Customer Reviews


11 Reviews
5 star:
 (7)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


5.0 out of 5 stars The elusive beast within
Reg Morrison summarizes in succinct and personal polemic style what problems the human race really faces, and does a good job of unmasking the nature of our mystically constructed delusions. It is a short book for covering such a broad sweep of our evolutionary and cultural heritage. Possibly some minor details are amiss, but the message is clear. For such an ultimately...
Published on May 26 2003

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Profound Hopelessness
Not just pessimism -- utter hopelessness.
Reg Morrison's view is that you and I are plague animals, an infestation on the earth. If you have any hope for humanity, any at all, then clearly you don't "get it." You must be disabused of hope -- to see hope only as a genetic mechanism that will serve to delay recognition of ecological disaster until our...
Published on April 16 2000 by Daniel McGrath


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

5.0 out of 5 stars The elusive beast within, May 26 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature (Hardcover)
Reg Morrison summarizes in succinct and personal polemic style what problems the human race really faces, and does a good job of unmasking the nature of our mystically constructed delusions. It is a short book for covering such a broad sweep of our evolutionary and cultural heritage. Possibly some minor details are amiss, but the message is clear. For such an ultimately pessimistic view of what we prize most about ourselves, its punches are well delivered.
According to Morrison, globalism is heading for global ecological collapse under the weight of the human plague, and will be followed by massive decline in human numbers, if not outright extinction. As the situation gets more dire, the search for mental escape in our mystical beliefs in culture-land, nationalism, media will increase, not decrease. We will be all mentally "off the planet" by the time we are kicked off it.
Taking his presentation of facts and conclusions seriously means that the present course of human affairs is still heading for disaster. I present some conclusions of the book. Reg debunks some of our cherished mystical beliefs, and counterpoises his grim facts, and I present here his main conclusions.
Belief 1. Humans have spiritual autonomy and are therefore accountible for their actions.
Fact 1. We are genetically driven just like any other animal. We have no mind other than the body, and we lack behavioural choice.
Belief 2. The environment is inherently stable and will rebound if given half a chance.
Fact 2. The environment is a chaotic system and is therefore inherently unstable and always has been. If it were not so, evolution could not have occurred. Rebound is a not characteristic of the system.
Belief 3. With enough moral courage, political will and technical know how, time and money, the environment could be repaired.
Fact 3. Most environmental damage is inevitable product of overpopulation. The more technological the attempted solutions, the greater the environmental debt. All human activity adds to environmental debt.
We fall for the false beliefs most of the time, because humans have a split brain, with "two spheres of awareness available to us, with two entirely separate behaviour control systems, one rational and one entirely non-rational.... ". Unfortunately for the human species " ... the rational brain should be viewed, not as the principal generator of behaviour and the pivot on which the species turns, but as an optional extra designed to be switched off the moment any serious evolutionary matters, such as genetic survival or propagation, arise."
The best course for human species survival would be a global, concious coordinated reduction in human environmental impact, and a strong reduction in birth rate. Instead we are probably going to get conflict, continued exploitation to death and extinction, with war and upheavals on the scale of the Biblical Revelations. As Reg says, "All species must fail eventually, especially the very successful ones, or the whole system will grind to a halt". Reg hopes we will wipe ourselves out quickly as plagues tend to do, so the system can carry on without us.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what is happening and why you don't believe it., Oct. 1 2001
By 
Ron Patterson (Huntsville, Al USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature (Hardcover)
Reg Morrison tells us, in this book, not only what is happening to the world's ecosystem but he also tells us why most people do not believe it. Morrison lays it out step by step. He explains why the population, in the last century has grown at such an exponential rate, and why that growth will soon come to an end....and head dramatically in the other direction. But one of the most important things covered in this book is why we refuse to believe the obvious, why we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the Easter Islanders and refuse to believe that our actions must inevitably lead to a dramatic population collapse.
Morrison tells it like it is, we are by nature anthropocentric and have ultimate faith in the ability of Homo sapiens to overcome any difficulty. Faith, Morrison tells us, is the magic ingredient that enables to make that wondrous leap from grim reality into the totally bloody ridiculous. So those who have given this book one star are the true believers. They have criticized it because they say it smacks of genetic determinism, a term invented by the critics of sociobiology, and not subscribed to by sociobiologists themselves. Or they have criticized the book because it does not offer a rosy picture where we are all saved by the wonders of science. Morrison paints science as one of the culprits in the rape of the world and not our ultimate savior. That is a message that raises the ire of many a true believer.
