Friday, May 7, 2021

It’s Not A “Body-Mind Problem” - It’s An “Ego-God Problem.”


As I’ve followed the philosophical roots of “dualism” back to Descartes (1600s) and Anselm (1000s), one thing is clear.  The entire philosophical edifice of this Mind-Body “Problem” was formed from within a Christian God-fearing mindset and it continues to reflect their dubious metaphysical assumptions and unreal confabulations. 


The Christian worldview is one that perceives people as isolated objects, not only from each other, but also from ourselves and the landscapes we exist within. 



Regarding the “Mind-Body Problem.”  


It’s a confabulation


Dr. Solms makes a wonderful analogy that highlights the error being made:


Question:  Was it lightning or thunder that killed the man?

It’s a meaningless question.

Lightning and thunder are simply different aspects of the same phenomena.


The “Mind” is the interior reflection of the living “Body” (both its interior happenings and its external interaction with the environment).  You simply cannot have one without the other.


Furthermore, we are embedded within an interconnected web of life and are the direct products of Earth’s Pageant of Evolution.


Why isn’t that reflected in modern philosophical discourse? 


Learning to appreciate the deep-time pageant of Evolution puts an entirely different richer light upon our interior existence.  An awareness that encompasses the whole of time and this planet that created us.


It also gives us a deep appreciation for the continuity of life.  Life is good, life is precious, but death is no enemy, painful though it may be.  Death is part of the cycle that brings forth new life.  Revel in the pageant you are blessed enough to be witnessing.  While you can. 



As for God?  


Who is “God,” but a creation of our unique complex human minds?  


Where did God come from?  

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Diary, "INDIVISIBLE" webinar & networking. All hands on deck, they say. What do I have to offer?




A few days ago I attended a “Indivisible Colorado Action Network & Rural Colorado United” webinar about effectively organizing and messaging in rural communities!  It was a call to civic duty and a networking opportunity because networking is key to success.



In that spirit of reaching out, I want share what I have to offer to other activists.  

Friday, April 16, 2021

Being an Element in Earth’s Pageant of Evolution


Although I’m a family man, with my share of friends, along with being community-minded, there’s a part of me that rarely fully connects with people, leaving me with an impression of being on the outside looking in and trying to make sense of all the distracting, and frankly, illusional thinking people indulge in.


Over the decades I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to understand what makes my fundamental outlook and instincts so foreign to the general mindset.  It’s only recently, with the hindsight of sixty-five years, and coming off of this “Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-gravity Project” that I’ve finally nailed it,


I possess a visceral awareness of, and appreciation for, being an element in Earth’s Pageant of Evolution.  


Such a fundamental understanding bestows a host of cascading spiritual and intellectual benefits.


Here's another example of words having power, by finally distilling those feelings into a sentence, I'm becoming aware of and comfortable with a new level of understanding and have created a fresh platform for taking it to the next level.  I mean, the adventure simply keeps on getting better.



This sense of self and spiritual solidity emerged out of a lifetime of curiosity and learning about (myself, but that's another story) Earth, deep-time, and her amazing evolutionary story.  


Especially realizing how the components of my own physical body had their origins eons ago.  Even before that, if you consider how Earth herself had to go through intense processing before promising molecular tricks and biological solutions to life’s challenges would have the material resources at hand to allow them to be put to the test and prosper.


It’s a long, amazingly complex story that keeps evolving as more evidence gets collected and processed into shared scientific knowledge.  Folds within folds of cumulative harmonic complexity flowing down the cascade of time.  Considering I’ve been paying attention to it since my grade school days, it’s inevitable that I’ve achieved some insights along the way.



In the end, the thought of being an intelligent self-aware element of creation, one who is capable of savoring the pageant of Earth’s amazing Evolution is more than comforting.  It provides me with a spiritual foundation and solidity in the face of challenges, inevitable failings and my coming death, that possess a depth of peace and security that no Holy Book, or fast-talking pick-pocket preachers can get close to offering.  It's good news worth passing around to the few who are honestly curious.   ✌️

     
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Regarding Deep-time

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Appreciating the Physical Reality ~ Human Mindscape divide


I believe, consciousness, “mind,” can’t be understood by studying modern people in these modern times.  

