Sunday, August 26, 2012

"The User Illusion": The Low Bandwidth of Conciousness

Brains, brains, brains. I just can't seem to get enough data about the convoluted feedback systems at work in our complex brain networks. While still working on the sleep book The Head Trip, I've also been reading Tor Norretranders' The User Illusion. This is a fascinating blend of Information Theory and neuroscience. I'd already read much on the genius information scientist Claude Shannon in William Poundstone's Fortune's Formula and James Gleick's The Information, and the unification of these recent favorite themes of neuroscience and Information Theory is very appealing for me. Two thumbs up, but I still have to finish the book. Maybe tonight!

From Amazon, "The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size by Tor Norretranders.  As John Casti wrote, "Finally, a book that really does explain consciousness." This groundbreaking work by Denmark's leading science writer draws on psychology, evolutionary biology, information theory, and other disciplines to argue its revolutionary point: that consciousness represents only an infinitesimal fraction of our ability to process information. Although we are unaware of it, our brains sift through and discard billions of pieces of data in order to allow us to understand the world around us. In fact, most of what we call thought is actually the unconscious discarding of information. What our consciousness rejects constitutes the most valuable part of ourselves, the "Me" that the "I" draws on for most of our actions -- fluent speech, riding a bicycle, anything involving expertise. No wonder that, in this age of information, so many of us feel empty and dissatisfied. As engaging as it is insightful, this important book encourages us to rely more on what our instincts and our senses tell us so that we can better appreciate the richness of human life."

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