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Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century Paperback – Aug 1 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (Aug. 1 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471419192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471419198
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.7 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 458 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #216,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas on July 13 2001
Format: Hardcover
Very very few books actually need to be read word for word, beginning with the bibliography and ending with the footnotes. This is one of those books. While there are some giant leaps of faith and unexplained challenges to the author's central premises (e.g. after an entire chapter on why Athenian diversity was superior to Spartan selection, the catastophic loss of Athens to Sparta in 404 BC receives one sentence), this is a deep book whose detail requires careful absorbtion.
I like this book and recommend it to everyone concerned with day to day thinking and information operations. I like it because it off-sets the current fascination with the world-wide web and electronic connectivity, and provides a historical and biologically based foundation for thinking about what Kevin Kelly and Stuart Brand set forth in the 1970's through the 1990's: the rise of neo-biological civilization and the concepts of co-evolution.
There are a number of vital observations that are relevant to how we organize ourselves and how we treat diversity. Among these:
1)The five major elements of global inter-species and inter-group network intelligence are the conformity enforcers; the diversity generators; the inner-judges; resource shifters; and inter-group tournaments. You have to read the book to appreciate the breadth and value of how these work within all species from bacteria to homo sapiens.
2) Bacteria have extraordinary strategies for rapid-fire external information collection and exchange, quick-paced inventiveness, and global data sharing. Species higher up on the evolutionary scale do not always retain these capabilities--they internalize capabilities while losing organic connectivity to others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Dec 13 2000
Format: Hardcover
Global Brain is a bad book. Really bad. The argument therein made is that all lifeforms are part of an emerging global consciousness. Not really a novel propisition, but having liked Lucifer Principle (even though its Japan-is-gonna-kick-America's-behind prophecies are both laughably dated and entirely incorrect) I decided to pick up Global Brain and give it a shot.
The book reads like a history paper from a mediocre high school student trying to expand his 3 pages of text to the teacher's required 10 pages. Footnotes abound, often after every single sentence in a paragraph. The footnotes in the back combined with the 40+ pg bibliography make up over a third of the book.
That being said, once you begin reading you see the annoyance of all the references everywhere is a mask for the deeper problems with the book, mainly that Bloom seems to meander from point to point, with no cogent theory explained, or position argued anywhere in the book. Mr. Bloom repeatedly raises some anthropological quirk of say... cave-dwellers in France, dresses it up in memetic theory, and footnotes to death without saying anything. There's no "there" there.
This work is obviously rushed and not well thought out. Not recommended to anyone.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "hurburgh" on Feb. 2 2001
Format: Hardcover
.
"Colonel" Bloom, the recently self-appointed commander of the Starship "Global Brain" has caught millennial fever. In his latest flight manual he sets out to convince us that everything on planet earth is an inter-connected, consciously aware, intelligent machine.
Like so much writing done on the fringes of the social sciences his ramblings get dangerously close to the murky world of pseudo-science.
In order to give his "opus" an allure of credibility and robustness the book is well endowed with footnotes and a bibliography. In fact they take up 150 pages of this 370-page book. It's a shame that he does not check the veracity of his citations. On page 59 we have the "in the wild" aggression of chimpanzees throwing stones at tigers. It's a shame that tigers are only found in Asia and chimps are restricted to Africa. That chimp had a strong arm! It's this sort of sloppiness that gives the behavioural sciences a bad name. The recent imbroglio over the anthropological studies of the Yanomamo Indians in the Amazon jungle is a product of such ill-disciplined research.
Bloom's book claims to cover the "Evolution of the Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century". We are given endless details on the sex-life of Archaeozoic primitive life forms and gory descriptions of pornographic Neolithic cave paintings (p103 -104). The flowering of western civilization in the past 500 years with the Renaissance and the Enlightenment and the last 150 years of technology development is dismissed in a few flimsy chapters. Surely if there is a Global Brain emerging the best evidence would be seen in the work of Galileo, Newton and Einstein.
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By A Customer on July 5 2004
Format: Hardcover
Obviously a lot of research went into this book. This book places the meaning of our existence in its correct perspective. Infinitely next to nothing, but each "almost nothing" plays a role in forming the universe. Excellent reading!
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Format: Paperback
Harold Bloom's Global Brain is one of those books, like Edward O. Wilson's Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (1998), Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997), and Ray Kurzweil's The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence (1999), that presents the distillation of a lifetime of learning by an original and gifted intellect on the subject of who we are, where we came from, and where we might be going, and presents that knowledge to the reader in an exciting and readable fashion.
By the way, the very learned and articulate Howard Bloom (our author) is not to be confused with the also very learned and articulate literary critic Harold Bloom.
Bloom's theme is the unrecognized power of group selection, interspecies intelligence, and the dialectic dance down through the ages of what he calls "conformity enforcers" and "diversity generators." These diametrically opposed forces, he argues, actually function as the yin and yang of the body politic, active in all group phenomena from bacteria to street gangs. He is building on the idea that a "complex adaptive system," such as an ant colony or an animal's immune system is itself a collective intelligence. He extends that idea by arguing that a population, whether of humans or bacteria, is a collective intelligence as well. Put another way, intelligence manifests itself as an emergent property of a group. Furthermore, intelligence manifests itself as an emergent property of a collection of interacting groups.
This idea is certainly not original with Bloom--indeed it is part of the Zeitgeist of our age--but his delineation of it is the most compelling and thorough that I have read. It runs counter to the prevailing orthodoxy in evolutionary theory.
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