From an evolutionary perspective the mind is an inevitable (of course, with a lot of time and good luck) result of natural, biological forces at work in concert with geologic processes.  It seems rather self-evident our current masterpiece body/mind is the result of hundreds of millions of experiments, untold iterations unfolding over an unimaginable expanse of seasons and generations

A couple years ago I realized that for all the talk about body-mind, consciousness, perception, reality, or no reality, there’s a most fundamental divide that I believe needs to be explicitly enunciated and thought about.  Like a necessary first step before anything else can really start to make sense. 


Physical Reality is the physical world of atoms, molecules, universal laws of physics and Earth’s laws of nature.  It is Earth’s dance between geology and biology and time and evolving creatures, (and one in particular that learned to contemplate the universe and its short life), along with everything else around us.

Human Mindscape is all that goes on inside of our minds.  The landscape of your thoughts and desires and impulses and those various different voices and personalities who inhabit our thoughts.  The ineffable ideas that our hands can turn into physical creations, that changed our planet.  

Me, myself and I, and all that unfolds just beyond the sparks and chemical cascades unfolding within our physical bodies and brains.


The following is from 2018 and offers a bit more background.

Monday, April 5, 2021

What is “Earth Centrism”?


The Earth Centrist’s perspective acknowledges that Earth; her material constituents and physical processes, unfolding one day at a time, are our fundamental touchstones of reality.  

We acknowledge Earth and glory in understanding her pageant of Evolution and appreciating how that pageant is reflected within our own bodies. 



The justification begins with the physical fact that humans were created out of Earth's processes.  


Science shows us that we belong to the mammalian branch of one of Earth’s amazing animal kingdoms.  Yet, it’s undeniable that something quite unique happened around six million years ago when certain apes took a wild improbable evolutionary turn.


By and by, besides the marvel of our two hands, we developed two feet and legs that could stand tall or run for hours and a growing brain that learned rapidly and remembered. 


During this period our brain physically morphed in some significant ways that enabled it to host a profound leap in cognitive information processing, storage and retrieval ability. 


On the outside hominids learned to make tools, hunt, fish, and select plants, plus they mastered fire for cooking and better living.


On the inside our brains were growing and benefiting from the new super nourishment while human curiosity and adventures started filling and stretching our Mindscapes with experiences and knowledge beyond anything the "natural" physical Earth ever knew.


By Mindscape, I mean the product of all that our body/brain perceives and processes, which of course, evolutionarily speaking, was dependent on our brain’s hardware keeping pace with and driving the ever increasing volume of information and thoughts.


While the human mind and spirit seem ineffable mysteries, they are also of tremendous consequence and real-world physical power.  They drove our growing ability to study and manipulate our world; to communicate and record our experiences; and to formulate explanations for a world full of mysteries, threats and wonders.


People learned to think and gossip and paint pictures upon the canvas of cave walls, and even better, upon the canvas of each other’s imaginations.  We’ve been adding to our mind’s awareness and complexity ever since.


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Students’ Resource: A representative cross-section of Dr. Mark Solms' scientific publications.

We're now into section five of a larger project that’s intended to be a ‘Student’s Resource for Defending Physical Reality.’  In this third chapter of my introduction to Dr. Mark Solms, Ph.D.( #1, #2 ), I provide a bibliography of his insightful publications (books & scientific papers) which explain the basis for bringing the study of our human consciousness, and the so-called Mind-Body Problem, into the realm of sober, physical reality respecting, evolution appreciating, science.  (Incidentally, thereby putting the lie to the claim that meta-physical outside agents are needed to explain and understand human consciousness.)

This list is not complete by any stretch, but it is an impressive introductory sampling, and it’s intended to serve as a reference that’s guaranteed to inform, perhaps inspire, the serious student, along with serious enthusiasts of science.  People interested in better understanding how Earth’s evolution made us who we are. 

 …  (Continued at the end of this bibliography)



Dr. Mark Solms, PhD.

