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on 6 August 2015
It is hard to disagree with Lanza's view at the start of this book. He describes the discipline of physics as almost desperate, as it not only fails to answer a number of quite fundamental questions through its theories, but also moulds and manipulates its current theories to fit. String theory and the many-worlds theory being two that have been concocted - without any evidence to back them up - in order to explain the current order of things. Of course, by its very nature science is always changing and many theories are updated with new evidence. However, as Lanza rightly says, most new theories in physics that seek to do some explaining can not be shown through experimentation and remain just ideas on paper. Perhaps they may not always be so, but they are as I type.

So Lanza attempts to put forward the theory of Biocentrism as an improved perspective that answers the questions physics slowly backs away from. And, it must be said, he largely succeeds. He argues very convincingly that the notions of space and time can be done away with and from here, moves on to the famous double slit experiment which exposes quantum weirdness and then some. That physics cannot explain this weirdness and Biocentrism can is what makes it so convincing. However, where Lanza was heading for victory, he soon - for me at least - engineered his own defeat. The latter half of the book becomes a little too 'hippy' for me, speaking as it does of Eastern philosophies and a universal 'one-ness'. I found these things a little hard to take, as I felt it shifted the book from a bold attempt at explaining a new theory, to just another book trying to link science with idealism. For a scientist with Lanza's background, this was as surprising as it was disappointing.

Another area where Lanza does succeed is in his call for a multi-disciplined approach to science. It is true that science tends to remain rigid in its own perspectives, and that by pooling knowledge more can be gained than by working in our own fields. Fitting human consciousness into a theory on the universe, Lanza has made inroads into a combination of biology and physics. For this he must be applauded. But this book really only touches the surface. Consciousness remains a puzzle to us, and as such the role it plays in our own creation and our reality is still a mystery. The book makes no attempt to explain consciousness and skims the surface of an explanation at best. Regardless, it is to Lanza's credit that he has made it a part of this theory.

I would not buy this book looking for answers. There are plenty of ideas, but nothing that you could say really explains it all. Some of the concepts described are heavy enough to keep you up at night and of course, such things cannot be unlearned. I had previously had a conversation with someone who said time did not exist and was just a 'flat surface'. I did not understand this concept until I read this book and as a result, my thinking about time has changed forever. So approach with caution, especially if you are a newcomer to the double slit experiment, but if you carry an open mind and agree that physics has had its chance and should step to one side, you may get a lot out of this.

I read another review of this book on Amazon which took issue with Lanza stating that once you leave your kitchen, it fails to exist as it is not being observed. The reviewer stated that you could merely leave the room having set up a camera to take a picture every 30 seconds to show that it remained there even without consciousness in it. I think this reviewer relied on time, which is, of course, a human construct. Once the camera is retrieved and the images observed, the kitchen becomes real...in the past. Because time does not exist and everything happens at once, the kitchen is being observed even with no-one observing it, because the observing comes from a person in the future which immediately affects the past. Because there's no such thing as either. And if this paragraph confuses or scares you....perhaps move on to another book.
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on 10 March 2015
The book addresses the issue of the nature of consciousness and reality and unsurprisingly, does not provided an ultimate answer. The authors concede that we are nowhere near knowing what generates the experience of consciousness, what it is that references the visual and other sensory events in the machinery of our brain, yet they tenuously correlate consciousness with other scientific principles. The author's premise is that everything that we know exists does so only through the conduit of the conscious mind without which, nothing exists; not space, not time, not the moon. He supports this biocentrism with reference to relativity and quantum theory and in particular, the dual slit experiments using entangled particles where apparently it is proved that their behaviour is determined by whether they are being measured or not. If he is simply claiming that the sensory and worldly out-there experience we enjoy of the stuff of the universe is generated by the mind, then from childhood, I have always thought that that was obvious, and so the book provides nothing new for me. However, he seems to be saying that if unobserved, then everything, even macroscopic entities, like a chair for example, only exist as probabilistic wave functions and only become defined as objects when observed by the conscious mind. This ignores the fact, I believe, that wave functions collapse when particles themselves interact as in macroscopic bodies, where one particle essentially measures the properties of another. So, for me, reality is created and exists without consciousness but in the untainted, unfiltered entirety of energy and matter of the raw universe. If all sentient beings were to be extinguished instantly across the universe, the unobserved universe would still continue, surely, to exist with as much or as little purpose as consciousness itself. The book did not change my own view if indeed I have interpreted the authors' viewpoints correctly.
The book also alludes to the theory that consciousness is a universal entity and that our brains act as receivers or receptacles for this one consciousness which I believe, is an idea incorporated in the 'dust' of Phillip Pullmans "His Dark Materials" trilogy and is a facet of eastern religions such as Buddhism. Perhaps the universe does need three components matter, energy and consciousness (the elusive dark energy).

