A shared bibliography (sometimes annotated!)

Total Posts:  2890
Joined  02-12-2004
08 April 2005 12:18

I just received an email from a colleague with whom I am developing an annotated bibliography for the three-way science of neurobiology, wisdom psychology and genetics. He has given me permission to share some of this work with this group, but, we will maintain our anonymity.

It occurred to me that some of you might be interested in some of the more general references, esp. books, and might be willing to share some of your favorite references with the rest of us.  Or you might want to add to the annotations. My request is that we keep the subject limited to science references. If someone wants to start a history or biblical studies list (or something else) they should do so in the appropriate major topic supplied by Sam.

Criticisms as well as support are welcome, but please provide carefully considered comments.  Lets see if we can keep this project (thread) clear of shouting matches.

May I suggest that if you want to carry on an extended discussion about a subject raised in this thread, create a new topic and note that you are doing so here.

So, just to start things off, I offer the following references that I or my colleague have found useful to the background for some of the discussions that have been going on here.  I haven't read all of these, so some of the comments are from my colleague.  We'll run it up the flagpole and see who salutes, eh?

Damasio, A. (1994), Descartes' Error, Harcourt Brace, New York.

Damasio, A. (1999), The Feeling of What Happens: Body and
Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, Harcourt Brace, New York.

Damasio, A. (2003), Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the
Feeling Brain, Harcourt Brace, New York.

Ehrlich, P. R. (2002). Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and
the Human Prospect, Penguin Books, New York.
{A tremendous examination of the evolution of modern humans with a particular slant on human nature. Ehrlich insists that, due to the paucity of genes in the human genome, it is not tenable to explain human behavior as being "caused" by gene expression. He explains the interplay between genes, development, and social organization to show how it is possible to have so many varieties of human behaviors arising out of the same gene pool. The perspective is always evolutionary. He does an excellent job of explaining the emergence of cultural evolution and the continuing interplay between biological and cultural evolutions. Chapter 12, "Lessons from Our Natures", is intriguing in that he introduces some vision of the future of evolution of humans as one in which humans play an active role in selection. Referring to the work of Tooby and Cosmides (1992) he introduces the idea that with knowledge of the genetics of the brain it may be possible to intervene directly in the selection of desirable characteristics. He does not mention wisdom as a quality to select for, however. In the final chapter he deals with the subject of "Evolution and Values". In this chapter he paints a potentially gloomy picture. Recognizing the dangers of our advanced technology and globalized situation along with over-population and consumerist tendencies of all peoples, he asks if it is likely that we will be able to evolve (culturally, if not
biologically) sufficiently to avert the dangers. He doesn't offer an
opinion. However, from his prior book, with his wife Anne, he admits to a measure of gloom in his attitude. But he concludes there that examples like Martin Luther King keeps hope alive.}

Gardner, H. (2004). Changing Minds: The Art and Science of
Changing Our Own and Other Peoples Minds, Harvard Business School Press, Boston.

Goldberg, E. (2001). The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and
the Civilized Mind, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
{This is a semi-personal exploration through the frontal lobes and
the executive functions that they mediate. He provides a very
reasonable tour of the brain in general and provides explanations
for the linkages of the frontal lobes with the rest of the brain
structures, both in the neocortex and "lower" levels. One of the
implications of Goldberg's descriptions of the lateralization of
the frontal lobes is that the left lobe mediates context-dependent
functions whereas the right lobe mediates context-independent
functions. Another aspect seems to be that the left lobe operates
on fixed rule-based decisions, whereas the right lobe processes
novel information and may be involved in more creative (generative) processing.}

LeDoux, J. (1996). The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious
Underpinnings of Emotional Life, Touchstone, New York.

Marcus, G. (2004). The Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number
of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought, Basic Books,
New York.

Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of
Human Nature, Penguin Books, New York.
{Steven Pinker, a linguist and cognitive scientist, explores the nature of human nature, disabusing the commonly held beliefs about human nature, such as: 1) the blank slate (completely dependent on socialization in development - the brain has no innate tendencies) 2) the noble savage (that humans are inherently nice and only by socialization become
aggressive or selfish) 3) the ghost in the machine (dualism!). He
combines neurological, psychological, anthropological and biological
aspects (with ample reference to real research) to depict a creature
with many positive characteristics, but also sorely tied to more
primitive animal drives and behaviors.}

Sternberg, R. J. (ed)(1990). Wisdom: Its Nature, Origins,
and Development, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
1. Understanding wisdom, Sternberg, R. J.,
Gives the outline of the book.

2. Wisdom through the ages, Robinson, D. N.,
Looks at the history of the concept of wisdom from the Greek
philosophers to the romanticists.

3. The psychology of wisdom: an evolutionary interpretation,
Csikszentmihalyi, M. & Rathunde, K.,
One of the best entries, the authors look at how the concept of wisdom has changed over time in the texts. They use the approach they call evolutionary hermeneutics. This method looks at how variations on the concept have been selected within the cultural contexts of the times.

The following characteristics are taken from the chapter. They reflect the views of various times and traditions.
"... wisdom:
a. does not deal with the appearance of fleeting phenomena
but with enduring universal truths;
b. is not specialized but is an attempt to apprehend how the
various aspects of reality are related to each other;
c. is not a value-free way of knowing but implies a hierarchical
ordering of truths and actions directed at those truths."


"... the wise person as having:
a. a general competence (a dimension that overlaps with
logical intelligence of technical ability);
b. an experience-based pragmatic knowledge; and
c. reflective or evaluative metaanalytic skills."


"... has the following characteristics:
a. One recognizes the relativity of various formal systems
through life experience (emphasis in the original) and
is able to assume contradictory points of view.
b. One acknowledges the interrelatedness of all experience
and the inevitability of change and transformation.
c. One adopts a more "metasystemic" or reflective and
integrative approach to thinking (often dialectical).
d. One makes choices with commitment to a certain course
of action (references given in the chapter)."

They argue that wisdom is not the same thing as knowledge, though the latter is obviously involved in the former.

4. Wisdom as integrated thought: historical and developmental
perspectives, Labouvie-Vief, G.,
Describes two "modes" of cognition, which she applies the Greek terms (both meaning word, but with different connotations) mythos and logos.
The former subsumes thought that is story-like. It incorporates
knowledge which is the aggregate of impressions, beliefs, etc. and is organized in stories that have links to other stories, much like
Shank's scripts. Logos, involves reasoning, the creation of and
evolution of argument. The creation of new knowledge (say by deductive or inductive processes) in a structured way. She equates wisdom (and its development over life experience) with the integration of mythos and logos modes.

5. Toward a psychology of wisdom and its ontogenesis, Baltes,
P. B. & Smith, J.,
These authors have attempted to apply an operational definition of wisdom (as opposed to a purely historical rubric) that could form a basis for something more like quantitative research. Their "working framework" is:

"Everyday definition
Good judgment and advice about important but uncertain matters of life.

Theoretical definition
An expert knowledge system in the domain, fundamental life
pragmatics (e.g., life planning, life management, life review).
Functional consequences: exceptional insight into human
development and life matters, exceptionally good judgment, advice, and commentary about difficult life problems.

Family of five criteria

Rich factual knowledge: general and specific knowledge
about the conditions of life and its variations
Rich procedural knowledge: general and specific knowledge about strategies of judgment and advice concerning matters of life
Life span contextualism: knowledge about the contexts of life and their temporal (developmental) relationships
Relativism: knowledge about differences in values, goals, and priorities
Uncertainty: knowledge about the relative indeterminacy and unpredictability of life and ways to manage"
They describe some preliminary research attempting to measure
some of these criteria. They also give specific characteristics that
apply to these criteria and how they might be measured in various

6. Wisdom in a postapocalyptic age, Chandler, M. J. & Holliday, S.
[To be reviewed more thoroughly] Describes the "golden age" of wisdom, the decline of the importance of wisdom in culture and the more recent revival of interest in the nature of wisdom.

