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The Reality Bubble: Blind Spots, Hidden Truths, and the Dangerous Illusions That Shape Our World

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From one of the world's most engaging science journalists, a groundbreaking and wonder-filled look at the hidden things that shape our lives in unexpected and sometimes dangerous ways. Our naked eyes see only a thin sliver of reality. We are blind in comparison to the X-rays that peer through skin, the mass spectrometers that detect the dead inside the living, or the high-te From one of the world's most engaging science journalists, a groundbreaking and wonder-filled look at the hidden things that shape our lives in unexpected and sometimes dangerous ways. Our naked eyes see only a thin sliver of reality. We are blind in comparison to the X-rays that peer through skin, the mass spectrometers that detect the dead inside the living, or the high-tech surveillance systems that see with artificial intelligence. And we are blind compared to the animals that can see in infrared, or ultraviolet, or in 360-degree vision. These animals live in the same world we do, but they see something quite different when they look around. With all of the curiosity and flair that drives her broadcasting, Ziya Tong illuminates this hidden world, and takes us on a journey to examine ten of humanity's biggest blind spots. First, we are introduced to the blind spots we are all born with, to see how technology reveals an astonishing world that exists beyond our human senses. It is with these new ways of seeing that today's scientists can image everything from an atom to a black hole. In Section Two, our collective blind spots are exposed. It's not that we can't see, Tong reminds us. It's that we don't. In the 21st century, there are cameras everywhere, except where our food comes from, where our energy comes from, and where our waste goes. Being in the dark when it comes to how we survive makes it impossible to navigate our future. Lastly, the scope widens to our civilizational blind spots. Here, the blurred lens of history reveals how we inherit ways of thinking about the world that seem natural or inevitable but are in fact little more than traditions, ways of seeing the world that have come to harm it. This vitally important new book shows how science, and the curiosity that drives it, can help civilization flourish by opening our eyes to the landscape laid out before us. Fast-paced, utterly fascinating, and deeply humane, The Reality Bubble gives voice to the sense we've all had -- that there is more to the world than meets the eye.


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From one of the world's most engaging science journalists, a groundbreaking and wonder-filled look at the hidden things that shape our lives in unexpected and sometimes dangerous ways. Our naked eyes see only a thin sliver of reality. We are blind in comparison to the X-rays that peer through skin, the mass spectrometers that detect the dead inside the living, or the high-te From one of the world's most engaging science journalists, a groundbreaking and wonder-filled look at the hidden things that shape our lives in unexpected and sometimes dangerous ways. Our naked eyes see only a thin sliver of reality. We are blind in comparison to the X-rays that peer through skin, the mass spectrometers that detect the dead inside the living, or the high-tech surveillance systems that see with artificial intelligence. And we are blind compared to the animals that can see in infrared, or ultraviolet, or in 360-degree vision. These animals live in the same world we do, but they see something quite different when they look around. With all of the curiosity and flair that drives her broadcasting, Ziya Tong illuminates this hidden world, and takes us on a journey to examine ten of humanity's biggest blind spots. First, we are introduced to the blind spots we are all born with, to see how technology reveals an astonishing world that exists beyond our human senses. It is with these new ways of seeing that today's scientists can image everything from an atom to a black hole. In Section Two, our collective blind spots are exposed. It's not that we can't see, Tong reminds us. It's that we don't. In the 21st century, there are cameras everywhere, except where our food comes from, where our energy comes from, and where our waste goes. Being in the dark when it comes to how we survive makes it impossible to navigate our future. Lastly, the scope widens to our civilizational blind spots. Here, the blurred lens of history reveals how we inherit ways of thinking about the world that seem natural or inevitable but are in fact little more than traditions, ways of seeing the world that have come to harm it. This vitally important new book shows how science, and the curiosity that drives it, can help civilization flourish by opening our eyes to the landscape laid out before us. Fast-paced, utterly fascinating, and deeply humane, The Reality Bubble gives voice to the sense we've all had -- that there is more to the world than meets the eye.

