Let's get this out of the way at the beginning: The Return of Collective Intelligence is a well-crafted piece of work, referred to by others (and I agree) as an example of longform journalism as much as anything. This isn't surprising, since author Dery Dyer is, both by education and profession, a journalist. I didn't do a hard count but it's safe to say half the book or more is putting context to quotes from more than 200 sources. A very compelling argument is constructed, carefully, building one piece upon another until a very persuasive case for the need to get all of humanity in tune with the collective intelligence of (by and large) our indigenous forebears.

The one glaring issue is that the book suffers from the same problem that most christian apologetics contain: a starting assumption that the thing in question is true. With Christians, it's that the source is almost always The Bible, or else some later document that itself is based on the same. Or else, it's a pure construct of logic that leads one to the "reasonable" conclusion they want, but you have to accept some article of faith for it to hold together. Similarly, while the book is exhaustively researched, it at times requires the reader to nod and say to themself "yes of course!" at a key moment. For example, Dyer describes the spirals that occur in numerous ancient cultures as "important transmitters of energy and sacred information", and proceeds to discuss the relationship between this fact and the circular nature of collective intelligence. Of course, if you aren't on board with spirals-as-energetic-and-informational-transmitters, then all that follows has this worm at its core. I don't happen to be a particular skeptic on this subject so I was ok with it, but it is still worth noting.

If you are already accepting at some level with the notion of collective intelligence, Dyer's book is a trove of information to fill in all the gaps that may exist in your understanding of the subject, and she does an excellent job both of explaining how modern societies have suffered in their disconnection from it as well as offering hope for what may yet still be achieved if we can bring ourselves and our communities back "online" with this source of knowledge and energy. In that context I consider this a very worthwhile book. However, if you are skeptical but are willing to explore the subject, you may find yourself stuck on certain logical traps. The extent to which that sort of thing frustrates you is the extent to which I would soften my recommendation.

~ review by Patricia Mullen

Author: Dery Dyer
Bear & Company, 2020
pp. 294, $18.00