Victor MacGill Chaos and Complexity
Magic and Mystery
Victor MacGill's website
Mandelbrot Set

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, Myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line

Short previews
of all talks

Line

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line

Short previews
of all talks

Line

Other pages on my site.....

Line

Theosophical Soc logo

The Dunedin Theosophical Society

Line

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, Myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line

Short previews
of all talks

Line

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line

Short previews
of all talks

Line

Other pages on my site.....

Line

Theosophical Soc logo

The Dunedin Theosophical Society

Line

Evolve logo

The Evolve Holistic Development Trust

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, Myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line

Short previews
of all talks

Line

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line


Line

Other pages on my site.....

Line
Line

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, Myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line

Short previews
of all talks

Line

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line


Line

Other pages on my site.....

Line
Line

Evolve logo

The Evolve Holistic Development Trust

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, Myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line

Short previews
of all talks

Line

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line


Line

Other pages on my site.....

Line
Line

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, Myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line

Short previews
of all talks

Line

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line


Line

Other pages on my site.....

Line
Line

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, Myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line

Short previews
of all talks

Line

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line


Line

Other pages on my site.....

Line
Line

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, Myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line

Short previews
of all talks

Line

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line


Line

Other pages on my site.....

Line
Line

Evolve logo

The Evolve Holistic Development Trust

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, Myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set

Articles by Victor

Mandelbrot Set   Fairy Stories
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Complexity
Line

Mandelbrot Set  Spirituality
Line

Short previews
of all talks

Line

My first book..

When the Dragon Stirs

Healing our Wounded Lives through Fairy Stories, myths and Legends

When the Dragon Stirs Book Cover

The Dragon

Line

My next book...
Gonna Lay Down my Sword
and Shield

A Complexity Perspective on Human Evolution from our Violent Past to a Compassionate Future

Mandelbrot Set
LineMandelbrot Set

Books Victor Read 2006-2007

The Jason Voyage: The Quest for the Golden Fleece, Tim Severin (Jan 07)

I reread this book. It is a good easy read with a story line that carries you along. Tim Severin built a bronze age galley just as they were made around 500BC and followed the journey of Jason and the Argonaughts from the epic handed down in his search for the Golden Fleece. The book traces the adventures of Jason, but at the same time the story of the crew of the modern ship Argo as they follow the route with only those tools and resources Jason and his Argonaught would have had. By looking at the journey from a practical seafearing persepctive he was able to identify more accurately the places where the different adventures occurred and exactly where Jason is likely to have traveled. He found for example in Georgia, where the journey ended that a sheep's fleece is placed in rivers to collect gold as it flows down from the Caucasas mountains.

Chaos and Life: Complexity and Order in Evolution and Thought, Richard Bird (Dec 07)

This book links the concepts of chaos and complexity to evolution. There is a good introduction to the principles of chaos and complexity. Richard Bird investigates DNA and proposes that what has come to be known as junk DNA may in fact encode information using a unitary number system instead of the binary system used by computers. A unitary code has only ones and gaps, so 1111111,111 would be 7,3. This makes the DNA like a biological hard drive.  Next the RNA acts like the read head on the hard drive. he says the RNA also stores the algorithms or the operations used on the information in the DNA like a Turing  machine. the output therefore is what forms living systems. this brings a mathematical base to the DNA and life.

He later look at the mathematical contradictions discussed by Bertrand Russell, Kurt Godel and Alan Turing and suggests that when the contradictions are looked at as iterative or recursive processes so they are different in different recursions and therefore not contradicting each other as they do not stand together anymore. This book was interesting to read. The key ideas are not mainstream ideas that may or may not have validity. I do not have enough knowledge and more background information would be needed to fully assess the ideas.

Irreducible Mind (Dec 3007 - Feb 2008)

This is a massive 800 page book looking at evidence that the mind cannot be explained merely as an emergent property of the physical brain. It looks at current mainstream psychological theory and then looks at phenomena that might prove that the mind can not be reduced down to being an output of the brain. It looks for example at ESP, atuokinesis, life after death, clairvoyance etc. I expect to be reading this book over several months.

Threshhold of Mind: Your Personal Happiness Roadmap to Success, Happiness and Contentment, Bill Harris (Dec 07)

The book came with the Holosync meditation CDs I purchased. While it is totally commercially oriented, it also gives good information in a simple, easily understandable fashion.

The Connectivity Hypothesis: Foundations of an Integral Science of Quantum, Cosmos and Consciousness, Ervin Laszlo (November 2007)

Having been through the New Age trip, I have become very skeptical of pseudo-scientific writers misrepresenting science to back up their crack-pot ideas on spirituality. This book is the real deal. Ervin Laszlo has an impeccable scientific background and really understands the science he writes about. The book was published in 2003 and I am now starting to read his 2006 Science and the Re-enchantment of the Cosmos, so his information is up to date. He always cites the most reputable sources and creates a fascinating read showing how all life is connected.

A key concept in the book is quantum coherence; the tendency of sub-atomic particles to be linked together, or entangled, once they have interacted. Once two particles have interacted they are forever linked and changes in the state of one is virtually instantaneously copied by a change in state of the other irrespective of where the two particles are. Laszlo claims that this coherence not only occurs at the quantum level, but also at the macroscopic level of starts and galaxies. There is a large scale uniformity extending to galaxies that are not in contact with each other since they receded at speeds beyond the speed of light. Laszlo also points out the fine tuning of universal constant. These are universal numbers measured in various realms; the magnetic, gravitational electric etc. It turns out that if these numbers were even changed by one billionth, the whole universe we  live in could not exist. He posits that it is all held together by coherence and explains this by saying the big bang and big crunch to come are only part of on-going macroscopic cycles as described by ancient Hindu mythology.

Next he says that coherence is also evident in the living world and that the process of emergence seen in complex adaptive systems, whereby complex systems self organise to higher levels of complex organisation springs from the coherence that pervades the whole universe. It is this coherence that holds us together as single living organism made up of literally trillions of cells that must interact in the most complex of ways.

Finally, he links coherence to the realm of mind whereby individual minds are linked together. Jung's "collective unconscious" is an example of this. Laszlo discusses people meditating having their brain waves lock into step with each other and the "knowing" that so many tribal people have of events they could not have known about by ordinary means. He writes that coherence in this domain explains telepathic experiences.

Quantum science talks about our world as being pervaded by a quantum vacuum, a state beyond time and space, but from which time and space emerge. Particles come into being from the quantum vacuum and later disappear back into it. Laszlo prefers to call this a quantum plenum, indicating that is is a field full of potential rather than being an empty vacuum. He links this field to the Akashic field of the ancient Hindu, pointing out that it also holds information of all events past and present and extends throughout all space. It is this that is the background through which coherence can become manifest.

This is a truly amazing book, based on verifiable science. He does present a theory, which of course many others will disagree with, but it nevertheless presents a well considered case, based on real evidence, which offers a view of life as a unified process linking us altogether in a truly enchanted cosmos.

Science and the Re-enchantment of the Cosmos: The Rise of the Integral Vision, Ervin Laszlo (Nov 07)

This is very similar to Connectivity Hypothesis, but give a less technical approach. He also has invited authors adding their comments and perspectives at the end such as Stan Grof, Elisabet Sahtouris, Peter Russell and Jane Goodall.

The Happiness Trap: Stop struggling, start living, Dr Russ Harris, (October 2007)

This book was written by a New Zealander as an introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Theory (ACT). ACT combines cognitive behavioural techniques with mindfulness techniques from Buddhism. Rather than trying to control our thoughts and feelings, it proposes that we accept them non-judgmentally, noticing them and releasing them. Then we can build motivation to make the commitments we need to make changes in our lives. He also notes that it is important to know the difference between gaols and values. Values are what we value and find important in our lives in order to be who we truly are. Goals are the plans we have to change our lives so we can better live in accordance with our values. Often we find ourselves discouraged because we are not achieving a particular goal. Not achieving a goal, does not however mean we can not live according to our values. There are others ways we can live according to our values that helps maintain our sense of meaning and purpose, that in itself will help us towards our goal. This is a great easy reader with some nice quotes, that has the potential to totally turn people's lives around.

