Official Review: Augmentation and Illnesses of Civilization

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mmm17
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Official Review: Augmentation and Illnesses of Civilization

Post by mmm17 » 28 Sep 2019, 18:31

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Augmentation and Illnesses of Civilization" by Dan M. Mrejeru.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Why is our civilization experiencing an increase in stress-related disorders? What is the link between the technological and social evolution of humankind, chronic stress, and brain plasticity? Could these phenomena be elements of a new evolutionary path for our species? In Augmentation and Illnesses of Civilization, Dan M. Mrejeru fosters an in-depth, scholarly discussion of these complex questions.

The author’s core premise is that the human brain is going through a significant transformation that started about 30,000 years ago – a process he refers to as augmentation. He argues that this evolutive process is related to an increase in environmental complexity. This tendency is consistent with the thermodynamic concept of entropy – the propensity of systems to become disordered. Entropy implies growing uncertainty and a lack of control. These conditions generate a state of chronic stress that may cause adaptive changes in the structure of our brains.

I appreciated the way the author conveys complex science to a non-scientific audience. He uses thoughtful analogies and metaphors to make his points clear. "The Answers Are Blowing In The Wind" chapter is an example. At the same time, the many notable scientific references indicate thorough research. I particularly enjoyed the exploration of how language may be "the most important technology humans ever developed." Mrejeru explains the underpinnings of the brain's hemispheres and how chronic stress affects the left hemisphere, responsible for language and logic.

I could easily relate to most of the author’s points. It seems clear that current urban dwellers (like me) live in a very complex and artificial environment. I strongly agree that we live in a “climate of uncertainty and unsettledness about facts.” Also, we should seek to develop our “right-brain faculties” through artistic and meditative activities.

On the other hand, although I understand and agree with many hypotheses postulated by the author, some generalizations and simplifications made me uncomfortable. For instance, the claim that “all human diseases are the direct result of stress.” In my opinion, that is a bold assertion, especially if one considers the illnesses that affect low-income countries.

To sum things up, I thought this was a good read. It is a thought-provoking book in which the author abridges a great deal of scientific information. However, the text needs another round of proofreading, for there are several editing mishaps to be fixed. For this, I am rating this version of the book 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to readers who enjoy an accessible approach to science, provided that they don’t mind a few debatable generalizations and simplifications.

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Augmentation and Illnesses of Civilization
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Michelle Fred
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Post by Michelle Fred » 01 Oct 2019, 04:20

The author has interesting arguments; I wonder if he provides actionable solutions to the stated problems. Like you, I don't believe stress is the cause of all illnesses.

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mmm17
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Post by mmm17 » 01 Oct 2019, 06:37

Michelle Fred wrote:
01 Oct 2019, 04:20
The author has interesting arguments; I wonder if he provides actionable solutions to the stated problems. Like you, I don't believe stress is the cause of all illnesses.
I also think it is an interesting discussion. The author does talk about possible solutions and ways to ameliorate the situation. The book is thorough. It is worth checking out. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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Post by Helene_2008 » 01 Oct 2019, 08:39

I would have to agree about the author's comment about all disease being due to stress. That is really too general a statement for all illnesses. I'd still be interested to read some of the discussion some the questions that you posed.

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Post by esp1975 » 01 Oct 2019, 11:44

This does sound like an interesting book, but i am with you on being skeptical about some of the assertions made. I am pretty certain malaria is caused by mosquitoes, not stress. That's why you prevent it by hanging mosquito nets, not by meditation.

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Post by mmm17 » 01 Oct 2019, 16:32

Helene_2008 wrote:
01 Oct 2019, 08:39
I would have to agree about the author's comment about all disease being due to stress. That is really too general a statement for all illnesses. I'd still be interested to read some of the discussion some the questions that you posed.
The discussion is interesting, even if we can't agree with every hypothesis. Thanks for reading!

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Post by mmm17 » 01 Oct 2019, 16:33

esp1975 wrote:
01 Oct 2019, 11:44
This does sound like an interesting book, but i am with you on being skeptical about some of the assertions made. I am pretty certain malaria is caused by mosquitoes, not stress. That's why you prevent it by hanging mosquito nets, not by meditation.
Agreed. :lol:
Thank you for your comment! :wink:

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Post by Nizar Ali Shah » 02 Oct 2019, 00:43

This is an interesting book that tries to draw a link of technology with that of social evolution of human kind,chronic stress and brain plasticity.The author asks questions such as like why is our civilization experiencing an increase in the stress related disorders.But i don't agree with his ideas that all illnesses are due to the stress and there may be other reasons.The book is thought provoking in the sense that it abridges a great deal of scientific information.

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