The Genius Within: Discovering the Intelligence of Every Living Thing

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9780151005512: The Genius Within: Discovering the Intelligence of Every Living Thing

Can bacteria be as smart as we are? Can ants think? And fish? Yes, says Frank Vertosick, a neurosurgeon who combats our elitism about intelligence in this brilliant book.
A gifted writer and author of the widely praised Why We Hurt, Vertosick shows us that intelligence--the ability to react to the outside world, to change behavior, and survive-can be found wherever life exists. He demonstrates the keen intelligence of our immune system, how lowly bacteria mutate and outwit antibiotics, and how canny cancer cells elude our natural defenses.
A fascinating journey through worlds of unknown science and an unsettling argument against our valuing of brain intelligence above all else, The Genius Within tells a fascinating scientific story, one that could shake our ethical foundation to its core.

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Review:

If we're so smart, why are we still at the mercy of treacherous microorganisms? The Genius Within: Discovering the Intelligence of Every Living Thing asks readers to let go of brain worship and look at the incredible problem-solving skills of viruses, ants, and other lowly creatures. Neurosurgeon Frank T. Vertosick Jr. seems an unlikely candidate to write a book celebrating noncerebral intelligence, but his knowledge helps him draw comparisons that others might miss. The fast-moving genetic intelligence of bacteria and immune systems might not match the precision of digital computers, but they have devised arms races much more complex--and deadly--than our comparatively paltry efforts. Vertosick's grasp of what it means to behave intelligently comes through clearly, even if he is as stumped as anyone trying to define the I word. Exploring parallels between neural networks, insect colonies, and our own brains, he finds common ground and shows that, as far as evolution is concerned, we're not so bright. It's not all bad, though: we're very good at what we do, and Vertosick hopes that we can learn to use our intelligence more wisely. --Rob Lightner

About the Author:

Frank T. Vertosick, Jr., M.D., is a neurosurgeon and author of When the Air Hits Your Brain, a highly acclaimed memoir of his surgical training. A former president of the Pennsylvania Neurosurgical Society and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, he lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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