L'opticien de Lampedusa gIf I d read this about five years ago this would have been uite a different review Don tet me wrong after reading her Delusions of Gender there is nothing NOTHING Ms Fine could do that I wouldn t think was potentially Doomsday Men: The Real Dr. Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon god like Delusions is an amazing book and you ought to read it first before this one in fact before just about any other book It is a necessary book in ways this one isn t I mean that kindly but there are lots of other books on this topic many at least asood but there are no other books I ve read on how ender is constructed in our societies from a scientific perspective that hold a candle to Delusions of Gender Like I said it is a must readNow a couple of weeks ago I found out that the Milgram experiments were involved in well what some people might call data manipulation and to such an extent that it really calls into uestion the entire import of these experiments to social science This is a worthwhile link to have a wee look at seems we are not uite as likely to be Nazi prison uards as was originally assumed and I for one am rather pleased this is the case We humans are capable of the most Whoops!: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay god awful abuses and nastinesses and worse but I am much happier knowing that such unthinking follow the leader behaviours aren t nearly as all pervasive as Milgram seemed to show We may not have cause for much hope about humanity but utter despair may yet prove to be somewhat of an over reaction tooThe part of this book then that must be read with the above article in mind is the part that deals with Milgram One of the things that is repeatedly said in this book is that we are pretty hopeless at knowing our own true motivations Weet fooled far too often and often by ourselves Part of the reason for this is that we have limited ways in which our bodies can respond to inputs She talks about her sweaty palms while being nervous for example but also racing hearts and shortage of breath that sort of thing The problem arises not so much in real life but rather in psychological tests where your emotions can be manipulated in certain ways without your conscious knowledge and then when you are asked to explain why you might be feeling a certain way the shrink can smugly smile knowing they are right and you are wrong My favourite example isn t in this book but the couple of examples Michelangelo: His Epic Life given here are interesting too My favourite is about people who are hypnotised and told that when they wake up they won t remember anything about what has been said to them but when someone says chicken they will fall to theround They are then woken up or whatever one does when one brings hypnotised people back from being hypnotised and the conversation starts It is Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge going along nicely until someone says that they had a chicken sandwich for lunch and the stooge I mean psychology assessment victimsubjectobject of derision finds themselves on theround So far the script has Boy Soldiers of the Great War: Their Own Stories for the First Time gone pretty much as the writer intended But now comes the interesting bit They ask said stoogevictim why they are on the floor Not a completely unreasonable uestion in normal circumstances What very rarely happens is that said stooge says Frig no idea I must be completely nuts Rather theyenerally come up with a reason for what we can only assume must seem even to them like completely inexplicable behaviour They ll say something like I ve been thinking of Making Sense of Leadership: Exploring the Five Key Roles Used by Effective Leaders getting some new carpet and or Oh sorry I felt a little faint for a second there or Jesus where did youet those shoes The point is as with all such stories there is a clear cause and there is a clear effect and only the expert can tell you which is whichAnd there is my problem with this stuff One of the uestions she asks a few times during the book is basically how can you know you are in a relationship that you ought to be in when all of us are so crap at understanding our true motivations for doing anything In another recent review I talked about something a writer said about the difference between modernism and post modernism Modernism is based on the idea of radical doubt it is the Sherlock Holmes perspective Bad shit has one down there s even a body to prove it and someone is responsible for the dead body there is a knife in its back someone put it there But they aren t letting on that they did it and so it is up to Holmes trusting no one doubting everything to try to figure out
what happened and why There is one truth he is standing outside happened and why There is one truth he is standing outside particular world and looking in and he will find that one true truth using all of his powers of pure deduction Post modernism is like Phillip Marlow the Phillip Marlow in the Singing Detective that is The story is far too complicated the teller is drugged and incoherent they are involved up to their eyeballs in the story so that there is no outside from which to look in there isn t one truth the truth is relational and depends on who you are in the story and who you have spoken to and what you already know and what you have uessed and the secrets you are keeping and
the secrets no one is tell you and secrets no one is tell you and stuff you aren t sure of and also and mostly who you like and who you can t stand The truth isn t one thing it is very much situated and depends on endless very personal accidents It isn t that the truth isn t objective it is just that it is relative So while I do see that there is a causal relationship between the Gandhi Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age guy being hypnotised and someone saying chicken and him ending up on theround I m not nearly so sure this means the truth of this situation is the Les Innocents god like perspective of the shrink Yep when youet to set up the rules of the I Was A Stranger game youet to see causality but in life you don t et this perspective or to set up the rules in uite that same way So how are we oing to use this particular piece of evidence of human frailty If it is just to
