Metapsychology Online Reviews - Volume 18, Number 16
Featured Reviews
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy FowlerWe Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
by Karen Joy Fowler
Tue, Mar 25th 2014
Pharmageddon by David HealyPharmageddon
by David Healy
Tue, Mar 18th 2014
The Placebo by Franklin G. Miller, Luana Colloca, Robert A. Crouch, Ted J. Kaptchuk (Editors)The Placebo
by Franklin G. Miller, Luana Colloca, Robert A. Crouch, Ted J. Kaptchuk (Editors)
Tue, Mar 18th 2014
Character as Moral Fiction
By Mark Alfano
Review by Finn Janning, Ph.D. on Tue, Apr 15th 2014.
Character as Moral Fiction by Mark AlfanoThere is a growing interest in virtue ethics. For example, studies with Positive Psychology and Leadership often use the term virtuousness to refer to a kind of high performance or excellence. Mark Alfano's book; Character as Moral Fiction places itself within this ongoing debate that has roots going back to Aristotle's. In short Alfano's thesis is as follows: if you tell a person that he or she is honest or respectful, the person will be motivated to act in accordance herewith. His idea is strongly related to the self-fulfilling prophecies that we associate with the placebo effect, where the
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Does Science Need a Global Language?
English and the Future of Research
By Scott L. Montgomery
Review by E. James Lieberman on Tue, Apr 15th 2014.
Does Science Need a Global Language? by Scott L. MontgomeryThe author's answer is yes, and English is his choice. Nevertheless, this informative and stimulating text, subtitled "English and the Future of Research," leaves some things unresolved. A fine writer, geologist Scott Montgomery, wrote, among other books The Scientific Voice (1996), which includes a 70-page chapter on Freud in translation. The present work addresses "Global English" and "What do Former Lingua Francas of Science Tell us?"  English is spoken by 2 billion people in 120 nations, more or less, and dominates scientific conferences, international publication
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The Panopticon
A Nove
By Jenni Fagan
Review by Natalie Kelley-Wilson on Tue, Apr 15th 2014.
The Panopticon by Jenni FaganBeing a work of fiction, the goal of this novel is primarily to entertain, however, in doing so, it provides some insight into, and garners some empathy for, children "in the system". Various instances of drug abuse and psychological pathology are glimpsed and acknowledged through Anais's eyes. Most of these issues are not fully diagnosed or resolved, but despite this fact, the reader is led to root for Anais to rise above her circumstances; and the only way for her to do so, seems to be from sheer willpower. As with the movie, Kids, by Larry Clark, there is some shock value evident whereby an
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Spectacular Now
By James Ponsoldt (Director)
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Apr 15th 2014.
Spectacular Now by James Ponsoldt (Director)Although The Spectacular Now is advertised as a teen romance in Athens, Georgia, which it is, its main theme is about relying on alcohol to get by.  The acting is extraordinarily good, which makes the movie much more engrossing.  Miles Teller plays Sutter Keely; Sutter, a popular guy, has been dating a popular girl, but she dumps him.  He meets another girl from school, Aimee Finecky, played by Shailene Woodley.  Aimee is from a poor family and she is a geek.  She has never had a boyfriend before; she likes reading manga, and she does not think she will be able to go t
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Kant's Anatomy of the Intelligent Mind
By Wayne Waxman
Review by Simon D. Smith, Ph.D. on Tue, Apr 8th 2014.
Kant's Anatomy of the Intelligent Mind by Wayne WaxmanSince publication, Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason has generated its fair share of interpretative controversy, and there are a broad range of issues that continue to engage the secondary literature. At the same time however, there are some aspects of the first Critique (or of Kant's theory of knowledge and consciousness (or mind) more generally) that are taken for granted; as entrenched interpretative norms that inform the subsequent framework of textual exegesis. Amongst these givens, or consensus views, is the idea that for Kant, apperception (the thinker's identity with reference to
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High Price
A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society
By Carl Hart
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Apr 8th 2014.
High Price by Carl HartBrain researcher Carl Hart tells the story of his life and uses it to illustrate how drug addiction is not as represented in most drug education literature or popular science.  He shows how social conditions are major determinants of drug use and how ideas of drug craving and addiction as a brain disorder are misleading and politically loaded.  He shows how drug policy is not consistent with scientific knowledge.  The central ideas in his book could be set out quite briefly, and readers may want to get to the central ideas quickly.  The ideas are important and need to be em
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Yoga for Fitness
By Gwen Lawrence
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Apr 8th 2014.
Yoga for Fitness by Gwen LawrenceThis DVD has three 20-minute yoga sessions.  Lower Body Tone Upper Body Blast Core Definition Fitness instructor Gwen Lawrence demonstrates the practice and talks you through it in a voice-over.  The practice is filmed in a rather large studio illuminated with colored lighting and a few decorations.  She does her work on a sort of metal platform with pillars behind her. There's bland electronic music accompanying all the practices.  The DVD is directed by James Wvinner, who has done many other yoga videos, and this has his signature style of smooth production, warm
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Moral Realism
By Kevin DeLapp
Review by László Kocsis on Tue, Apr 1st 2014.