An Experiment in Mindfulness: An English Admiral's Experiences in a Buddhist Monastery, E.H Shattock, (October 2007)

This is an old book of an Admiral in the English Navy who spent a month on a Vipassana retreat in a monastery in Myanmar in the 1950s. Having done a week long retreat myself a good few years ago, it was good to remember my experiences in comparison.

Mind Open Wide: Why you are what you Think, Steven Johnson, (August 2007)

This 2004 book reveals up to date information on the link between our brain and the physical processes that occur in the brain and the links to the behaviour that emerges. Steven Johnson also wrote Emergence. It describes our mind as having many interactive parts from which emerge our sense of self. He also talks of the triune brain, where a lower level response occurs in the more primitive parts of our brain at the same time as a higher level response to a situation is formed. These two responses may contradict each other resulting in many mental processes, conscious and unconscious to decide our actions. He also shows how the various hormones and other chemicals lead to feelings that affect how we see the world and how we choose to respond.

Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People for Change, William Miller and Stephen Rollnick (July 2007)

This is the Bible of Motivational Interviewing. It is an amazing technique for working with people who are not motivated to make changes in their lives. By skillful questioning and avoiding confrontation, people can be gently coaxed into feeling safe enough to consider alternative ways of being.

Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, Steven Strogatz (July 2007)

Steven Strogatz welcomes us to the science of synchrony. He shows how networks of neurons, fireflies, cars in traffic and people clapping after a concert can can suddenly align and explains the underlying dynamics that links them all together.  He mentions  many person anecdotes of the work he has done and the people he has collaborated with as th science of Synchrony develops. It was not always an easy read and I would not recommend it as a firstly book to learn about complexity - Read some other books first to become familiar with the concepts and then this is a good book.

The Essential Jung: Selected Writings introduced by Anthony Storr (July 2007)

This selection of the writings of Carl Jung provides an excellent  understanding of his ideas and concepts. it is not a light read and I find is best done in chunks, but it gives a good comprehensive view on Jung's ideas in his own words.

Linked; How everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life by Albert Laslo Barabasi (July 2007)

Albert Laslo Barabasi is the acknowledged expert on networks. This very readable book opens the world of networks to the ordinary reader and shows the unexpected links connecting the internet, brain cells, electricity grids, the growth of viruses, businesses and much more.

Facing the Dragon: Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity by Robert L Moore (June 2007)

A great look at Jungian Archetypes and the archetype of the Dragon in particular. Robert Moore links this to the human tendency to grandiosity of always wanting to be superior to those around us creates all sorts of problems in our lives. He sees the dragon as the desire to be grandiose. He also discusses the archetypes of the king, warrior, magician and lover.

Frontier of Dreams: The History of New Zealand by Bronny's Dalley and Gavin McLean (April 2007)

An excellent easy to read, full history of New Zealand. It was developed as the companion book for the television series created by TVNZ. It give an enormous amount of interesting background information on what made our nation what it is.

Symbiotic Planet, A New View of Evolution by Lynn Margulis (June 2007)

An interesting look at Lyn Margulis' view on evolution. She worked with James Lovelock to develop the Gaia hypothesis. She tells the story of her life as the book unfolds with lots of interesting personal anecdotes. The book was published back in 1998, but it is still a good read.

Lies, Lies, Lies, The Psychology of Deceit (May 2007)

An interesting look at lies and deceit. We naturally think telling lies is wrong, but it is not that simple. We all tell lies regularly, whether to avoid embarrassment or punishment for ourselves or others or other reasons. We tell lies to others and we deceive ourselves. A good easy, well set out read.

Evolution edited by In-Young Chang and Jennifer Curry (January 2007)

This book is a collection of recent articles, excerpts from books and addresses on the topic of evolution. It is about 160 pages long with short articles that can be read in a few minutes. It was published in 2006 so gives good up to date information. It discusses intelligent design, the evolution of whales, the history of evolution and so much more.

Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology edited by Hilary Rose and Steven Rose

(November 2006)

Since I am very attracted to the ideas of Evolutionary Psychology, I thought this would be a good book to read when I found it in the library; to challenge the other readings I have done. The book is a collection of articles, with different articles focusing on different areas, so it is hard to get an overall view of what view the editors are trying to get across. Stephen Gould was one contributor. He complained about the "fundamentalist EP" of Dawkins, Wilson, Pinker etc. saying survival of the fittest is not the only mechanism creating evolutionary changes. He states that chance events play a significant role and that spandrels are another path of evolution. A spandrel is something created to support some other feature of an organism, which then by chance happens to be able to be evolved into something very effective to meet a new need of the environment. A non-organic example that helps give the idea of a spandrel I thought of, is a tractor tyre used to stop a boat from hitting the side of a harbour. It was formed to be an integral part of a tractor, but its crucial qualities enable it to be used to stop boats from banging against the side of the wharf.

The Birth of Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought by Gary Marcus

(November 2006)

This book written in 2004 looks at genetics and the physical structure of the brain to gain a better understanding of how the mind works. It gives a good, simple up to date picture of genetics.

***************************************************************
I am listening to a lecture series of European History 1450-1989 as a podcast through Berkeley University that I am enjoying a great deal.
***************************************************************

The Moment of Complexity, Emerging Network Culture by Mark C. Taylor

(November 2006)

This is a fascinating book looking at the movement from reductionism to the post-modernist relativistic ideas. He then proposes the a network culture is emerging, based on the principles of  complexity that takes knowledge a step further on. He follows through the ideas of people like Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche etc on his journey of developing his ideas.

He writes about the reductionist view of the world being tied to the grid and mentions Le Corbusier's architecture and compares it to the more organic looking Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Taylor ties together many different fields and authors from Derrida, to Stuart Kauffman, Levy Strauss, John Holland, Charl

The Jason Voyage: The Quest for the Golden Fleece, Tim Severin (Jan 07)

I reread this book. It is a good easy read with a story line that carries you along. Tim Severin built a bronze age galley just as they were made around 500BC and followed the journey of Jason and the Argonaughts from the epic handed down in his search for the Golden Fleece. The book traces the adventures of Jason, but at the same time the story of the crew of the modern ship Argo as they follow the route with only those tools and resources Jason and his Argonaught would have had. By looking at the journey from a practical seafearing persepctive he was able to identify more accurately the places where the different adventures occurred and exactly where Jason is likely to have traveled. He found for example in Georgia, where the journey ended that a sheep's fleece is placed in rivers to collect gold as it flows down from the Caucasas mountains.

Chaos and Life: Complexity and Order in Evolution and Thought, Richard Bird (Dec 07)

This book links the concepts of chaos and complexity to evolution. There is a good introduction to the principles of chaos and complexity. Richard Bird investigates DNA and proposes that what has come to be known as junk DNA may in fact encode information using a unitary number system instead of the binary system used by computers. A unitary code has only ones and gaps, so 1111111,111 would be 7,3. This makes the DNA like a biological hard drive.  Next the RNA acts like the read head on the hard drive. he says the RNA also stores the algorithms or the operations used on the information in the DNA like a Turing  machine. the output therefore is what forms living systems. this brings a mathematical base to the DNA and life.

He later look at the mathematical contradictions discussed by Bertrand Russell, Kurt Godel and Alan Turing and suggests that when the contradictions are looked at as iterative or recursive processes so they are different in different recursions and therefore not contradicting each other as they do not stand together anymore. This book was interesting to read. The key ideas are not mainstream ideas that may or may not have validity. I do not have enough knowledge and more background information would be needed to fully assess the ideas.

Irreducible Mind (Dec 3007 - Feb 2008)

This is a massive 800 page book looking at evidence that the mind cannot be explained merely as an emergent property of the physical brain. It looks at current mainstream psychological theory and then looks at phenomena that might prove that the mind can not be reduced down to being an output of the brain. It looks for example at ESP, atuokinesis, life after death, clairvoyance etc. I expect to be reading this book over several months.

Threshhold of Mind: Your Personal Happiness Roadmap to Success, Happiness and Contentment, Bill Harris (Dec 07)

The book came with the Holosync meditation CDs I purchased. While it is totally commercially oriented, it also gives good information in a simple, easily understandable fashion.

