Evolution Tested

Evolution Tested, Library of Congress #2019905164 Outskirts Press, copyright and written by CS Stephens,

(Reviewer’s apology for length of review seemingly required.)

Sub-titled “Evolution & Empiricism Viewed through Engineering Standards”, this book presents a treatise resulting from the observed fact that although skepticism of Darwinian claims continue and some highly placed scientists and even a legal judgement support the claims, religions provide mixed reviews and a large number of physicians, dentists, and engineers repute them. Here, after some opening discussion of various claims in the Preface, the author offers a theme adopted by engineers as the Salem Hypothesis, which briefly assumes the existence of more than one type of skepticism – the irrational Pyrrhonian or radical view that refuses to believe anything because even evidence of the highest quality cannot be believed, and two types of scientific skepticism; 1. No one knows anything about anything, and 2. We know only the contents of our own minds. And because both can exist in the same person, empiricism or evidence-based results, are required. He follows with what to expect in the ensuing ten part discussion. Each, subdivided to a varying degree, follows with his application of the Hypothesis to evolution; its claims; aspects of DNA/evolutionary hypotheses; complexity of ‘First Life’ formation; Problematica (little known outside the “evolutionary practitioners” who study creatures “which have nothing in common with either known modern or deep time phyla”); analysis of evolution theory as a unifying concept; specific claims for evolution and treatment of coherent dissent by the evolution community. A Final Analysis recalls: “Darwin presciently outlined the failure zones of his theory. His failure criteria have been met, yet evolutionary theorists press on, regardless”. Further, a Condensed Summary of 12 falsifiers for evolution and five appendices conclude the book; A. discussion of knowledge in general and the essential disciplines of rational thought; B. movement from Aristotelian destructive logic, to the steps required for, and application of, objective thinking; C. examines when probabilities actually are impossibilities; D. “Understanding Life”; E. Validating Aristotle’s First Principles of Thought mathematically.

Discussion: This is one of the more thorough evaluations of a subject I have read. It also is quite literalistic, precisionist and in large part scholastic. In many ways it is reminiscent of PhD theses I’ve read.  According to the author, “The first purpose of this investigation is to analyze the purported scientific practice of evolutionary professionals compared to both the Enlightenment definition of Empiricism and the actual practices required of engineering disciplines. The second purpose is to determine whether there is sufficient cause to designate evolution as a pristine, disciplined source of objective knowledge. There will be no references or inferences to design, because this work is solely focused on evolutionary theory and its relationship to objective knowledge and truth. (But design will (be) mentioned – as above – when quoting evolutionists who falsely attack it as a concealed aspirational cause when it is not, rather than proving their own assertions. That’s a Red Herring Fallacy.)” He also states that because “evolution is a milieu of hypotheses” both complementary and contradictory, even interim ones that have expired exist so “It is an interesting task to attempt to organize the personal “theories” of many evolutionary ‘experts’ into reasonable form in order to analyze their content for applicability to the general knowledge base as containing either objective knowledge, or subjective knowledge.” Objective knowledge being defined as “inductive-reductive-hypothetico-deductive-objective-demonstration-falsification. Subjective knowledge – “inductive-extrapolative-hypothetico.” His stated goal – “decision to decide and emphasize that evolutionary pursuit can be shown to be a generator of objective knowledge”. Discussions of varying length ensue apropos all of the above-listed subjects.

From this reviewer’s perspective, two of the more interesting inclusions are the dating of fossils where he quotes Willian Durant, author (with his wife) of the eleven volume The Story of Civilization: “Most history is guessing – the rest is prejudice.” Because it is impossible to link chains of cause and effect in any valid way, his deductions “are sustained more in our minds than in reality and are informed and conditioned by our prejudices, which will tell us NOT what happened, but what we think OUGHT to have happened” and explores the numerous ways of dating fossils and what successively has been learned and concludes. Thus: “There is no hard, material, empirical, contingent fact which grounds any of the many molecular clock hypotheses.” The second subject should be of interest to religious leaders involved in the discussions – Molecular Biology, the composition of DNA, the importance of the function of mRNA as messenger thereby securing the fact that random proteins can NOT be the origins of life. Also, the more recent information that human genome’s nucleotides may play more than a single role.