tell us that we are all stuffed in us that we are all stuffed in head well you know that isn t really news to most of us The problem with such experiments is that they reinforce the idea that there is a single truth and that somehow we must The Lives of Stay-at-Home Fathers: Masculinity, Carework and Fatherhood in the United States go looking for that But that is exactly the wrong lesson here A much better lesson is that we are self interested pricks and spend far too much time finding ways to protect our rather delicate egos That actually can mostly be aood thing but sometimes it is a really really bad thing Like when we don t try to do something well so we can have an excuse for failure well I didn t really try But there are very few things about us that are uneuivocally ood or bad The problem is that everything is situated it only makes sense from within the situation and as such it is really hard to offer eneral advice when we live in the particularThat said the bits of this that I really liked were the bits I ve been obsessing over for nearly a decade now Firstly stereotype threat Short version people live down to the expectations of the social stigmas they are confined within Stereotypes matter because they do damage to people by stuffing them in boxes they struggle to Gone: The Disappearance of Claudia Lawrence and Her Father's Desperate Search for the Truth get back out of This book provides asood a summary of stereotype threat as anything else I ve read although really read Claude Steele s book He s the 1,000 Awesome Writing Prompts guy who did much of the original research into this and his book is at least as easy a read as this oneThis book is a bit jokey than Delusions of Gender I really don t mind that I uite like people being amusing and there were a couple of times when she even made me laugh But I suspect some people might find this a bit off putting The stereotype is that serious books need to be serious s the pity I think but you ve been warned this book might amuse youNow I can hear you already McCandless you ve whinged about the book the whole way through your review and yet you veiven it five stars what is Moonrise (Snowfall, going on Well I still think this is a really interesting book and despite my reservations about what these sorts of books can really tell us or the help they can really provide us these are still interesting experiments and they surely tell us something about what it is to be human And if reading a book like thisets you to not be a racist shit even once that s ot to be a ood thing Even if it only makes you pause before being racist even that is a ood thingLike I said if you haven t read a book A delightfully unsparing look into what your brain is doing behind your backIn recent years we've heard a lot about the extraordinary workings of our hundred billion celled brain its amazing capacities to regulate all sensation perception thinking and feeling; the power to shape all experience and define our identity Indeed the brain's power is. And well engineered the deception is One set of ideas I d never seen before was about brain schemas or closely related concepts that et filed away together The ways these can be triggered and the effect they have on our decision making may have a profound impact on how our lives play outBeyond the psychology content this book is a A Little Dinner Before the Play great read because it s incredibly funny from start to finish The author never fails to point out the irony or absurdity of the situations research has uncovered But as she hints you have to let the brain s attempts to deceive you continue or you might wello insane As such a dose of humour is than welcome A Mind of Its Own How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives is a book about how the human mind is error riddled slapdash and barely adeuate to its task Unable to deal with the reality that terrible things happen for no reason and with no way to anticipate them we assume that anyone suffering from misfortunate must have done something to deserve it Before an unlikely disaster we are willing to Mastering the Art of Saying No Without Feeling Guilty: Tips, Techniques and Strategies give people the benefit of the doubt but afterwards we believe that of course they should have prepared for the miniscule chance that the bridge would collapse and that they re negligent in the extreme for not doing so Our lives are mostly influenced by chance and the actions of other people but when asked we confidently assert that our successes are the result of our own hard work andood sense What s when things Yuganta, The End Of An Epoch go wrong for us we believe that it s the result of external circumstances impeding our actions but when theyo wrong for other people we breezily assume that it s due to their personality flawsEmotions poison all our attempts to think rationally or critically about anything Indeed people who have suffered specific damage to the emotional centers of their brains are incapable of making decisions and will spend hours agonizing over what tie to wear in the morning or whether to eat their spaghetti with only a fork or with a fork and a spoon We ive consideration to the decisions and opinions of people we like and less to those of people we dislike regardless of the content of those opinions We freuently transfer our feelings from one subject to something completely unrelated Indeed the physical symptoms of arousal are the same regardless of the cause and its up to the brain to interpret it based on our emotional state which is laughably prone to errorsOur opinions change on a dime and we re liable to like something when it s called by one name and then turn around and dislike it when it s called another Statements a 35I found this an easy enough read although there