I enjoyed the book as it is thought-provoking and it is laced with interesting and moving biographical anecdotes.
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on 26 January 2014
Straight off, I totally agree with Professor Richard Conn Henry's review in Journal of Scientific Exploration, Volume 23, Number 3, Fall, 2009, page 371 where he agrees that the essence of the book is revealed by the following quote; "the animal observer creates reality and not the other way around." Along this line of thought is the concepts of reality, the inner and the outer and the limits of our sense organs. The author's use quantum mechanics as a basis of their seven principles of Biocentrism. I like the way they gradually and carefully build the basis of each of the seven by clearly explaining the results of the experiments using quotes of interpretation from established authorities. One might claim that there is nothing new here. Perhaps, but I suggest that one will find the most clearly stated attempt to make sense of the illogical results of quantum mechanic experiments. This, if nothing else, makes the book valuable to the lay person who may have tried to understand the various findings but had to shudder and put down other books in dismay.
The reader will find an understandable explanation of the nature of time and space. Lastly, the second underlying objective of the book is to explain why consciousness is a necessary factor in making any sense at all of the message revealed in over 50 years of quantum mechanics research.

I wish to quote professor Henry again: "So what Lanza says in this book is not new. Then why does Robert have to say it at all? It is because we, the physicists, do NOT say it--or if we do say it, we only whisper it, and in private - furiously blushing as we mouth the words. True, yes; politically correct, hell no!"

Planet as Self: An Earthen Spirituality
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on 10 January 2014
This is cutting edge science as it should be written: intelligent, witty, warm and understandable by the lay-person!

The central premise - that consciousness is the creative force behind reality - is deduced Sherlock Holmes fashion, in the sense that "when you have eliminated the impossible, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth." Probably that isn't going to satisfy the likes of Richard Dawkins, but Mr. Berman stands more chance of making the hard-nosed sceptics think than most.

Engaging and enthralling for anyone who cares or dares to ask, "How come all this is here?"
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on 12 May 2013
Refreshingly original, visionary, free from dogma, written by a scientist who is both a biologist and a physicist, and yet understandable by a layreader
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on 23 June 2015
Unfortunately Lanza's book lost me within the first few pages, by presenting very weak arguments that we are living in an anthropic universe. It did this in such a way that the reader was expected to accept this half baked drivel as fact. The anthropic principle states that the universe is perfectly and purposefully attuned to support life by a designer. Anyone with even a casual interest in astronomy will see straight through this argument as they will be well aware of the size of our own galaxy (between 2 and four hundred billion stars) in a universe with 10's of thousands of other galaxies some with even more stars. As a result, the chance circumstances that led to our solar system being able to support life are likely to have arisen by elsewhere in the universe, simply as a result of its vast size. Astronomers are finding new extra solar planets in the Goldilocks zone on regular basis, but make no mistake, the vast majority of the universe is actively misanthropic. The most of the universe is utterly hostile to life.

The Author Douglas Adams did a brilliant job of outlining the anthropic fallacy that Lanza expects us to accept as literal truth:

“This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for."

