Embracing the Wide Sky: A tour across the horizons of the mind
Tammet (Daniel)
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Authors Citing this Book: Tammet (Daniel)


BOOK ABSTRACT:

Amazon Book Description

  1. Owner of "the most remarkable mind on the planet," (according to the US's Entertainment Weekly) Daniel Tammet captivated readers and won worldwide critical acclaim with the 2006 Sunday Times bestselling memoir, "Tammet (Daniel) - Born On a Blue Day", and its vivid depiction of a life with autistic savant syndrome. In his fascinating new book, he writes with characteristic clarity and personal awareness as he sheds light on the mysteries of savants' incredible mental abilities, and our own.
  2. Tammet explains that the differences between savant and non-savant minds have been exaggerated; his astonishing capacities in memory, math and language are neither due to a cerebral supercomputer nor any genetic quirk, but are rather the results of a highly rich and complex associative form of thinking and imagination. Autistic thought, he argues, is an extreme variation of a kind that we all do, from daydreaming to the use of puns and metaphors.
  3. Embracing the Wide Sky combines meticulous scientific research with Tammet's detailed descriptions of how his mind works to demonstrate the immense potential within us all. He explains how our natural intuitions can help us to learn a foreign language, why his memories are like symphonies, and what numbers and giraffes have in common. We also discover why there is more to intelligence than IQ, how optical illusions fool our brains, and why too much information can make you dumb.
  4. Many readers will be particularly intrigued by Tammet's original ideas concerning the genesis of genius and exceptional creativity. He illustrates his arguments with examples as diverse as the private languages of twins, the compositions of poets with autism, and the breakthroughs, and breakdowns, of some of history's greatest minds.
  5. Embracing the Wide Sky is a unique and brilliantly imaginative portrait of how we think, learn, remember and create, brimming with personal insights and anecdotes, and explanations of the most up-to-date, mind-bending discoveries from fields ranging from neuroscience to psychology and linguistics. This is a profound and provocative book that will transform our understanding and respect for every kind of mind.

Contents
    Introduction – 1
  1. Wider than the Sky – 7
  2. Measuring Minds: Intelligence and Talent – 37
  3. Seeing What is Not There – 59
  4. A World of Words – 91
  5. The Number Instinct – 129
  6. The Biology of Creativity – 157
  7. Light to Sight – 177
  8. Food for Thought – 197
  9. Thinking by Numbers – 229
  10. The Future of the Mind – 263
    Bibliography – 279
    Index – 285
    Acknowledgements – 295

Introduction (Extracts – Chapter Summaries)
  1. Chapter 1 looks at the fascinating complexity of the human brain and surveys some of the latest research findings from the field of neuroscience. Here I tackle head on some of the most common misconceptions concerning the brain, such as the idea that it does not change after birth or that the computer is a good analogy for how our brains work. I also assess several claims about savants and give evidence indicating that savant brains are not so different from anyone else’s.
  2. Chapter 2 is a study of intelligence that questions whether IQ is an accurate indicator of intelligent behaviour, and looks at alternative ways of thinking about intelligence. I also examine the nature of genius and whether it is the result of innate talent, practice, or both.
  3. Chapters 3, 4 and 5 include detailed descriptions of my own abilities in memory, language and number sense - areas where my autism helps me to excel. These chapters represent the most comprehensive personal account of savant ability ever written. Rather than encourage readers to merely gawp at the abilities of savants such as myself, I show that anyone can learn from them how to better understand and use their own mind.
  4. Drawing again from my own personal experiences (as well as those of other autistic individuals), Chapter 6 explores creativity and the possibility that some neurological conditions predispose individuals to extraordinary forms of creative thought and perception. I describe little-known forms of creativity, such as the phenomenon of languages created spontaneously by some children, and refute the myth that autistic savants are incapable of genuine creativity, using examples from my own and others’ work.
  5. In Chapter 7, I examine what the latest scientific research tells us about the complexity and limitations of our perceptions. I also explore how biological differences can cause different people to see the world in very different ways. Sections on the puzzle of optical illusions and the psychology of art demonstrate the malleability and subjectivity of the mind’s eye.
  6. In Chapter 8, I look at the nature of information and its relationship with our minds in the Internet age of Wikipedia, twenty-four-hour rolling news broadcasts and the ubiquity of modem advertising. I explore the role of words in shaping how we perceive and think about something, and how we share knowledge through such means as gossip and urban myths. I also give suggestions on how we can learn to navigate our information-dense world and reduce the risk of information overload.
  7. In Chapter 9, I demonstrate and explain the benefits of and methods for thinking mathematically. I show how ordinary intuitions can often lead to wrong conclusions, and how a lack of understanding of probability can result in bad choices. I also analyse complex real-world entities, such as lotteries and voting systems, from a mathematical perspective and show how certain statistical arguments for popular claims do not add up. A final section helps you leam how to use numbers and logic to think more carefully and successfully.
  8. The tenth and concluding chapter looks at the future of the human mind, from the remarkable medical and technological breakthroughs that are transforming the treatment of injured and diseased brains, to the new insights of cognitive researchers that suggest our minds extend far beyond the confines of the head. I also assess the claims of futurists who assert that, inevitably, mind and machine will merge and give rise to a new ‘cyborg’ species. I finish with some personal reflections on what I hope the future will bring for every kind of mind.

BOOK COMMENT:

Hodder & Stoughton; First British Edition - Later Print Run edition (22 Jan. 2009). Hardback.




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