30 review for The Reality Bubble: Blind Spots, Hidden Truths, and the Dangerous Illusions That Shape Our World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    Just as rocks hurtling at supersonic speed find it hard to penetrate Earth's atmosphere, unwelcome facts and unfamiliar ideas almost never make it through the membrane of the reality bubble. It shields us from thinking about forces “out there” that are seemingly beyond our control and lets us get on with the business of our lives. As a science journalist and long-time host of The Discovery Channel's science programme The Daily Planet, I expected Ziya Tong's book The Reality Bubble to be a sci Just as rocks hurtling at supersonic speed find it hard to penetrate Earth's atmosphere, unwelcome facts and unfamiliar ideas almost never make it through the membrane of the reality bubble. It shields us from thinking about forces “out there” that are seemingly beyond our control and lets us get on with the business of our lives. As a science journalist and long-time host of The Discovery Channel's science programme The Daily Planet, I expected Ziya Tong's book The Reality Bubble to be a science-heavy, fact-filled look at some of the unexamined realities of today's world. But that's not quite what this is: although there are many, many interesting nuggets to be found here, this is more of a wake up sheeple call to arms against those invisible processes behind modern life that Tong herself has identified as the greatest threats to our planet – where our food comes from, where our energy comes from, and where our waste goes. It's an oddly specific thesis, repeated a few times throughout, yet it doesn't quite get fleshed out by the body of this book. With a persistent default to the Argumentum ad Naturam logical fallacy (that whatever is natural is automatically superior to anything made by humans), Tong's main point seems to be that we should treat animals and our planet better (which conclusion it would be foolish to argue against). I didn't think the book was well organised, I didn't think that Tong made any kind of persuasive argument, and without offering any solutions for a different way of doing things, I was left with the overwhelming feeling of, “Well, what was the point of that?” [Note: I read an ARC and passages quoted may not be in their final forms.] The first section of the book had the most interesting sciencey facts, and there were many bits that made me think (and which made me believe that I would enjoy the whole thing): We tend to forget that on the scale of living things we are massive. To us, reality may seem human-sized, but in truth ninety-five percent of all animal species are smaller than the human thumb. And: While we can't say for certain whether reality exists independently of an observer, what we do know is that the physical world is far stranger than what our eyes perceive. For one thing, we commonly think of our bodies as separate and distinct from the external world, but modern science tells us that there is no “out there”; indeed, there is no place where your body ends and the world begins. In retrospect, this first section on Biological Blind Spots seems intended to prove that humans are both insignificant in the scheme of the wider universe and unentitled to claim supremacy over the Earth and its other inhabitants. Part Two, Societal Blind Spots, focusses on where our food comes from, where our energy comes from, and where our waste goes, and it is mainly about pollution and climate change and the mistreatment of factory-farmed animals. I don't eat mammals myself, but I found the phrase, “Most bacon comes from pigs that were put in a gas chamber”, to be unnecessarily provocative, but I was downright offended by the following a few pages later: After the Second World War and the Holocaust, we may have thought that the grotesque horrors of gas chambers has been ended, but for animals the method was reintroduced in the 1980s and '90s, and gas chambers are widely used to this day. Controlled Atmospheric Stunning (CAS) is considered a humane method for rendering pigs and poultry insensible before slaughter. But inside the gas chambers themselves there's incredible suffering. To make this equivalence between the methodical extermination of humans and the modern attempt to provide a stress- and pain-free final few minutes for the animals we eat was deeply offensive to me and Tong had pretty much lost me from that point onward. Along the same lines, in writing about pollution, Tong quotes paleoclimatologist Curt Stager as saying, “Look at one of your fingernails. Carbon makes up half of its mass, and roughly one in eight of those carbon atoms recently emerged from a chimney or tailpipe.” And in another *alarming* passage she writes: There is one more Matrix pin-drop before we move on. Because half of the nitrogen in our food chain is now synthetically made, half of the nitrogen in your DNA comes from a Haber-Bosch factory. I did find it surprising to read that a full two percent of the world's energy use is devoted to the Haber-Bosch process (which synthesises nitrogen from the air; which enabled the green revolution; which led to nothing but too many humans overburdening the planet; damn the eyes of Haber and Bosch both), but after the first section of the book – which stresses that every atom in our body was formed in the nucleus of some long-dead star – I couldn't get myself worked up about where the nitrogen or carbon now in my body had found itself recently. That “Matrix pin-drop” drama feels as beneath an author trying to make a serious argument as referencing the Holocaust while discussing abattoirs. The final third of the book, Civilizational Blind Spots, reads like your typical defense of tearing down Capitalism. The first chapter of this section laments the invention of timekeeping (because once time could be measured, the hours of a person's day could be bought and sold; which led to today's rat race) and the second laments the invention of measuring lengths (because what could be measured could suddenly be owned, from a family's plot to a nation's borders). At the end of each of these chapters, Tong points out with a dire warning that since the nanosecond and the metre now have standardised measurements based on atoms and wavelengths, they have been completely removed from the human scale, making these artificial constructs utterly invisible to us. To which I say: So what?? The book ends with the most pernicious reality bubble of all: The idea that any of us could possibly own anything (Tong apparently finds it ridiculous for a person to believe they have any say at all about where their possessions go after they die). I agree with Tong that there's something wrong with a system that sees the top twenty-six richest people have as much wealth as the bottom fifty percent, and it feels loathsome to consider ghost homes (investment properties owned in major cities by the super-rich; most of which sit empty for the majority of the year while thousands go homeless), but I don't know if the solution is to ban ownership. I'm not sure if I completely understand the point she is trying to make in the following: Property, whether it's an object, a cow, or a slave, does not have right of movement without the owner's consent. “It” cannot change its conditions even if it's unhappy, because it has no rights. The key point here is that rights are incompatible with ownership when it comes to living things. After all, if rivers and chimpanzees have rights, what's next? Will our bacon and eggs demand freedom? Our lumber and paper? Our leather shoes and our wool sweaters? All of this life, or extinguished life, is defined as our property to do with as we please. To begin to question that fundamental authority of our ownership of life would be to upend our whole system of thinking. That's because the core tenet of our entire economic system can be eviscerated by asking one simple question, which is: What does it even mean to “own” something anyway? I appreciate that these are all themes that Tong is passionate about, but they didn't add up to some meaningful, eye-opening experience for me. I reckon that the only readers Tong will be able to wake up with this book is those who already consider themselves woke.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    I love reading science fiction, and you might expect me to open this review with an encomium of how science fiction helps us imagine a way into a better future. But no. One of the reasons I love science fiction is for how it asks us to truly confront our assumptions about the way things are, and whether that’s inevitable. So many science fiction stories involving artificial intelligence place that intelligence into humanoid or human-like android bodies. Yet other stories imagine AI as something t I love reading science fiction, and you might expect me to open this review with an encomium of how science fiction helps us imagine a way into a better future. But no. One of the reasons I love science fiction is for how it asks us to truly confront our assumptions about the way things are, and whether that’s inevitable. So many science fiction stories involving artificial intelligence place that intelligence into humanoid or human-like android bodies. Yet other stories imagine AI as something truly posthuman, something so incredibly different from us in perception and ability as to be truly alien, no matter its origin. There’s a powerful moment in the last season of Battlestar Galactica when Number One, one of the human-form Cylons, rails against the unfairness that has saddled him with the biological limitations of human eyesight, human senses, human language: “I want to see gamma rays, hear X-rays, smell dark matter!” His passionate performance conveys a truly tragic sense that he feels trapped, that the embodiment that to the struggling remnants of humanity seemed like the ultimate upgrade for the formerly “toaster” Cylons is in fact a sick joke for him. It all comes down to perception, and to how we see the world. In The Reality Bubble, science communicator extraordinaire Ziya Tong challenges our own understanding of how we see the world. She asks us to really dig deep into our perception of physical reality and how it affects our conception of reality, our mental map of the world. Understand that I’m not exaggerating here when I say that pretty much every chapter, if not every page, of this book is a revelation in some way. I mean, I consider myself a fairly well-educated human, and it’s true that I was familiar, in broad terms, with much of what Tong discusses herein. Yet every chapter goes deeper into these topics. As the subtitle of the book promises, this entire work focuses on the idea of the blind spots that we intentionally or unintentionally suffer throughout our lifetimes—and beyond. It is remarkably coherent and well-organized for something that is unequivocally polemical in its condemnation of capitalism’s overreach. In Part One, Tong discusses what she calls “biological blind spots.” Basically, these are things we can’t see because of inherent limitations in our biology. These include the world of microorganisms, as well as the parts of the colour spectrum that are invisible to us. By establishing how what we don’t see shapes our world as much as what we do see, Tong lays the groundwork for the thesis that runs throughout the book here, namely that we should be mindful of how our perceptions of the physical world bias our internal, mental map of the world. It’s in this section that I learned 20 percent of our oxygen comes not from trees or even algae but from a humble cyanobacterium called Prochlorococcas. In Part Two, Tong moves on to “societal blind spots.” As you might guess, these are constructs of human society that we nonetheless fail to see—often through a certain level of willful blindness on our part. She discusses the way meat industry, power generation, oil and other resource extraction, and the trash/recycling industry. She ties these together through an emphasis on the scale of these procedures. The culmination of a globalized economy post–World War II, combined with the technological fervour of the ebullient 1950s in the West, basically set the stage for the mass consumer culture that demanded these industries by built as they are. In the final part, which is nearly half the entire book, Tong discusses “civilizational blind spots.” With chapters titled the likes of “Time Lords” and “Space Invaders,” you’d be forgiven for expecting flights of speculative fancy. Yet Tong remains grounded for the entire book. Those chapters are more about the arbitrary ways in which we have scientifically constructed and divided up divisions of time and space, respectively, and how colonialism and globalization have propagated these notions around the world. The final chapter, “Revolution,” summarizes Tong’s arguments and pleads for us to radically rethink how we approach the world. I’m a huge fan of Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything for the simple reason that it really captures the interconnectedness of our universe. As I sit here on my deck writing this review, I’m breathing oxygen produced by plants and indeed cyanobacteria, lounging in a chair mostly made from plastic and artificial fibres manufactured somewhere in … oh, likely China, and transported around the world through an intricate supply chain a century or more in the making. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Bryson’s style while reading The Reality Bubble, because Tong has done exactly the same thing. This is a book designed to make you think. Hard. It’s designed to make you question. It doesn’t offer a lot in the way of answers; Tong isn’t trying to sell you on some miracle plan that’s going to fix the whole planet. Rather, she just wants us to cast off the complacency that often settles on us as a consequence of living in such a fast-paced, on-demand society wherein the wheels and gears of the machines that drive us are often hidden from view. Tong wants us to pull back the curtain and look at the wizard and ask some critical questions about his supply-chain infrastructure. And that’s probably a very good idea. I often give my English students a project I call the Lifecycle of a Product. It’s pretty obvious what it entails: pick an everyday product you use, research its manufacturing lifecycle from raw materials to where/how it gets disposed, and then present your findings as a media text. Beforehand, we discuss globalization and what that means for our society. Because I feel like it’s my job as a teacher not just to teach my students how to use PowerPoint but to actually equip them to ask the hard questions in life. I want them to think, and I want them to wonder, and I want them to want to know where their cup of coffee comes from and what that actually costs us beyond the couple of dollars they might not even physically exchange for the drink. I want them to remember that our reality is a curious combination of physical stimulus and social construction, and sometimes it’s so hard to divine which is which, or to decide what to do about it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Boissonneault

