Book Review for Connect Magazine
Human Ascent by Henry Gobus

Most of us are familiar, at least at some level, with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution – the survival of the fittest, natural selection etc. In his book Human Ascent Henry Gobus offers a compelling alternative model of evolution that is both consistent with the known facts, and needing none of the add-on theories that are necessary to plug the deficiencies in Darwin’s theory.

Put succinctly, Henry has advanced the theory that evolution is in fact evolution of intelligence, from instinctual intelligence – the innate survival-driven intelligence that is fixed and in place at birth – to psychological intelligence, which rides on the development of emotional attachment to things and concepts, even to the extent that this becomes more important than physical survival. It is the development of increasing psychological intelligence that drives the genes, not chance mutations and adaptation to the environment as theorised by Darwin.

I found this book well written, logical in the way arguments are presented, backed by referenced research, and totally convincing. Henry Gobus’ ‘Attachment Theory’ also provides a credible basis for some phenomena that cannot readily be accounted for by Darwin’s theory – for example:
– lengthy periods without gradual advances in development, then rapid change and the appearance of new species;
– the complex and inexplicable change from low care, efficient reproduction to high care, in-utero development, with offspring that cannot care for themselves etc.

It also offers a rational account for the highly inefficient, highly intelligent, non-adaptive, large brained, bipedal organism that is modern man, and points to what might be the future development of intelligence. The supreme irony is that the very process that drives this model – emotional attachment to physical objects, and ideas like wealth, power and control etc – might also be the greatest danger to the survival of humankind on this planet.

It is not often that we have the opportunity to witness what could be the inception of a totally new perspective on a long established theory. It is possible that in time Henry Gobus’ theory of intelligence and evolution will supplant Darwin’s theory, but no doubt not without some heated debate. Human Ascent is an exciting and ground-breaking book, well worth reading.

Reviewed by Mark Ruge

Review of Human Ascent
By Dr Daniel Gileppa, Psychiatric Registrar.

This month, I thought I’d step outside of my usual sphere, and take a look at a new book by Australian psychologist Henry Gobus, entitled Human Ascent. It was recommended to me by a colleague, who raved about it, but left me with the impression that it was a creationist / intelligent design diatribe on evolution. Being an avid follower of Richard Dawkins and his ilk, this almost caused me to avoid the book entirely. Fortunately, I read it for myself, and found a cogent and novel theory on the processes underlying evolution. The book doesn’t dispute that evolution has occurred, nor does it proffer theories on who or what caused evolution to occur. What it does, comprehensively, is draw numerous comparisons between the processes of species evolution, and a well recognised aspect of “personal” evolution. I’m being deliberately vague in my description of the “personal” evolution, because I don’t wish to ruin the surprise, but I’m sure that most readers working in the field of mental health will recognise the concept immediately.

For me, the only downside of the book is the diagram presentation. While the diagrams themselves are clear and functional, they have been stretched and skewed to give a strange, unpleasant aesthetic. Presumably, this was an artefact of the printing process, and will hopefully be remedied in subsequent editions.

In summary, I was impressed with the parallels Mr Gobus has drawn between this particular concept and evolution, and how he is able to set out his arguments in a way that can engage all levels of knowledge from novice to advanced. The thing that most amazed me, however, is how nobody’s made the comparison before! It’s something that is not immediately apparent, but seems so obvious once it’s pointed out. I have no doubt that it will be zealously critiqued, particularly by those who have an interest in maintaining a conflicting opinion, but personally – I’m converted.

Dr Daniel Gileppa, Psychiatric Registrar.

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