Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century

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9780471295846: Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century
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"As someone who has spent forty years in psychology with a long-standing interest in evolution, I'll just assimilate Howard Bloom's accomplishment and my amazement."-DAVID SMILLIE, Visiting Professor of Zoology, Duke University In this extraordinary follow-up to the critically acclaimed The Lucifer Principle, Howard Bloom-one of today's preeminent thinkers-offers us a bold rewrite of the evolutionary saga. He shows how plants and animals (including humans) have evolved together as components of a worldwide learning machine. He describes the network of life on Earth as one that is, in fact, a "complex adaptive system," a global brain in which each of us plays a sometimes conscious, sometimes unknowing role. and he reveals that the World Wide Web is just the latest step in the development of this brain. These are theories as important as they are radical. Informed by twenty years of interdisciplinary research, Bloom takes us on a spellbinding journey back to the big bang to let us see how its fires forged primordial sociality. As he brings us back via surprising routes, we see how our earliest bacterial ancestors built multitrillion-member research and development teams a full 3.5 billion years ago. We watch him unravel the previously unrecognized strands of interconnectedness woven by crowds of trilobites, hunting packs of dinosaurs, feathered flying lizards gathered in flocks, troops of baboons making communal decisions, and adventurous tribes of protohumans spreading across continents but still linked by primitive forms of information networking. We soon find ourselves reconsidering our place in the world. Along the way, Bloom offers us exhilarating insights into the strange tricks of body and mind that have organized a variety of life forms: spiny lobsters, which, during the Paleozoic age, participated in communal marching rituals; and bees, which, during the age of dinosaurs, conducted collective brainwork. This fascinating tour continues on to the sometimes brutal subculture wars that have spurred the growth of human civilization since the Stone Age. Bloom shows us how culture shapes our infant brains, immersing us in a matrix of truth and mass delusion that we think of as reality.
Global Brain is more than just a brilliantly original contribution to the ongoing debate on the inner workings of evolution. It is a "grand vision," says the eminent evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson, a work that transforms our very view of who we are and why.

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When did big-picture optimism become cool again? While not blind to potential problems and glitches, Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From the Big Bang to the 21st Century confidently asserts that our networked culture is not only inevitable but essential for our species' survival and eventual migration into space. Author Howard Bloom, believed by many to be R. Buckminster Fuller's intellectual heir, takes the reader on a dizzying tour of the universe, from its original subatomic particle network to the unimaginable data-processing power of intergalactic communication. His writing is smart and snappy, moving with equal poise through depictions of frenzied bacteria passing along information packets in the form of DNA and nomadic African tribespeople putting their heads together to find water for the next year.

The reader is swept up in Bloom's vision of the power of mass minds and, before long, can't help seeing the similarities between ecosystems, street gangs, and the Internet. Were Bloom not so learned and well-respected--more than a third of his book is devoted to notes and references, and luminaries from Lynn Margulis to Richard Metzger have lined up behind him--it would be tempting to dismiss him as a crank. His enthusiasm, the grand scale of his thinking, and his transcendence of traditional academic disciplines can be daunting, but the new outlook yielded to the persistent is simultaneously exciting and humbling. Bloom takes the old-school, sci-fi dystopian vision of group thinking and turns it around--Global Brain predicts that our future's going to be less like the Borg and more like a great party. --Rob Lightner

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"A soaring song of songs about the amorous origins of the world, and its almost medieval urge to copulate." Kevin Kelly, Editor-at-Large of Wired, author New Rules for the New Economy: 10 Radical Strategies for a Connected World and Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World.

"This lusty tome generated by Bloom's voracious reading habit and extraordinary talent for explanation proclaims that groups of individuals-from people to vervet monkeys to bacteria-organize themselves, create novelty, alter their surroundings, and triumph to leave more offspring than loner individuals. A stunning commitment to scientific evidence, this sequel to The Lucifer Principle ought to purge the academic world of 'selfish genes' and the neodarwinist dogma of 'individual selection'." Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor, University of Massachusetts, recipient of a 1999 National Medal of Science, author of Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution.

"Howard Bloom has a fascinating vision of the interplay of life, and a compelling style which I found captivating." Nils Daulaire, President and CEO, Global Health Council.

"I have met God and he lives in Brooklyn. I could try to convince you that Howard Bloom is next on a very short list that includes Darwin, Freud, Einstein and Buckminster Fuller, but Howard can probably do a much better job of convincing you himself." Richard Metzger, editor Disinfo.com, host of Channel Four TV Britain's Disinfo Nation.

