The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence Hardcover – 1 Mar 1978
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From the Inside Flap
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."
THE NEW YORK TIMES --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book came highly recommended but I'm still suffering from the disappointment of finding that a book I was looking forward to is printed on junk paper with very faint type which varies in density not only from page to page but across each page. It's also printed in a positively archaeological font so I can tell it's not going to be a joy to read and if I could be arsed and wasn't bothered about the cost to the environment, I'd simply ask Amazon to take it back. Just flicking through it, the illustrations are dreadful. I realise that litho printing uses dots to render images on paper but you're not supposed to be able to distinguish the individual dots at arms length. The author uses several graphs to illustrate his point but on the wole these are unreadable because the different symbols used to identify different species on a scatter grapher are indistinguishable one from the other. The original book was first printed in 1977 and if this is what we had to put up with back then, then I'm surprised anybody read anything. All in all, the print quality is like a fourth generation photocopy shrunk to half size.
Whatever you buy on the internet, you're entitled to expect decent manufacturing quality and this does not offer anything near an acceptable quality. Like at least one other reviewer, I'd recommend you not to buy this paperback item and do as I probably will, seek the hard cover version.
Some of the information may be a little dated, and in retrospect, while he claimed Bronowski a little anthropocentric in his disregard for the significance of chimp signing, sometimes he comes across as all too enthusiastic and seems a little anecdotal in his case for chimp linguistics, although there is no doubt that Washoe did sign in the Gardners' program, which he covers in some detail.
Of particular interest to me was the discussion of human brain evolution from Australopithecus Africanus onwards, and how each species' brain was an improvement on the old, to the detriment of our cousins within the genus.
The many evolutionary steps necessary to become better hunters and tool-makers are described succintly and with a clear idea of how each adaptation builds up a picture of modern humans; the way primates are scared of snakes from birth (the oft mentioned dragons), the function of dreaming in primates and higher mammals and the relationship of wide hips to big brains in humans; a woman with wider hips can give birth to babies with larger brains, so all size zero women are asking for stupid babies, which is quite apt. I have read that there was no actual 'informant' involved with his writings on marijuana, and that research was first hand. Some of the material on the triune brain is covered in an episode of Cosmos, and I'm sure this book fed into the research for the series.Read more ›
Sagan is somewhat simplistic in the way he stresses the layering (neocortex), reptilian core etc.. instead of increases in interconnectivity & his theorising may no longer be accurate in the 21st century. He depicts the Homo Sapiens brain as an organ riven with inner conflict & adversarial hangovers.
Hence the age-old dragons slain & re-slain (presumably our collective DNA memory of nocturnal mammal v. dinosaur?)
Very entertaining popularisation of science nonetheless.
As an introduction to the ideas and a springboard for further investigation this book is thoroughly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I received what could only be called a parody on a book. It looked like it was hand printed with the print smudgey and right up to the edge of the pages. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Malcolm Gilmore
Trying to read it, but the print is too small. Okay for people with 2020 vision.Published 11 months ago by Robert
I read this book when it came out, and recently again 30 years later...I now recognise where all my opinions ans thought processes began...excellent read - even 30 years on!Published 12 months ago by mike
Brilliant informative book, a little difficult to follow in some places, still got through it though. 😊Published 19 months ago by mark lord