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Publisher's Summary

In this extraordinary follow-up to the critically acclaimed The Lucifer Principle, Howard Bloom - one of today's preeminent thinkers - offers us a bold rewrite of the evolutionary saga. He shows how plants and animals (including humans) have evolved together as components of a worldwide learning machine. He describes the network of life on Earth as one that is, in fact, a "complex adaptive system," a global brain in which each of us plays a sometimes conscious, sometimes unknowing role. And he reveals that the World Wide Web is just the latest step in the development of this brain. These are theories as important as they are radical.

Informed by twenty years of interdisciplinary research, Bloom takes us on a spellbinding journey back to the big bang to let us see how its fires forged primordial sociality. As he brings us back via surprising routes, we see how our earliest bacterial ancestors built multitrillion-member research-and-development teams a full 3.5 billion years ago. We watch him unravel the previously unrecognized strands of interconnectedness woven by crowds of trilobites, hunting packs of dinosaurs, flocks of flying lizards, troops of baboons making communal decisions, and adventurous tribes of protohumans spreading across continents but still linked by primitive forms of information networking. We soon find ourselves reconsidering our place in the world. Along the way, Bloom offers us exhilarating insights into the strange tricks of body and mind that have organized a variety of life forms: spiny lobsters, which, during the Paleozoic Era, participated in communal marching rituals; and bees, which, during the age of dinosaurs, conducted collective brainwork. This fascinating tour continues on to the sometimes brutal subculture wars that have spurred the growth of human civilization since the Stone Age. Bloom shows us how culture shapes our infant brains, immersing us in a matrix of truth and mass delusion that we think of as reality.

Global Brain is more than just a brilliantly original contribution to the ongoing debate on the inner workings of evolution; it is a "grand vision," says the eminent evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson, a work that transforms our very view of who we are and why.

©2015 Howard Bloom (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Global Brain

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A stinker.

The Lucifer Principle was thought provoking but this one was relatively shallow and not well researched. He finally lost me when he suggested that Northern Europeans developed a tolerance for milk because they needed the vitamin D. (Milk did not contain vitamin D until it was artificially added in the 20th century.) Pass on this one.

3 people found this helpful

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Mixed feelings about this book

I really don't know what to say about this book. I love the study of complex adaptive systems more than I could ever express. I loved that this author wanted to understand and write about systems, wanted to show the reader how things connect. And, while I truly loved so many aspects of this book, I wanted the author to engage in a bit more critical thinking. He was able to view E. O. Wilson's work from a critical lens. He was able to equally to take on the gene centered illusion of evolution. But, so often, his critical thinking skills were suspended when they were needed. When discussing Lynn Margulis' work (she is one of my favorite scientists), he failed to question some of her less solid ideas. There is a lot of evidence for many things posited by Margulis, a groundbreaking researcher. However, there is less evidence to support many of her ideas taken as a given in this book. Similarly, some of the conclusion the author comes to are well founded. Many of his diversity/conformity arguments were really enjoyable. However, other conclusions were far too ambitious and demonstrated a mind that was swayed by possible magical thinking and less by scientific rigor.

7 people found this helpful

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Interesting but uneducated opinion- not a reliable summary of the science

I was intrigued by the title and enjoy new ideas. The author is obviously self educated which has lead to some interesting ideas but many of them are based on a misinterpretation of the primary literature he references. He sounds like a really intelligent guy, it’s unfortunate he didn’t discuss these ideas about evolutionary biology with someone who understands the science of it. This is why peer review is important. He talks a good game which isn’t surprising when you realize the authors expertise is creating publicity. Unless you are already an expert in evolutionary biology you won’t necessarily see the errors in his analysis. He should have gotten an evolutionary biologist to edit this. My first red flag when he bragged about creating the rock and roll era and having discussions with Einstein. Sounds impressive- bug Einstein was a physicist, not a current expert in evolutionary theory or neural networks-so that was a flashy but irrelevant piece of information. Then he repeatedly uses a biblical reference to bolster his ideas( which is weird in a scientific discussion) even though he says he’s an atheist. And the passage he references is also being misinterpreted in order to support his idea. It made me question the veracity of all of his conclusions.

1 person found this helpful

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some very high highs but some rather low lows too

it starts if great chatting creation but he goes off the rails with spurious science and his somewhat unhelpful global brain analogy

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Important idea behind book

But delivery sidetracks too much in random history, conclusion is just random science stuck together into tidbits that have nothing to do with core idea of book.

Would’ve loved to see a stronger analogy of internal brain vs global brain vs hive brains like in bees and ants. This could’ve further been explored into making predictions on how we won’t be able to understand aliens because they could function in distributed fashions ala bees or bacteria. Human hive mind could’ve been explained better vs more primitive minds, Eg maybe we are just cells with more signaling primitives.

Emphasis on individuals dying , self destructing could’ve been tied into modern birth rates falling.

Also this book almost completely misses modern field of modern social neurology… maybe because it’s a new field

Either way, one of the most important books I’ve read, made me reconceptualize the word as I see it

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Well written, but originally written in 2000

The first half of the book had me really excited, but being a book written in 2000, it struggled to maintain relevancy at the end. It's certainly still worth the read, and the narrator was excellent. I expected the book to culminate better at the end. I think the conclusion could have been stronger.

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Fascinating

The scope and depth of Bloom’s exploration is breathtaking. An insightful and inspiring read. Highly recommended.

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interesting but confused wandering falls short

A good amount of key facts littered in here make a listen worthwhile but, unfortunately, the confused use of terminology taken from one area of the world and applied to another without any modification or clarification leaves the whole book a sloppy mess more likely to misguide readers than educate them; the author fails to elucidate the elusive principle he purports to show by his surface survey of worldly features.

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Pass on this one

do not waste your time. shallow, boring. only a timeline of human evolution without further analysis or interesting topics or facts. pass this one.

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A depressing survival of the fitness book

This book is full of randomly interesting facts enclosed under the theme that the biology systems that have evolved up until the world wide web have intelligence and thus the title "Global brain". The book drags at parts. I would not want to have paid for this book. The narrator did a excellent job though so I gave 5 stars for performance.