The Watchman's Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction

Rebecca Costa

Vanguard Press,  October 2010

Why does it feel as if our most challenging problems today -- worldwide recession, global warming, fast-spreading viruses, water and food shortages, poverty -- aren't being solved? What if our brain has limits that prevent it from solving such complex problems? If ancient civilizations collapsed because they, too, hit a cognitive limitation, are we headed for a similar collapse? Can it be prevented? These are the questions Rebecca Costa confronts -- and offers a solution to -- in her intriguing and game-changing book, The Watchman's Rattle.

Costa believes that the mounting complexity of a problem can outpace the brain's ability to absorb and address it. With compelling evidence, she shows how we tend to quick-fix our problems by addressing the symptoms, instead of finding permanent solutions, leading to dangerous long-term consequences. Society's ability to solve its most challenging problems and progress becomes gridlocked.

In a fascinating and engrossing argument, Costa presents ideas for how we can reverse our own downward spiral. Citing cutting-edge research, she reveals how the human brain can spontaneously call upon a powerful cognitive tool: insight. She also describes four modern-day supermemes that appear all around us: the oppositional culture, the personalization of blame, casual science, and the business society. Costa meticulously proves how these supermemes have produced global gridlock.

The Watchman's Rattle, like its namesake, is ultimately a summons for help to overcome the inevitable pattern of surrendering to the cognitive threshold. We need a new strategy lest we go the way of early advanced civilizations. We must first address our prevailing attitudes and beliefs if we hope to embrace solutions. . . . Costa hands us the key -- insight -- to help us take our first steps to affect real change.

hardcover | ISBN: 9781593156053 | Publication Date: October 2010

If there were a "Watchman" to protect us from danger, he would be shaking his rattle vigorously right now. We are in danger of becoming extinct, for the signs of the collapse of our civilization are obvious, according to Rebecca Costa's excellent and thought provoking new book, The Watchman's Rattle.

The theme for The Watchman's Rattle can be summed up in the story of the sophisticated and scientifically developed Mayan society: Unproven beliefs became the substitute for facts. Once this happens, as the practice of beliefs cannot result in real solutions, the inevitability of failure takes place, and disaster is the only outcome.

Our inherent hubris about our being as evolved as we can possibly ever be, is another message that one can take from The Watchman's Rattle. If we do not heed the lessons of the past, if we continue to ignore all the warning signs that threaten human existence - -such as global recession, powerful pandemic viruses, terrorism, rising crime, climate change, rapid depletion of the earth's resources, nuclear proliferation, and failing educational systems - -we are doomed to extinction. However, if we do pay attention, Costa lays out a plan that places us in an excellent position to change a repetitive pattern of decline.

This is an excellent book, rich with challenging thoughts as well as perceptive solutions. Costa offers excellent research in this fully developed dissertation on the warning signs and potential solutions to human and global destruction.

Highly recommended.
- - Geri Spieler, NY Journal of Books

"The Gulf is drowning in oil, the housing market stumbles along, the Afghanistan conflict nears a decade long . . .why do all these problems seem so intractable and unstoppable? How did we get to this point of gridlock? Instead of hand-wringing we should all read Rebecca Costa's The Watchman's Rattle and start figuring out how to really solve these messes. Few other books have so clearly and sharply captured how our symptom-obsessed society means we're always looking for the quick-fix and easy cure rather than searching for the deeper, longer lasting solutions. Her analysis of how we got to this point mixes history, biology, economics and much more to paint a picture of a society overwhelmed by tremendous problems, but with her Silicon Valley rationality and novel guide to intuitive thinking, Costa has pointed a way forward for all of us."
 - -Tina Brown, Editor-in-Chief and Founder, The Daily Beast

"I am on the side of Rebecca Costa. Let us become realists-in-search-of-a-solution rather than doomsayers."
- - E. O. Wilson, Two-Time Pulitzer Prize Winner

"Problems eventually become too complicated for the average intelligence - -in The Watchman's Rattle, Rebecca Costa depicts the challenges this presents."
- - Dr. James Watson, Nobel Laureate

"Rebecca Costa has written a riveting examination of our world's most dire and complex issues. Her message for mankind is an ultimately hopeful one as she explores her fascinating theory about the brain's ability to develop advanced problem solving techniques in times of crisis. A must read!"
- - Donald J. Trump, Real Estate Developer and Entrepreneur

"Costa presents innovative messages about dealing with the many issues facing modern civilization . . . a warning and a resource. It will give concerned readers new hope in human capability."
- - Library Journal