This fascinating new audiobook explores the tricky science of perception. The
author, a renowned neuroscientist and two-time TED speaker,
helps readers understand how evolution has trained our minds
to form delusions about our life experience and thus aid survival.
Written for a general audience of intellectually curious readers,
the book challenges us to think about perception in a different
way. Using interesting examples from the fields of science,
literature, art, history and business, the book blends disciplines
(along with a healthy dose of humor) and makes the sometimes
difficult information more accessible to a wide readership.
One example comes from the author’s personal experience
in creating and displaying a scientific art installation involving
light and shadow on a white background. Immediately before
the art opening, he discovered the lights were not functioning.
While he was deciding whether or not to put up a sign announcing
the exhibit was out of order, art lovers wandered into the
gallery and started analyzing how the shadows of light (from
unplanned incidental lighting in the venue) played upon the
white background. So even without functioning properly, the
installation was perceived properly; i.e., people saw what
they were expecting to find.
An 82-page PDF of supplemental material includes optical illusions
and illustrations demonstrating points made in the book. Although
explanations of these visual challenges are scattered throughout
the text in the audiobook, they are contained within the one
PDF, which makes finding them while listening to the audio
somewhat inconvenient. This separation of artwork from its
related text is one drawback of experiencing the book on audio;
one definite benefit of the audiobook is having the author
read it himself. Lotto’s brilliance, enthusiasm, and
playfulness come across clearly, and it’s doubtful anyone
else could have presented the material so perfectly.
The description on the CD box promises to give readers a journey
of self-discovery. For those open-minded enough to challenge
their long-held assumptions, the book fully delivers on its
promise of providing groundbreaking, perhaps life-changing,
insights into how our brains see the world.