In the second chapter of the book, Lanza tries to tell us that his kitchen doesn't exist unless he's looking at it. This is vaguely based on some loose mcgaffin about quantum wave forms and collapsing states. The essential argument is that a conscious observer is required for the universe to exist. Even more, that conscious minds create the universe. The trouble is, this is nonsense. I have devised a simple experiment for Lanza to try to convince himself that his kitchen does not collapse into a waveform of quantum foam when he's not looking:

Place a camera phone in the kitchen and set it to automatically take photos every 30 mins. Shut the door and leave it. The camera is not conscious. It will still be able to take photos of the kitchen. Most readers with a low credulity threshold will be able to see straight through this. It is not a new idea and the main reason that it was rejected by philosophy is that it has no actual value and is effectively a dead end. All seems a bit Solipsistic.Lanza seems to be taking quantum physics and applying them at a scale where they simply don't work. A more interesting question is how does quantum phenomena give rise to Newtonian Physics? Overall this is incredulous pseudo-science mcguffin that seems to be designed to appeal to gullible idiots. I will continue to update this review, if I can force myself to read any more of this junk.
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on 8 April 2013
Provokes so much thought. You can't fail to agree, but also to question. Absolutely fascinating. It's a must read. If you know someone who has everything and need to buy them a gift. Get them Biocentrism. You can't fail. If they have a brain they'll love it.
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on 31 March 2013
This book invites the reader think about and consider our existence in the Universe. I cannot claim to understand all the equations and ideas but to this book excercises the mind and you can catch glimpses of another reality.
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on 22 June 2015
On reading the summaries and evaluating the concepts in the Read Now introduction? Truths appear around how science is a sophisticated housing for introversion by "Professors of Knowledge", which by definition is only ever about things already known. Knowledge is a teaching method or book of the past, and does not have the temerity or willingness to admit this when seeking "The Know How" the Professors knowledge concepts are not cutting the mustard when searching for "Expansion" into non Job enhancing prospects of 'having the temerity for what is really out there! My getting this book is a must for my extroverting education.
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on 4 August 2015
This book begins with an interesting premise; that instead of positing bizarre scenarios involving infinite numbers of parallel universes to explain the findings of experiments in quantum Physics, we ought to accept that there is, somehow, and intimate connection between the mind and the basic operation of the physical universe.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book is underwhelming to say the least. The author fails to make basic conceptual distinctions throughout, and this has the effect of both weakening his argument and making the conclusion of his argument unclear. Thus, when he dismisses time as illusory, he does so on the basis that there is no objective scale of duration in the universe, and that experiments have shown that time can dilate. However, this conclusion seems far too hasty to me, as these facts still leave many of the other aspects of time such as temporal order, simultaneity, and the arrow of time, intact. His argument about space is similarly weak, and both leave the reader feeling that things are more or less exactly the same without space and time (as left more or less undefined by the author) as they were with them. His failure to either define his terms or consider potential counter-arguments makes this less than a serious academic work.

It is unclear, by the end of the book, whether 'Biocentrism' is a form of panpsychism, idealism, subjectivism, or some bizarre combination of the above. In different chapters he oscillates between these options seemingly without any awareness that they differ; in some chapters he seems to claim that reality is entirely a mental construct, in others he claims that there is an external universe, only that it consists of unresolved waves of probability, which he then claims has almost none of the features we attribute to it, such as time, and then moves on to describe the universe as having a past (etc, etc)

Whatever it is, this theory is clearly a philosophical, rather than scientific proposal- he offers no falsifiability criteria for his ideas, they aim to interpret what physics tells us about metaphysics rather than provide us with a scientific understanding of the phenomena in question. Given this, it is particularly annoying that he both continually dismisses philosophy throughout the book, and then fails to argue with any of the rigour which would be expected of an academic philosopher.

The author claims to be providing an 'explanation' of reality, and yet he fails to realise that without any actual mechanism, he is merely providing an interpretation or description of the universe. This is particularly frustrating given his dismissive attitude to other systems of thought which do the same thing.

Perhaps the most annoying thing about the book are the periodic biographical interludes, which are written in a deeply self-satisfied tone and are both irrelevant and uninteresting. Most of them detail various early, and I must say slightly unbelievable, aspects of his own scientific career.

In all, this is an extremely poor man's version of Thomas Nagel's 'Mind and Cosmos'.
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