Coming to Our Senses: Perceiving Complexity to Avoid Catastrophes by Viki McCabeComing to Our Senses: Perceiving Complexity to Avoid Catastrophes by Viki McCabe

Coming to Our Senses: Perceiving Complexity to Avoid Catastrophes

byViki McCabe

Hardcover | March 12, 2014

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In this fascinating book cognitive scientist Viki McCabe argues that the catastrophes we now face - economic recessions, ecological devastation, and political paralysis - originate in our ignoring the world we perceive and acting on the theories we conceive. Using cutting-edge research andcompelling true stories - the Wall Street banking fiasco, the submerging of New Orleans, and the escalation of global temperatures, McCabe argues that these problems originate in our relying on the wrong source for our information - the archives within our heads with their opinions and biases,instead of our subliminal perceptions of what is happening on the ground. McCabe shows that while our "mind's eye" "sees" a world made of separate, nameable parts, the earth actually operates as a coalition of complex working systems (from cells to cities to economies). Such systems cannot be understood in words, but require fractal-like configurations that our perceptualsystems have evolved to parse and that reflect each system's structure, characteristics, and functions. Thus, we comprehend systems as disparate as neural networks, river deltas, and economies not from their verbal descriptions, but by perceiving their branching structure. We recognize others asthey walk from the figure eight that oscillates around their belly buttons. Form not only follows function, it doubles as information.McCabe also documents how using this information saved the USS Missouri, a kidnapped child, and victims of the Asian tsunami. Thus, she counsels us to put our mentally manufactured theories aside and focus on our perceptions so that we can reconnect to reality, make more informed decisions, blockhostile mental takeovers, and come back to our senses.
Viki McCabe is Visiting Scholar in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Title:Coming to Our Senses: Perceiving Complexity to Avoid CatastrophesFormat:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:March 12, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199988587

ISBN - 13:9780199988587


Table of Contents

IntroductionPART 1: THE NATURE OF INFORMATION1. The Structure of RealityTheory overrides structure and promotes disaster: The Vincennes incidentThe Origins and Nature of Structural InformationSaved by Structural InformationOur Complex Perceptual Systems: J.J. Gibson's ViewsAn Alternate View: Signal Detection TheoryComplexity and Structural InformationSeeing What We Believe: How the Mind Hijacks the SensesThe Source of Common Sense: Our Senses2. Perceiving StructureRecognition and Structural InformationAltering Facial Proportions Alters Structure and Disrupts RecognitionCare-giving by ConfigurationFacial StructureFace Blindness and Super-RecognizersWhat's Wrong with Eyewitness Testimony: Features vs. StructureWhy Features Fail as EvidenceOur Atomistic Worldview Leads Us Astray3. Structure and DynamicsCatching a Child MolesterDynamic Spatial InformationOscillating Figure Eight Reveals IdentityDo We Have Memories of Structural Information?Our Brain-World InterfaceNavigation Grids and Space CellsWalking in Other People's MoccasinsReciprocating Structures: Experiencing Empathy4. Restructuring RealityClouded Vision: No-Outlet Levees Destroy Delta EcosystemControlling Nature: Eliminating Natural Structure--Tributaries and MeandersThe Whole is More Than the Sum of its PartsRestoring a MeanderStructural Pattern Generators and Natural StructuresBranchingSpiralsMeandersHexagons5. Reality's GeometryThe Good Friday Alaska Earthquake: The Real World Reinstates ItselfBacteria's Quorum SensingImmune Cells Communicate Using Structural ConfigurationsVolatile Compounds Send Aromatic MessagesAnimal Environment ReciprocitiesFrogsCrowsGeeseMating, Foraging, EscapingMigrating Through SpaceHuman-Environmental AffordancesAcquiring and Representing Structural InformationBenoit Mandelbrot's FractalsOur Fractal Brain6. Experts' ExpertsRepetitions without RepetitionMinimally Essential Spatial InformationExperts' Experts Rely on Structural InformationDiagnosing Injuries: Reading the Dynamics of Movement DeviationsCuring Pain in the Brain: How the Brain Can Restructure RealityDiagnosing cancer: Pathology and Structural InformationCondensing the Structure of Reality: The Japanese GardenReading the Seascape: Sea Gypsies Survive a TsunamiTranslating the Structure of Reality into WordsPART TWO: MANUFACTURED INFORMATION AND THE BIASED BRAIN7. Mind Over Matter: Theories and Other Mental FalloutFlawed Theory Disfigures Cancer PatientsWhere do Theories Come from?Theories and the BrainHijacking the InterpreterUnacknowledged Theories that Threaten our SurvivalHow to Judge a Theory8. Are Scientific Theories Different?Trial by Theory: Galileo and the Holy Office of the InquisitionAlfred Wegener and the Theory of Continental DriftBarbara McClintock and the Theory of Jumping GenesHow Science can Progress by Extending Our EyesTheories and Complexity9. Are Economic Theories Different?Proctor and Gamble and Gibson Greeting Cards v. Bankers TrustReplacing Reality: The Evolution of the DerivativeSeeing the Structural Information that Specifies the MarketThe Sad Saga of Brooksley BornAn Alternative Theory of the Economy10. Complexity, Components, and Mental ConceptsDeath by Financial ConceptViral Components and Complex SystemsAgribusiness: Turning Sustainable Complexity into Unsustainable SimplicityA Sustainable Complex System: The Family FarmFrom Complexity to Simplicity: From Whole Grains to Empty CaloriesFrom Nutritional Simplicity To ObesityEpilogue: A Cautionary Tale