was not a reat deal in here that I hadn t read somewhere else at some point before Which is not necessarily a criticism of the book as such after all the vast majority of non fiction books are not about subjects that nobody else has ever written about before and the theme of what we don t realise or recognise about our own brains worked well enough on the subject of which I rather liked her throwaway remark late on in the book about the difference between people who treat their body as a temple and those who regard it as primarily a hotel for their brain Nagging away in the background though I kept thinking what about the replicability crisis in psychology though How many of the experiments that she refers to in her book would stand up if someone tried to repeat them And the trouble is I don t really have the time or the energy to start trying to find out the answer to that uestion myself I have a dim memory of having at some point read that some of the work around implicit bias and prejudice didn t stand up to scrutiny but maybe I m not remembering that correctly Or maybe the studies I read about are not the ones that Fine is citing in her chapter on the Bigoted Brain And perhaps that points to a fundamental issue which is that many of the kinds of experiments described in the book are enormously open to interpretation Often such social psychology experiments involve a kind of toy town simplification of the real world and knowing exactly what to make of the results us difficult Even assuming that they are not enormously sensitive to context an underlying problem with a lot of this research is that so many of the study subjects are WEIRD
western educated industrialized rich and democratic and that educated industrialized rich and democratic and that studies do not necessarily replicate when other subjects are usedBut perhaps I m being too negative about a book which I actually found rather interesting and which provides plenty food for thought even if it may be that not everything in it would necessarily stand up to close scrutiny The idea that the human mind has biases of perception and what in the software world would be called bugs seems perfectly plausible And an optimism bias and a tendency to see the world in a self serving way are almost certainly ones where the evidence stacks up The old saw that most people think they are better than average drivers is doubtless true and few people see themselves as the villains of their own stories I ve come to see this book as a handy little owner s manual for anyone with a brain In an entertaining and highly readable style Cordelia Fine has synthesized a host of cognitive research to show that our minds often ive us a much distorted picture of reality than any of us would imagine Our brains it seems are masters of self deception engaging in a whole host o If you ve read much on the subject this doesn t really bring anything new to the table but it s presented in a readable well organised format meticulously footnoted and adopts a pretty light tone If you re anything like me you ll smile in recognition of some of the things she says in the middle of describing the brain s unreliability Fine points out that precisely in line with what she s saying your brain is probably insisting you re different It doesn t apply to you You d ignore the researcher in the obedience to authority experiments you can see through your brain s attempts to make you believe you re better than you areAnd if you re honest you ll admit at this point that you do want to think you re different My favourite bit was putting some of this together For example when it talked about experiments where people were told that extroverts do better at something they went through their memories and pulled out only ones that corresponded with an extroverted image of themselves On the other hand I ruefully thought about all the ways I am a hopeless introvert thereby illustrating one of the brain s ways of protecting itself from failure by providing myself with an excuse ie if I
m less successful it s because I m not extroverted Not revelatory but pretty fun A fascinating account less successful it s because I m not extroverted Not revelatory but pretty fun A fascinating account how we think we think At times what the author reveals about our unconscious brain activity is disconcerting to say the least However she does not fall into a disresponsabilisation attitude Rather she shows that through realising how our unconscious brain works we can strive to counter our psychological sins and biases You may have a much humble opinion about your free will and ability to control your thoughts emotions and direction in life after you read this book which shares some of the same concepts as Blink in its examination of how many of our cognitive and emotional processes are hidden from us or ones that we deceive ourselves about Dr Fine is a first time author with a ood knack for describing the many psychological experiments she cites and a ood sense of humor that emerges in family stories she inserts Really enjoyed this book Such a fantastic look at some of the ways that the brain has of surviving and how that s not actually a true portalrayal of reality Particularly chilling was the bigoted brain chapter that talked about how much our brains love a stereotype and the impact this has on even the most liberal of people Like No one is safe However it does offer hope in how we can over come it although it takes a lot of brain training And with the other traits of our brains we assume we are better at things than the average person for example it s uite humbling and eye opening Only reason I didn t ive 55 was because I found some of the chapters uite similar. As wishful thinking unrealistic optimism or moral excuse making each of us has a slew of inborn mind bugs and ordinary prejudices that prevent us from seeing the truth about the world and ourselves With fascinating studies to support her arguments Dr Fine takes us on an insightful rip roaringly funny tour through the brain you never knew you had.