    If the history of science over the last 450 years has taught us anything, it is that there is a major mismatch between perception and reality. The invisible forces so important to our understanding of the world—from heliocentrism and gravity to evolution and microorganisms—were discovered only by scientists bold and radical enough to see what everyone else was blind to. It is only through the extension of our senses and the transcendence of our cognitive limitations that we have made any progres If the history of science over the last 450 years has taught us anything, it is that there is a major mismatch between perception and reality. The invisible forces so important to our understanding of the world—from heliocentrism and gravity to evolution and microorganisms—were discovered only by scientists bold and radical enough to see what everyone else was blind to. It is only through the extension of our senses and the transcendence of our cognitive limitations that we have made any progress in our knowledge of the world at all. That human sensation and perception is limited is a major understatement: humans can see less than 1 percent of the electromagnetic spectrum (visible light), making us literally blind to 99 percent of it. Other animals can not only see better and farther than us, many have greater sensitivity to a wider range of colors while others can see ultraviolet and infrared light and even magnetic fields. We are deaf to most frequencies and incapable of experiencing many smells, tastes, and sensations. We are blind to the smallest scales (and to the trillions of bacterial cells that inhabit our bodies) and to the farthest reaches of the known universe (46 billion light-years across). These blind spots collectively and colossally distort our picture of reality. While evolution has equipped us, like other animals, with a niche psychological profile that allows us to navigate the environment and survive, our sensory apparatus provides access to only an infinitesimally small sliver of reality. This small sliver is the psychological bubble that we all inhabit, and if we want to learn more about the true nature of reality, that requires viewing the world through the corrective lenses of science. In The Reality Bubble, Ziya Tong equips the reader with these corrective lenses, exposing 10 blind spots that persistently deceive us. By understanding our limitations, we come to see that reality is not what it seems, and that we have to work hard to overcome the biases that consistently plague the human mind. Science, while fundamentally provisional, is the only reliable method we can use to get closer to the truth. In the first part of the book, Tong covers three biological blind spots that “would have us believe that we are the centre of the universe, isolated and separate from the world around us, and superior to all other creatures.” We not only have the perceptual limitations mentioned above, but we also have a sense of exceptionalism that tells us that the universe revolves around us, that everything happens for our benefit, and that we are the only animals that have the capacity to feel, think, and communicate. As Tong shows, this is demonstrably false, and she covers many fascinating studies in animal behavior and physiology that demonstrate that animals likely experience rich emotional lives. Emotions did not spontaneously generate themselves exclusively in human brains; to think this would be to believe, as Tong states, in a form of neo-creationism or in a “decapitated theory of evolution.” As the primatologist Frans de Waal wrote, this type of thinking “accepts evolution but only half of it...It views our minds as so original that there is no point comparing it to other minds except to confirm its exceptional status.” Our shared evolutionary history with other animals means that our emotional profile is also more than likely shared, and although we can never know exactly what it’s like to experience the world from an animal’s perspective, we can be reasonably sure that there IS a perspective, and that animals are not simply biological robots. This recognition of animal emotion transitions us into the second part of the book, where Tong investigates another blind spot: where our food comes from. If we could all spend a day at a factory farm, we’d all probably give up eating meat, but since we don’t, we stay blind to the suffering of animals and go on accepting the view that humans have a right to own, enslave, torture, and sell life. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg regarding our social blind spots. We are also blind to where our energy comes from and where our waste goes, and of course, to climate change. You can’t see carbon dioxide concentration or experience global average temperatures, so it’s no wonder that it is so easily dismissed or ignored, regardless of what most experts in climate science think. The third part of the book covers intergenerational blind spots, including our distorted conceptions of time, space, ownership, and money. The key idea is that we are so used to the way things are that we not only stop questioning them, we’re not even aware that things could be any other way. This is of course why philosophy and science are so important. They keep active inquiry alive and inoculate us from those who seek to exploit our complacency for their own benefit. No wonder tyrants have no use for philosophy, science, reasoned debate, or the institutions that support them. We all live in a consumer society that is largely materialistic because we all believe that this is the best way to structure society. Most of us don’t even give it a second thought. We divide our days into 8 hour shifts and produce massive quantities of things that don’t really make us happier or more fulfilled. We then consume them to no end, throwing away millions of products we once clamored for but have grown numb to, all the while making the rich richer and polluting the planet. Perhaps this isn’t the best way to structure society. The counter-argument, of course, is that life has gotten appreciably better; life expectancy has increased as has leisure time, literacy rates, and access to knowledge, while violence, war, and poverty have all declined. Surely we’ve done some things right, and although we have some blind spots, the tone of the book misses this more optimistic picture. There is something to be said of this view, but it does rely, quite uncomfortably, on the outcomes of climate change: if the consequences are anything near as bad as predicted, all of our gains will have been achieved at the expense of future generations. So while we can celebrate our progress and accomplishments, we should take seriously the idea that we should probably stop destroying the planet and all of its non-human life, in addition to the idea that wealth could be more equitably distributed and that our lives should be oriented around something more meaningful than the latest iPhone iteration. My only complaints about the book are that it didn’t cover enough psychology and it ignored one of our biggest collective blind spots—religion. First, one might expect that cognitive biases and fallacies of reasoning would occupy a more prominent role in the book, but most of the content is sociological rather than psychological. This isn’t really a big issue, but it might not be what you’re expecting. There were moments where I felt that the author could have delved deeper into the psychology, especially that of conformance, as one example. Second, it was surprising to me to not see any space dedicated to religion in the section on intergenerational blind spots. If anything can distort reality and run counter to the ideals of science, and to the stated ideals of the book, it is religion. The author is willing to expose any views not entirely consistent with reality yet is unwilling to address the elephant in the room that is religion. I understand that this is a touchy subject, but science is about delivering uncomfortable truths. The author praises radical thinkers that subvert common views with rational science, yet is unwilling to do so in this area. Remember that the first part of the book discussed biological blind spots that “would have us believe that we are the centre of the universe, isolated and separate from the world around us, and superior to all other creatures.” Funny, because this is exactly what most religions do. Christianity, for example, makes the rather humble claim that God in his infinite power and wisdom created the entire universe just for us. So religion can not only distort reality, it can also cause serious social harm; after all, if you think that God has a plan to return to earth and save all of humanity, you’re not going to be especially concerned with something small like climate change. Considering the ubiquity of religion, it seems like maybe this is something the author should have addressed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    This was a hard book to rate because some of the chapters were really interesting but others were really hard to read. It's hard to sum up what this book is actually about. It's a non fiction book that encompasses biology, philosophy, physics, chemistry, sociology, psychology and religion. One of the main themes of this book is climate change. It analyses climate change with a lot of scientific evidence. I think that was one of the main reasons I struggled with this book. It was very fact heavy, wi This was a hard book to rate because some of the chapters were really interesting but others were really hard to read. It's hard to sum up what this book is actually about. It's a non fiction book that encompasses biology, philosophy, physics, chemistry, sociology, psychology and religion. One of the main themes of this book is climate change. It analyses climate change with a lot of scientific evidence. I think that was one of the main reasons I struggled with this book. It was very fact heavy, with a lot of foot notes and scientific evidence. While the writing style was generally quite easy to read, the sheer amount of facts, maths and science was not. I didn't understand a lot of it and I don't think the average reader would either. If you are interested in climate change, from a scientific perspective, I think you would benefit from picking this up. Do I think that this book could put a lot of readers in a reading slump? Sure. Overall, this was an interesting but dense look at a variety of topics with the most prominent themes being about climate change