Moral Realism by Kevin DeLappWe think ourselves as moral beings: some of us are good persons, while others are bad. These evaluations depend on our actions; we classify them as right or wrong. What is the connection between moral properties and our deliberate actions? When we say that actions have particular moral properties, what do we actually do: do we represent moral facts or just express our emotions or attitudes? Are there moral values and facts at all? If there are, how can we get knowledge of them? These are hard questions but not unanswerable. No doubt when we evaluate actions in ordinary talk we use declarative
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Fooling Houdini
Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind
By Alex Stone
Review by James K. Luiselli, Ed.D., ABPP, BCBA-D on Tue, Apr 1st 2014.
Fooling Houdini by Alex StoneAlex Stone was interested in magic as a young child, performing tricks for his father and putting on shows at birthday parties. He writes, "For me, discovering the world of magic was like finding my own island of misfit friends, a place where everyone was special in the wrong way." Stone congregated with like-minded peers, joined magic clubs, and in his words, "was nerdy and unsocialized, a dweeb who wanted to talk about biology and play with his chemistry set while the other kids were playing foursquare." Magic, it seems, was the logical extension of an inquiring mind and perhaps, finding soc
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The Cambridge Companion to Virtue Ethics
By Daniel C. Russell (Editor)
Review by Ludwig Jaskolla on Tue, Apr 1st 2014.
The Cambridge Companion to Virtue Ethics by Daniel C. Russell (Editor)Ever since the publication of Alasdair MacIntyre's ground breaking "After Virtue" (MacIntyre, Alasdair: After Virtue, 2nd edition. Notre Dame University Press: 1984), virtue ethics has seen a renaissance unrivaled in contemporary moral philosophy. Contemporary virtue ethics has developed into one of the most dynamic competitors when it comes to explaining why people act the way they do and under which circumstances we qualify those actions as "good", "virtuous", "just" etc. In her 2001 book "Uneasy Virtue" (Uneasy Virtue. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Studies in Philosophy: 2001). Juli
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The Woman Upstairs
A Novel
By Claire Messud
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Apr 1st 2014.
The Woman Upstairs by Claire MessudThe Woman Upstairs, Messud's novel of a middle aged women looking back on her life in anger is reminiscent of Anita Brookner's work, but the bitterness and self-deception of her narrator is a bit more below the surface.  Nora Eldridge used to have a future, but now she is the "woman upstairs" who teaches elementary school and sacrifices herself for everyone else.  The bulk of the story is about Nora's friendship with a couple she encounters, the parents of Reza, a boy in her class.  His mother, Sirena, is Italian and an artist, while his father, Skandar, is Palestinian Lebanese.
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Body Sense
The Science and Practice of Embodied Self-Awareness
By Alan Fogel
Review by Sandra Egege, MA (Phil). on Tue, Mar 25th 2014.
Body Sense by Alan FogelIt has to be said that Body Sense is, if nothing else, an interesting read. Fogel has an easy, engaging style and he manages to convey his ideas clearly and simply, even when the material is complex neuroscience. Body Sense is fundamentally a book about maintaining health and well-being. Fogel sets out to demonstrate 'how everyday life, as well as serious stress and trauma, can cause us to lose contact with our sensations and emotions,' along with the way our body moves and feels (p.1).  As we develop and grow into sophisticated social animals, we gradually lose touch with our bodies. He
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Moral Status and Human Life
The Case for Children's Superiority
By James G. Dwyer
Review by Anca Gheaus on Tue, Mar 25th 2014.
Moral Status and Human Life by James G. DwyerMoral status is one of the most difficult topics in ethics. The difficulty resides in the fact that any account of what makes one morally considerable is bound to either leave out some individuals which most people think are in fact owed moral respect, or fail to distinguish between individuals which we do not usually believe are morally equal, or else fail to recognise as moral equals individuals that we do believe to be so. For instance, if some kind of rationality is what makes one morally considerable, then human beings who are not rational or at least capable of rationality, as well as mo
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Getting Inside Your Head
What Cognitive Science Can Tell Us about Popular Culture
By Lisa Zunshine
Review by Ray Rennard, Ph.D. on Tue, Mar 25th 2014.
Getting Inside Your Head by Lisa ZunshineCognitive science is hot right now, and in recent years authors have endeavored to apply its name, if not its methods, to an ever-growing variety of areas.  This book is the latest foray into the nascent field of cognitive cultural studies, which explores literature, poetry, theater, song, and film through the lens of cognitive science.  The last few years have seen the publication of several serious academic books in this area--e.g., by Brian Boyd, David Herman, and a couple by our author Lisa Zunshine.  The present book is a bit lighter and more narrowly focused than these. T
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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
A Novel
By Karen Joy Fowler
Review by Christian Perring on Tue, Mar 25th 2014.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy FowlerKaren Joy Fowler's novel brings to mind other novels that address science and ethics in a sophisticated way.  The narrator is a young woman, Rosemary, who describes her psychologist father and the rest of her family.  She grew up under extremely unusual circumstances, which has led to her both her sister Fern and brother Lowell leaving the family home while she was still a young child.  The secrets of the family unfold very slowly; at first Rosemary gives a picture of her family history and the experience of family life in Bloomington, Indiana.  Her father is a chain-smokin
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