Reviews


"According to many popularising books published in the last few years, the heart of Man's mystery is soon to be plucked from him. John Horgan pours well-deserved (and clearly expressed) scorn upon this idea." Anthony Daniels, Sunday Telegraph

"Freud, Prozac, genes, evolution, smart machines--John Horgan offers a healthy antidote to facile claims that the enigmas of the human mind will be solved--or dissolved--by a single approach." Howard Gardner, Harvard University

"[E]xtraordinarily provocative and wide-ranging...During his rollicking stroll though the varied creeds that compose the terrain of consciousness studies, Horgan both educates and entertains." Publisher's Weekly

"Compelling... a well-researched and important book." Abraham Vergese, front page review, Chicago Tribune.

"[F]ull of fascinating vignettes in which noted brain researchers are caught thinking out loud... Riveting [and] eye-opening." Wall Street Journal

"The Undiscovered Mind is saved from mere crankiness by his light touch (there are some chuckles here), his evenhandedness (almost everybody gets torched) and by the fact that he gets most of his victims straight..." Paul Churchland, The New York Times Book Review

"John Horgan has done it again. In this rich, irreverent, thorough, and entertaining tour of mind-science, Horgan makes complicated lines of research accessible and compelling." Walter Brown, Professor of Psychiatry, Brown University

"[R]aises some tough, provocative questions." Kirkus Reviews

The Undiscovered Mind: How the Human Brain Defies Replication, Medication, and Explanation

Publisher's Description


John Horgan focuses on the single most important scientific enterprise of all - the effort to understand the human mind - and exposes a world of minor and doubtful achievement.. Horgan takes us inside laboratories, hospitals, and universities to meet neuroscientists. Freudian analysts, electroshock therapists, behavioral geneticists, evolutionary psychologists, artificial intelligence engineers, and philosophers of consciousness. He looks into the persistent explanatory gap between mind and body that Socrates pondered and shows that it has not been bridged. He investigates what he calls the Humpty Dumpty dilemma, the fact that neuroscientists can break the brain and mind into pieces but cannot put the pieces back together again. He presents evidence that the placebo effect is the primary ingredient of psychotherapy, Prozac, and other treatments for mental disorders. As Horgan shows, the mystery of human consciousness, of why and how we think, remains so impregnable that to expect the attempts of scientific method and technology to penetrate it anytime soon is absurd.

Selected Works

Books
McSweeney's Books, 2012.
With Reverend Frank Geer. Edited and with an Introduction by Robert Hutchinson. Brown Trout, 2002. Royalties go to Help the Afghan Children Inc.
Misc. Writings
Review of The Beginning of Infinity, by David Deutsch, Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2011
Review of The Information by James Gleick, Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2011
Review of "The Moral Landscape" by Sam Harris, Globe and Mail, Oct. 8, 2010.
Review of "What Darwin Got Wrong," by Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 27, 2010
Review of "The Shallows," by Nicholas Carr, Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2010.
Article in Slate, Aug. 4, 2009
Review of "Year Million," Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2008
Neuroscientific critique of the Singularity, IEEE Spectrum Magazine, June 2008.
Article in Discover Magazine, April 2008
Review of biographies of Einstein by Walter Isaacson and Jurgen Neffe, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 4, 2007.
A report on "mystical technologies" for inducing religious experiences, Slate, April 26, 2007.
Q&A with Francis Collins, Director of the Human Genome Project, National Geographic, February 2007.
Article on scientific explanations of religious experiences, Discover, December 2006.
Tenth-anniversay update of The End of Science for Discover, October 2006.
Review of The Jasons: The Secret History of Science's Postwar Elite, by Ann Finkbeiner, New York Times Book Review, April 16, 2006.
Essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, April 7, 2006.
Essay in the New York Times Book Review, January 1, 2006.
Review of The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney. New York Times Book Review, December 18, 2005
Profile of Jose Delgado, a pioneer of brain implants, Scientific American, October 2005.
An essay inspired by the Centennial of Einstein's revolutionary papers on relativity and quantum mechanics. New York Times, August 12, 2005
Researchers have found evidence for the controversial "grandmother-cell" theory. Discover, June 2005.
An essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, June 3, 2005
An essay published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, November 26, 2004.
An essay published in the New York Times, December 12, 2004
Cover story for Discover Magazine, October 2004.
A critique of Buddhism, published online by Slate (slate.msn.com) February 12, 2003.
Published in Discover Magazine, February 2003. A profile of the Harvard psychiatrist John Halpern and his five-year study of peyote use by members of the Native American Church.
An essay published in the New York Times, December 31, 2002.
An essay published on the oped page of the New York Times Christmas Day, 2002.
A list of articles written for Scientific American and other publications.
Outtakes from Rational Mysticism (published here only)
An account of Horgan's efforts to achieve satori in a Zen class.
A profile of the German anthropologist and authority on shamanism Christian Ratsch.
A profile of Diana Alstad and Joel Kramer, authors of The Guru Papers.
A profile of the Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast.
A profile of the British Buddhist Stephen Batchelor.
A profile of the guru Andrew Cohen, founder of What Is Enlightenment?, with digressions on Yogi Bhajan and Amrit Desai.