"In a superbly written and totally original argument, Howard Bloom continues his one-man tradition of tackling the taboo subjects. With a marvelously erudite survey of life and society from bacteria to the Internet, he demonstrates that group selection is for real and the group mind was there from the start. What we are entering now is but the latest phase in the evolution of the global brain. This is a must read for professionals and laymen alike." Robin Fox, University Professor of Social Theory, Rutgers University, co-author with Lionel Tiger of The Imperial Animal.

"A modern-day prophet, Bloom compels us to admit that evolution is a team sport. This is a picture of the universe in which human emotions find their basis in the survival of matter, and the atoms themselves are held together with love. I am awestruck." Douglas Rushkoff-author of Media Virus, Coercion, and Ecstasy Club

"Global Brain is wonderful! I'm amazed at the book's knowledge and the scope of its reach. The 'mass mind' idea is wondrous, smart and immensely creative." Georgie Anne Geyer, syndicated columnist, Universal Press Syndicate, and author of Guerrilla Prince: The Untold Story of Fidel Castro.

"Howard Bloom's work is simply brilliant and there is nothing else like it, anywhere--we've looked, as have our colleagues. Global Brain is powerful, provocative, and mind-blowing." Don Edward Beck, Ph.D., author of Spiral Dynamics, co-director, National Values Center.

"The Thales of the Internet, Howard Bloom thinks what he wants, writes what he thinks, and performs his synthesis with a good heart, uncompromising truth, creative brain, and mountains of evidence. From the bacterial web of Eshel Ben-Jacob to the scientific sidelining of Professor Ling, we see the daunting power of groups that interact and sacrifice their members in order to thrive and evolve. Global Brain is a historical tour-de-force, one based on evolution and the complexity of adaptive systems." Dorion Sagan, author of Biospheres and co-author of Into the Cool: The New Thermodynamics of Life.

"Stunning! Howard Bloom has done it again. He is certainly on to something." Peter Corning, Director, Institute for the Study of Complex Systems, President, International Society For the Systems Sciences, author of The Synergism Hypothesis: a theory of progressive evolution and Nature's Magic: Synergy in Evolution and the Fate of Humankind.

"Howard Bloom believes that the Leviathan, or society as an organism, is not a fanciful metaphor but an actual product of evolution. The Darwinian struggle for existence has taken place among societies, as well as among individuals within societies. We do strive as individuals, but we are also part of something larger than ourselves, with a complex physiology and mental life that we carry out but only dimly understand. With this bold vision of evolution and human behavior, Bloom has raced ahead of the timid scientific herd." David Sloan Wilson, co-author of Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior

"Bloom paints a spirited and wide ranging picture of the importance of information sharing and other forms of cooperation in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans. Arguments on group vs. individual selection are normally conducted in dense prose, but Bloom's overview is high, swift, and enjoyable." Peter J. Richerson, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, UC Davis; co-author (with Robert Boyd), Culture and the Evolutionary Process

"My head is still spinning from so much eloquence and content. Howard Bloom says with detail and clarity those things which bite the soul." Valerius Geist, President Wildlife Heritage Ltd., founding Programme Director for Environmental Science, University of Calgary, author of Life Strategies, Human Evolution, Environmental Design. Towards a Biological Theory of Health.

"As someone who has spent 40 years in psychology with a long-standing interest in evolution, I'll just assimilate Howard Bloom's accomplishment and my amazement." David Smillie, Visiting Professor of Zoology, Duke University.

"A fascinating new evolutionary theory which could deeply change our view of life, and a new worldview which could radically change our interpretation of social structures." Florian Roetzer, editor, Telepolis, Germany, author of Digitale Weltentwrfe. Streifzge durch die Netzkultur and Megamaschine Wissen.

"You have not lived until you have interacted with Howard Bloom. He offers sweeping looks at similar functional patterns of organization at cellular, neural, social, and cosmic levels, combining them with powerful insights on social history and movements in human thoughts and rituals." James Brody, Ph.D., Founder, Clinical Sociobiology, organizer "Healing The Moral Animal" seminars, sponsored by The Cape Cod Institute, Albert Einstein Medical College of Yeshiva University.

"The interesting intellectual events happening in the world right now are really in sciencethat would be Stephen Jay Gould or Richard Dawkins, Howard Bloom, not Harold Bloom. Howard wrote The Lucifer Principle." From an interview in The New York Observer with Douglas Rushkoff-author of Media Virus: Hidden Agendas in Popular Culture, Ecstasy Club, and Coercion: Why We Listen to What They Say.

"God, this is GREAT stuff!" Richard Brodie, author, Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme, original author/programmer of Microsoft Word.

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