Summary: The author has provided a thorough, scholarly treatise of a rather esoteric subject that elicits thoughts of PhD theses. Fundamentally it is well done, beautifully referenced and substantiates his conclusions. Most regrettably, however, the author projects a third, unlisted agenda – proposal of a belief that engineering provides a superior quality of investigation to that of other ‘scientists’: “Engineering is completely secular and materialistic; no deities are summoned and no chickens are sacrificed in the process of engineering. Engineering requires disciplined adherence to Enlightenment values: objective knowledge through thorough testing is both required and valued by engineers…” These and other quotations denigrating members of other scientific disciplines and reporting of their activities follow. Granted engineering deals with hard structures; e.g. wood, concrete, steel, while other ‘science’ more usually focus on less ‘concrete biological entities’ Also granted is the existence of rivalry between scientists in other disciplines that occasionally and sadly may degenerate into ugly situations. Injection of such puerile thought/activity does NOT belong it science.

Conclusion: This reviewer believes this book deserves: 5* as an Erudite examination of Empirical data on an esoteric matter for the semantics aficionado; 4* for the religious devotee because once again the ‘spark of life’ has NOT been proven to ignite without a ‘higher power’; 0 – 1* for distasteful material included.

3* 5*Erudite, esoteric treatise descending to 1* for distasteful material included.

A Coin for a Dream

Coin for a Dream published, copyright and written by Mae Adams.

This volume presents a series of short stories, the first fifteen of them told to the author in her early childhood growing up in Korea. They are simple tales, the significance of some perhaps even a little unusual for the uninitiated to absorb. Included are tales of egg ghosts, water ghosts, angels of death, servants of the underworld, a 9-tailed dragon shape-shifter and its nemesis, a 3-legged dog, also of the monstrous part lion, sheep and unicorn haechi with scales, feathers and horns who actually seek justice by punishing the wicked. Other tales, some provided a little later, detail the legends and folktales along with historical explanations of Korean beginnings, religions and practices. Included are tales of how shamans, these mediums between this and the spirit world are created, fascinating explanations of the differences among the Chinese, Japanese and Korean Dragons, discussions of their zodiac, and more. All of these later features gradually and ultimately fade into and join material of a bio- and autobiographical nature.

Discussion: This is the second book by the author of “Precious Silver Chopsticks” which I had reviewed approximately a year ago and stated “This autobiography/memoir is written by an eighty-four-year-old Korean woman of considerable intelligence, fortitude and an amazing ability to survive and prosper” and concluded: “Certainly a relieving catharsis for the author and a book of considerable interest for a diverse reading public.” Because I had witnessed the conditions and people of  Korea during the U.S. involvement, my conclusion with respect to this second book retains my admiration for the author and personally find considerable material she has provided to be quite interesting. But regrettably and in all honesty, I must narrow the scope of those for whom I believe this book will have appeal. There is much redundancy in her presentation and repetition within the body of the work as well as a considerable amount from her first book. Thus, I strongly recommend this book to readers who are interested in learning more about other people, their history, cultures, religions, activities, habits, individual beliefs, and their personal abilities to adapt and especially as depicted here, to survive. For readers with these interests, the subject matter most assuredly requires a 5*. The rating unfortunately must be reduced by 2 because of matters that judicious editing would have removed, plus the most regrettable fact its level of interest for others than those mentioned; i.e. general readership, probably would not be extensive.

3* 5* story regrettably reduced by 2 as explained in the discussion.

The Cooktown Grave

The Cooktown Grave ISBN: 9781734384437, prepared for publication by authoraide, copyright and written by Carney Vaughan.

This most unusual tale follows a ten plus year section of a young Australian man’s life following undeserved imprisonment for causing the death of his twin brother. Coincidentally, it also is of the detective’s brilliant police work that helps to establish not only his innocence, but illuminates underlying and unsuspected corruption within the police department. Specifics of the plot are so numerous and convoluted, as are the number of characters and their interrelationships, as to require considerably more space than can be provided in this ordinary review.

Discussion: Although far too numerous to provide plot details, readers should be aware that this is a tale that is divided into three parts with a quite slow beginning and movement into and partway through part two that briefly may cause concern. However the feeling soon dissipates and although admittedly some judicial editing probably still could enhance the presentation, the story becomes an engrossing chase/thriller/suspense vehicle speeding along at a good clip. The finale is satisfying and the final two chapters, in the author’s own words, set forth additional thoughts on police work that a reader will contemplate and well remember. They begin with “In a profession where one is in constant contact with the dregs of society the definition which should exist between good and bad can become blurred. Lost in a fog of vice. The human mind is a strange machine which works in relativities….”