  5. 5 out of 5

    Izabela Pokora

    If I can recommend one book to my friends this year it would be this one. Please have a read and then re read again.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sheena

    "We are blind to our blindness." Ziya Tong's The Reality Bubble illuminates the various psychological bubbles that we perceive as reality. In three parts, she deftly navigates our biological, collective, and intergenerational blind spots. Our ocular blindness to microorganisms, like fleas, enables the use of agrochemicals to exterminate them and our labeling of such species as pests. The result has been a sharp decline in insect populations. As human beings, we judge and assign value to organisms "We are blind to our blindness." Ziya Tong's The Reality Bubble illuminates the various psychological bubbles that we perceive as reality. In three parts, she deftly navigates our biological, collective, and intergenerational blind spots. Our ocular blindness to microorganisms, like fleas, enables the use of agrochemicals to exterminate them and our labeling of such species as pests. The result has been a sharp decline in insect populations. As human beings, we judge and assign value to organisms based on their size, but size is not only relative, it's also a visual construct. The smallest organisms like bacteria have had a significant impact on the earth and human life. We have more bacteria in our bodies than cells and there are facial and bellybutton microbial species that can only be seen microscopically; that humans are ignorant to these microorganisms should not lessen their importance. And yet, some animal species are literally shrinking, while human populations expand upwards and outwards. This ocular blindness also extends to matter, as well as animal intelligence and consciousness. We perceive the physical world as solid when it's really quite porous. And we de-value animal intelligence and consciousness because of our belief in human exceptionalism–the centrality of humans to the universe. Tong's discussion of collective and intergenerational blind spots is absolutely fascinating and broad in scope. She examines our ignorance to food production and processes (the use of artificial coloring and feed additives to produce a "fresh" look to consumers), the global water crisis, waste, and the use of animal remains to make Jello and photographic film. Her most compelling chapters are the ones on time, space, and measurement. We take these things for granted because they've been standardized; we create artificial rules on the world around us, but we've forgotten the act of creating. Reality is an illusion we created and we adhere to it. We've forgotten that it's a product of our minds and not the physical world. We have, as Tong convincingly argues, collective amnesia. Moreover, we believe, wrongly, that we can own the world in which we inhabit. So, how do we penetrate the reality bubble? We change the way we think about ourselves and the world. We need a paradigm shift to change our perception of "reality" and who better to perform the task than scientists?

  7. 5 out of 5

    Garfield L

    Could not put it down! There is so much important knowledge in these pages... and told in such an entertaining way. Every now and then a book comes along that fundamentally changes my perceptions of the world and how I relate to it. This is one of those rare, and precious books. As a society, we really are living in a fantasy of our own making, and the author shows us exactly how in so many different ways... When it comes to reality, what we see is not what we get... and as humans, our perspectiv Could not put it down! There is so much important knowledge in these pages... and told in such an entertaining way. Every now and then a book comes along that fundamentally changes my perceptions of the world and how I relate to it. This is one of those rare, and precious books. As a society, we really are living in a fantasy of our own making, and the author shows us exactly how in so many different ways... When it comes to reality, what we see is not what we get... and as humans, our perspective is not the only one. It is a critique on the humanist world view that, despite our unique talents as humans, our species is the only one that matters and our perspective is just one amongst the many species with whom we share this planet with. What we experience and believe does not track onto the world that we are actually living in... and how those misperceptions are having a profound impact on other life forms, the environment which sustains us, and our physical and mental wellbeing. I'd recommend this great book to anyone interested in science or philosophy... or those who just want to consider our universe from a different perspective.

