of our own evolution," then learning the rules to the game and why it is even being played is well worth the book's price of admission.
Although not espousing Lamarck's theory, the present book stresses the importance of internal factors, particularly in the evolution of humans. The authors believe that today's environment for humans is safer than in the past, and therefore humans have more opportunity to effect changes in themselves. His chapters on why we die and on mind-body medicine are interesting in this context.
The book, although presenting complex concepts, is relatively easy to read. The authors use analogies, such as a card game for how the information cycle allows for internal processes to bring about changes and help the organism maintain it's present status. It also helps to have some passing familiarity with information theory, although the authors do a good job of explaining the concepts.
The concepts presented are not a way to negate Darwin's theory. They are rather a thought provoking set of ideas designed to enhance the theory. I recommend this book. While it may not be factually accurate, in fact it is based on theory not research, it is well worth reading for the ideas.
I reviewed this book for Net Galley.