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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 give us a muchdistorted picture of reality than any of us would imagine Our brains, it seems, are masters of self deception, engaging in a whole host of hidden activities designed to protect both our fragile egos and our pre existing beliefs While there are benefits to be 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 give us a muchdistorted picture of reality than any of us would imagine Our brains, it seems, are masters of self deception, engaging in a whole host of hidden activities designed to protect both our fragile egos and our pre existing beliefs While there are benefits to be gained from these distortions, Fine also spells out in detail the price that we pay when we allow our brain to keep us comfortably insulated from information that might otherwise change our minds In one particularly compelling example, Fine discusses how a doctor discovered that the standard pre natal practice of giving x rays to pregnant women doubled the risk that the fetus would go on to develop childhood cancer Her findings, however, were completely dismissed for decades and millions of children were unnecessarily exposed to x rays while advocates of the procedure vigorously denied her claims The techniques these doctors used to defend x rays in the face of mounting evidence against them shows just how dangerous these self deceptions can be, not just to us personally, but also to humanity as a whole While generally light in tone, Fine s book is very comprehensive in that each chapter outlines a specific technique of distortion used in the brain, discusses the research used to discover that process, and talks about the impact of that technique in everyday life In The Deluded Brain, Fine reveals research that shows how we will rewrite personal history in order to fit with our expectations This chapter has major implications for anyone who has ever spent a lot of money on self help In The Immoral Brain, Fine reveals the part of us that is programmed to blame others for their misfortunes so that we might feel less fear that those same misfortunes could befall us This chapter goes a long way towards explaining how die hard believers in The Secret could adopt the morally reprehensible position that the victims of the 9 11 terrorist attacks attracted their misfortune through their own negative thinking While it can be disturbing to realize just how far removed from reality we often are, Fine also provides information on how we can use our brains natural tendencies to overcome some of itsdamaging handicaps Her examination of how disciplined dieters transcend temptation and how those who work with the disadvantaged combat the brain s natural inclination towards bigoted stereotypes show that we do not, in fact, have to be at the mercy of our unconscious processes At a time when the national debate on controversial issues often seems to beabout who can shout the loudest than genuinely trying to come to an understanding of opposing positions, I think pretty much everyone could benefit from reading this book 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 and well engineered the deception is One set of ideas I d never seen before was about brain schemas , or closely related concepts that get 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 out.Beyond t 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 and well engineered the deception is One set of ideas I d never seen before was about brain schemas , or closely related concepts that get 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 out.Beyond the psychology content, this book is a 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 well go insane As such, a dose of humour isthan welcome As my friend Lena writes in her review of this book 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 give us a muchdistorted picture of reality than any of us would imagine I d agree Further, it is a nice introductory text to anyone curious about this exploding field of Popular Cognition is there a magazine yet As my friend Lena writes in her review of this book 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 give us a muchdistorted picture of reality than any of us would imagine I 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 arestrained 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 depths.Those 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 thatfor other authors.She 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 guile of the mental butler The Weak willed Brain The prima donna within The Bigoted BrainThug tart slob nerd airhead And so she covers the various ways the brainmindbrain refuses to do what a rationalist might expect it to be doing There were a few surprises my personal favorite cognitive bias, theavailability 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 lotattention I guess this just isn t the book for it, but it would have been nice to seeattention paid to how a lack of rationality deals very poorly with a consumer culture.A few highlights You probably already knew this, but first, you give a group of school children a fake test, then arbitrarily choose a few of those students as showingintellectual 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 113.More on schoolkids a group of students were provided with training on how to solve a difficult math problem Half of em got a clear and helpful video presentation, the other half got 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 117.Or 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 behavingcantankerously when minor conflicts do arise According to one study, the relationships of these rejection sensitive women were nearly three timeslikely to fail, even in comparison to women who were of equal health and happiness p 114 Sound sexist Sorry that seems to be the way the studies Fine cited were set up.If someone were to tell you Congressman Smith has never been accused of pedophilia , would that make youlikely to believe the opposite Sure if your mental capacity is being taxed, leaving you too distracted to consider the impact of the never , your brain will happily lump together the congressman 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 122.If you want to manipulate your fellow players in a game 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 belikely to be put into play by the subconscious When a schema is about a 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 the game 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 137.OK, oneissue Fine mentions this only briefly at 144ff, but I ve got a bee in my bonnet.In 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 decision.In 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 do.We 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 