4* Slow start, ultimately engrossing chase/thriller/suspense with riveting message.

Acts of Faith

ACTS of FAITH, a novel published copyright and written by Martin Elsant.

In this “Part 1 of The Inquisition Trilogy”, an initiating statement by Archibald Bower, Authentic Memories Concerning the Portuguese Inquisition, 1761 reads “An Auto de fe is not so much an Act of Faith, which the words would impart, as of the hypocrisy of Inquisitors, who thus make a mockery of God and man, by abusing the venerable name of religion, and forcing the secular judges to become their butchers.” An author’s note follows explaining that, as a teenager, he had found an account of an undisputed miracle that involved Diego Lopes of Pinanocos at his “auto de fe’ in Coimbra, Portugal, and more than 50 years later actual records of the man’s trial. (Both books referenced as additional reading.) However, a discrepancy existed between the trial records discovered and reported by Bodian and the public perception reported in the Roth book discovered so much earlier. The author’s intent in this book simply is “to add a component of human involvement to a process that they (individuals of the time) believed required only Divine intervention.” The story then introduces the young Portuguese Divinity student Aristides and the other characters of greater or lesser importance as it presents the quite specific procedures initiated and employed by the dominant figures in the Inquisition, as well as the surprising number of those attempting resistance, along with his new ‘element’.

Discussion: This is a fascinating and most informative story that should appeal to a rather diverse population of readers. Historians certainly will find much to learn as will those interested in beliefs of Judaism and of Catholicism of the era. A story of unrequited love is included, as are numerous references to bits of understanding of facts about the anatomy and functions of the human body as well as initial, perhaps surprisingly advanced, thoughts about surgical cleanliness available at the time. Thus, as readily admitted by the author, although tenuous, the tenets upon which certain of his actions are based are technically and scientifically feasible as well as the actions of Jews and Christians in this time of religious chaos arising from greed and ignorance. A most interesting and relative ‘Postscript’ is included as are suggestions for ‘Further Reading’ that history devotees will find extremely helpful. A somewhat unique aspect of this volume that may appeal particularly to readers who do not enjoy ‘cliff hangers’ where the protagonist or similar is left in a precarious position, resolution of which awaits the succeeding book, this first of a trilogy is a ‘stand-alone’ volume. However, sufficiently well done to make the reader anticipate the next in the series.

5* Historical fiction engagingly presented for reasons described.

Let’s Pretend

Let’s Pretend a book published by Amazon, copyright and written by Christian Hagesth III.

The opening passages of this book induce a reader to believe the author has set forth a fantasy novel loosely based on the ‘genie in the bottle’ theme. The protagonist, Peter Andresen  is a retired psychiatrist whose wife died several years ago in an accident and he has two grown sons who are ‘too busy’ to bother seeing him. He believes he is in his sixties, suffers from Parkinson’s disease, has been bankrupt and now “scrapes by on Social Security and V.A. Benefits.” He is alone and lonely and walking aimlessly on a beach with no person or even buildings in sight. He spots a corked empty bottle that has drifted ashore, picks it up and sees a note inside. Amused by remembrance of the old tales, he attempts to remove it. The task is difficult so bringing it closer a faint voice seems to emanate from its depths requesting release. Shocked, he rapidly reverts to remembered Marine Drill Sargent’s marching orders continuing until encountering a lovely young woman. She greets him with no hint of a sexual come-on, which would be useless anyway because his Parkinson’s long ago had removed the possibility of any such activity. They do however, acquire what seems to be a deep mutual understanding and attachment, so continue walking together and the young woman appears to be able to provide all manner of ‘good things’ out of nowhere. Thus, the tale’s subtitle “A tale of Mind, Imagination, and Healing” quickly is recalled. Holly is able to cause welcome sleep, wonderful breakfasts, fine dining with all of the amenities, sessions of swimming with whales, functioning as partner of a raptor and of an entire flock of birds and more. She also facilitates visits with his Aunt Nora, participation in conversational gatherings with historical medical figures such as Hippocrates and Galen, another non-religious individual from whom he learns that “God needs to be experienced, not dissected”, and other pertinent individuals.  But eventually from this non-physical reality where everything he needs is provided by his mind because it is not limited in the more usual manner by attention to material reality, the reader witnesses the evolution of a physically ill individual, additionally suffering from a degree of PTSD, who ultimately re-emerges in the ‘real world’ as a truly empathetic individual who is a true ‘healer’.

