OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

Coming to Our Senses: Perceiving Complexity to Avoid Catastrophes

ISBN : 9780199988587

Price(incl.tax): 
¥7,260
Author: 
Viki McCabe
Pages
288 Pages
Format
Hardcover
Size
163 x 235 mm
Pub date
Mar 2014
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In this intriguing, contrarian book, cognitive scientist Viki McCabe challenges entrenched beliefs about the roles of perception, cognition, and information in the decisions we make and the knowledge we acquire. Using cutting-edge research and compelling true stories, McCabe argues that the roots of our local and global problems lie in our reliance on the wrong information (theories), the wrong process (cognition), and the wrong worldview (atomism with its parts-perspective). We have put the world at risk because we wrongly believe it to be an assembly of parts that we can manipulate at will. It is actually a coalition of self-organizing, complex systems-from cells to cities-that cannot be partitioned and retain their purpose. Nor is the information that specifies these systems packaged in our familiar verbal descriptions. Instead, such systems reveal themselves in fractal-like geometric configurations that emerge from each system's operations and reflect their structural organization. It is organization that brings each system into existence, produces its structure, and determines its functions. Thus, we come to know systems as disparate as neural networks, river deltas, trees, and economies by perceiving their branching structure. Without our conscious awareness, we can recognize other people by perceiving the unique version of a figure eight that oscillates around their belly buttons as they walk toward us. Form not only follows function; it doubles as information. Nonetheless, our bossy brains continue to block our perceptions using illusions and ideologies decked out as theories that pave a path directly to our current conditions of ecological destruction, political paralysis, and economic failure. McCabe counsels us to put our theories aside and focus on our perceptions. If we give them priority status, the information they access can block the hostile mental takeovers that cause many of today's problems, reconnect us to reality, and bring us back to our senses.

Index: 

INTRODUCTION
PART 1: THE NATURE OF INFORMATION
CHAPTER 1 THE STRUCTURE OF REALITY
Theory overrides structure and promotes disaster: The Vincennes incident
The Origins and Nature of Structural Information
Saved by Structural Information
Our Complex Perceptual Systems: J.J. Gibson's Views
An Alternate View: Signal Detection Theory
Complexity and Structural Information
Seeing What We Believe: How the Mind Hijacks the Senses
The Source of Common Sense: Our Senses
CHAPTER 2 PERCEIVING STRUCTURE
Recognition and Structural Information
Altering Facial Proportions Alters Structure and Disrupts Recognition
Care-giving by Configuration
Facial Structure
Face Blindness and Super-Recognizers
What's Wrong with Eyewitness Testimony: Features vs. Structure
Why Features Fail as Evidence
Our Atomistic Worldview Leads Us Astray
CHAPTER 3 STRUCTURE AND DYNAMICS
Catching a Child Molester
Dynamic Spatial Information
Oscillating Figure Eight Reveals Identity
Do We Have Memories of Structural Information?
Our Brain-World Interface
Navigation Grids and Space Cells
Walking in Other People's Moccasins
Reciprocating Structures: Experiencing Empathy
CHAPTER 4 RESTRUCTURING REALITY
Clouded Vision: No-Outlet Levees Destroy Delta Ecosystem
Controlling Nature: Eliminating Natural Structure-Tributaries and Meanders
The Whole is More Than the Sum of its Parts
Restoring a Meander
Structural Pattern Generators and Natural Structures
Branching
Spirals
Meanders
Hexagons
CHAPTER 5 REALITY'S GEOMETRY
The Good Friday Alaska Earthquake: The Real World Reinstates Itself
Bacteria's Quorum Sensing
Immune Cells Communicate Using Structural Configurations
Volatile Compounds Send Aromatic Messages
Animal Environment Reciprocities
Frogs
Crows
Geese
Mating, Foraging, Escaping
Migrating Through Space
Human-Environmental Affordances
Acquiring and Representing Structural Information
Benoit Mandelbrot's Fractals
Our Fractal Brain
CHAPTER 6 EXPERTS' EXPERTS
Repetitions without Repetition
Minimally Essential Spatial Information
Experts' Experts Rely on Structural Information
Diagnosing Injuries: Reading the Dynamics of Movement Deviations
Curing Pain in the Brain: How the Brain Can Restructure Reality
Diagnosing cancer: Pathology and Structural Information
Condensing the Structure of Reality: The Japanese Garden
Reading the Seascape: Sea Gypsies Survive a Tsunami
Translating the Structure of Reality into Words
PART TWO: MANUFACTURED INFORMATION AND THE BIASED BRAIN
CHAPTER 7 MIND OVER MATTER: Theories and Other Mental Fallout
Flawed Theory Disfigures Cancer Patients
Where do Theories Come from?
Theories and the Brain
Hijacking the Interpreter
Unacknowledged Theories that Threaten our Survival
How to Judge a Theory
CHAPTER 8 ARE SCIENTIFIC THEORIES DIFFERENT?
Trial by Theory: Galileo and the Holy Office of the Inquisition
Alfred Wegener and the Theory of Continental Drift
Barbara McClintock and the Theory of Jumping Genes
How Science can Progress by Extending Our Eyes
Theories and Complexity
CHAPTER 9 ARE ECONOMIC THEORIES DIFFERENT?
Proctor and Gamble and Gibson Greeting Cards v. Bankers Trust
Replacing Reality: The Evolution of the Derivative
Seeing the Structural Information that Specifies the Market
The Sad Saga of Brooksley Born
An Alternative Theory of the Economy
CHAPTER 10 COMPLEXITY, COMPONENTS, AND MENTAL CONCEPTS
Death by Financial Concept
Viral Components and Complex Systems
Agribusiness: Turning Sustainable Complexity into Unsustainable Simplicity
A Sustainable Complex System: The Family Farm
From Complexity to Simplicity: From Whole Grains to Empty Calories
From Nutritional Simplicity To Obesity
EPILOGUE: A Cautionary Tale

About the author: 

Visiting Scholar, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles

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