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Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence Mass Market Paperback – Dec 12 1986


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Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence + Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark + Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (Dec 12 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345346297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345346292
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2 x 17.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #93,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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THE WORLD is very old, and human beings are very young. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MIKER on Aug. 14 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dragons of Eden was first introduced to me by my friend and I quickly became interested after flipping through a couple of pages. I later picked it up, with the intention of just reading the first few chapters, and found myself reading for hours. While Sagan might be speculating, the information proved quite accurate and otherwise intriguing. Half way through the book I checked the date of the publication and I was surprised to find that this book had aged so well, I was until that time convinced it was a recent publication. Sagan explains the way we work, they way we evolved and why we act the way we do now. Sagan left me viewing the brain as biological software, emphasizing the analytic nature of our brain. While I read a review that stated I should be warned about the author preaching a philosophy I saw no substantial evidence to support that. Simply one of the most interesting books I've read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Davis on May 12 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had certainly heard of Carl Sagan, but only in terms of cosmology. I had no idea that he wrote extensively on the field of evolutionary biology-stimulated by his wife, the biologist Ann Druyan. My field is not science, so The Dragon's of Eden was my first encounter with the idea of the tripartite brain. The idea does not originate with Sagan, as he himself points out, but this slender volume makes the idea quite assessable for the lay person and, more importantly, it creatively explores the idea's possible implications. Although I read this book years ago, I have thought of it several times a week since then, as I speculate upon some of the biological causes of human behavior. Newer models of the brain have already proved some of the basic ideas in this book as a bit oversimplified, but if you are looking for an introduction to speculating about how the brain's evolution may shape human behaviors, this is great place to start. I found the book a "mind blower"-and I always pick it up used when I see it to give to friends. Prepare to have your perception of perception itself turned upside down.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Carl Sagan is one of the select few prolific non-fiction writers who can manage to create a masterpiece each time. While much of _Dragons of Eden_ is dated, the book was way ahead of its time and probably remains on the cutting edge of theory in the evolution of human intellegence (at least in the popular realm).
Those areas in which the book is clearly a generation old (Sagan predicts that someday computers will have television like interfaces, that regular people may have access to them and that they someday may exist in peoples' homes), are endearing, yet they also exemplify Sagan's foresight and wisdom. Predictions like these, and others (such as the then-absurd notion that genetic engineering may someday become science fact), are what sets him apart. As a scientist, he is a skeptic in the purest sense, but that doesn't mean he lost his imagination and ambition. He was not a cynic.
I recommend this book to just about anyone who is a Sagan fan. However, it isn't his best work. I would certainly place either _The Demon Haunted World_ and _Billions and Billions_ above this.
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By A Customer on Aug. 3 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was the first book I read by Cark Sagan while in college. As a layman, I found it to be completely accessible and absolutely fascinating. Among the most memorable of his well-thought out and original theories are: his belief that man's inherent fears of snakes and heights can be traced back to his days as a tree-dwelling primate during which the snake constituted his only natural enemy; his idea that the ogres, elves, goblins, and "little people" that pop up in every culture's myths and fairy tales are genetic memories of a time when man's ancestors shared the earth with other intelligent humanoids; and his speculation that perhaps man is the only primate capable of verbal speech (chimpanzees and other primates are right on the brink, so to speak, as evidenced by their quick grasp of sign language) because his ancestors engaged in genocide against other linguistic humanoids- their primary competition. Sagan is best known as the man who popularized astronomy. But this book, one of his best, shows that he was just as interesting when he focused on man's origins, as opposed to his destination.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I first read The Dragons of Eden in 1980 I thought it was a fascinating piece of scientific speculation. On re-reading it in 2000 I found it to be somewhat dated. For example, in the chapter on dreams, Sagan cites two examples of creative thought supposedly inspired by dreams -- the chemist Kekule's dream of a snake biting its tail (which revealed the cyclic structure of benzene) and Coleridge's dream of the exotic east which prompted his poem "Kubla Khan." Both of these "dreams" have since been discredited. Researchers have shown that Kekule's dream never happened. His first reference to the incident mentioned a "musing" which he fell into while contemplating the problem of benzene's structure. Only much later did this musing turn into a dream, when he was making an inspirational speech to a group of chemistry students. Coleridge's dream is also a little suspect. He first wrote of "a sort of reverie brought on by opium." Only twenty years after writing the poem did he speak of a dream.
Although Sagan can be excused for not knowing all the facts concerning Kekule/benzene there are other times when he seems curiously uncritical. He countenances the idea that some individuals can remember their own birth, citing his son's earliest memory, "It was red and I was cold" as reflecting his delivery by caesarean section. No doubt some people do claim to remember their births. But some people also claim to remember former lives and abductions by aliens. I would have expected Sagan to have challenged his son's statement. Had the memory been planted? Could the boy have overheard his parents talking about the event?
Despite its occasional lapses, I would still recommend The Dragons of Eden for what it is -- scientific speculation, generally interesting and often thought provoking.
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