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bear by san

March 2017

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can't sleep books will eat me

of course i've had it in the ear before

Book report #26: Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. and Sharon Begley, The Mind And The Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force

Ignore the kind of self-helpy title: this is a fabulous and rather dense tome that manages to synthesize the state of the art in neuropsychology (Schwartz is one of the pioneers of cognitive therapy for the successful treatment of patients with OCD), neurobiology, quantum physics, Buddhist philosophy, and the question of free will into a sensible whole.

Basically, this manages to get consciousness, mindfullness, volition, neuroplasticity, and the observer effect into one great big web that makes a great deal of sense.

A lot of this is stuff I was chasing in Undertow, and I wish I had read this book before writing it. And also, before the last argument I had with Peter about the nature of consciousness, because I could have just handed him the damned book and he wouldn't have been interrupting me every ten seconds.

Also, one of the best layman's explanations of quantum mechanics I've ever read.

For full effect, I recommend reading this book in conjunction with some Ramachandran, Zen in the Art of Archery, and Peter Watts' Blindsight. (Peter is still wrong. Brilliant, but wrong. And this book is part of why, and Schwartz has the PET scans to prove it.)

Further to the discussion, watch some interviews with serial killer Ed Kemper and maybe some of Dr. John Nash's autobiographical writings. And then get back to me on how comfortable you are with the inside of your own head anymore....

Comments

What a coinky-dink.

Begley is the author of the article in Newsweek I just sent you a link to in regards Blindsight.

And to me, too.

And I *want* to be wrong. I really, really want to be wrong. And if this guy can prove it, then bring it on.

And I don't interrupt you every ten seconds. You just stop very frequently to take a breath.
I soooo cannot wait to break up the fistfight between you two at Readercon!!! (My money's on Bear) Then we can all laugh, knock pint glasses together and then argue about who could win in a fight against Iggy Pop (my money's still on Bear)

Squidward, does this mean you;ve embraced cutesy fucking icons or you just did this to troll EB? *g*
Well, yes, I did send it to you, as the author of the book that made me go "Aha" when I just saw the article. :)

I wasn't aware of your LJ, though, or had forgotten what it was.
*g* You do so interrupt every ten seconds. And I get bored with arguing pretty quickly, which is why I'm not an academic. (I never got the hang of talking to win.)

Good to have to here in the social end of the squid pool. I could make you some cutesy fucking icons if you wanted.
Oooh! Have you also read The Brain that Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge?
You lost me at "quantum physics." Or rather, you had me until "quantum physics," and them my bullshit-crap-o-meter went on full alert and all the blaring and flashing is giving me a Grade A migraine.

(I'm all for mindfulness and cognitive psychology and neuro-practically-anything. But you leave my nice physics the hell out of it.)
Heh. Sorry, but don't be an idiot.
Prove me wrong.
More specifically, my assertion is: there's most likely no quantum physics involved in human consciousness.
I'm sorry, but physics *have* to be involved on account of the neuroplasticity of astrophysicists.

MKK--it's possible I'm still a bit tipsy, but I *am* married to a man with a PhD in astrophysics
;-)

Well, the subjectivity of the observed universe is, well, empirically provable. Which means the subjectivity of your marriage is not in question.

The odd thing for me is that the more widely educated I become, the more obvious it is to me that most of this stuff is different ways of talking about the same thing. Not in a Dancing Wu Li Masters kind of way, but--the "It" of Zen is the same as the neurologist's "zombie," and the Buddhist's "mindful practice" is exactly the same as the feedback and system awareness used in cognitive therapy.

...we seem to have left the *tidy* universe in Einstein's other pants.
Well, you just moved one book to the top of my non-fiction reading list (once I'm done w/the 3 I just checked out of the library) and encouraged me to hurry up and check out Blindsight (I had been waiting 'till I finished Worldwired and Scardown, which I have on order; loved Hammered, btw, will say more when I've finished the series, since the end of the first one really isn't). The nf book sounds fascinating; Blindsight I don't really know much about except it seemed to get the most enthusiastic reception of the Hugo nominees, but now I wanna see what the argument is about.
Thank you!

And Blindsight is a fabulous book.