7. Wisdom and its relation to intelligence and creativity,
Sternberg, R. J.,
Describes a content analysis (a principle components analysis) which revealed differential component weightings for these three constructs. For wisdom he found: reasoning ability, sagacity, learning from ideas and the environment, judgment, expeditious use of information, perspicacity. For intelligence the list is: practical problem-solving, verbal ability, intellectual balance and integration, goal orientation and attainment, contextual intelligence, and fluid thought. For creativity: non entrenchment, integration and intellectuality, aesthetic taste and integration, decisional skill and flexibility, perspicacity, drive for accomplishment and recognition, inquisitiveness, and intuition.
Under the methods employed Sternberg finds more correlation
between wisdom and intelligence than intelligence and creativity.
Wisdom, thus may be inferred to be more closely related to intelligence (as captured in this construct).

With respect to knowledge Sternberg contends that "[w]ise people:

know what they know [meta knowledge],
know what they do not know,
know what they can know given the limitations of present
understandings and of knowledge itself, and
know what they cannot know, again given the limitations
imposed on them."

8. The study of wise persons: integrating a personality perspective,
Orwoll, L. & Perlmutter, M.,

9. The loss of wisdom, Meacham, J. A.,
Somewhat in contradiction to the other writers who note the growth of wisdom over the course of a lifetime, as a result of accumulation of life experiences, as an explanation for why wisdom, if it emerges at all, does so in later years. This author claims and argues for the idea that wisdom is actually operative in the young and gets lost over the course of a lifetime! He is concerned that an overeager association of wisdom with age may cause us to miss a fundamental aspect of wisdom - that it is an innate capacity in the human brain, present from an early age.
The thrust of his argument, if I understand it correctly, is that the
accumulation of knowledge can as (perhaps more) easily negate the capacity for wise thought if it is acquired in the wrong way or
context. If one were to take a hard look at the way schooling in the
West emphasizes skills and specific knowledge rather than understanding and integration and generalization toward universals, one could easily buy this argument.
He bases much on the notion of wisdom being a proper balance
between knowing and doubting, which forms the boundaries of what he calls a "wisdom space". Over time one progresses through the middle of this space, accumulating knowledge (and knowing what is not known ala Sternberg above). This leads to a progression from simple wisdom of youth to profound wisdom of the aged. The tendency to exhibit wiseness, however, exist from an early age.

10. Wisdom and reflective judgment: knowing in the face of
uncertainty, Kitchner, K. S., & Brenner, H. G., Wise
people are able to deal with uncertainty! "The four aspects of
wisdom…that seem most closely related to the development of
Reflective Judgement are as follows:
1. the presence of unavoidably difficult, "thorny" problems
inherent in the lives of adults ([further references in the
2. a comprehensive grasp of knowledge characterized by both
breadth and depth ([same])
3. a recognition that knowledge is uncertain and that it is
not possible for truth to be absolutely knowable at any
given time ([same]); and
4. a willingness and exceptional ability to formulate sound,
executable judgments in the face of this uncertainty ([same])."

and in a well formulated statement:

"Cognition refers to the premonitored acquisition processes on which knowledge of the world is built, such as reading, remembering, learning new words, and so on. Metacognition involves monitoring the effectiveness of these cognitive processes, for example, asking if one has effectively learned a spelling list,... In other words, it involves knowing how to know and how effective one is at knowing something. By contrast, epistemic cognition involves and individual's implicit theory of knowledge, that
is, a theory of how certain one can be about what we know and the criteria for knowing…, epistemic cognition allows one to monitor
whether a problem is solvable under any condition, for example whether a solution to a problem can be had with certainty or whether it cannot.
Such monitoring involves knowledge about the limitations of one's own knowing as well as the limitations of all knowing strategies.

The Reflective Judgment model describes seven progressive stages of epistemic changes (page 218). The lowest stage is when knowledge is felt to simply exist, it needs no justification. Things just are and that is that. The second stage involves a sense of knowledge being absolutely certain (as in my Dad knows everything and what he says is true - 4 year old!). The seventh stage is: "Knowledge is constructed via the process of reasonable inquiry into generalizable conjectures about the problem at hand, e.g., which interpretation seemed most probable based on the current evidence."

