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Great Minds Don't Think Alike

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Member Reviews

This book includes several conversations between influencers in various fields, and it provides a great view for readers to understand different sides' opinion throughout the book. Despite the insightful content, structure of this book might not be intriguing all the time as it is more like edited scripts of conversations.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital review copy, and I provide the comment voluntarily.
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Great minds proving that they don't think alike in this intersectional dive into psychology and philosophy. 

I was provided this advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an arc to this book. 
I gave this book two stars for a few reasons. Firstly this book would have been more engaging and useful as a docuseries or podcast. As the book consists of written down conversations I often found that the speakers strayed from the topic at hand and though these added stories and evidence may have seemed useful in conversation for it to be successful in book format it needed to be concise. Secondly I was slightly mislead by the title. I assumed the book would look at why minds don’t think alike but in fact it was people who had opposing views discussing a topic. The first few conversations were not the strongest which made it hard to want to pick the book up but the conversation on trans humanism and the conversation on planetary and evolutionary continuation were the strongest and the most interesting.
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- This book is a collection of debates between great minds discussing current science topics like consciousness, technosignatures in the search of extraterrestrial intelligence time travel, bipedal evolution, transhumanism, etc.
- I found the dynamics of the conversations highly entertaining. One person can be very rigid, the other can be very open, and yet Gleiser is extremely fantastic in controlling the discussions. You'll find yourself on one side, only to be swayed again in the other debates.
- You can pick any topic that interests you the most and start from there. If you're not used to reading recording scripts, the flow might be a bit unnatural.
- So far, this is my best read in 2022.
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This book represents a set of transcripts of eight debates organised by the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement at Dartmouth College and moderated by professor of physics and astronomy, Marcelo Gleiser. All debates were organised over the past five years, bringing together scientists and humanists to engage in highly constructive discussions in such fascinating topics as the mystery of consciousness, the nature of reality and the future of humanity in the age of AI, our own mortality and that of our own warming planet. Contributors include David Chalmers, Antonio Damasio, Sean Carroll and Paul Davies who I had previously heard speaking on podcasts or whose book I have read books . The discussions pit representatives of the sciences and humanities against each other, although when I say against each other I am doing the debates a severe injustice. The discussions  are all deeply respectful and in no way become combative or argumentative. 

The debates are all set up in a similar fashion where each speaker makes opening remarks on the subject following which the debaters are invited to ask each other questions to tease out their dissimilar points of view. The debaters do not necessarily disagree with each other per se, but their positions usually tend to augment each others' stance. All involved are deeply eloquent, intelligent and provide huge insight to their respective topics. I found this setup enhanced the overall conversation: humanities and science are not simply talking at each other or speaking to different audiences, but with each other allowing for a true augmentation of values to science. This kind of intellectual cooperation, in my view, will be increasingly necessary to shape our collective evolving future as our scientific understanding and possibilities with AI grow exponentially.

I finished the book with my brain fizzing with excitement. I was continuously taking notes for myself and scouring the Internet to find previous works of the different debaters to further follow up on their topics of discussion. This book is highly recommended for anybody who is looking to further their understanding on the current frontiers of our scientific knowledge and the questions which its further evolution raises for humanity and which cannot be answered by the sciences alone.
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This is a book of debates between leading thinkers, providing diverse views on a variety of subjects. The intersectionality of ideas leads to interesting insights. 

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. All of the opinions given are my own and have been given nothing for my review.
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Review: Creating a Dialogue Around the Most Important Questions
Great Minds Don’t Think Alike: Debates on Consciousness, Reality, Intelligence, Faith, Time, AI, Immortality and the Human

I had the privilege this year of watching my first Ethics Bowl. If you’re unfamiliar with the competition, as I was, it is what a debate would be if debates were worth having.
Two teams address a moral problem, but instead of trying to destroy one another’s arguments, they augment them. Instead of “Here’s why you’re wrong,” the tone is more, “Have you considered this?”
At the risk of sounding twee, the point of these competitions is so much winning as nudging one another closer to the truth. Being right isn’t necessarily meaningless, only beside the point.
For those of us who have retreated from the scorched earth, black and white discussions that sometimes seem to dominate the culture, the project is hopeful.
Once people have agreed to try and figure something out together, rather than to bully the opposition into submission, the odds of mutual understanding (if not consensus) escalate.
This is the underpinning of the debates in Great Minds Don’t Think Alike: Debates on Consciousness, Reality, Intelligence, Faith, Time, AI, Immortality and the Human, edited by Marcelo Gleiser (Columbia University Press, November 2021).
The Purpose of Debate
It’s funny that “debates” is in the title, and it is easy to forget that confident, intelligent people can speak from oppositional points of view without claiming victory.
That’s not to say that many people won’t be convinced more by one argument or another, only that the effect is to really hammer down the central problems all sides agree have to be addressed in each topic. And the topics are formidable.
I picked up the book expecting a collection of essays written for educated laypeople and was surprised by the editor’s decision to reproduce literal dialogues. Each thinker presents their position then, the two presentations complete, a short dialogue ensues to flesh out the finer points and clear up confusion.
If the book fails at anything it is that it encourages the reader to participate in a dialogue that only makes sense in the context of the conversation.
As with any complex issue, readers can choose to take away what they want from it, but Great Minds Don’t Think Alike seems to invite the reader to take away a more refined understanding of the issues rather than a bundle of facts with which to bludgeon future opponents.
If you liked going to conferences to hear different speakers in college, this book is for you. I’ll admit it took me getting through the first section (The Mystery of Consciousness) before I slid comfortably into the mood.
The Downside of Limited Engagement
I was turned off by the transcript style and if the quality of the conversation hadn’t been the caliber it was, I might not have made my way through it. 
I also didn’t have anyone to discuss each of the chapters with, which was a massive downside.
If this were just a book of essays they would be a lot easier to internalize, but this is an active conversation from which I felt banned. Had I attended one of these talks there would have been hours of animated conversation following each.
I would have been able to discuss the experience with another attendee, for example.
If the book fails at anything it is that it encourages the reader to participate in a dialogue that only makes sense in the context of the conversation. The arguments and ideas are so compelling it amplifies the solitary act of reading.
The topics are a little esoteric, so there’s no shorthand available to talk about the book with someone who isn’t already reading it.
My takes on the specific dialogues have to remain my own until I bump into someone else who is familiar either with the book or the academics and their positions. It is a mild frustration, but one worth mentioning.
That said, if you are in a nonfiction book club you’re doing yourself and your club a disservice by not considering Great Minds Don’t Think Alike.
Continuing discussions about new insights to fundamental problems challenges the reader to loosen their grip on beliefs held too tightly without reason.
I can imagine this being used as a text in a philosophy class as an overview of what some of the most interesting thinkers have to say on burning cross-discipline topics. It’s the kind of text you leave with more questions than answers and with less confidence you had than before you started.
More important, it leaves you refreshed by having new things to think about and invigorated by some new ways to think about them.
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This is a good book but several of the pairings could have been improved. Mr. Gleiser has done a yeoman
s job of pulling this book together and his efforts desire our praise.
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