Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind

Daniel Tammet

Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind

David Tammet sheds light on the mysteries of savants’ incredible mental abilities, and our own. Tammet explains that the differences between savant and non-savant minds have been exaggerated; his astonishing capacities in memory, math and language are neither due to a cerebral supercomputer nor any genetic quirk, but are rather the results of a highly rich and complex associative form of thinking and imagination. Autistic thought, he argues, is an extreme variation of a kind that we all do, from daydreaming to the use of puns and metaphors. Embracing the Wide Sky combines scientific research with Tammet’s detailed descriptions of how his mind works to demonstrate the immense potential within us all. He explains how our natural intuitions can help us to learn a foreign language, why his memories are like symphonies, and what numbers and giraffes have in common. We also discover why there is more to intelligence than IQ, how optical illusions fool our brains, and why too much information can make you dumb. 3.7 out of 5 based on 3 reviews
Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Psychology & Psychiatry
Format Hardback
Pages 304
RRP £16.99
Date of Publication January 2009
ISBN 978-0340961322
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton
 

David Tammet sheds light on the mysteries of savants’ incredible mental abilities, and our own. Tammet explains that the differences between savant and non-savant minds have been exaggerated; his astonishing capacities in memory, math and language are neither due to a cerebral supercomputer nor any genetic quirk, but are rather the results of a highly rich and complex associative form of thinking and imagination. Autistic thought, he argues, is an extreme variation of a kind that we all do, from daydreaming to the use of puns and metaphors. Embracing the Wide Sky combines scientific research with Tammet’s detailed descriptions of how his mind works to demonstrate the immense potential within us all. He explains how our natural intuitions can help us to learn a foreign language, why his memories are like symphonies, and what numbers and giraffes have in common. We also discover why there is more to intelligence than IQ, how optical illusions fool our brains, and why too much information can make you dumb.

Reviews

The Daily Telegraph

Tom Payne

Can babies count? Will computers ever hold a conversation? Can you think in two ways at once? At times the nuggets he gives us can seem like diverting trivia, and there’s a pleasing amount here that looks like digression but isn’t, so we can enjoy the splendour with which it all coheres, just as the author does. Recent debate has bumped up this book from delightful to vital, because we are learning that it is possible to scan babies in utero to see how likely it is that they have autism. If you read Embracing the Wide Sky you might well wonder what the point would be.

30/01/2009

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The Financial Times

Lewis Jones

Tammet's relentless gee-whizzery occasionally palls - "The marvel of language . . . is that anyone can speak it at all. Yet speak it we do". But he is entertaining and informative about an impressive range of subjects: optical illusions such as "the devil's tuning fork", which appears to have three cylindrical prongs at one end but only two rectangular ones at the other; the impossible odds against winning the lottery; the surprising fairness of the US electoral system.

24/01/2009

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The Guardian

Ian Sansom

Embracing the Wide Sky promises decryption of the myriad mysteries of the mind: what we get, in fact, is just a glimpse, a pin-hole view of a vast and complex process... he claims that his number abilities "are linked to activity in the region of my brain responsible for syntactical organisation", and describes how the well-known process of "chunking" information might help others to discern the patterns and beauties in maths. But reciting pi, to 22,514 places? The mystery remains.

14/02/2009

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