  8. 5 out of 5

    ❀ Susan G

    The research that went into this book is awe inspiring but perhaps, summer was not the best time to read it. I learned many tidbits but found it required a great deal of focus which I struggled with. I probably would have liked to rank this as a 4 for research but the 3 was more related to readability. I think many would struggle to get through the important messages and I would have liked to give it a 3.5. That being said, I will think differently about eating chicken, try to eat with a more ve The research that went into this book is awe inspiring but perhaps, summer was not the best time to read it. I learned many tidbits but found it required a great deal of focus which I struggled with. I probably would have liked to rank this as a 4 for research but the 3 was more related to readability. I think many would struggle to get through the important messages and I would have liked to give it a 3.5. That being said, I will think differently about eating chicken, try to eat with a more vegetarian focus and buy local as much as I can. I was already concerned about plastic but will be more vigilant in considering my purchases and adopting a more minimalist lifestyle (except maybe books)!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    everything I read now explains to me that everyone (including me) really should be vegan and I won't say it's a sign but obviously it's a sign This book is like what I imagine Sapiens to be about but like fun and science instead of "the LLC is a masterpiece of human genius" everything I read now explains to me that everyone (including me) really should be vegan and I won't say it's a sign but obviously it's a sign This book is like what I imagine Sapiens to be about but like fun and science instead of "the LLC is a masterpiece of human genius"

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Dominguez

    Human beings have blind spots, we are biologically biased due to our evolutionary history. We have technology infiltrating our daily lives and recording our every move. The Author, Ziya Tong points out that we record everything except for how and where we get our food, energy, and how we deal with our waste. The book starts out discussing physical blind spots like the blind spot in our vision. We hardly ever even notice it. Only when we focus on it and attempt to bring it to the surface of our co Human beings have blind spots, we are biologically biased due to our evolutionary history. We have technology infiltrating our daily lives and recording our every move. The Author, Ziya Tong points out that we record everything except for how and where we get our food, energy, and how we deal with our waste. The book starts out discussing physical blind spots like the blind spot in our vision. We hardly ever even notice it. Only when we focus on it and attempt to bring it to the surface of our consciousness is when we realize it is there. It’s a good setup for the rest of the book and the several societal blind spots she discusses. Basically, the premise of the book is that the choice to ignore what we know, or cognitive dissonance, will eventually lead to the apocalypse. The downfall to human society. The downfall to life on earth. The author didn’t offer any solutions to any of these problems. That wasn’t the point of this book. The point was to uncover these blind spots and bring them to the conscious forefront. Reading this book motivates you to take immediate action. This book was very cleverly written in a way that didn’t preach about how you should change your life or feel guilty; that as an individual, along with everyone else in society, you are contributing to the destruction of our environment. She allows you to come to your own solutions for these problems, which is probably a stronger incentive for actual change than an expert shaming or dictating you to change your lifestyle. Food chapter: The chapter about our food system was particularly shocking and damning, to me personally. Admittedly, I’ve always known that eating meat isn’t the most ethical or environmentally friendly choice. But damn it, meat is tasty, and no one is going to tell me I should change my lifestyle, regardless of intentions. After all nobody likes being told their way of life is wrong nor like being told what to do. This chapter was cleverly written because it brought to the conscious surface of how cruel we treat our food. The magnitude of animals we raise for slaughter each year is shocking. In the USA, 9 billion birds are raised each year in overcrowded breast to breast farms. In a single facility, the assembly lines of meat production in terms of chickens can run from 175-200 bpm (birds per minute). In an assembly line with that much meat production, in the USA, 700,000-1,000,000 birds a year are improperly beheaded and are scalded to death. The scalding occurs immediately after beheading to mechanically pluck the feathers. The amount of nutrients we need to obtain to feed our food may be leading to the fall in biodiversity on our planet. Interestingly, “65% of Earth’s biomass is domestic animals, 32% is human beings, and only 3% is animals living in the wild”. Waste & Energy chapter: With a single flush of the toilet, like magic, our waste disappears. Not only out of sight, but out of mind. Same with our plastics, furniture, and old television sets. Someone picks them up and they are gone forever, from our point of view. The magnitude of trash we send to landfills is outrageous. Out of site out of mind also applies to how our energy is produced. As a species we are hijacking the natural nitrogen and carbon cycles and the consequences are affecting our environment in multiple detrimental ways. The most telling and interesting blind spot discussed was about ownership What does it mean to own something? Honestly, I had never actually carefully thought about what it meant. Mostly, because when we grow up its so obvious. In the book the author talks about children by the age of 3 know what ownership means. The concept has been so reinforced in our everyday life that it is an assumption we carry with us every day and never question. The author talks about the psychology of ownership. After we purchase a thing our perception of that thing changes. “The instant endowment effect” or the attachments we obtain to our stuff and how they affect our emotions is bizarre when you examine it from the outside looking in. For some people small amount of attachments to stuff makes spring-cleaning easy, throw everything away. For other people large amount of attachments to stuff leads to hoarding and throwing nothing away. Owning something becomes part of our identity and even status (cars, houses, land, etc.). In the book she quotes William Blackstone, from the 1700s, “[one person can claim ownership] to the total exclusion of any other individual in the universe” and “why the [offspring] should have a right to exclude his fellow creatures from a determined spot of ground, because his father had done so, before him; or why the occupier…of a jewel, when lying on his death-bed and no longer able to maintain possession, should be entitled to tell the rest of the world which of them should enjoy it after him” We live in a material world and when we die our psychological attachments also die. Inheriting stuff from a dead relative has always made sense to me, but the why we inherit stuff I never really thought about before. Is shared genes enough to entitle us to exclude the rest of the universe? This book was not what I expected it to be. It was much better. After reading this I was able to recognize my own cognitive dissonance or blind spots to our systems of food, energy, and waste. I’m not a perfect person but I definitely will strive to make large changes in my behaviors, starting now, to improve our collective situation for a better future.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey Harris