The Connectivity Hypothesis: Foundations of an Integral Science of Quantum, Cosmos and Consciousness, Ervin Laszlo (November 2007)

Having been through the New Age trip, I have become very skeptical of pseudo-scientific writers misrepresenting science to back up their crack-pot ideas on spirituality. This book is the real deal. Ervin Laszlo has an impeccable scientific background and really understands the science he writes about. The book was published in 2003 and I am now starting to read his 2006 Science and the Re-enchantment of the Cosmos, so his information is up to date. He always cites the most reputable sources and creates a fascinating read showing how all life is connected.

A key concept in the book is quantum coherence; the tendency of sub-atomic particles to be linked together, or entangled, once they have interacted. Once two particles have interacted they are forever linked and changes in the state of one is virtually instantaneously copied by a change in state of the other irrespective of where the two particles are. Laszlo claims that this coherence not only occurs at the quantum level, but also at the macroscopic level of starts and galaxies. There is a large scale uniformity extending to galaxies that are not in contact with each other since they receded at speeds beyond the speed of light. Laszlo also points out the fine tuning of universal constant. These are universal numbers measured in various realms; the magnetic, gravitational electric etc. It turns out that if these numbers were even changed by one billionth, the whole universe we  live in could not exist. He posits that it is all held together by coherence and explains this by saying the big bang and big crunch to come are only part of on-going macroscopic cycles as described by ancient Hindu mythology.

Next he says that coherence is also evident in the living world and that the process of emergence seen in complex adaptive systems, whereby complex systems self organise to higher levels of complex organisation springs from the coherence that pervades the whole universe. It is this coherence that holds us together as single living organism made up of literally trillions of cells that must interact in the most complex of ways.

Finally, he links coherence to the realm of mind whereby individual minds are linked together. Jung's "collective unconscious" is an example of this. Laszlo discusses people meditating having their brain waves lock into step with each other and the "knowing" that so many tribal people have of events they could not have known about by ordinary means. He writes that coherence in this domain explains telepathic experiences.

Quantum science talks about our world as being pervaded by a quantum vacuum, a state beyond time and space, but from which time and space emerge. Particles come into being from the quantum vacuum and later disappear back into it. Laszlo prefers to call this a quantum plenum, indicating that is is a field full of potential rather than being an empty vacuum. He links this field to the Akashic field of the ancient Hindu, pointing out that it also holds information of all events past and present and extends throughout all space. It is this that is the background through which coherence can become manifest.

This is a truly amazing book, based on verifiable science. He does present a theory, which of course many others will disagree with, but it nevertheless presents a well considered case, based on real evidence, which offers a view of life as a unified process linking us altogether in a truly enchanted cosmos.

Science and the Re-enchantment of the Cosmos: The Rise of the Integral Vision, Ervin Laszlo (Nov 07)

This is very similar to Connectivity Hypothesis, but give a less technical approach. He also has invited authors adding their comments and perspectives at the end such as Stan Grof, Elisabet Sahtouris, Peter Russell and Jane Goodall.

The Happiness Trap: Stop struggling, start living, Dr Russ Harris, (October 2007)

This book was written by a New Zealander as an introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Theory (ACT). ACT combines cognitive behavioural techniques with mindfulness techniques from Buddhism. Rather than trying to control our thoughts and feelings, it proposes that we accept them non-judgmentally, noticing them and releasing them. Then we can build motivation to make the commitments we need to make changes in our lives. He also notes that it is important to know the difference between gaols and values. Values are what we value and find important in our lives in order to be who we truly are. Goals are the plans we have to change our lives so we can better live in accordance with our values. Often we find ourselves discouraged because we are not achieving a particular goal. Not achieving a goal, does not however mean we can not live according to our values. There are others ways we can live according to our values that helps maintain our sense of meaning and purpose, that in itself will help us towards our goal. This is a great easy reader with some nice quotes, that has the potential to totally turn people's lives around.

An Experiment in Mindfulness: An English Admiral's Experiences in a Buddhist Monastery, E.H Shattock, (October 2007)

This is an old book of an Admiral in the English Navy who spent a month on a Vipassana retreat in a monastery in Myanmar in the 1950s. Having done a week long retreat myself a good few years ago, it was good to remember my experiences in comparison.

Mind Open Wide: Why you are what you Think, Steven Johnson, (August 2007)

This 2004 book reveals up to date information on the link between our brain and the physical processes that occur in the brain and the links to the behaviour that emerges. Steven Johnson also wrote Emergence. It describes our mind as having many interactive parts from which emerge our sense of self. He also talks of the triune brain, where a lower level response occurs in the more primitive parts of our brain at the same time as a higher level response to a situation is formed. These two responses may contradict each other resulting in many mental processes, conscious and unconscious to decide our actions. He also shows how the various hormones and other chemicals lead to feelings that affect how we see the world and how we choose to respond.

Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People for Change, William Miller and Stephen Rollnick (July 2007)

This is the Bible of Motivational Interviewing. It is an amazing technique for working with people who are not motivated to make changes in their lives. By skillful questioning and avoiding confrontation, people can be gently coaxed into feeling safe enough to consider alternative ways of being.

Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, Steven Strogatz (July 2007)

Steven Strogatz welcomes us to the science of synchrony. He shows how networks of neurons, fireflies, cars in traffic and people clapping after a concert can can suddenly align and explains the underlying dynamics that links them all together.  He mentions  many person anecdotes of the work he has done and the people he has collaborated with as th science of Synchrony develops. It was not always an easy read and I would not recommend it as a firstly book to learn about complexity - Read some other books first to become familiar with the concepts and then this is a good book.

The Essential Jung: Selected Writings introduced by Anthony Storr (July 2007)

This selection of the writings of Carl Jung provides an excellent  understanding of his ideas and concepts. it is not a light read and I find is best done in chunks, but it gives a good comprehensive view on Jung's ideas in his own words.

Linked; How everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life by Albert Laslo Barabasi (July 2007)

Albert Laslo Barabasi is the acknowledged expert on networks. This very readable book opens the world of networks to the ordinary reader and shows the unexpected links connecting the internet, brain cells, electricity grids, the growth of viruses, businesses and much more.

Facing the Dragon: Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity by Robert L Moore (June 2007)

A great look at Jungian Archetypes and the archetype of the Dragon in particular. Robert Moore links this to the human tendency to grandiosity of always wanting to be superior to those around us creates all sorts of problems in our lives. He sees the dragon as the desire to be grandiose. He also discusses the archetypes of the king, warrior, magician and lover.

Frontier of Dreams: The History of New Zealand by Bronny's Dalley and Gavin McLean (April 2007)

An excellent easy to read, full history of New Zealand. It was developed as the companion book for the television series created by TVNZ. It give an enormous amount of interesting background information on what made our nation what it is.

Symbiotic Planet, A New View of Evolution by Lynn Margulis (June 2007)

An interesting look at Lyn Margulis' view on evolution. She worked with James Lovelock to develop the Gaia hypothesis. She tells the story of her life as the book unfolds with lots of interesting personal anecdotes. The book was published back in 1998, but it is still a good read.

Lies, Lies, Lies, The Psychology of Deceit (May 2007)

An interesting look at lies and deceit. We naturally think telling lies is wrong, but it is not that simple. We all tell lies regularly, whether to avoid embarrassment or punishment for ourselves or others or other reasons. We tell lies to others and we deceive ourselves. A good easy, well set out read.

Evolution edited by In-Young Chang and Jennifer Curry (January 2007)

This book is a collection of recent articles, excerpts from books and addresses on the topic of evolution. It is about 160 pages long with short articles that can be read in a few minutes. It was published in 2006 so gives good up to date information. It discusses intelligent design, the evolution of whales, the history of evolution and so much more.

Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology edited by Hilary Rose and Steven Rose

(November 2006)

Since I am very attracted to the ideas of Evolutionary Psychology, I thought this would be a good book to read when I found it in the library; to challenge the other readings I have done. The book is a collection of articles, with different articles focusing on different areas, so it is hard to get an overall view of what view the editors are trying to get across. Stephen Gould was one contributor. He complained about the "fundamentalist EP" of Dawkins, Wilson, Pinker etc. saying survival of the fittest is not the only mechanism creating evolutionary changes. He states that chance events play a significant role and that spandrels are another path of evolution. A spandrel is something created to support some other feature of an organism, which then by chance happens to be able to be evolved into something very effective to meet a new need of the environment. A non-organic example that helps give the idea of a spandrel I thought of, is a tractor tyre used to stop a boat from hitting the side of a harbour. It was formed to be an integral part of a tractor, but its crucial qualities enable it to be used to stop boats from banging against the side of the wharf.

The Birth of Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought by Gary Marcus

(November 2006)

This book written in 2004 looks at genetics and the physical structure of the brain to gain a better understanding of how the mind works. It gives a good, simple up to date picture of genetics.

***************************************************************
I am listening to a lecture series of European History 1450-1989 as a podcast through Berkeley University that I am enjoying a great deal.
***************************************************************

The Moment of Complexity, Emerging Network Culture by Mark C. Taylor

(November 2006)

This is a fascinating book looking at the movement from reductionism to the post-modernist relativistic ideas. He then proposes the a network culture is emerging, based on the principles of  complexity that takes knowledge a step further on. He follows through the ideas of people like Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche etc on his journey of developing his ideas.

He writes about the reductionist view of the world being tied to the grid and mentions Le Corbusier's architecture and compares it to the more organic looking Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Taylor ties together many different fields and authors from Derrida, to Stuart Kauffman, Levy Strauss, John Holland, Charles Darwin, looking at the art work of Chuck Close as examples of network based art, and many more, to show the evolution of a network culture which is just emerging.

The Embodied Mind by Francisco Varela (September 2006)
This book looks at the mind combining complexity theory, cognitive psychology and Buddhism to create a theory of how our minds work that sees it deeply embedded in, influencing and influenced by our physical being. It is not easy reading, but well worth the read. At present I am half way through.

The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker (August 06)
This is an excellent book by evolutionary psychologist, Steven Pinker. He examines three commonly accepted beliefs that are influences how we see our world and make sense of it. He shows however that scientific research often not support the beliefs, leading to a reassessment of many areas of our life.
 
The first is the belief in the Noble Savage. This proposes that earlier human societies were less violent and lived in more peaceful and spiritual ways than we do today. Many societies have been promoted as being non-violent, but  time and time again these claims have been shown to be inaccurate. Consistently earlier social structures have been found to significantly more violent  than proposed by the noble savage. New York city has found to be 20 times safer to live in than tribal societies often idealised. That is not to devalue the cultural richness of such societies. Tribal societies in the western world have not been significantly more or less violent than other societies over time.

The second belief is the Blank Slate. This assumes that when we are born, we have no inborn tendencies, but that everything we are comes from the environment in which we live. It denies that genetics influence our behaviour. It is a tempting belief because it says all we need to do is provide the right environment and experiences for people to determine what people will be like. Steven Pinker is clear to say that the environment is extremely influential, but the influence of genes, directly and indirectly is far more influential than we might like to admit. An example of an indirect genetic influence would be a person with a propensity for violence then seeks out similar peers, who influence the person socially.

The third belief is the Ghost in the Machine. This is the idea that there is someone, or something inside us guiding our actions. It is as though there is a little man inside our head, who is in control.  If we do have such a person in us, the question is, who is the person in their head, and in their head. For some the final answer is God or spirit. Complexity Theory would tell us complex behavioural outcomes can emerge from the intense interactions of the various parts of our brain.

I have found this to be an extremely challenging book. I am very struck by the logic and scientific
rigorousness of the book, but find it hard to reconcile in a way that maintains my spiritual perspectives on life. So many human behaviours which we usually see as part of our spiritual essence, (e.g. compassion, caring, sacrificing ourselves or others) can not only be explained by natural selection and social genetic theories, but the same logic that explains them, also explains our violence, greed, cheating etc. So, we can't have one without the other.
Check out this review

The Future is Now by Echkart Tolle (August 06)

I looked at this book following a recommendation. A few years ago I would have loved this book, but now find it a bit light-weight. Apparently Eckhart Tolle had an intense spiritual experience that has allowed him to pass on his message of spiritual hope in a more relevant way for modern people giving great hope for the future. Without having had such an experience myself, I am not in a real position to pass comment on what he says, but from my own  biased position, I find it talks about our need to have a more spiritual perspective and how good it is to find, but gives little help about how we might achieve such a state of being.

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (August 06)

I have been listening to this on audiotape in my car. It is very unusual for me to read a novel, so it makes an interesting change. It is a great stories with lots of twists and turns that shed light on life in Devon in the 1800's, but also reveals the struggles of ordinary people wanting to create a good life and do the right thing, but finding their humanness all to often betrays them.

The Faith of Reason by Bill Moyer (August 06)

This is an interesting series with Bill Moyer talking to people like Pema Chodron, Margaret Aywood and Salman Rushdie. Some were better than others and there will be more episodes added over time.

The Thinking Ape: Evolutionary Origins of Intelligence by Richard Byrne (August 06)

Oxford University Press, New York, 1995

I didn't end up finishing this book, but it had much good information on animal behaviour and how that might relate to human behaviour. It is ten years old, so I would be interested to see how it would be different now.

If you would like to make comments on any of these books, tapes, podcasts, please email mees Darwin, looking at the art work of Chuck Close as examples of network based art, and many more, to show the evolution of a network culture which is just emerging.

The Embodied Mind by Francisco Varela (September 2006)
This book looks at the mind combining complexity theory, cognitive psychology and Buddhism to create a theory of how our minds work that sees it deeply embedded in, influencing and influenced by our physical being. It is not easy reading, but well worth the read. At present I am half way through.

The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker (August 06)
This is an excellent book by evolutionary psychologist, Steven Pinker. He examines three commonly accepted beliefs that are influences how we see our world and make sense of it. He shows however that scientific research often not support the beliefs, leading to a reassessment of many areas of our life.
 
The first is the belief in the Noble Savage. This proposes that earlier human societies were less violent and lived in more peaceful and spiritual ways than we do today. Many societies have been promoted as being non-violent, but  time and time again these claims have been shown to be inaccurate. Consistently earlier soc

The Jason Voyage: The Quest for the Golden Fleece, Tim Severin (Jan 07)

I reread this book. It is a good easy read with a story line that carries you along. Tim Severin built a bronze age galley just as they were made around 500BC and followed the journey of Jason and the Argonaughts from the epic handed down in his search for the Golden Fleece. The book traces the adventures of Jason, but at the same time the story of the crew of the modern ship Argo as they follow the route with only those tools and resources Jason and his Argonaught would have had. By looking at the journey from a practical seafearing persepctive he was able to identify more accurately the places where the different adventures occurred and exactly where Jason is likely to have traveled. He found for example in Georgia, where the journey ended that a sheep's fleece is placed in rivers to collect gold as it flows down from the Caucasas mountains.

Chaos and Life: Complexity and Order in Evolution and Thought, Richard Bird (Dec 07)

This book links the concepts of chaos and complexity to evolution. There is a good introduction to the principles of chaos and complexity. Richard Bird investigates DNA and proposes that what has come to be known as junk DNA may in fact encode information using a unitary number system instead of the binary system used by computers. A unitary code has only ones and gaps, so 1111111,111 would be 7,3. This makes the DNA like a biological hard drive.  Next the RNA acts like the read head on the hard drive. he says the RNA also stores the algorithms or the operations used on the information in the DNA like a Turing  machine. the output therefore is what forms living systems. this brings a mathematical base to the DNA and life.

He later look at the mathematical contradictions discussed by Bertrand Russell, Kurt Godel and Alan Turing and suggests that when the contradictions are looked at as iterative or recursive processes so they are different in different recursions and therefore not contradicting each other as they do not stand together anymore. This book was interesting to read. The key ideas are not mainstream ideas that may or may not have validity. I do not have enough knowledge and more background information would be needed to fully assess the ideas.

