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The Robot's Rebellion
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About the Author

Keith E. Stanovich holds the Canada Research Chair in Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Toronto. A fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society, he is the author of Who Is Rational? Studies of Individual Differences in Reasoning and How to Think Straight About Psychology, now in its seventh edition.

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According to Stanovich, we're only just beginning to grapple with the deep consequences of Darwin's theory of natural selection. One such consequence, Richard Dawkins's theory of the "selfish gene," implies that living creatures are mere vehicles constructed to facilitate the survival and replication of genes. While Stanovich (How to Think Straight About Psychology), a cognitive scientist at the University of Toronto, agrees with the basic idea of the selfish gene, he finds fault with the conclusion that we are simply at its mercy. Drawing on recent research in cognitive science, he argues for an alternate conception of our relationship with our genes: we may be robots originally constructed as vehicles for genes, but our higher-level analytic reasoning abilities (themselves a product of evolution) enable us to rebel against our genetically programmed "autonomous set of systems," as well as the analogous cultural memes that infect our rational minds. Though framed as a revolutionary manifesto about how we can retain our autonomy and humanity if we are merely vehicles (robots) for genes and memes, this book is fundamentally a work of scholarship, bridging cognitive science and evolutionary psychology. As a consequence, though Stanovich's writing is clear, a reader without much background in these fields might find his argument quite difficult to follow at times, trading accessibility for a deep exploration of the philosophical and scientific ramifications of Darwinian evolution. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"Stanovich offers readers a sweeping tour of theory and research, advancing a programme of 'cognitive reform' that puts human interests first.... By making the point that cognition is optimized at the level of genes, not of individuals, Stanovich puts a fresh spin on the familiar claim that people are sometimes woefully irrational.... With The Robot's Rebellion, he sets himself apart from unreflective thinkers on both sides of the divide by taking evolutionary accounts of cognition seriously, even as he urges us to improve on what evolution has wrought." - Valerie M. Chase, Nature "According to Stanovich, we're only just beginning to grapple with the deep consequences of Darwin's theory of natural selection. One such consequence, Richard Dawkins's theory of the 'selfish gene,' implies that living creatures are mere vehicles constructed to facilitate the survival and replication of genes. While Stanovich...agrees with the basic idea of the selfish gene, he finds fault with the conclusion that we are simply at its mercy....A deep exploration of the philosophical and scientific ramifications of Darwinian evolution." - Publishers Weekly"

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