Professor of Neuropsychology


CURRICULUM VITAE Mark Leonard Solms

Born district of Lüderitz, Namibia, July 17, 1961


The International Neuropsychoanalysis Society

Co-chairs, Mark Solms with Cristina Alberini


Google Scholar list of Dr. Solms' scientific papers


Solms-Delta Wine Estate

Franschhoek Valley, South Africa


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Dr Mark Solms, Ph.D. (WITS)

University of Cape Town, Department of Psychology

Background and research interests

  • Brain mechanisms of dreaming, emotion, motivation.
  • Psychological mechanisms of confabulation and anosognosia syndromes.

Teaching responsibilities - Neuropsychology – Research and Clinical.

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Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute  Mark Solms PhD

Psychoanalyst and neuropsychologist.

Affiliations:

Dr. Solms holds the position of Chair of Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital (Departments of Psychology and Neurology) and is the President of the South African Psychoanalytical Association. He is also Research Chair of the International Psychoanalytical Association.

Dr. Solms founded the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society in 2000 and was a Founding Editor (with Ed Nersessian) of the journal Neuropsychoanalysis. He is Director of the Arnold Pfeffer Center for Neuropsychoanalysis at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, a Trustee of the Neuropsychoanalysis Fund in London, and Director of the Neuropsychoanalysis Trust in Cape Town.

Dr. Solms’ Introductory Lectures in Psychoanalysis can be viewed here.

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Regarding Mark Solms South African Farm and dealing with a history social injustice

Jill Choder-Goldman interviews Mark Solms, August 2019.

“I started to realise that the first thing is not to impulsively, concretely enact something, but rather just sitting with it and letting it be the ugly thing that it is, until you start to see what the nature of the thing is,” says Mark Solms.

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What is Neuropsychoanalysis?

Turnbull Lab, Prifysgol Bangor University, Wales, U.K.

The term 'neuropsychoanalysis' was first used in the late 1990s by Mark Solms, as the title of the journal Neuropsychoanalysis

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Other Side of Mark Solms PhD, farmer, vintner, humanitarian.

Recently, I virtually met an amazing man, Dr. Mark Solms, who’s many YouTube lectures do a superb job of walking students of human consciousness and the “mind-body problem” back onto the solid ground of physical reality based science, with a roadmap for constructive learning, through the new disciple of neuropsychoanalysis.  

You can watch a dozen of Mark Solms' lectures and find that each was worth it, for each offers unrepeated gems.


What’s he walking people back from?  The cliff edge of meta-physical philosophizing pretending to be serious science.  



I mean, proclaiming “spacetime is doomed”?  Advocating that the search for our consciousness must look to out-of-body agents, because every puzzle hasn’t been solved yet?  Rather than continuing current fruitful “physicalists” research, such as that being explicated in Dr. Solms' talks.


Get serious, that’s evolved religion.  Hidden under all the pretentious words and inscrutable math, it’s all about protecting our ever so fragile human egos.  What about focusing on learning about this amazing fantastical planet, that created this amazing fantastical body, that created our amazing fantastical consciousness, to have and to hold for the duration of our short lives!  By the Grace of Earth!


Speaking of human ego.


All of us make first impressions of people we meet, in life or virtually.  Some we like, some we feel indifferent to, some we’re leery of, and so on.  Mark Solms impressed me from the start.  I saw solidity and a superb mastery of his topic.  As I watched succeeding videos red flags never showed up.  The fascinating talks captured me and though the topic overlaps, each talk is unique and refreshing. 


Then I started researching and learning about the man.  His list of accomplishments helped make sense of that inner solidity he radiates.  After a few days of absorbing nothing but Professor Mark Solms I had to take a break for a while, allowing it to percolate and settle some.


Recently to get warmed up and into the project again, I clicked on a short TEDTalk by Mark Solms that I hadn’t listened to yet.  I was waylaid.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Mark Solms demystifies Chalmers' "Hard Problem" of Consciousness.