    Wow. In just about a week I finished reading The Reality Bubble. It is quite incredible and has stirred a lot of thoughts in me from philosophy and my human rights work. Especially in the final couple of chapters I found myself thinking beyond ownership of physical property but also of mental property (our ideas) - that we often cling to our “ideas” / concepts and especially to our concept of ourself. That clinging might grow stronger when we lack other input to build our ideas and identity (eg Wow. In just about a week I finished reading The Reality Bubble. It is quite incredible and has stirred a lot of thoughts in me from philosophy and my human rights work. Especially in the final couple of chapters I found myself thinking beyond ownership of physical property but also of mental property (our ideas) - that we often cling to our “ideas” / concepts and especially to our concept of ourself. That clinging might grow stronger when we lack other input to build our ideas and identity (eg how emotionally a financially poor and less educated white supremacist will cling to their idea of supremacy because they lack proof of supremacy from any other form of evidence). But even there we can’t rest on our own supremacy when we are educated and financially comfortable. Scientists and thinkers too cling to certain ideas. Look eg at Anselm’s ontological proof for the existence of God, or Descartes argument for God using the ‘deceiver’ approach - ultimately their preconceived image of “God” is what they found because they made presumptions despite their claims / effort not to. Modern science attempts similarly to challenge a theory through experiment and it is those moments where experiments fail that new ideas in science seem to be born. The veil gets lifted, so to speak. One of the things about this book is that, in a way to counter the clinging to ideas because we lack other information, Ziya Tong provides so much more to the reader. She gives the tools to develop ideas and concepts with ‘data’ (for lack of a better word). Anyway - these were thoughts I was struggling to keep clear from my head while reading so I could be in the moment and take in what was said in the book. But having completed the read I think I can say them. I love a book that inspires thought!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Luke Spooner

    This was an uncomfortable read, but an important one.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chris Deeks

    ‘The Reality Bubble’ is a fluid scientific essay exploring multiple scientific principles to convey ways in which humanity is literally and philosophically blind to the world that we live in. It is also hugely entertaining and informative. Ziya Tong utilises her experience and knowledge of multiple scientific principles to allow ‘The Reality Bubble’ to meander from one aspect of science to another, confidently taking each concept in confident stride. She successfully conveys incredibly complicate ‘The Reality Bubble’ is a fluid scientific essay exploring multiple scientific principles to convey ways in which humanity is literally and philosophically blind to the world that we live in. It is also hugely entertaining and informative. Ziya Tong utilises her experience and knowledge of multiple scientific principles to allow ‘The Reality Bubble’ to meander from one aspect of science to another, confidently taking each concept in confident stride. She successfully conveys incredibly complicated ideas in an accessible format, never talking down to the reader. Instead, Tong distills the relevant scientific facts down to support her thesis and give each idea a very human perspective. It reads like a grand tour, with Ziya Tong taking the reader from the incomprehensibly big, down into the incomprehensibly small. She takes us through time, space, history, philosophy and science and how it all ties together. ‘The Reality Bubble’ is both humbling and eye opening. By questioning how we perceive and see the world around us, in comparison to the alternative modes of evolutionary and technological perception, Tong challenges the reader to question the impact we are having on our home, Planet Earth, and the living beings that we share our home with. Ziya Tong makes the reader evaluate their position in the universe and their understanding of their place in it and how they perceive it, and what needs to change to avoid global disaster and catastrophe. I’ve quoted this book frequently whilst reading it. Whilst there will be ideas you are familiar with in there, I’d be surprised if you don’t learn something new from this book. Aspects of the science can be anxiety inducing, however I think it is important to embrace the anxiety those chapters create, as Tong quotes Margaret Heffernan’s ‘Willful Blindness’: “Not knowing, that’s fine. Ignorance is easy. Knowing can be hard but at least it is real, it is the truth. The worst is when you don’t want to know because then it must be something very bad. Otherwise you wouldn’t have so much difficulty knowing.” This quote seems so prescient to societies views towards science, and stayed with me for the rest of the book and I think it really sums up the importance of every aspect of Tong’s writing and why you should all seek it out.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    This book is full of interesting thoughts and tidbits, but ultimately it's lacking structure and a clear focus. Yes we have many blindspots, but biological blindspots are very different to willful or forced-upon blindspots. Our senses and brains create a very specific *umwelt* for us that hides many aspects of reality that science now can reveal. But the realities that a capitalist society chooses to obscure (the meat industry, plumbing, finance, climate..) are created, and we are mostly happy t This book is full of interesting thoughts and tidbits, but ultimately it's lacking structure and a clear focus. Yes we have many blindspots, but biological blindspots are very different to willful or forced-upon blindspots. Our senses and brains create a very specific *umwelt* for us that hides many aspects of reality that science now can reveal. But the realities that a capitalist society chooses to obscure (the meat industry, plumbing, finance, climate..) are created, and we are mostly happy to ignore them. This book read like snippets of many other books I've recently read, and I can't blame it for that, because these are all good topics to attack. But it absolutely didn't need those two chapters on the history of measuring time and space.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Full of lots of gloom about what we're doing to the world, but also offering some slivers of hope if we collectively get our asses in gear to do what's right for our (i.e. all living things') survival! Full of lots of gloom about what we're doing to the world, but also offering some slivers of hope if we collectively get our asses in gear to do what's right for our (i.e. all living things') survival!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Selena

    Fascinating. Horrifying. Thought-provoking. Terrifying. Not merely worth a read, but dare I say almost a *must read* for the conscientious earthling.

  17. 5 out of 5

    KileyV

    Intriguing info but...what was the thesis exactly? I agree with some reviews that call this a "wake up sheeple" type book. Her voice, although a bit intrusive for my taste in the first few chapters, took a step back in the last half and never felt heavy handed in moral judgement. Tong believes we should analyze how global and cultural systems provide us with societal blinders which I can easily agree with but I wish she had used the C word a few more times ((capitalism)). I learned a lot of fun f Intriguing info but...what was the thesis exactly? I agree with some reviews that call this a "wake up sheeple" type book. Her voice, although a bit intrusive for my taste in the first few chapters, took a step back in the last half and never felt heavy handed in moral judgement. Tong believes we should analyze how global and cultural systems provide us with societal blinders which I can easily agree with but I wish she had used the C word a few more times ((capitalism)). I learned a lot of fun facts here but the organization and presentation remained a bit too 'pop science' and not enough 'narrative non fiction' for my taste.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vivian

