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Customer Review

on November 5, 2011
About as truth-shattering as an accessible, popularized book about science can be, but probably too strong in its arguments for the average assemblage of neural circuits.
Rosenberg argues that neuroscience and sociobiology argue for an atheism that has nihilism at its core, with all manner of common illusions revealed as without physical basis. Fair enough, not the kind of argument you are likely to encounter from a top-level, tenured, feted academician, and one that takes social science experiments directly to their end points. Whether or not you accept Rosenberg's dramatically drawn conclusions, you should admire the brave attempt to put all of this research into popular, vivid prose.
I hope this book becomes a classic, given around to family members and spouses, ruminated over in chataquas and holiday celebrations, but somehow I don't think the stressed-out, alienated public is ready for "there is no self," "no purpose," history is bunk," "secular humanism is for weak-minded losers."
I'll be working out my views on these metaphysical matters, yet I could use some help - as one interviewer said when talking about the book, "my head just exploded."
From my perspective, the title poses a problem - our brains are illusion-generating machines, so it is physically impossible to "live without illusions," as the the title promises. Some illusions, though, such as the stupefying "unseen hand" that Rosenberg (and the egregious Michael Shermer) seems attached to, are parasitical and pernicious, completely not necessary and in need of severe cancellation. Other illusions, like the "self" hood of my wife, or the value of studying our recent human history for the workings of various existing blind adaptations, will be in business despite this valiant, wonderful attempt at atom-smashing for the reading public.
One piece of advice for the paperback edition: there are only "shear probabilities" in the world of hair salons, not on page 236 of a book I heartily endorse.
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