Customer Reviews for

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (Enhanced Edition)

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

23 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

Worth The Read

This is an interesting read. As anticipated Mr. Eagleman attributes our known and unknown brain functionality to accidental organic evolutionary self design....intelligence without intelligence...hmmm. Also, It wasn't clear to me in his alternative plan for prison inmat...
This is an interesting read. As anticipated Mr. Eagleman attributes our known and unknown brain functionality to accidental organic evolutionary self design....intelligence without intelligence...hmmm. Also, It wasn't clear to me in his alternative plan for prison inmate rehabilitation what would motivate a career criminal to use his proposed self help technique. I enjoyed reading this book with the perspective that science is mans tool to discover what God has created and set in motion rather than using it to explain Him away. Yes, I would recommend this book.

posted by 8435944 on June 22, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

Amateurish Cake with the Icing of Arrogance

Basically the book tells us that humans are complex beings beyond our present scientific comprehension, and the brain is doing things we aren't consciously aware of at the time. That's the amateurish cake -- we have known this for centuries even before we knew what par...
Basically the book tells us that humans are complex beings beyond our present scientific comprehension, and the brain is doing things we aren't consciously aware of at the time. That's the amateurish cake -- we have known this for centuries even before we knew what parts of the brain light up.

The icing is the arrogant tone of the work - the examples begin with the introduction and end with the concluding sentence: "...this book was written over the course of a few years by several different people, all of whom were named David Eagleman, but who were somewhat different with each passing hour."

This book sells well, because the cake is delicious to some: Are you the type of person who drives to the Whole Foods in your Plymouth Spyder with your COEXIST sticker on the back and the dreamcatcher in the front? Then you're going to love the author's way with words.

Or are you someone who already has a good intuition that the brain does things that you don't think about (start with breathing, move to cleaning up visual images that are perceived, then up to being happy for reasons that have since faded, etc.)? Have you already figured out that the human brain and its interactions with environment is complex in its expression of human traits, feelings, thoughts and behaviors? Then congratulations, you have graduated beyond eating cake to nourishing yourself on real science!

posted by 10598075 on December 31, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2011

    Worth The Read

    This is an interesting read. As anticipated Mr. Eagleman attributes our known and unknown brain functionality to accidental organic evolutionary self design....intelligence without intelligence...hmmm. Also, It wasn't clear to me in his alternative plan for prison inmate rehabilitation what would motivate a career criminal to use his proposed self help technique. I enjoyed reading this book with the perspective that science is mans tool to discover what God has created and set in motion rather than using it to explain Him away. Yes, I would recommend this book.

    23 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 15, 2011

    Blew my mind!

    One if the most interesting books i've read in a long time! Filled with ideas that will have you re-thinking everything you've come to know about how your mind works. Very well written and adds science to what you may have suspected all along but couldnt prove it!!

    17 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2011

    A page turner about the brain

    I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the brain and how what we are learning about the brain could be used to understand ourselves and society better.

    There's no jargon to wade through and the ideas are simple enough that it's easy to miss how profound they are.

    Many real-world examples and case studies strongly call into question some very fundamental ideas (and some commonly held beliefs upon which our legal system is based) about the extent to which we are responsible for, or are even aware of, what we are doing. The author clearly and convincingly illustrates why our concepts of consciousness and "self" are a lot more suspect than many people may want to believe. The idea about the brain being a series of cooperating rivals is also very interesting (it "feels" true, for what it's worth) and was what drew me to the book when I heard the author interviewed on Fresh Air.

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    A Wonder!

    I already knew most of what Eagleman presents, having read the original articles and books by the researchers he discusses. As a professor, I taught language and the brain, and one of my fields of research was schizophrenia. Even so, it was a delight to read Eagleman's flowing, lucid prose.

    What's even better is that he relates brain functions to everyday behavior, explaining why we behave irrationally, for instance, as when we deliberately don't claim a dependent on our income tax deduction, so that we get a larger tax refund later on.

    I was especially taken by his insights into the evolutionary basis of consciousness. Even if you don't believe in evolution, his discussion of the reasons for consciousness is convincing.

    Most important is this book's presentation of the complexity of the brain, the different subsystems working on the same stimuli. Eagleman likens our brain to a team of rivals. He explains why we have hunches, why we're attracted to certain people, even why so many marriages fail in their 4th year.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Thought Provoking Book

    Before purchasing this book, I read some of the reviews on this site and elsewhere. I noticed that this book was rated as a "hit-or-miss." A hit, for people that do not know much about neuroscience, psychology, psychiatry, etc. A miss, for people who are the opposite; very knowledgeable in these topics and feel that the information within the book seems to be repetitive to what they already know. Because of this, I almost decided to pass on purchasing and reading this book. I am glad I chose to do otherwise. It is very informative and thought provoking. Some people have made comments on the chapter before the last discussing neuroscience/cognition and law and how this chapter is out of place. I saw nothing out of the ordinary with this chapter being placed within the book as the author has some expertise in law within the neuroscience field. This is a recommended read more so for people who lack knowledge in this field like myself.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Amateurish Cake with the Icing of Arrogance

    Basically the book tells us that humans are complex beings beyond our present scientific comprehension, and the brain is doing things we aren't consciously aware of at the time. That's the amateurish cake -- we have known this for centuries even before we knew what parts of the brain light up.

    The icing is the arrogant tone of the work - the examples begin with the introduction and end with the concluding sentence: "...this book was written over the course of a few years by several different people, all of whom were named David Eagleman, but who were somewhat different with each passing hour."

    This book sells well, because the cake is delicious to some: Are you the type of person who drives to the Whole Foods in your Plymouth Spyder with your COEXIST sticker on the back and the dreamcatcher in the front? Then you're going to love the author's way with words.

    Or are you someone who already has a good intuition that the brain does things that you don't think about (start with breathing, move to cleaning up visual images that are perceived, then up to being happy for reasons that have since faded, etc.)? Have you already figured out that the human brain and its interactions with environment is complex in its expression of human traits, feelings, thoughts and behaviors? Then congratulations, you have graduated beyond eating cake to nourishing yourself on real science!

    6 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Loved this read

    What a great book. If you are fascinated with the human mind and human behavior, this book is for you.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 16, 2012

    The thesis is incognito

    While I do appreciate David Eagleman's argument that an understanding of how the brain works could help to reform our justice system, I really did not appreciate his argument that we can somehow scientifically disprove the need to believe that human beings have a soul. One minute he is saying we know so little about the brain and even detecting small tumors that could be causing changes in behavior is something that we are not yet able to do with the technology we have; the next he is claiming a full understanding of the brain and how it functions leads us to the conclusion that we really don't have "free will" given that all of our decisions begin in our "zombie systems" and then are regulated by our conscious minds.

    I've read other reviews on this book and I have seen a lot of criticism of the choice of audience, the structure, and the use of anecdotes; I must agree. I have yet to see one positive review from a neuroscientist. The audience appears to be for the layperson, but I am not a neuroscientist and I found the book incredibly dumbed down. It was complicated only in that the anecdotes often went off track from the argument and supporting details which were in themselves vague. The use of anecdotes felt almost like sensational or exceptional examples to draw back to a poorly constructed theory.

    As far as structure, the overall structure and sentence structure needs work. As an aspiring editor, this is good news for me that Vintage, an imprint of Random House, is willing to take on editors who do a mediocre job. I shouldn't have trouble finding work.

    I enjoyed the use of anecdotes, such as the details of Charles Whitman, "the tower sniper", and his suspicions of having a brain tumor. It was a compelling detail that supported Eagleman's view that mental health is physical health and behavior and decision making are the result of mental processes. But still, without further evidence of the direct correlation between mental processes and decision making, absent of any other potential factor, it is difficult for me to believe that this man had no control over preventing the murders that he committed.

    Could someone with mental health issues be rehabilitated under the proper care, given the appropriate medications, and after undergoing necessary surgery? I absolutely believe that is possible. I found his argument about improving the way we hold criminals accountable for their actions to be compelling, but nothing I haven't heard before. Of course it would be ideal to rehabilitate any criminal that could be scientifically proven to be capable of reentering society and not commit future criminal offenses. Some criminals will never be rehabilitated. I don't think anyone disagrees with that. But even if they can reenter society, if their actions were the result of a brain tumor or other mental health issue, does that mean they shouldn't have to "do the time"? Can we ever really prove that their con

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    I have read over 15 books about cognitive science, by 13 differe

    I have read over 15 books about cognitive science, by 13 different authors. This author is excellent at keeping the reader in touch with his points, consistently throughout the book, I did not come to a point, in any of the chapters, where he lost my attention by over explaining or losing sight on connecting his points back to his concepts. The book is written in colloquial easy to understand grammar, he minimizes the use of complex scientific terms. It's a great book with tons of insight to concepts that you can apply to your everyday life and casual perception

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2011

    Fascinating engaging book!

    Wonderful look into how the brain works with and without our conscious awareness.
    The exploration of inner space is an adventure trip worth taking with the author as an engaging guide. Energizing and uplifting look at who we are.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 19, 2011

    Informative, good pace, and elegant writing

    One of the best books I've read in a while that's full of information, fun to read, and the perfect length for both.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2011

    No way, Jose!

    I have just read David Eagleman's book INCOGNITO and I have a achieved a new reduction in knowledge!

    3 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2011

    ?..

    ?..

    3 out of 39 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2012

    Revealing

    Written in a very entertaining yet scientifically based manner that explains how and why we think and do so many very common things. I now more clearly understand myself and others. I did briefly resort to speed reading in a too long section concerning the judicial system sentencing and the mind. It almost became preachy... but then Eagleman returned to his previous comfortable and enjoyable rhythm. I put it in the Must Read Category.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2012

    Well written and executed primer to current brain science.

    This book went well alongside two others I've read recently, Brain Rules and The Head Trip. Incognito straddles the middle ground between these other two books and, while it covers much of the same ground and actually many of the same scientific examples and case studies, it makes a good starting point for learning about the brain and cognition.

    The three books together actually make a great triumverate of knowledge.
    The Head Trip tackles the brain from a consciousness perspective, and Brain Rules is more of a owner's manual to the brain.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 29, 2011

    Think? You should buy it!

    Startling in it's scope, thoroughness and importance. You have never read a book that will change the way you think of thinking as much as this one. The one negative...the title sounds like a thriller suspense novel...or is it just me?

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2011

    Very good

    Excellent

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2013

    Excellent

    Excellent

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2013

    Very enlightening

    Well written, easy for the lay person to understand. Excellent book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2013

    Didn't meet expectations

    I was really looking forward to this book when I bought it, but I found the mainstream elements turned me off. I enjoyed the new material and studies when they came along, but the book was littered with generalizations, dumbing-down, repetition and little games I didn't find intriguing or amusing. In his area of expertise, Eagleman know his stuff and I realize to be a book it has to have some length, but I found the extras irritating and couldn't get through it. :(

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