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I am in awe of this book! I have never been moved to write a review but this feels like such an important read that I had to give it praise. I have learned so much and Ziya has opened my eyes to the big and small all around us. I will not only be re-reading this as soon as I’m done, but will be telling everyone about it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Don't get me wrong...I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't what I was expecting at all, but nonetheless...The author tells us that nobody talks about the 22nd century probably because nobody expects mankind to make it that far. It's going to be a battle for sure but at least Ms. Tong elucidates many of the pitfalls and always keeps it interesting. Don't get me wrong...I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't what I was expecting at all, but nonetheless...The author tells us that nobody talks about the 22nd century probably because nobody expects mankind to make it that far. It's going to be a battle for sure but at least Ms. Tong elucidates many of the pitfalls and always keeps it interesting.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    I consider myself to be curious and reasonably well informed, yet Ziya Tong's booked managed to burst several reality bubbles that I didn't realize I had. And even in the subjects I was generally aware of, she offered new and interesting depths. An important book for anyone who's not content to sleep walk through life. I consider myself to be curious and reasonably well informed, yet Ziya Tong's booked managed to burst several reality bubbles that I didn't realize I had. And even in the subjects I was generally aware of, she offered new and interesting depths. An important book for anyone who's not content to sleep walk through life.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andree

    When I turned thirty, I gave myself until I turned forty to become a vegetarian. I know that factory farming is major contributor to climate change; we should embrace more of a plant-based diet in order to lower the demand for meat and slow down the destruction of our environment. But it's tough when meat is pretty delicious. This book is the push that I needed in order to finally take the next step towards vegetarianism. The Reality Bubble is, of course, more than that. The book, chapter by cha When I turned thirty, I gave myself until I turned forty to become a vegetarian. I know that factory farming is major contributor to climate change; we should embrace more of a plant-based diet in order to lower the demand for meat and slow down the destruction of our environment. But it's tough when meat is pretty delicious. This book is the push that I needed in order to finally take the next step towards vegetarianism. The Reality Bubble is, of course, more than that. The book, chapter by chapter, breaks down the constructs that shape our reality as we know it, and then asks us question them. It's great food for thought, and I strongly urge everyone, I mean EVERYONE, to read it. If I was in charge of the world, I would make this book mandatory reading. My friends and family should expect a copy of this book for their upcoming birthdays, housewarmings, weddings, baby showers, etc.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    Probably one of the best books i have read this year. Wide ranging and insightful it sheds light on things we tend to ignore or take for granted in an effort to get us to out of our bubbles and take action.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Colette Abbott

    Exactly the book we need at this crucial moment in time. Masterfully written, this book will jolt you into seeing both the awe-inspiring beauty and terrifying truths in the world. I couldn't put it down. Exactly the book we need at this crucial moment in time. Masterfully written, this book will jolt you into seeing both the awe-inspiring beauty and terrifying truths in the world. I couldn't put it down.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    If you only read one book in 2019, it should be this one. Recommended for everyone!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    Really great and insightful book. I learned a lot about the challenges facing our planet, and I am hopeful we can find a way to repair the serious damage humans have caused.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jenn P.

    "Eye-opening", pun intended. A pretty good read considering I don't usually read non-fiction. Relatively well paced. I especially liked all the unusual scenarios detailed in the book. Would have liked the book to have explored more solutions to the presented blind spots; I felt like the book was a call to action, but without giving us an idea of where to start. "Eye-opening", pun intended. A pretty good read considering I don't usually read non-fiction. Relatively well paced. I especially liked all the unusual scenarios detailed in the book. Would have liked the book to have explored more solutions to the presented blind spots; I felt like the book was a call to action, but without giving us an idea of where to start.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anne Logan

    If you want to read a book that will truly horrify you, I recommend The Reality Bubble by Ziya Tong. It packs a scary punch, and not the kind of spooky Halloween-y read I typically recommend to frighten people. No, this book will terrify you because it highlights how much we don’t know or understand about our environment and the systems we find ourselves in. The premise of the book, and what’s meant to tie together everything together that Tong uncovers, is that our modern society blinds us to v If you want to read a book that will truly horrify you, I recommend The Reality Bubble by Ziya Tong. It packs a scary punch, and not the kind of spooky Halloween-y read I typically recommend to frighten people. No, this book will terrify you because it highlights how much we don’t know or understand about our environment and the systems we find ourselves in. The premise of the book, and what’s meant to tie together everything together that Tong uncovers, is that our modern society blinds us to very specific processes, while other places and people are constantly visible. GPS signals allow us to locate just about anyone, anywhere, and yet, we have no visibility into where our waste goes. We want to chat with the farmer that’s harvesting our carrots, but does anyone want to see into the slaughterhouse that feeds Costco’s meat refrigerator? It’s these discrepancies that Tong points out in an effort to motivate us to think outside ourselves and what we see on the surface. She begins the book by speaking about our connection with the natural world; how our cells are connected to those of nature, the similarities between us and animals, and some fascinating random facts, including the point that dragonflies see in slow motion! (page 78). Another interesting fact; liquid leftover from whey in cheese-making is used to generate the town’s electricity in the town of Albertville, home to 1500 people. Further to that, Tong discusses the different sources of energy the world’s grid is powered by, a topic particularly relevant as wars (physical and verbal) are fought over where our future focus and investment should lie. But this book is so unsettling because it’s not just a result of some great research, it points out things that are widely known but that we’d rather not acknowledge. For instance; “our worth–and how we (sic) much we sell our time for–more often than not has less to do with our intelligence, work ethic, or inherent abilities and more to do more (sic) with where on the planet we are born (p. 221).” She goes on to compare how much Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon earns each hour (even when sleeping) vs. how much someone in the ‘untouchable’ part of India’s caste system makes cleaning out latrines. Not surprisingly, it’s a disgustingly large discrepancy. Another money-related fact; “the richest forty-two people on the planet have as much money as the poorest half of the world’s population. That’s forty-two individuals with the wealth of 3.7 billion people” (p. 307). Feeling uncomfortable yet? There are three main sections in the book, each a different ‘blind spot’ for humans: biological, societal, and civilizational. And herein lies my one complaint with the book; it’s scattered. Although she’s organized her argument into these three areas, the reasoning behind that is lost on me, and most likely other readers. This book could benefit from a paring down of topics. It’s clear what Tong is urging us to do; ask questions, think strategically about where you spend your money and time, and take action to protect the planet, but I hoped for a more cohesive argument, or at least a stronger summary at the end to keep the momentum going after I finished it. Certain threads were also dropped, things I wanted to know more about, but if she had gone into any more detail on any of the subjects, the book would have spilled into a 400 or 500 page territory. For those who aren’t scientists but interested in reading an accessible book based on science (which this most certainly is), that kind of page count would likely dissuade readers. For those who don’t like a didactic read, they may struggle with this book. Tong has clear beliefs and messages which may irritate or isolate people, mainly, those who don’t believe that climate change is exacerbated by humans. It’s unlikely that an audience like that would even pick up a book like this in the first place, but we can always hope that fact-checked books released by major publishers with an obligation to provide their sources may help turn the tides of opinion. At the risk of sounding didactic myself: get off youtube and pick up a professionally-published book, it’s a much more trustworthy source! Except if you’re watching my book review channel, than by all means stay on youtube. Despite my criticism of the book’s format and organization, I still recommend this read. I understand the comfort in living and consuming like your bad habits don’t affect anyone but yourself, but this idea is increasingly becoming harder and harder to believe as thousands of scientists join the call to action for people to make a change to their lifestyles. Tong is yet another voice making an urgent plea for change, but if people aren’t willing to read a book that contradicts their previously-held beliefs, how will we improve anything? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; read books that make you uncomfortable, it’s worth it. To read the rest of my reviews, please visit my blog: https://ivereadthis.com/ Or follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/ivereadthisblog