Yet all Morrison is trying to tell us is that what has happened many times in the past on a much smaller scale, is happening again on a worldwide scale. And it will happen because our population has already reached plague proportions and is now way beyond any sustainable level.
This is the very best book I have read in years, and I read an awful lot of books.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1.0 out of 5 stars How many innocent trees were killed to write this book?, Aug. 18 2001
This review is from: Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature (Hardcover)
Reg Morrison and Lynn Margulis start their book off with some provocative, fascinating stuff. They suggest, as E.O. Wilson has done, that something way back in human evolution drove people to evolve an inclination toward spirituality, a sense of "specialness" (the "proud illusion" in the title), and many of the traits of cooperativity that people hold dear. In the book Morrison himself expresses admiration for human achievement, while noting that an aspect of human evolutionary heritage of which people are generally unconscious, has driven the tendency toward pollution and overpopulation which is damaging to human and environment alike. It's a compelling idea, and is also useful in that it can help society to look more pragmatically at tacit assumptions and address the root causes of many problems, to craft better policy. If the authors had only stopped with this sensible, though novel, idea and developed it further, they would have written a 5-star masterpiece.
But the authors disastrously overstretch themselves and indulge in the ultimate hubristic fantasy: They pretend that they can "step outside" of their own human selves and perceptions, take a so-called "objective" viewpoint (though, needless to say, they do not hesitate in piling on assumption after assumption), and essentially give an absolute description of human nature and society based solely on genetic determinism. They trip over their own logic so many times that they bruise themselves, and come up with an utterly downbeat conclusion that, ironically, actually argues against doing anything constructive for the environment, since in their view the genetic tendencies basically lead humans toward destruction of their own civilization and the environment alike. It's an utterly preposterous, amoral, irresponsible, laughable conclusion that is essentially a self-parody. Most problematically, the book takes total genetic determinism as a given. Undoubtedly the genes say an awful lot about human behavior, but while they do introduce a set of tendencies, the interaction of the genes with environment and with the many facets of human society, foster quite a few unpredictabilities-- most of all in the capacity to observe and learn, and to adjust behavior correspondingly. This is in fact already happening; in developing countries as well as the developed world, birthrates are rapidly dropping, and especially in Europe, Japan, and developing countries alike, there is an intense drive underway to implement renewable energy sources in place of fossil fuels. There is quite a bit of human behavior that is extraordinarily adaptive, far more than can be glimpsed from a reductionistic assumption derived from genetic determinism, and Morrison fails to consider the power of this "higher-brain" thinking in adjusting behavior to protect both society and the environment. The next time these or any other authors talk about attacking the "human cancer," they should start with the people staring at them in the mirror. If you read this book, ignore its eventual argument; instead, continue in its theme of examining underlying assumptions that might be destructive to the environment, since this can provide insight-- and a more sensible environmental policy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars Kitchen science, July 27 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature (Hardcover)
I'm keenly interested in climate issues and evolutionary psychology, and looked forward to this book. Morrison's breadth of knowledge is impressive, but I doubt his qualifications to integrate the bits he casts out. I stopped reading at Ch. 6 where he describes (p. 132) research by an East German scientist in the 1970s that linked environmental stress (in the research that was conducted the stress was WW II) to increasing rates of homosexuality, and goes on to suggest that similar effects will result from the stress of climate change: "We will see a gradual increase in the incidence of biological and social dysfunction, as well as rising levels of unproductive sexual behavior, such as homosexuality, lesbianism, and pedophilia, and an increasing heterosexual tendency to postpone or avoid parenthood." (p. 134). I'm not a scientist, but the evidence cited is incredibly thin , and sounds like personal biases getting involved in a scientific discussion. I'll wait for a more qualified author.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Profound Hopelessness, April 16 2000
By 
Daniel McGrath (Brookfield, CT USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature (Hardcover)
Not just pessimism -- utter hopelessness.
Reg Morrison's view is that you and I are plague animals, an infestation on the earth. If you have any hope for humanity, any at all, then clearly you don't "get it." You must be disabused of hope -- to see hope only as a genetic mechanism that will serve to delay recognition of ecological disaster until our self-made mousetrap is inevitably sprung. Thomas Malthus was a prophet, and modern agriculture's green revolution only an insignificant pause on the road to our destiny of overpopulation and catastrophic megadeath. We have maybe 50 years.