Cordelia Fine º 3 summaryIke this before this is a pretty Future Focus good place to start Other books you might find interesting are on my Behavioural Economics shelf As my friend Lena writes in her review of this bookI ve come to see this book as a handy little owner s manual for anyone with a brain In an entertaining and highly readable style Cordelia Fine has synthesized a host of cognitive research to show that our minds oftenive us a much distorted picture of reality than any of us would imagineI d agree Further it is a nice introductory text to anyone curious about this exploding field of Popular Cognition is there a magazine yet The author despite her PhD in Psychology writes in a casual and breezy manner While I think the dust cover blurb describing this as rip roaringly funny is a bit hyperbolic the prose is definitely amusing in a way She seemed a bit like a restrained version of Mary Roach some of that same silliness and plentiful use of her husband as a long suffering foil for her wit but not descending to Roach s often juvenile depthsThose who have already read extensively on this topic might not find much new here though On the other hand the book will be easy to breeze through compared to those tomes that investigate the neurochemical or philosophical aspects of how these crazy brains of ours work Fine provides plenty of resources via her endnotes but focuses on the what s strange about this picture and leaves the why does it work like that for other authorsShe splits her book into eight chapters The Vain Brain For a softer kinder reality The Emotional Brain Sweaty fingers in all the pies The Immoral Brain The terrible toddler within The Deluded Brain A slapdash approach to the truth The Pigheaded Brain Loyalty a step too far The Secretive Brain Exposing the Major Problems in American Urban and Suburban History: Documents and Essays guile of the mental butler The Weak willed Brain The prima donna within The Bigoted Brain Thug tart slob nerd airheadAnd so she covers the various ways the brain mind brain refuses to do what a rationalist might expect it to be doing There were a few surprises my personal favorite cognitive bias the availability heuristic was never covered which is a tragedy it is such a fun and important phenomena A few other cognitive biases were mentioned haphazardly in the deluded section this makes sense since they are way we innocently misapprehend what our senses tell us But pathological psychiatric delusions were also covered in that chapter That highlights their similarities but does disservice to the kind of simply plain wrong thinking the brain is wired for That our unreasoning behavior upon exposure to the word free see Predictably Irrational has roots akin to the Capgras delusion is important but popular culture and mass media entertainment mean that the former has ramifications that deserve a lot attention Iuess this just isn t the book for it but it would have been nice to see attention paid to how a lack of rationality deals very poorly with a consumer cultureA few highlightsYou probably already knew this but first you A Sting in the Tale give aroup of school children a fake test then arbitrarily choose a few of those students as showing intellectual potential Tell the teacher which ones did well and those students will magically start doing better You don t need to tell the students themselves the teacher will start treating them differently and that in combination with the student s response will be sufficient p 113More on schoolkids a roup of students were provided with training on how to solve a difficult math problem Half of em ot a clear and helpful video presentation the other half ot one that was deliberately confusing which left them floundering No surprise that the second half did less well also probably not much of a surprise that they blamed themselves They concluded they were simply inept with numbers Bigger surprise the lack of confidence persisted even after the researchers showed them the difference between the two videos and explained the trick Even three weeks later their lack of confidence left them less interested than their counterparts in signing up for similar math classes p 117Or a woman s expectations for how her relationship will turn out for example may create her own reality if she feels anxious about her partner s commitment and is preoccupied with the possibility of rejection she will often behaving cantankerously when minor conflicts do arise According to one study the relationships of these rejection sensitive women were nearly three times likely to fail even in comparison to women who were of eual health and happiness p 114 Sound sexist Sorry that seems to be the way the studies Fine cited were set upIf someone were to tell you Congressman Smith has never been accused of pedophilia would that make you