Dr. Mark Solms deftly demystifies Chalmers’ “Hard Problem” of Consciousness


Chance favors a prepared mind - and after nearly a year of dealing with “The Case Against Reality,” which, for me, was a collection of maddeningly dreamy philosophizing*; disconnected from physical reality; and dismissive of the known facts and Evolution, which are central to my understanding of reality.  *(on the other hand)


Learning is about providing us with tools and concepts we can work with as building blocks towards further developing our overall conceptions.  But Hoffman’s FBT theorem and ITP inspired “conscious agents,” was like a bad practical joke, offering little but frustration, luftgeschäft, irrelevance - no place to go with it once it's done.

As if on cue, YouTube prompted me with a suggestion that I might like this newly released talk:  "The Source of Consciousness - with Dr. Mark Solms" posted March 4th and they weren’t kidding.  Dr. Solms provides a way back to the solid ground of physical reality and serious science.

Among the speaker’s achievements, beyond being skilled as both psychoanalyst, plus neuropsychologist!  Dr. Solms is the Director of neuropsychology in the Neuroscience Institute of the University of Cape Town, an honorary lecturer in neurosurgery at the Royal London Hospital School of Medicine, and a pioneer in the scientific field of neuropsychoanalysis, being credited as first to use that term, along with being the recipient of many honors and awards.  He’s also credited with discovering and described the forebrain mechanisms of dreaming.

After I finished that first lecture, I had to listen to another one, then another, and another, two days worth of binging on Dr. Solms ensued before I was sated,... for the time being.  


Solms is an enthralling speaker and his ideas resonate with my own life time of learning about natural sciences and this body I inhabit, I couldn’t get enough of him explaining his findings and their implications and I intend to read a couple of his books plus listen to some of those talks again.  Lots to absorb.  

All that inspired me to put together this collection of lectures given by Dr. Mark Solms PhD, I'll be following up with another post highlighting a few of his many scientific papers.  

It makes a perfect transition between Hoffman's philosophizing and my own upcoming philosophizing.  Whereas I can only offer reasoning behind the perspective I believe in, Solms provides us with scientific physical evidence and clear cut justifications that are harmonious with my perspective and trust in science.

Solms deftly demystifies Chalmers’ “Hard Problem” of Consciousness, thus taking the air out of the wavy gravy meta-physical approaches to consciousness that removes it from fundamental evolutionary processes and physical reality as we know it.  It’s no wonder Hoffman never mentions Solms name, nor the promise of neuropsychoanalysis.

Among the points that resonated with my own understanding, 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Diary, “Get over it dude, why u so obsessed with Hoffman’s Case Against Reality?”

I'm happy to report that after an unexpected extension, my critical review of Donald Hoffman's "Case Against Reality" is complete.  I thought to do more by way of summary, but not getting any inspiration, so I'm done.  Perhaps in a year, providence willing, it'll be fun to revisit and see if I can write an interesting summary.  In the meantime, this will have to do.


HOFFMAN'S "CASE AGAINST REALITY," 

PLAYING BASKETBALL IN ZERO-GRAVITY, A REVIEW


The Case Against Reality book with an agent, ©Peter Miesler

Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-gravity Review is intended to offer solid information, food for thought, and hopeful inspiration for students concerned with American’s descent into delusional thinking.  It is set up to be easily skimmed, contains copious references to expert sources and reporting, along with a few promising gems.  


I've been challenged with the question: "Why am I so "obsessed" with Hoffman’s Case Against Reality?"


Overnight hoar frost#1, ©Peter Miesler

It’s a fair enough question.  Why have I spent a half year thinking about it, then nearly another half year and thousands of words dissecting Donald Hoffman’s book, The Case Against Reality, why evolution hid the truth from our eyes


I’ll tell you why,  


* It started with Donald Hoffman boasting that he’s doing serious solid science that is relevant to our daily lives.  When all he’s doing is sophisticated mathematical games, computer modeling, philosophizing, wrapped in just-so storytelling.  But, none of it deserves being called serious science! 


* Getting further into the book, I found my Down to Earth sensibilities and my respect for physical sciences increasingly offended by this man’s glib disregard for natural facts as scientists have refined them.


* His dismissal of physical sciences and the physicalist paradigm were as laughable, as they were irritatingly disingenuous.  


* His notion that the perceiver composes the perceived, is childish.  

After all, doesn’t light need to reflect off an object before we can perceive it?  The perceiver composes an impression of the perceived.  How does Hoffman justify such gross distortions of physical fact?