11. Wisdom: the art of problem finding, Arlin, P. K., One
of the most insightful writers here! Patricia Arlin notes that a
hallmark of wisdom is the ability to ask the right questions in the
case of difficult, complex, uncertain problems. The key to problem
solving is problem finding, actually finding the real characteristics
of a problem. Features of both problem finding and wisdom include:
"1. the search for complementarity;
2. the detection of asymmetry in the face of that which
appears symmetrical and in equilibrium;
3. openness to change: its possibility and its reality;
4. a pushing of the limits, which sometimes leads to a
redefinition of those limits;
5. a sense of taste for problems that are of fundamental
6. the preference for certain conceptual moves."

The use of the word "taste" in #5 is interesting since one
translation of the word sapience is taste, as in tasting life. The last
item, "conceptual moves", has to do with attitudinal choices made in exploring the problem space.

"The proposition that all wise persons are problem finders is an
easier one to entertain than is the proposition that all problem
finders are wise."

12. An essay on wisdom: toward organismic processes that make it
possible, Pascual-Leone, J.,
Describes "willful cognition" which will require another read to parse and dissect! Refers to frontal lobe activity (the organismic part).

13. Conceptualizing wisdom: the primacy of affect-cognition
relations, Kramer, D. A.,
Asserts that "...cognitive and affective development reciprocally interact to produce a number of wisdom-related skills or processes that enable wisdom to operate through the individual in a variety of ways (e.g., in making life decisions, advising others, and engaging in spiritual reflection)." The main point is that cognitive (thinking) and affective (emotions/feelings/moods) processes must be highly integrated for the emergence of wisdom. This chapter suggests that we should look more closely at the interactions between the frontal lobes and the limbic system.

14. The elements of wisdom: overview and integration, Birren, J.
E. & Fisher, L. M.,
This chapter attempts to summarize and integrate (find overlap) the former chapters.

Sternberg, R. J. (2003). Wisdom, Intelligence, and Creativity
Synthesized, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
He reviews the history of psychological research and theories of
intelligence, creativity and wisdom. The theories about intelligence
are the most developed. He presents his own "successful intelligence" theory and provides a review of the empirical evidence for its being a valid construct. He also compares his theory with some of the other systems theories such as Bloom's taxonomy and Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences.

Creativity is next in terms of its developed state as a research area
in psychology. Still this is nowhere as far along as intelligence.
He presents his "investment" theory of creativity. It is interesting
that creativity is only poorly defined which explains the paucity of
research in terms of measuring it in the same fashion one attempts to measure intelligence with something like an IQ test. Much of the work in creativity seems to be how to teach creativity. Also, the work largely seems to center on exceptional creators, artists, muscicians, etc. rather than on ordinary day-to-day creative acts.

Wisdom is the least developed area. He provides some of the
characteristics of wisdom and relates it to the prior two capacities.
He believes wisdom can be taught (or at least improved through teaching).

Wilson, E. O. (1998). Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge,
Vintage Books, New York.
{This book is a gem. Wilson maps out a way to integrate all knowledge via the application of science to all areas of human inquiry. This perspective is not easily accepted by some in the humanities and even the social sciences (Wilson has had to endure terribly unfair humiliation at the hands of ideologically-motivated individuals who have clearly not understood his thesis). The philosophy (and methods) of science is often denigrated in the context of application to complex human affairs. Many of those studying culture find it incomprehensible that the process of science has anything to offer to understanding complex human society. But Wilson goes a long way in arguing the reasons for why this is the way to proceed. He does this by investigating the way in which the world is an integrated whole. One need only look at the way in which the world is organized from the small to the large (quarks
and leptons to atoms to molecules [chemistry] to biology to complex brains, etc.).

"For centuries consilience has been the mother's
milk of natural sciences. Now it is wholly accepted by the brain
sciences and evolutionary biology, the disciplines best poised to serve in turn as bridges to the social sciences and humanities. There is abundant evidence to support and none absolutely to refute the proposition that consilient explanations are congenial to the entirety of the great branches of learning. The central idea of the consilience world view is that all tangible phenomena, from the birth of stars to the workings of social institutions, are based on material processes that are ultimately reducible, however long and tortuous the sequences, to the laws of physics."