move.But 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 it So what we get 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 get involved.So is this a big deal Well, it has been for some folks Some psychologist philosophers 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 isof a back seat narrator than the actual driver comes as something of a surprise, but the driver is still somewhere up there in my gray matter Libet simply got 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 sense.Excellent book Read it 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 t 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 are And 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, i.e if I m less successful, it s because I m not extroverted Not revelatory, but pretty fun ( DOWNLOAD EBOOK ) ♔ A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives ☭ Fine takes the reader on an entertaining tour of the less salubrious aspects of human psychology Combining classic psychological studies with the latest research, she explains exactly why your brain operates and responds in the way it does 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 adequate 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 give people the benefit of the doubt, but afterwards we believe that of course they should have prepar 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 adequate 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 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 and good sense What s , when things go wrong for us we believe that it s the result of external circumstances impeding our actions, but when they go wrong for other people we breezily assume that it s due to their personality flaws.Emotions 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 giveconsideration 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 frequently 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 errors.Our 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 are easily believable no matter their content, and even a blatant denial of something will stick in our memory and may end up leaving uslikely to believe the inverse of the denial We resort to stereotypes at the drop of a hat, and even seeing words related to the stereotype in a totally unrelated context can make us racist or sexist toward our fellows in subsequent interactions.Finally, you who are reading this are at least 65% likely to murder an innocent in cold blood merely because a man in a lab coat told you it was necessary And despite everything previously mentioned, we think that we rereasonable, less gullible,capable, and less culpable than others.I could go on.Also, I m naturally a pessimist, so of course the message I took from the book is one of a fundamental human incompetence and depravity It s close enough to what I believed anyway that my brain took the easy way out of just confirming my existing prejudices instead of bothering to actually update the schema I use to look at the world.Okay, that whole section was a bit flippant, but it is a pretty good summary of the book The thing is, though, I basically felt the whole time I was reading A Mind of Its Own that it was just acolloquial and less unified version of Thinking, Fast and Slow Fine has a much breezier writing style with a lotanecdotes, but it s less referential Sure, there are plenty of footnotes, but one thing that annoyed me the whole time I was reading was that she never used the actual name for most of the psychological concepts she talks about She mentions how people assume their own flaws are due to external causes but others are due to internal ones without ever saying the words fundamental attribution error, for example The closest she comes is mentioning the belief in a just world without ever adding hypothesis to the end of it Thinking, Fast and Slow also does a better job of explaining why all this occurs in the first place, whereas A Mind of Its Own readslike a eulogy for the concept of the rational thinker, which I think is another reason I preferred it The former has a hypothesis about the workings of the brain that binds the whole book together and which Kahneman keeps returning to as he writes, but the latter is mostly just a list of everything that s wrong with you that you might not even have known about They cover a lot of the same ground, but Thinking, Fast and Slow provides a structure for it all and A Mind of Its Own is just a bullet pointed list A Mind of Its Own isn t a bad book, but if you have to read one book about the cognitive distortions our brain throws up every day, read Thinking, Fast and Slow instead You may have a muchhumble 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 good knack for describing the many psychological experiments she cites and a good sense of humor that emerges in family sto You may have a muchhumble 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 good knack for describing the many psychological experiments she cites and a good sense of humor that emerges in family stories she inserts 3.5 I found this an easy enough read although there was not a great 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 3.5 I found this an easy enough read although there was not a great 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 question 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 afundamental 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 the studies do not necessarily replicate when other subjects are used.But 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 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 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 quite humbling and eye opening Only reason I didn t give 5 5 was because I found some of the chapters quite similar Very pop psychology This book was assigned in my psychology graduate class, Cognitive and Affective Behavior As a grad school bog, it s honestly a little boring, as we know most of what Ms Fine is talking about how many times can you read about the same experiment But I doubt it was ever supposed to be used in this kind of setting For someone interested in psychology, I m sure this book is very informative Ms Fine s writing style is very refreshing from the usual psychology jargon we Very pop psychology This book was assigned in my psychology graduate class, Cognitive and Affective Behavior As a grad school bog, it s honestly a little boring, as we know most of what Ms Fine is talking about how many times can you read about the same experiment But I doubt it was ever supposed to be used in this kind of setting For someone interested in psychology, I m sure this book is very informative Ms Fine s writing style is very refreshing from the usual psychology jargon we have to muddle though She uses real life experiences as examples of our brain functions