You'll find a photograph of New York City's skyline with this caption: "New York, New York. This prodigious accumulation of biological deposits on the banks of the Hudson River appears to echo the monolithic uniformity of the Shark Bay stromatolites, yet it incorporates an unprecedented variety of waste materials." If you agree with Morrison's logic, this will be your only reasonable perspective of NYC, or of your own home.
What you won't find is a discussion of counter evidence -- of the aging population in the world's developed countries -- aging because births are well below replacement level.
Nor will you find a discussion of actions that might be taken to make a better world. Any such actions, you see, would suggest that there is hope -- and there can be no hope, not if you "get it."
Provocative. But hopelessly wrong.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Reg Morrison wrote the book I wanted to write., Aug. 10 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature (Hardcover)
Why is economic theory so screwed-up? Why do economists invariably assume what they hope to prove? Or what's even more incredible, why does everyone on the planet seem believe this stupidity? Obviously, we must answer these questions before we can even hope to solve our collective survival problem.
Guess what? Humans are genetically predisposed to believe in mystics, UFO's, Neoclassical Economic Theory, good-luck charms, etc.! In short, we evolved to believe in all kinds of gods -- including the Free Market God.
Reg Morrison wrote the book I wanted to write. The forward is written by Lynn Margulis. Morrison's book is endorsed by E.O. Wilson of Harvard, and Thomas Eisner of Cornell. If you are ready for some answers, read The Spirit in the Gene : Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature by Reg Morrison, Lynn Margulis from Cornell University Press
(This was a 07 August, 1999 BrainFood Book Alert! Permission to reprint granted!)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars #1 Best-Seller if we "get it!" (Don't hold your breath....), Dec 27 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature (Hardcover)
Reg Morrison has been able to take a few basic scientific proofs, put them together and achieve a conclusion that no scientist can argue with. Yet humanity is so amazingly, head-buttingly programmed to believe itself mystically created and guided that most readers will be unable to drop those "self-importance" blinders even as they read this simple truth. He realizes that fact, and realizes also that it doesn't matter.
We are what we are, and we're going where we're going. Changing our "progress" to give the human branch (of our real species) a longer stretch on earth would be quite undesirable as far as nature is concerned. There is no choice in the matter - we do what comes naturally. In our case, that would be self-extinction on the double-quick. Hey, don't worry about it!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1.0 out of 5 stars Bleakness based upon an unproved theory, May 16 2000
By 
Zenbob (Woodstock, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature (Hardcover)
The crux of the authors' argument is based upon a subtle assumption (in the preface, no less!). Once you accept that, then their "we're all doomed and nothing we can do about it" thesis acquires some weight and becomes truly depressing.
My thought is: if we're preprogrammed to be the way we are, and the way we are makes us destined to destroy the earth and ourselves, then why write the book?
This was really a dark, unrelenting journey of hopelessness. What I don't get is the other reviews: what is there to "get"? I'm being told I can't do anything to change this person's horribly bleak vision of destruction. I'm just "made" that way.
I'll stick with Edward Abbey and try to do something constructive in my world.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Great Stuff, March 12 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature (Hardcover)
The author thinks our species is genetically programmed for extinction and can't do anything about it. He may be right. Species usually disappear immediately after an enormous run-up in population, and our population has doubled in the last 50 years. (Without people generally taking much notice of it, I might add.)
Morrison doesn't think we have much choice in the matter, and I couldn't help remember the comment of the lead character in Neil Elliott's THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JESUS CHRIST, when asked if mankind had free will sufficient to control his destiny. "Of course I believe in free will," he said, "--I have no choice!"
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling, eye-opening, essential reading, Sept. 11 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature (Hardcover)
This book puts the entire human predicament in perspective. It clearly explains how we got to the point of six billion people on a small, fragile planet and why we are unable to stop ourselves from multiplying our way into a disaster. Reg Morrison has done his research and the conclusions he draws, while not pleasant, make a lot of sense. I've read a lot of environmental books and this one is one of the best. Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Spirit in the Gene: Humanity's Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature
Used & New from: CDN$ 0.46
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews