15 January 2008

Review: The Lucifer Principle

Read this book.

5 stars.

"The Lucifer Principle is a complex of natural rules"...

From the book itself:

1. The principle of self-organising systems - replicators - bits of structure that function as minifactories, essembling raw materials, then churning out intricate products. These natural assembly units (genes are one example) crank out their goods so cheaply that the end results are appalingly expendable. Among those expendable products are you and me.

2. The superorganism. We are not the rugged individuals we wuld like to be. We are, instead, disposable parts of a being much parger than ourselves.

3. The meme, as self-replicating cluster of ideas. Thanks to a handful of biological tricks, these visions become the glue that holds together civilisations, giving each culture its distinctive shape, making some intolerant of dissent and others open to diversity. They are the tools with which we unlock the forces of nature. Our visions bestow the dream of peace, but they also turn us into killers.

4. The neural net. The group mind whose eccentric mode of operation manipulates out emotions and turns us into componments of a massive learning machine.

5. The pecking order. The naturalist who discovered this dominance hierarchy in a Norwegian farmyard called it the key to despotism. Pecking orders exist among men, wasps, and even nations. They help explain why the danger of barbarians is ral and why the assupmtions of our foreign policies are often wrong.


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