Irreducible Mind (Dec 3007 - Feb 2008)

This is a massive 800 page book looking at evidence that the mind cannot be explained merely as an emergent property of the physical brain. It looks at current mainstream psychological theory and then looks at phenomena that might prove that the mind can not be reduced down to being an output of the brain. It looks for example at ESP, atuokinesis, life after death, clairvoyance etc. I expect to be reading this book over several months.

Threshhold of Mind: Your Personal Happiness Roadmap to Success, Happiness and Contentment, Bill Harris (Dec 07)

The book came with the Holosync meditation CDs I purchased. While it is totally commercially oriented, it also gives good information in a simple, easily understandable fashion.

The Connectivity Hypothesis: Foundations of an Integral Science of Quantum, Cosmos and Consciousness, Ervin Laszlo (November 2007)

Having been through the New Age trip, I have become very skeptical of pseudo-scientific writers misrepresenting science to back up their crack-pot ideas on spirituality. This book is the real deal. Ervin Laszlo has an impeccable scientific background and really understands the science he writes about. The book was published in 2003 and I am now starting to read his 2006 Science and the Re-enchantment of the Cosmos, so his information is up to date. He always cites the most reputable sources and creates a fascinating read showing how all life is connected.

A key concept in the book is quantum coherence; the tendency of sub-atomic particles to be linked together, or entangled, once they have interacted. Once two particles have interacted they are forever linked and changes in the state of one is virtually instantaneously copied by a change in state of the other irrespective of where the two particles are. Laszlo claims that this coherence not only occurs at the quantum level, but also at the macroscopic level of starts and galaxies. There is a large scale uniformity extending to galaxies that are not in contact with each other since they receded at speeds beyond the speed of light. Laszlo also points out the fine tuning of universal constant. These are universal numbers measured in various realms; the magnetic, gravitational electric etc. It turns out that if these numbers were even changed by one billionth, the whole universe we  live in could not exist. He posits that it is all held together by coherence and explains this by saying the big bang and big crunch to come are only part of on-going macroscopic cycles as described by ancient Hindu mythology.

Next he says that coherence is also evident in the living world and that the process of emergence seen in complex adaptive systems, whereby complex systems self organise to higher levels of complex organisation springs from the coherence that pervades the whole universe. It is this coherence that holds us together as single living organism made up of literally trillions of cells that must interact in the most complex of ways.

Finally, he links coherence to the realm of mind whereby individual minds are linked together. Jung's "collective unconscious" is an example of this. Laszlo discusses people meditating having their brain waves lock into step with each other and the "knowing" that so many tribal people have of events they could not have known about by ordinary means. He writes that coherence in this domain explains telepathic experiences.

Quantum science talks about our world as being pervaded by a quantum vacuum, a state beyond time and space, but from which time and space emerge. Particles come into being from the quantum vacuum and later disappear back into it. Laszlo prefers to call this a quantum plenum, indicating that is is a field full of potential rather than being an empty vacuum. He links this field to the Akashic field of the ancient Hindu, pointing out that it also holds information of all events past and present and extends throughout all space. It is this that is the background through which coherence can become manifest.

This is a truly amazing book, based on verifiable science. He does present a theory, which of course many others will disagree with, but it nevertheless presents a well considered case, based on real evidence, which offers a view of life as a unified process linking us altogether in a truly enchanted cosmos.

Science and the Re-enchantment of the Cosmos: The Rise of the Integral Vision, Ervin Laszlo (Nov 07)

This is very similar to Connectivity Hypothesis, but give a less technical approach. He also has invited authors adding their comments and perspectives at the end such as Stan Grof, Elisabet Sahtouris, Peter Russell and Jane Goodall.

The Happiness Trap: Stop struggling, start living, Dr Russ Harris, (October 2007)

This book was written by a New Zealander as an introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Theory (ACT). ACT combines cognitive behavioural techniques with mindfulness techniques from Buddhism. Rather than trying to control our thoughts and feelings, it proposes that we accept them non-judgmentally, noticing them and releasing them. Then we can build motivation to make the commitments we need to make changes in our lives. He also notes that it is important to know the difference between gaols and values. Values are what we value and find important in our lives in order to be who we truly are. Goals are the plans we have to change our lives so we can better live in accordance with our values. Often we find ourselves discouraged because we are not achieving a particular goal. Not achieving a goal, does not however mean we can not live according to our values. There are others ways we can live according to our values that helps maintain our sense of meaning and purpose, that in itself will help us towards our goal. This is a great easy reader with some nice quotes, that has the potential to totally turn people's lives around.

An Experiment in Mindfulness: An English Admiral's Experiences in a Buddhist Monastery, E.H Shattock, (October 2007)

This is an old book of an Admiral in the English Navy who spent a month on a Vipassana retreat in a monastery in Myanmar in the 1950s. Having done a week long retreat myself a good few years ago, it was good to remember my experiences in comparison.

Mind Open Wide: Why you are what you Think, Steven Johnson, (August 2007)

This 2004 book reveals up to date information on the link between our brain and the physical processes that occur in the brain and the links to the behaviour that emerges. Steven Johnson also wrote Emergence. It describes our mind as having many interactive parts from which emerge our sense of self. He also talks of the triune brain, where a lower level response occurs in the more primitive parts of our brain at the same time as a higher level response to a situation is formed. These two responses may contradict each other resulting in many mental processes, conscious and unconscious to decide our actions. He also shows how the various hormones and other chemicals lead to feelings that affect how we see the world and how we choose to respond.

Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People for Change, William Miller and Stephen Rollnick (July 2007)

This is the Bible of Motivational Interviewing. It is an amazing technique for working with people who are not motivated to make changes in their lives. By skillful questioning and avoiding confrontation, people can be gently coaxed into feeling safe enough to consider alternative ways of being.

Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, Steven Strogatz (July 2007)

Steven Strogatz welcomes us to the science of synchrony. He shows how networks of neurons, fireflies, cars in traffic and people clapping after a concert can can suddenly align and explains the underlying dynamics that links them all together.  He mentions  many person anecdotes of the work he has done and the people he has collaborated with as th science of Synchrony develops. It was not always an easy read and I would not recommend it as a firstly book to learn about complexity - Read some other books first to become familiar with the concepts and then this is a good book.

The Essential Jung: Selected Writings introduced by Anthony Storr (July 2007)

This selection of the writings of Carl Jung provides an excellent  understanding of his ideas and concepts. it is not a light read and I find is best done in chunks, but it gives a good comprehensive view on Jung's ideas in his own words.

Linked; How everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life by Albert Laslo Barabasi (July 2007)

Albert Laslo Barabasi is the acknowledged expert on networks. This very readable book opens the world of networks to the ordinary reader and shows the unexpected links connecting the internet, brain cells, electricity grids, the growth of viruses, businesses and much more.

Facing the Dragon: Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity by Robert L Moore (June 2007)

A great look at Jungian Archetypes and the archetype of the Dragon in particular. Robert Moore links this to the human tendency to grandiosity of always wanting to be superior to those around us creates all sorts of problems in our lives. He sees the dragon as the desire to be grandiose. He also discusses the archetypes of the king, warrior, magician and lover.

Frontier of Dreams: The History of New Zealand by Bronny's Dalley and Gavin McLean (April 2007)

An excellent easy to read, full history of New Zealand. It was developed as the companion book for the television series created by TVNZ. It give an enormous amount of interesting background information on what made our nation what it is.

Symbiotic Planet, A New View of Evolution by Lynn Margulis (June 2007)

An interesting look at Lyn Margulis' view on evolution. She worked with James Lovelock to develop the Gaia hypothesis. She tells the story of her life as the book unfolds with lots of interesting personal anecdotes. The book was published back in 1998, but it is still a good read.

Lies, Lies, Lies, The Psychology of Deceit (May 2007)

An interesting look at lies and deceit. We naturally think telling lies is wrong, but it is not that simple. We all tell lies regularly, whether to avoid embarrassment or punishment for ourselves or others or other reasons. We tell lies to others and we deceive ourselves. A good easy, well set out read.

Evolution edited by In-Young Chang and Jennifer Curry (January 2007)

This book is a collection of recent articles, excerpts from books and addresses on the topic of evolution. It is about 160 pages long with short articles that can be read in a few minutes. It was published in 2006 so gives good up to date information. It discusses intelligent design, the evolution of whales, the history of evolution and so much more.

Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology edited by Hilary Rose and Steven Rose

(November 2006)

Since I am very attracted to the ideas of Evolutionary Psychology, I thought this would be a good book to read when I found it in the library; to challenge the other readings I have done. The book is a collection of articles, with different articles focusing on different areas, so it is hard to get an overall view of what view the editors are trying to get across. Stephen Gould was one contributor. He complained about the "fundamentalist EP" of Dawkins, Wilson, Pinker etc. saying survival of the fittest is not the only mechanism creating evolutionary changes. He states that chance events play a significant role and that spandrels are another path of evolution. A spandrel is something created to support some other feature of an organism, which then by chance happens to be able to be evolved into something very effective to meet a new need of the environment. A non-organic example that helps give the idea of a spandrel I thought of, is a tractor tyre used to stop a boat from hitting the side of a harbour. It was formed to be an integral part of a tractor, but its crucial qualities enable it to be used to stop boats from banging against the side of the wharf.

The Birth of Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought by Gary Marcus

(November 2006)

This book written in 2004 looks at genetics and the physical structure of the brain to gain a better understanding of how the mind works. It gives a good, simple up to date picture of genetics.

***************************************************************
I am listening to a lecture series of European History 1450-1989 as a podcast through Berkeley University that I am enjoying a great deal.
***************************************************************

The Moment of Complexity, Emerging Network Culture by Mark C. Taylor

(November 2006)

This is a fascinating book looking at the movement from reductionism to the post-modernist relativistic ideas. He then proposes the a network culture is emerging, based on the principles of  complexity that takes knowledge a step further on. He follows through the ideas of people like Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche etc on his journey of developing his ideas.

He writes about the reductionist view of the world being tied to the grid and mentions Le Corbusier's architecture and compares it to the more organic looking Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Taylor ties together many different fields and authors from Derrida, to Stuart Kauffman, Levy Strauss, John Holland, Charles Darwin, looking at the art work of Chuck Close as examples of network based art, and many more, to show the evolution of a network culture which is just emerging.

The Embodied Mind by Francisco Varela (September 2006)
This book looks at the mind combining complexity theory, cognitive psychology and Buddhism to create a theory of how our minds work that sees it deeply embedded in, influencing and influenced by our physical being. It is not easy reading, but well worth the read. At present I am half way through.

The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker (August 06)
This is an excellent book by evolutionary psychologist, Steven Pinker. He examines three commonly accepted beliefs that are influences how we see our world and make sense of it. He shows however that scientific research often not support the beliefs, leading to a reassessment of many areas of our life.
 
The first is the belief in the Noble Savage. This proposes that earlier human societies were less violent and lived in more peaceful and spiritual ways than we do today. Many societies have been promoted as being non-violent, but  time and time again these claims have been shown to be inaccurate. Consistently earlier social structures have been found to significantly more violent  than proposed by the noble savage. New York city has found to be 20 times safer to live in than tribal societies often idealised. That is not to devalue the cultural richness of such societies. Tribal societies in the western world have not been significantly more or less violent than other societies over time.

The second belief is the Blank Slate. This assumes that when we are born, we have no inborn tendencies, but that everything we are comes from the environment in which we live. It denies that genetics influence our behaviour. It is a tempting belief because it says all we need to do is provide the right environment and experiences for people to determine what people will be like. Steven Pinker is clear to say that the environment is extremely influential, but the influence of genes, directly and indirectly is far more influential than we might like to admit. An example of an indirect genetic influence would be a person with a propensity for violence then seeks out similar peers, who influence the person socially.

The third belief is the Ghost in the Machine. This is the idea that there is someone, or something inside us guiding our actions. It is as though there is a little man inside our head, who is in control.  If we do have such a person in us, the question is, who is the person in their head, and in their head. For some the final answer is God or spirit. Complexity Theory would tell us complex behavioural outcomes can emerge from the intense interactions of the various parts of our brain.

I have found this to be an extremely challenging book. I am very struck by the logic and scientific
rigorousness of the book, but find it hard to reconcile in a way that maintains my spiritual perspectives on life. So many human behaviours which we usually see as part of our spiritual essence, (e.g. compassion, caring, sacrificing ourselves or others) can not only be explained by natural selection and social genetic theories, but the same logic that explains them, also explains our violence, greed, cheating etc. So, we can't have one without the other.
Check out this review

The Future is Now by Echkart Tolle (August 06)

I looked at this book following a recommendation. A few years ago I would have loved this book, but now find it a bit light-weight. Apparently Eckhart Tolle had an intense spiritual experience that has allowed him to pass on his message of spiritual hope in a more relevant way for modern people giving great hope for the future. Without having had such an experience myself, I am not in a real position to pass comment on what he says, but from my own  biased position, I find it talks about our need to have a more spiritual perspective and how good

The Jason Voyage: The Quest for the Golden Fleece, Tim Severin (Jan 07)

I reread this book. It is a good easy read with a story line that carries you along. Tim Severin built a bronze age galley just as they were made around 500BC and followed the journey of Jason and the Argonaughts from the epic handed down in his search for the Golden Fleece. The book traces the adventures of Jason, but at the same time the story of the crew of the modern ship Argo as they follow the route with only those tools and resources Jason and his Argonaught would have had. By looking at the journey from a practical seafearing persepctive he was able to identify more accurately the places where the different adventures occurred and exactly where Jason is likely to have traveled. He found for example in Georgia, where the journey ended that a sheep's fleece is placed in rivers to collect gold as it flows down from the Caucasas mountains.

Chaos and Life: Complexity and Order in Evolution and Thought, Richard Bird (Dec 07)

This book links the concepts of chaos and complexity to evolution. There is a good introduction to the principles of chaos and complexity. Richard Bird investigates DNA and proposes that what has come to be known as junk DNA may in fact encode information using a unitary number system instead of the binary system used by computers. A unitary code has only ones and gaps, so 1111111,111 would be 7,3. This makes the DNA like a biological hard drive.  Next the RNA acts like the read head on the hard drive. he says the RNA also stores the algorithms or the operations used on the information in the DNA like a Turing  machine. the output therefore is what forms living systems. this brings a mathematical base to the DNA and life.

He later look at the mathematical contradictions discussed by Bertrand Russell, Kurt Godel and Alan Turing and suggests that when the contradictions are looked at as iterative or recursive processes so they are different in different recursions and therefore not contradicting each other as they do not stand together anymore. This book was interesting to read. The key ideas are not mainstream ideas that may or may not have validity. I do not have enough knowledge and more background information would be needed to fully assess the ideas.

Irreducible Mind (Dec 3007 - Feb 2008)

This is a massive 800 page book looking at evidence that the mind cannot be explained merely as an emergent property of the physical brain. It looks at current mainstream psychological theory and then looks at phenomena that might prove that the mind can not be reduced down to being an output of the brain. It looks for example at ESP, atuokinesis, life after death, clairvoyance etc. I expect to be reading this book over several months.

Threshhold of Mind: Your Personal Happiness Roadmap to Success, Happiness and Contentment, Bill Harris (Dec 07)

The book came with the Holosync meditation CDs I purchased. While it is totally commercially oriented, it also gives good information in a simple, easily understandable fashion.

The Connectivity Hypothesis: Foundations of an Integral Science of Quantum, Cosmos and Consciousness, Ervin Laszlo (November 2007)

Having been through the New Age trip, I have become very skeptical of pseudo-scientific writers misrepresenting science to back up their crack-pot ideas on spirituality. This book is the real deal. Ervin Laszlo has an impeccable scientific background and really understands the science he writes about. The book was published in 2003 and I am now starting to read his 2006 Science and the Re-enchantment of the Cosmos, so his information is up to date. He always cites the most reputable sources and creates a fascinating read showing how all life is connected.