  28. 5 out of 5

    Susan Brunner

    This book’s full title is The Reality Bubble: Blind Spots, Hidden Truths, and the Dangerous Illusions that Shape Our World. She talks about all the things we do not see, from the very small like microbes and neutrinos and other things we are blind to, like how much animals in our food chain suffer. The problem is not climate change per se, but that we are destroying our world. We are destroying our world that we need to live in. We are destroying our oceans, our forest and other life. Things that This book’s full title is The Reality Bubble: Blind Spots, Hidden Truths, and the Dangerous Illusions that Shape Our World. She talks about all the things we do not see, from the very small like microbes and neutrinos and other things we are blind to, like how much animals in our food chain suffer. The problem is not climate change per se, but that we are destroying our world. We are destroying our world that we need to live in. We are destroying our oceans, our forest and other life. Things that we need to live and breathe. But I must admit I am an optimist. I believe we will fix things. There are lots of people trying to do just that. See this video from the Economist on cleaning up plastic from oceans. I do not believe you have to destroy all than man has built to save the world. And, we will not fix our problems by destroying our economy. It is rich societies that want to fix their environment. If you make people poor, all they are looking for is where their next meal comes from. They do not care about their environment when they are hungry. For book reviews, see the one by Nesrine Malik at the Guardian. This CBC site has some interesting items from a review of the book to why Ziya Tong wrote the book to talks by Ziya Tong to some podcasts by Ziya Tong. There is an interesting review of this book on a blog called I’ve Read This. And, another good review by Charles R. Larson on Counter Punch. There is a short book review by Ziya Tong on You Tube. The Agenda with Steve Paikin has an interview of Ziya Tong. Ziya Tong is interviewed on Breakfast Television. This is a short video also. Ziya Tong is on Ted Talks.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Andrecrabtree

    Ziya wants you to get woke and stay woke. She wants to bust your reality bubble and show you how the system really works. In a nutshell she really, really wants you to take the red bill. She doesn't want you to take the blue pill "wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe." You already do that and that's the problem. She's ignoring thousands of years that suggest most people are happy sleepwalking through life. To paraphrase Jim Rohn "if you worked where I worked you want to c Ziya wants you to get woke and stay woke. She wants to bust your reality bubble and show you how the system really works. In a nutshell she really, really wants you to take the red bill. She doesn't want you to take the blue pill "wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe." You already do that and that's the problem. She's ignoring thousands of years that suggest most people are happy sleepwalking through life. To paraphrase Jim Rohn "if you worked where I worked you want to come home watch some TV. You don't have time to get woke." The book is broken down into 3 parts. Here are my thoughts on each. Part One: Biological blind spots. The main chapter that stuck with me is the one on how we find a use for each part of many animals that we slaughter. She was trying to make give us some sense of unease about this. What I took away was that humans are pretty ingenious to figure out we can use sheep guts to tennis rackets. Part Two: Societal blind spots. To be frank, nothing here stuck with me because I've read most of it before. We use coal, it's dirty. We make too much trash. Part Three: Civilizational blind spots. This was the most powerful section of the book for me. She covers how we have chopped up time and space and now it constrains us rather than us being the master. The eeriest chapter is where she covers the Chinese social credit system. I find that terrifying. The main premise of this book is to show you the many blind spots we have and encourage you to "get woke" and start to notice them. She overlooks that you can't see the frame when you're in the picture and the vast majority of people either don't realize they are in a picture (to extend the metaphor) or they are perfectly happy just being in the picture. The book does a good job of highlighting the blind spots but isn't so good at coming up with a plan of action for effecting change. She's hoping that enough people will be moved by her writing that 10% of the population will organically emerge to make positive change. What is more likely is that we'll have to wait to the current generation to pass from power and those who see the dangers more clearly to be in positions of power and hope that they are motivated to make positive change.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This was a wild and bouncy ride through many of the reality bubbles we live in. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the view out of the bubble starts fading as soon as you put the book back down. Ziya Tong covers the ways in which we don't perceive things from the physiological (for example, the microbes are too small for our eyes to see) to the psychological (small creatures' lives seem worth less) and then through to the self-imposed ones (why do we consider it a normal thing to "own" stuff, a This was a wild and bouncy ride through many of the reality bubbles we live in. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the view out of the bubble starts fading as soon as you put the book back down. Ziya Tong covers the ways in which we don't perceive things from the physiological (for example, the microbes are too small for our eyes to see) to the psychological (small creatures' lives seem worth less) and then through to the self-imposed ones (why do we consider it a normal thing to "own" stuff, and why is it illegal in many places to record video or audio on how our food is made). This, with a generous sprinkling of book references that will go straight to my to-read list, and interesting footnotes for additional information. The book doesn't offer solutions per se, but encourages the reader to take action on important issues while acknowledging that (according to scientific research) it can be highly anxiety-inducing to stand up for your beliefs if those go against the commonly accepted. Some nits: - In many cases, the author remembers to point out that she means "most" of us, not "all" (this book can also be read by astronauts, people born before 1950, blind people, etc), but when introducing a visualization exercise to understand how humans are bad at large scales, she does not mention that mental visualization is impossible to an estimated 2% of us (aphantasia). - The author describes how a colourblind individual might "[put] on EnChroma glasses and [see] colour for the very first time". This is a very colloquial description of what happens (the people who can be helped by such glasses already see colour, and the glasses work by filtering out some wavelengths to enhance contrast between colours that were previously hard to distinguish).

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