Discussion: This is an engaging book. It literally forces a reader to return to the too-often forgotten thoughts first provided on the importance of the mind on bodily action centuries before Sigmund Freud. As quoted by the author, Hippocrates stated “It is more important to know what patient has the disease than what disease the patient has” i.e. the mind’s content fundamentally is the important factor in treatment. As an extension on his theme, the author provides examples of the many psychological burdens carried by the protagonist. Included are early strange thoughts arising from the child’s bedtime prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep…”, being recognized as a hated other young boy instead of as her son by his mother just being returned from a psychiatric facility, thoughts about shooting himself in college and a horrifying experience after being shot down on a mission over enemy territory. Many more compelling features of mind-body interrelationship along with additional pertinent details and thought compelling reaction are included. A reminder of medicine’s mortal conflict with ignorance not only is legendary but particularly relevant again today by the recent resistance to immunization and the cautionary admonition “The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism” necessitating the cautionary remark “Be careful talking to people about your understanding of the infinite mind…you know it will be distorted. It will be seen as both heresy and gospel.” But enough! This is merely a review by a relatively knowledgeable reader who has been impressed by the author’s ability to bring forth, in a rather succinct manner, a basic tenet of the mind-body-disease relationship that, as stated, has appeared to have been lost for centuries. Granted, Freud, Jung and others resurrected a piece of it which H. Flanders Dunbar and others expanded to a degree. However, this particular treatise reestablishes the basic tenets and does so in a quite charming fictional tale that is highly recommended both as a simple fantasy, but even more importantly as a book to enjoy analyzing and absorbing its message.

5* Riveting dual level tale; enjoyable fantasy; crying for deeper analysis.

Leadership and Life Hacks

Leadership & Life Hacks ISBN: 9781946633835 ForbesBooks copyright and written by Alyssa Rapp.

Subtitled “Insights from a Mom, Wife, Entrepreneur & Executive”, the author offers an explanation of her personal alternative definition of ‘hack’ – “Woman friends in the same position always are seeking tangible ways to create impact and efficiency in our lives. You might call them secret sources or shortcuts to success. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s call them hacks.” She further explains there will be two sections – lead and live. She suggests the reader may proceed in any order desired – back, forward, ‘cherry pick’, or other. Further explanation is that “she will take you into the Boardroom, manage a household, strategies for answering e-mails, staying fit, and best utilization of my time.” Next, a commendatory Forward, and an Introduction explaining some of her educational and preceding entrepreneurial, as well as marriage/child bearing background, and her observance that “an industry that’s rife with regulation and inefficiency: it’s also ripe for disruption”. Also what assuming a position of CEO in another area would entail. Ultimately, the book opens with the first of ten chapters that provide material about things she did and discovered in her preceding position. The rest of the chapters discuss “Pivot versus Quit: when the going gets tough”; how to transition; hacking the health care industry; managing a board and/or other critical stakeholders; mentorship; leading a team; balancing mom, athlete, entrepreneur, executive; work hard, play hard; twenty-three mini-hacks you never knew you needed; a Conclusion to “keep swinging”; Appendix: reading list; More from Alyssa which includes a sizable number of pictures of her starting in childhood, her family and with  persons of importance in political and/or managerial positions.

Discussion: This book is another in the burgeoning number of books on entrepreneurial activity, CEO positions and management thereof as start-ups and/or changing such positions. However, it is set forth here from a less often encountered perspective, As such, it should be of particular interest to the growing number of women breaking through the ‘glass ceiling’ to take their place among the ‘elite group’ of business leaders. The relevance of certain parts of material included definitely would appear to be of greatest interest to this particular segment, but a large amount of the material presented is relevant to any reader contemplating similar activity. Instruction begins with the very first chapter when she provides a summary of the first 8 hacks and proceeds to offer more detail, following with 9-14 in chapter 2 and several more in each succeeding chapter, except for chapter 8 which details Life Hack #65. Chapter 9 concludes the total number of 77. Chapter 10 provides a few more of those that “have been most meaningful to” the author and pertain to “kids, partners, dual-career households, bodies, technology – and quinoa.”

Conclusion: A ‘different’ perspective on entrepreneurial/CEO development/management no doubt attuned to the increasing number of women advancing in this area. However, anyone interested in business affairs will discover a large number of the suggestions to be meaningful and helpful.

4* Most helpful for target audience; many suggestions valuable to all.