A key concept in the book is quantum coherence; the tendency of sub-atomic particles to be linked together, or entangled, once they have interacted. Once two particles have interacted they are forever linked and changes in the state of one is virtually instantaneously copied by a change in state of the other irrespective of where the two particles are. Laszlo claims that this coherence not only occurs at the quantum level, but also at the macroscopic level of starts and galaxies. There is a large scale uniformity extending to galaxies that are not in contact with each other since they receded at speeds beyond the speed of light. Laszlo also points out the fine tuning of universal constant. These are universal numbers measured in various realms; the magnetic, gravitational electric etc. It turns out that if these numbers were even changed by one billionth, the whole universe we  live in could not exist. He posits that it is all held together by coherence and explains this by saying the big bang and big crunch to come are only part of on-going macroscopic cycles as described by ancient Hindu mythology.

Next he says that coherence is also evident in the living world and that the process of emergence seen in complex adaptive systems, whereby complex systems self organise to higher levels of complex organisation springs from the coherence that pervades the whole universe. It is this coherence that holds us together as single living organism made up of literally trillions of cells that must interact in the most complex of ways.

Finally, he links coherence to the realm of mind whereby individual minds are linked together. Jung's "collective unconscious" is an example of this. Laszlo discusses people meditating having their brain waves lock into step with each other and the "knowing" that so many tribal people have of events they could not have known about by ordinary means. He writes that coherence in this domain explains telepathic experiences.

Quantum science talks about our world as being pervaded by a quantum vacuum, a state beyond time and space, but from which time and space emerge. Particles come into being from the quantum vacuum and later disappear back into it. Laszlo prefers to call this a quantum plenum, indicating that is is a field full of potential rather than being an empty vacuum. He links this field to the Akashic field of the ancient Hindu, pointing out that it also holds information of all events past and present and extends throughout all space. It is this that is the background through which coherence can become manifest.

This is a truly amazing book, based on verifiable science. He does present a theory, which of course many others will disagree with, but it nevertheless presents a well considered case, based on real evidence, which offers a view of life as a unified process linking us altogether in a truly enchanted cosmos.

Science and the Re-enchantment of the Cosmos: The Rise of the Integral Vision, Ervin Laszlo (Nov 07)

This is very similar to Connectivity Hypothesis, but give a less technical approach. He also has invited authors adding their comments and perspectives at the end such as Stan Grof, Elisabet Sahtouris, Peter Russell and Jane Goodall.

The Happiness Trap: Stop struggling, start living, Dr Russ Harris, (October 2007)

This book was written by a New Zealander as an introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Theory (ACT). ACT combines cognitive behavioural techniques with mindfulness techniques from Buddhism. Rather than trying to control our thoughts and feelings, it proposes that we accept them non-judgmentally, noticing them and releasing them. Then we can build motivation to make the commitments we need to make changes in our lives. He also notes that it is important to know the difference between gaols and values. Values are what we value and find important in our lives in order to be who we truly are. Goals are the plans we have to change our lives so we can better live in accordance with our values. Often we find ourselves discouraged because we are not achieving a particular goal. Not achieving a goal, does not however mean we can not live according to our values. There are others ways we can live according to our values that helps maintain our sense of meaning and purpose, that in itself will help us towards our goal. This is a great easy reader with some nice quotes, that has the potential to totally turn people's lives around.

An Experiment in Mindfulness: An English Admiral's Experiences in a Buddhist Monastery, E.H Shattock, (October 2007)

This is an old book of an Admiral in the English Navy who spent a month on a Vipassana retreat in a monastery in Myanmar in the 1950s. Having done a week long retreat myself a good few years ago, it was good to remember my experiences in comparison.

Mind Open Wide: Why you are what you Think, Steven Johnson, (August 2007)

This 2004 book reveals up to date information on the link between our brain and the physical processes that occur in the brain and the links to the behaviour that emerges. Steven Johnson also wrote Emergence. It describes our mind as having many interactive parts from which emerge our sense of self. He also talks of the triune brain, where a lower level response occurs in the more primitive parts of our brain at the same time as a higher level response to a situation is formed. These two responses may contradict each other resulting in many mental processes, conscious and unconscious to decide our actions. He also shows how the various hormones and other chemicals lead to feelings that affect how we see the world and how we choose to respond.

Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People for Change, William Miller and Stephen Rollnick (July 2007)

This is the Bible of Motivational Interviewing. It is an amazing technique for working with people who are not motivated to make changes in their lives. By skillful questioning and avoiding confrontation, people can be gently coaxed into feeling safe enough to consider alternative ways of being.

Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, Steven Strogatz (July 2007)

Steven Strogatz welcomes us to the science of synchrony. He shows how networks of neurons, fireflies, cars in traffic and people clapping after a concert can can suddenly align and explains the underlying dynamics that links them all together.  He mentions  many person anecdotes of the work he has done and the people he has collaborated with as th science of Synchrony develops. It was not always an easy read and I would not recommend it as a firstly book to learn about complexity - Read some other books first to become familiar with the concepts and then this is a good book.

The Essential Jung: Selected Writings introduced by Anthony Storr (July 2007)

This selection of the writings of Carl Jung provides an excellent  understanding of his ideas and concepts. it is not a light read and I find is best done in chunks, but it gives a good comprehensive view on Jung's ideas in his own words.

Linked; How everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life by Albert Laslo Barabasi (July 2007)

Albert Laslo Barabasi is the acknowledged expert on networks. This very readable book opens the world of networks to the ordinary reader and shows the unexpected links connecting the internet, brain cells, electricity grids, the growth of viruses, businesses and much more.

Facing the Dragon: Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity by Robert L Moore (June 2007)

A great look at Jungian Archetypes and the archetype of the Dragon in particular. Robert Moore links this to the human tendency to grandiosity of always wanting to be superior to those around us creates all sorts of problems in our lives. He sees the dragon as the desire to be grandiose. He also discusses the archetypes of the king, warrior, magician and lover.

Frontier of Dreams: The History of New Zealand by Bronny's Dalley and Gavin McLean (April 2007)

An excellent easy to read, full history of New Zealand. It was developed as the companion book for the television series created by TVNZ. It give an enormous amount of interesting background information on what made our nation what it is.

Symbiotic Planet, A New View of Evolution by Lynn Margulis (June 2007)

An interesting look at Lyn Margulis' view on evolution. She worked with James Lovelock to develop the Gaia hypothesis. She tells the story of her life as the book unfolds with lots of interesting personal anecdotes. The book was published back in 1998, but it is still a good read.

Lies, Lies, Lies, The Psychology of Deceit (May 2007)

An interesting look at lies and deceit. We naturally think telling lies is wrong, but it is not that simple. We all tell lies regularly, whether to avoid embarrassment or punishment for ourselves or others or other reasons. We tell lies to others and we deceive ourselves. A good easy, well set out read.

Evolution edited by In-Young Chang and Jennifer Curry (January 2007)

This book is a collection of recent articles, excerpts from books and addresses on the topic of evolution. It is about 160 pages long with short articles that can be read in a few minutes. It was published in 2006 so gives good up to date information. It discusses intelligent design, the evolution of whales, the history of evolution and so much more.

Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology edited by Hilary Rose and Steven Rose

(November 2006)

Since I am very attracted to the ideas of Evolutionary Psychology, I thought this would be a good book to read when I found it in the library; to challenge the other readings I have done. The book is a collection of articles, with different articles focusing on different areas, so it is hard to get an overall view of what view the editors are trying to get across. Stephen Gould was one contributor. He complained about the "fundamentalist EP" of Dawkins, Wilson, Pinker etc. saying survival of the fittest is not the only mechanism creating evolutionary changes. He states that chance events play a significant role and that spandrels are another path of evolution. A spandrel is something created to support some other feature of an organism, which then by chance happens to be able to be evolved into something very effective to meet a new need of the environment. A non-organic example that helps give the idea of a spandrel I thought of, is a tractor tyre used to stop a boat from hitting the side of a harbour. It was formed to be an integral part of a tractor, but its crucial qualities enable it to be used to stop boats from banging against the side of the wharf.

The Birth of Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought by Gary Marcus

(November 2006)

This book written in 2004 looks at genetics and the physical structure of the brain to gain a better understanding of how the mind works. It gives a good, simple up to date picture of genetics.

