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The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the…

The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence (1977)

by Carl Sagan

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Dr. Carl Sagan takes us on a great reading adventure, offering his vivid and startling insights into the brain of man and beast, the origin of human intelligence, the functions of our most haunting legends and their amazing links to recent discoveries.
  CenterPointMN | Jun 13, 2018 |
Haven't read yet.
  Shaberly | Aug 14, 2016 |
An intellectual and hypothesizing analysis of the evolution of the human mind. Carl Sagan has great prose but is sometimes a little too boggled down with technical terminology that his intended audience "the layman" might have some difficulty. It is an interesting read. I am more on the Gould camp (that human intelligence appeared out of chance and if you reset the cosmic clock we might not be here and our definition of intelligence might never exist) in regards to the evolution of human intelligence but I enjoyed it nonetheless. "Science is only the Latin word for knowledge...Knowledge is is our destiny."
  Devon.Stivers | Mar 11, 2016 |
One of the lesser points Sagan introduces is the analytical check our "left" brain must impose on our "right" brain's more intuitive connections. Ironically I would argue that Sagan's hesitance to check himself was this book's biggest failure. Often he excitedly drew out connections, usually preceded by a phrase such as "I wonder," that do not stand his left-brained test of reason.

With that said, I found the book worth the read. Sagan draws up a quick tour of human evolutionary lineage with a focus on our neocortical developments. He also always had a ready comparison to primates in order to more
fully showcase what makes us "human". As always, the line is thinner and more vague than many more orthodox religions would like to believe.

One major takeaway was the human ability, through the development of the neocortex, to have built-in "intelligence", I.e. analytical thinking, as compared to "instinct". Whereas instinctual information is programmed into tightly packed DNA (and is therefore limited in nature) and survives solely off adaptive selection, intelligence (or extragenetic info) resides in a larger brain capacity.. it is the ability to think on the fly and respond successfully to innumerable changing environments and situations.

Sagan introduces many other varying ideas and usually does a good job supporting them scientifically. All in all, if you ignore anything he says about aliens or computers, it's a good read. ( )
  Proustitutes | Jun 11, 2015 |
Very good considering that Carl Sagan is writing outside of his field. Great speculations on the evolution of human/animal intelligence. Minus 1 star for being heavily outdated (originally published in 1977). I'll definitely be reading a more recent book on the same topic; written by a neuroscientist rather than an astrophysicist. ( )
  heradas | May 31, 2015 |
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Populair wetenschappelijke uiteenzetting over het menselijk brein. Het beschrijft de evolutie van de hersenen, de uit verschillende perioden stammende lagen, de verschillen tussen de linker- en de rechterhelft, en vergelijkt de menselijke intelligentie met enerzijds dierlijke, anderzijds kunstmatige. Het is goed leesbaar, redelijk betrouwbaar, niet erg overzichtelijk, en wekt met literaire middelen een indruk van visie die de inhoud niet waarmaakt. Bevat woordenlijst bibliografie en register. Zwart-wit illustraties.
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For my wife, Linda, with love
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Jacob Bronowski was one of a small group of men and women in any age who find all of human knowledge—the arts and sciences, philosophy and psychology—interesting and accessible.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345346297, Mass Market Paperback)

Dr. Carl Sagan takes us on a great reading adventure, offering his vivid and startling insight into the brain of man and beast, the origin of human intelligence, the function of our most haunting legends--and their amazing links to recent discoveries.
"A history of the human brain from the big bang, fifteen billion years ago, to the day before yesterday...It's a delight."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:36 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Presents an overview of human evolution and discusses human and animal intelligence, the mechanisms of the brain, memory, sleep, myths and legends about evolution, and the possibility of intelligent extraterrestrial life.

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