Customer Reviews for

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

22 out of 29 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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  • 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

    4 out of 5 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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