* His constant reliance on computer analogies to answer questions - is reminiscent of an evangelical’s dependence on their own Bible to make their case, such debate tactics are not acceptable for a scientist.


* His constant conflation of Objective Reality and Physical Reality, needs a spotlight.  

“Objective” being a product of our minds doing their best to keep subjective human biases out of their observation and learning process.  

Thus, science’s dependence on process and measurements; physical evidence and repeatability; facts at hand driving understanding; a community of experts always looking over each other’s shoulders; constructively learning from mistakes; demand for honesty at all levels of communication; and so on.


* His tendency to imply that Evolution has agency reveals a limited appreciation for actual “wet” evolution unfolding one day at a time, over the course of deep time.  


* In fact, turns out the only thing Hoffman knows about Evolution, is Evolutionary Game Theory.  (He's never studied actual Evolution.)  Realizing that, made Hoffman’s simplistic sweeping pronouncements regarding Evolution that much more galling.


* Then, his quantum level rhetorical fancy dancing that disingenuously conflates conclusions from atom smasher experiments with our macroscopic day to day reality, was like listening to nails being scrapped across a chalkboard.  

* He joined the chorus of talking head$, proclaiming “Space-time and Reality (as we know it) is Doomed,” a mere figment of our imagination.  Why?  Basically because their latest and greatest math breaks down, leaving them with no other conclusion.


* Then to fill in this contrived void, Donald’s imaginative storytelling comes to the rescue with Hoffmanian Conscious Agents that zip around interpreting reality for us, because the reality we think we are seeing, isn’t really there, says Professor Hoffman.  He assures us that he has the math to “prove” it.


Hallelujah, river's running again, ©Peter Miesler

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Philo+Sophia, Love of Wisdom, A Student Resource



We’ll finish my ‘Hoffman's, Case Against Reality, 'Playing Basketball in Zerogravity, review project’ by looking at the serious side of philosophy.  It seems only fair considering some of my wise ass remarks in previous segments.


I’ll admit to having issues with the showboats who demonstrate little respect for honesty, and constructive learning.  As for serious philosophy, that I can relate to on a personal homegrown level.  


That’s why I’m grateful to Lausten over at CFI for sharing a genuinely insightful talk by Richard Carrier, explaining what philosophy was, is and isn’t.  I’ve rerun it a couple times and it keeps improving.  It's a wonderfully fitting closing segment for this review, and I hope Skepticon doesn’t mind me sharing some of Carrier's posters. 

For the complete set see, RichardCarrier.info/philosophy.



HamboneProductions

Skepticon

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Critical Thinking Skills - In Defense of Reality - A Student Resource

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Considering my Case For Reality project is all about striving to develop a valuable resource for students who want to defend serious fact-based science against frauds using pseudo-science masquerading as fact - a formal consideration of Critical Thinking & Reading Skills is a must.


The way towards success is by studying and learning to recognize the patterns of deceptive rhetoric.  That way you become prepared for those tricks and find yourself ready and poised with effective responses.  


Don't ignore the lies, use those lies to your advantage.  Namely, by intelligently and confidently coming right back and spot-lighting the reality behind the concocted lie, with a compelling counter-story that explains what's actually happening within ourselves, biosphere, climate system, whatever the topic might be.  Also remember, there's always an audience to consider, meaning it's worth the effort to make the malicious lie, a teaching moment.


Solid evidence along with a narrative of the story behind the science, enabling people to form a better understanding.  Easier said than done, but unless we are changing minds we are losing.  


Consider the philosophy of Jiu-Jitsu, which besides being about the mental discipline of a warrior, is a philosophy about winning by yielding to an opponent's force, instead of trying to oppose force with force.  Rather than playing by the contrarian script, why not develop some intelligent rhetorical jiu-jitsu skills.


It starts with sharp Critical Thinking and Reading Skills, and for developing that we have clearly defined strategies.  Below I share from five sources;


Critical Reading and Reading Strategy

SkillsYouNeed.com

The Foundation For Critical Thinking

CriticalThinking.org

Critical Thinking

courses.LumenLearning.com

The SQ3R Method of Studying

Francis Pleasant Robinson - RememberEverything.org

21 Century Middle School Guide Student’s Guide to Study Skills

MiddleSchoolGuide.com

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Matthew Schlesinger, is hungry for more (HSP) interface theory of perception.