Wilson deals effectively with issues of values, spirituality and
natural ethics (biologically-grounded ethics). In my view, consilience
is a great model for wisdom. No single human can know everything, but recognizes the connection of all knowledge. A wise person will know enough to know what they do know and understand what they do not know - hence they know what questions they have to ask and what areas of inquiry they have to pursue to get answers. In this view, science is the collective cognitive (logos) process for finding and integrating knowledge when embedded in the context of consilience.
He argues for the connections between genes and culture (also
explored by Pinker, Ehrlich, and Marcus), which for many people is a
leap of understanding. }

Zull, J. E. (2002). The Art of Changing the Brain, Stylus,
Sterling, VA.

Total Posts:  2890
Joined  02-12-2004
08 April 2005 12:56

One more thing.  If you add a web site resource to this list, please break it so that it fits in the normal width window.  PHPBB increases the text box size for URLs that extend beyond the non-scrollable window size which makes it difficult to read subsequent text posts.  It can get really bad when someone quotes something that contains a URL.  So suppose you have a URL like:


That one fits in the box.  But if it is longer you can break it up like:


and don’t put the URL tags around it.  I know this will make it inconvenient for clicking on the url but I think it will be better than forcing the scrolling of text.  Just a suggestion!


Total Posts:  120
Joined  23-02-2005
09 April 2005 16:48

Gman, I feel almost as in awe as I was during the first rehearsal I attended in an orchestra that was strong enough to curdle my nervous system.

At first glance, all I can say is Thank you for the references. But don’t count me in as someone with enough time to seek out and comment on a substantial number of them. Sorry.

I am familiar with a few of the early ones, and I assume you included these because they were written for the layman, among which I must count myself, unfortunately.

For instance, Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate. Here’s what a cognitive psychologist friend says: The first 3/4 of the book is amazing. But beware of the final quarter. He’s out of his element there.

Sorry, but that’s all I’ve got.


Total Posts:  1182
Joined  22-12-2004
09 April 2005 18:29

hmm not sure you can help, but I am looking for books on the developing human brain from infancy on.

it occured to me from a previous post of yours on critical thinking and some reading I was doing on Attention Deficit Disorder that the facility for critical thinking could be limited to a window of development in the growing brain, so I would like to read something semi-scientific (not very hard)  and very current about brain development, how we are “programmed”.

Total Posts:  2890
Joined  02-12-2004
10 April 2005 04:08

[quote author=“Iisbliss”]hmm not sure you can help, but I am looking for books on the developing human brain from infancy on.

Yes, I would be very interested in reading related books as well. Sometimes I believe I have reduced cognitive or memory ability, or I’m somehow aware that I should be able to processs information better but somehow can’t do it 100%. This might be one of those things that is common to everyone but I’m wondering if cognitive ability can be affected greatly by ie. early childhood accidents. I know that I have had a few bad head bangs it my childhood, two of them resulted in concussions. You know, where all you can do is vomit for an hour. rolleyes

Total Posts:  2890
Joined  02-12-2004
10 April 2005 10:26

There might not be many books out there about the development of human brains since this area of research is tough to get access to.  There are general texts about comparative developmental neurobiology (e.g., chicken, mouse, monkey brains).  Getting fetuses and newborns to lay still in a MRI machine is a bit tricky!

Actually I would recommend that before you dig into development, it would be a good idea to have a general knowledge of neurobiology.  That will help when trying to decipher the particulars that come with something as deep as developmental. 

For the general reader, Rita Carter has a great book called “Mapping the Mind”, University of California Press, 1999.  It covers most brain science and has lots of nice pictures, and is very clearly written.

One of the books on the list above is:
Marcus, G. (2004). The Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number
of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought, Basic Books,
New York, which I recommend highly.  It does have some developmental stuff because it deals with the old nature-nurture questions in brains.


Total Posts:  1182
Joined  22-12-2004
10 April 2005 21:58

The reason I start to question this is becasue of two children I know personally and their mothers.

One was raised much like I was, with no access to television, the other was baby sat by TV, albeit shows like sesame street and others were included.

Both mothers were 100% on welfare, and stay at home moms, both decent women, both raised in similar metropolitian areas.