likely to believe the opposite Sure if your mental capacity is being taxed leaving you too distracted to consider the impactto believe the opposite Sure if your mental capacity is being taxed leaving you too distracted to consider the impact the never
Your Brain Will Happily Lump Together Thebrain will happily lump together the and the accusation without regard to the actual truth value of the statement So pre trial publicity is often harmful to the reputation of the accused regardless of the facts p 122If you want to manipulate your fellow players in a ame Trivial Pursuit trigger their schemas beforehand This is the network of concepts that relate to one another in a kind of web Say rice and the concept of Asian will be closer to consciousness say elderly even if people don t think forgetful the idea will be likely to be put into play by the subconscious When a schema is about a Social Class in Contemporary Japan: Structures, Sorting and Strategies group of people we call it a stereotype but from the brain s point of view it is just a way of saving time and energy So talk to your own teammates before theame starts and off handedly mention words like professor chat separately with the other team and talk about the Dumb and Dumber movies or Jim Varney or even Alzheimer s Don t let any of them know what you re doing folks that know their schemas are being activated will discount them p 137OK one issue Fine mentions this only briefly at 144ff but I ve Clubland UK: On the Door in the Rave Era got a bee in my bonnetIn the past few decades neurologists have discovered the puzzling fact that they can detect the beginnings of decisions in the brain before the person themselves has made the decisionIn the archetypal example the subject is told to tap one of their fingers on the table at any time in the next minute or so and to carefully note the position of a clock hand when they ve decided what to doWe would expect brain activity starts peaking somewhere in the consciousness portions of the brain a tiny but significant amount of time before the person thinks now followed by some kind of trickling of brain activity towards the movement portions of the brain motor cortex which then tells the finger to moveBut the researchers can see the decision being made in the brain up to one third of a second before the person claims they even made itSo what weet a kind of brain activity now called the readiness potential is seen which indicates what decision has been made then a bit later the conscious mind says Now and then the motor cortex #starts to et involvedSo is this a big deal Well it has been for some #to et involvedSo is this a big deal Well it has been for some Some psychologistphilosophers have decided that we have no free will because the conscious mind isn t doing the choosing see here and here From Wikipedia Libet s experiments suggest that unconscious processes in the brain are the true initiator of volitional acts and free will therefore plays no part in their initiation Apparently the late Libet and his buddies think there is something else in our brains besides us making our decisions I don t know about you but I consider me to include the whole triad id ego and superego The fact that my consciousness is of a back seat narrator than the actual driver comes as something of a surprise but the driver is still somewhere up there in my The Book of Tapas gray matter Libet simplyot confused because he has faith in the reality of consciousness as an ontological primitive Geez its stuff like this that makes one think that scientists have no common senseExcellent book Read it This is a fantastic little book It s split into six chapters each of which covers an aspect of how the brain deceives your conscious mind about how it works It s astonishing just how subtle. Being confirmed every day in new studies and research But there is a brain we don't enerally hear about a brain we might not want to hear aboutthe prima donna withinExposing the mind's deceptions and exploring how the mind defends and lorifies the ego Dr Cordelia Fine illustrates the brain's tendency to self delusion Whether it be hindsight bi. .