We've come to the last paper mentioned in the list of learned responses Professor Hoffman shared with me via his “Probing the interface theory of perception: Reply to commentaries, (HSP).  


The interface theory of perception leaves me hungry for more: Commentary on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash, “The interface theory of perception”


Matthew Schlesinger, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

volume 22, pages 1548–1550(2015), September 18, 2015

https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758%2Fs13423-014-0776-1
(full article1400 words)

Abstract

…  Is the theory convincing? I would have to say “almost”; although it certainly has many elements working in its favor, ultimately, I also found that some important questions were ignored or left unanswered,  … 

Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash (2014) have ventured into dangerous waters by articulating the idea that perceptual experience is not (necessarily) veridical. They provide support for their provocative claim in a variety of ways (some more convincing than others), …

Overall, I found the argument to be a superb opening shot in what may grow to become a rather contentious debate. …

We got phylogeny and ontogeny!

What a delight to discover that the interface theory of perception not only includes the evolutionary timescale, but also makes room for the developmental timescale. … 

At the very least, this feature means that there is a potential continuity across the two timescales, opening the door to a discussion of multitimescale interactions, including exotic subjects such as heterochrony and the Baldwin effect.

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opening the door to a discussion of multi-time-scale interactions”  Say what?

I’ve written Professor Schlesinger a couple emails asking if he could explain the concept, and it’s place, in lay terms, but haven’t received a reply, so I’m left guessing.

I don’t recall anything in Hoffman’s book Case Against Reality referring to  ‘multi-time-scale perceptual interactions.’   When I look up the term, there’s all sorts of interesting stuff, such as “entangled time in flocking: multi-time-scale interactions,” among others.  But nothing related to multigenerational perception or Evolution.  

Genetic coding and interactions with changing environments comes to mind, but viewed through the lens of “perceptual interactions over multi-time-scales” seems a non sequitur.  Is it a fancy way of saying the mental processing of varying levels of memory and forethought capabilities?  Could be, but then, why not simply say so?  Who knows?

The thing I do know is that when claims and lofty rhetoric overwhelms my senses and leaves my head spinning, with nothing to build upon.  I pull back to what I do understand and that always takes me back to knowledge attained through Earth sciences and biology.  

The breath and depth of the current scientific understanding within a simple pragmatic physicalist* paradigm is awesome (*before all the over-wrought handwringing takes over).  Heck, it even invites mystical experiences far superior to what can be achieved sitting in a monastic cell.  

Get out into dark skies, sit on the edge of Earth, gazing at a crescent moon, with the sun over the horizon and some planets in view, imagining their orbits, looking beyond into the milky way, thinking about the Voyagers and other manmade spacecraft and all we've learned about those worlds.  The deeper your understanding becomes, the more vivid your mind's eye.

Achieving a momentarily visceral awareness of those objects in time and space, now that get's about as mystical as a human could hope for.  Or the other direction, inward voyages, into your own body that are possible given today's medical understanding and imaging capability.  All it takes is doing your homework and sincere curiosity.

If we're going to spend all day within our mindscapes, why not spend energy on those sorts of constructive down to Earth pursuits?  Thoughts and ideas that can lead to constructive outcomes. At least that's what I'll be arguing for in future installments.

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The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life, by David Quammen


Science writer David Quammen explains how recent discoveries in molecular biology can change our understanding of evolution and life’s history, with powerful implications for human health and even our own human nature. … 

The pioneering work of Carl Woese.   (Goodreads)


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A New View of Evolution That Can’t Be Represented by a Tree

By Erika Check Hayden, New York Times Book Review, August 13, 2018


… Quammen’s sprawling history of evolutionary genetics ranges widely in its answer to that question. He synthesizes a large quantity of disparate material, circling repeatedly back to one scientist in particular: Carl Woese, whose work both fleshed out Darwin’s tree and laid the foundations for its uprooting. …