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August 17, 1994

The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul

Author Affiliations

The University of Chicago Chicago, Ill

JAMA. 1994;272(7):567-568. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520070087050

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Partly as a side effect of the "Decade of the Brain," general readers with an interest in science have been afflicted with a surfeit of books about the brain from writers of curiously varied backgrounds. This one, with its garish title and disjointed assortment of 18 chapters, is by the distinguished codiscoverer of the structure of DNA.

Some work is required to tease out of the disorderly text the two main components of the book. One of them, the better, consists of an account of current knowledge and trends of thinking about neural structure and function, with special emphasis on the cortical visual system of the higher mammals. The other component, appearing irrepressibly in bits and pieces throughout the book, as well as in longer passages, consists of a mixture of Crick's zealous and uncritical Newton-or-bust ways of thinking about the relation of consciousness to brain and an insouciant polemic,

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