The Hidden Brain

Monday, October 17, 2016


The Hidden Brain
Shankar Vedantam, 2010

Challenge Book! Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 - Read a nonfiction book about science

Premise: “How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives.”

This is a fascinating survey of research around unconscious reactions, and when they can and can’t be overridden by our conscious minds.

There is a lot about bias. In some cases, no matter how tolerant and fair-minded we may be consciously, the biases we pick up from society may override our intentions. There was one particularly interesting piece of evidence that people found it easier to react without bias after having sugar.

There are details about the invisible currents caused by gender biases. This section includes more detailed stories from a few prominent transgender researchers I’ve heard of before and their unique perspectives on society and privilege.

There is a fascinating chapter on herd mentality, group-think, and disasters. This was probably the most disturbing section of the book. It explained how easily people can make decisions in stressful situations based only on the attitudes of the group. The chapter following that explains common threads behind people who become suicide bombers.

I’ve heard a lot about many of these subjects before, but I enjoyed the systematic way the various areas were dealt with and the details about supporting research.

It’s a solid, quality survey of information that uses personal stories to keep the reader engaged.

3 Stars - A Good Book

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