One has ADD, one doesn’t.

One is in college going premed on a scholarship, the other has dropped out of high school and gone from dancing topless to being a Xtian fundie

Of course, I realize many other factors in life determine the outcomes.

But I also see dramatic rise in two conditions if you believe the numbers are not just from drug companies pushing sales of new products and new diagnostic tools, both concern our children.

One is ADD, the other is autism.  While I can agree that authoritian governments wouldn’t like critical thinking, as I watch history and read things, I can’t help but wonder if we actually investigate well enough the way our society is changing people just through the effects of technological advance and not necessarily with ideological or cultural “imprinting”.

I will check out these books, thank you.

Total Posts:  2890
Joined  02-12-2004
19 April 2005 16:02

Hi gman,

Ed here.  Don’t worry. I won’t give away your identity!  Thanks for the copy of Harris’

Total Posts:  2890
Joined  02-12-2004
19 April 2005 16:10

Whoa.  Careful which key you hit.

To continue (Hi gman)

Thanks for the copy of Harris’s book.  Now I am understanding better your feelings about this forum.  Sorry, couldn’t resist posting, you know what a forum junky I am.

Actually I don’t know if you are even lurking anymore.  I’ll pop into your office tomorrow to let you know I’m here.

Again, thanks for the heads-up on this whole thing.  And I promise I will not say anything to give away your identify.  Although, I must admit, that it might be an eye opener for some of the participants on this forum to know who you are.  Its really sad we can’t share the joke about your username!

Total Posts:  2890
Joined  02-12-2004
19 April 2005 16:13

Oh, yeah.  I forgot to ask.  Who is the colleague you mentioned in the original post?  Oh, never mind.  I’ll find out tomorrow.

Total Posts:  120
Joined  23-02-2005
19 April 2005 16:37

G-man—you’re the new Pope, aren’t you? “G” for German? Of course. Sorry to expose your identity. I too hope you’re still lurking as I’ve missed your presence lately.


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Joined  11-03-2005
20 April 2005 05:28

Hi Ed,

Just a brief comment in reply to your previous posts.  I smiled when I first read your posts in other threads in this forum.  My thoughts were… “Too bad gman doesn’t seem to have stayed around.  He would have liked Ed.  Apparently, Ed is one of the guys he was so ardently seeking for his science dialogues.”  Go figure.


Total Posts:  2890
Joined  02-12-2004
20 April 2005 13:01

[quote author=“Peregrine”]Hi Ed,

Just a brief comment in reply to your previous posts.  I smiled when I first read your posts in other threads in this forum.  My thoughts were… “Too bad gman doesn’t seem to have stayed around.  He would have liked Ed.  Apparently, Ed is one of the guys he was so ardently seeking for his science dialogues.”  Go figure.


OK. Ed and I are colleagues at the university.  I loaned him a copy of Sam’s book, knowing that he had similar concerns about religion in this country (he teaches a subject that is greatly affected by rising evangelicalism).  Hi Ed, if you come back!

I haven’t left entirely, still check in on occassion.  But I have some experiments that are at a critical stage and haven’t the time. 

I must say though that I am disappointed in the seeming lack of interest in the science of faith and so forth.  I started this thread with the hope that we could share resources.  I wasn’t looking for other scientists especially, just for people who, if they’d read Sam’s book, would, it seemed to me, have read other useful resources (and of course I don’t mean TC’s providing references from the bible!) and would be willing to share those here.  I’m always looking for interesting reads.

So I continue to read posts by Peregrine, tyhts, psiconoclast (I really love that one), SkeptcX and a few others that are thoughtful and generally insightful, and from which I take something new to think about. So keep up the good work folks.  But I probably won’t be launching any more big endeavors here.  And I certainly won’t get sucked into the politics topics again!


Total Posts:  2890
Joined  02-12-2004
20 April 2005 13:59

So I continue to read posts by Peregrine, tyhts, psiconoclast (I really love that one), SkeptcX and a few others that are thoughtful and generally insightful, and from which I take something new to think about. So keep up the good work folks.

later g, thanks for the input and good luck with your experiments. Hope you somehow prove g=E