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I am listening to a lecture series of European History 1450-1989 as a podcast through Berkeley University that I am enjoying a great deal.
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The Moment of Complexity, Emerging Network Culture by Mark C. Taylor

(November 2006)

This is a fascinating book looking at the movement from reductionism to the post-modernist relativistic ideas. He then proposes the a network culture is emerging, based on the principles of  complexity that takes knowledge a step further on. He follows through the ideas of people like Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche etc on his journey of developing his ideas.

He writes about the reductionist view of the world being tied to the grid and mentions Le Corbusier's architecture and compares it to the more organic looking Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Taylor ties together many different fields and authors from Derrida, to Stuart Kauffman, Levy Strauss, John Holland, Charles Darwin, looking at the art work of Chuck Close as examples of network based art, and many more, to show the evolution of a network culture which is just emerging.

The Embodied Mind by Francisco Varela (September 2006)
This book looks at the mind combining complexity theory, cognitive psychology and Buddhism to create a theory of how our minds work that sees it deeply embedded in, influencing and influenced by our physical being. It is not easy reading, but well worth the read. At present I am half way through.

The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker (August 06)
This is an excellent book by evolutionary psychologist, Steven Pinker. He examines three commonly accepted beliefs that are influences how we see our world and make sense of it. He shows however that scientific research often not support the beliefs, leading to a reassessment of many areas of our life.
 
The first is the belief in the Noble Savage. This proposes that earlier human societies were less violent and lived in more peaceful and spiritual ways than we do today. Many societies have been promoted as being non-violent, but  time and time again these claims have been shown to be inaccurate. Consistently earlier social structures have been found to significantly more violent  than proposed by the noble savage. New York city has found to be 20 times safer to live in than tribal societies often idealised. That is not to devalue the cultural richness of such societies. Tribal societies in the western world have not been significantly more or less violent than other societies over time.

The second belief is the Blank Slate. This assumes that when we are born, we have no inborn tendencies, but that everything we are comes from the environment in which we live. It denies that genetics influence our behaviour. It is a tempting belief because it says all we need to do is provide the right environment and experiences for people to determine what people will be like. Steven Pinker is clear to say that the environment is extremely influential, but the influence of genes, directly and indirectly is far more influential than we might like to admit. An example of an indirect genetic influence would be a person with a propensity for violence then seeks out similar peers, who influence the person socially.

The third belief is the Ghost in the Machine. This is the idea that there is someone, or something inside us guiding our actions. It is as though there is a little man inside our head, who is in control.  If we do have such a person in us, the question is, who is the person in their head, and in their head. For some the final answer is God or spirit. Complexity Theory would tell us complex behavioural outcomes can emerge from the intense interactions of the various parts of our brain.

I have found this to be an extremely challenging book. I am very struck by the logic and scientific
rigorousness of the book, but find it hard to reconcile in a way that maintains my spiritual perspectives on life. So many human behaviours which we usually see as part of our spiritual essence, (e.g. compassion, caring, sacrificing ourselves or others) can not only be explained by natural selection and social genetic theories, but the same logic that explains them, also explains our violence, greed, cheating etc. So, we can't have one without the other.
Check out this review

The Future is Now by Echkart Tolle (August 06)

I looked at this book following a recommendation. A few years ago I would have loved this book, but now find it a bit light-weight. Apparently Eckhart Tolle had an intense spiritual experience that has allowed him to pass on his message of spiritual hope in a more relevant way for modern people giving great hope for the future. Without having had such an experience myself, I am not in a real position to pass comment on what he says, but from my own  biased position, I find it talks about our need to have a more spiritual perspective and how good it is to find, but gives little help about how we might achieve such a state of being.

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (August 06)

I have been listening to this on audiotape in my car. It is very unusual for me to read a novel, so it makes an interesting change. It is a great stories with lots of twists and turns that shed light on life in Devon in the 1800's, but also reveals the struggles of ordinary people wanting to create a good life and do the right thing, but finding their humanness all to often betrays them.

The Faith of Reason by Bill Moyer (August 06)

This is an interesting series with Bill Moyer talking to people like Pema Chodron, Margaret Aywood and Salman Rushdie. Some were better than others and there will be more episodes added over time.

The Thinking Ape: Evolutionary Origins of Intelligence by Richard Byrne (August 06)

Oxford University Press, New York, 1995

I didn't end up finishing this book, but it had much good information on animal behaviour and how that might relate to human behaviour. It is ten years old, so I would be interested to see how it would be different now.

If you would like to make comments on any of these books, tapes, podcasts, please email me it is to find, but gives little help about how we might achieve such a state of being.

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (August 06)

I have been listening to this on audiotape in my car. It is very unusual for me to read a novel, so it makes an interesting change. It is a great stories with lots of twists and turns that shed light on life in Devon in the 1800's, but also reveals the struggles of ordinary people wanting to create a good life and do the right thing, but finding their humanness all to often betrays them.

The Faith of Reason by Bill Moyer (August 06)

This is an interesting series with Bill Moyer talking to people like Pema Chodron, Margaret Aywood and Salman Rushdie. Some were better than others and there will be more episodes added over time.

The Thinking Ape: Evolutionary Origins of Intelligence by Richard Byrne (August 06)

Oxford University Press, New York, 1995

I didn't end up finishing this book, but it had much good information on animal behaviour and how that might relate to human behaviour. It is ten years old, so I would be interested to see how it would be different now.

ial structures have been found to significantly more violent  than proposed by the noble savage. New York city has found to be 20 times safer to live in than tribal societies often idealised. That is not to devalue the cultural richness of such societies. Tribal societies in the western world have not been significantly more or less violent than other societies over time.

The second belief is the Blank Slate. This assumes that when we are born, we have no inborn tendencies, but that everything we are comes from the environment in which we live. It denies that genetics influence our behaviour. It is a tempting belief because it says all we need to do is provide the right environment and experiences for people to determine what people will be like. Steven Pinker is clear to say that the environment is extremely influential, but the influence of genes, directly and indirectly is far more influential than we might like to admit. An example of an indirect genetic influence would be a person with a propensity for violence then seeks out similar peers, who influence the person socially.

The third belief is the Ghost in the Machine. This is the idea that there is someone, or something inside us guiding our actions. It is as though there is a little man inside our head, who is in control.  If we do have such a person in us, the question is, who is the person in their head, and in their head. For some the final answer is God or spirit. Complexity Theory would tell us complex behavioural outcomes can emerge from the intense interactions of the various parts of our brain.

I have found this to be an extremely challenging book. I am very struck by the logic and scientific
rigorousness of the book, but find it hard to reconcile in a way that maintains my spiritual perspectives on life. So many human behaviours which we usually see as part of our spiritual essence, (e.g. compassion, caring, sacrificing ourselves or others) can not only be explained by natural selection and social genetic theories, but the same logic that explains them, also explains our violence, greed, cheating etc. So, we can't have one without the other.
Check out this review

The Future is Now by Echkart Tolle (August 06)

I looked at this book following a recommendation. A few years ago I would have loved this book, but now find it a bit light-weight. Apparently Eckhart Tolle had an intense spiritual experience that has allowed him to pass on his message of spiritual hope in a more relevant way for modern people giving great hope for the future. Without having had such an experience myself, I am not in a real position to pass comment on what he says, but from my own  biased position, I find it talks about our need to have a more spiritual perspective and how good it is to find, but gives little help about how we might achieve such a state of being.

The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (August 06)

I have been listening to this on audiotape in my car. It is very unusual for me to read a novel, so it makes an interesting change. It is a great stories with lots of twists and turns that shed light on life in Devon in the 1800's, but also reveals the struggles of ordinary people wanting to create a good life and do the right thing, but finding their humanness all to often betrays them.

The Faith of Reason by Bill Moyer (August 06)

This is an interesting series with Bill Moyer talking to people like Pema Chodron, Margaret Aywood and Salman Rushdie. Some were better than others and there will be more episodes added over time.

The Thinking Ape: Evolutionary Origins of Intelligence by Richard Byrne (August 06)

Oxford University Press, New York, 1995

I didn't end up finishing this book, but it had much good information on animal behaviour and how that might relate to human behaviour. It is ten years old, so I would be interested to see how it would be different now.

If you would like to make comments on any of these books, tapes, podcasts, please email me
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