After the first chapter, I was certain this was going to turn into another preachy self-help book that cherry-picks research to support the author's pre-existing biases. As soon as he said he'd read lots of old religious texts and modern psychology, neurology, behaviorism, etc, as research for the book, I groaned in anticipation of some saccharine claptrap.
I was pleasantly surprised. Haidt doesn't shy away from conclusions and evidence that opposes his own views, and his chapters and points correspond closely with a considerable amount of modern research that I've read separately. I'm familiar with many of the studies he cites ( as a reader and enthusiast, not as a professional "neuro" or "psycho-" anything - I'm an engineer ) and he doesn't extrapolate beyond the evidence without being very clear about the difference between the study's evidence and his own conclusions.
It's well-researched and well written. It's a great read as an academic pursuit, but there is much here that can *absolutely* improve your life happiness, and he makes that clear. His tie-ins with ancient philosophy and religious texts are interesting and not at all preachy. HIGHLY recommended.
Kahneman lays out the foundational research of the recent crop of books on "irrationality", though he decries the use of the term in this context. I've read many of those books, and his name is a constant refrain in them - along with Tversky.
If the way the human mind works is your fascination, this book is a page-turner that you won't want to put down. He explains many of his (now classic) experiments, the thought behind them, how the experiments of others relate or expand on his own, and where he'd like to see more research done.
An all-in-all excellent read.
This is standard Robert Greene work - and that's a good thing. Like "The 48 Laws of Power", he breaks down his topic (Mastery) into bite-sized chunks and then provides interesting glimpses and interpretations of historical (and current) events in light of the particular topic at hand. His stories are interesting and his points fascinating.
There are things in this book for everyone. I wish I'd read this book when I was sixteen. I'll probably give it to my daughter to read when *she* is sixteen. If your ambition is mastery of *anything*, I recommend this book!
Have re-discovered "quality time." Evenings listening to good books have replaced mindless tv watching. What a difference!
This book is so thoroughly filled with stories, scientific information and explanations for what this all means to us, that it feels like a daunting task to write an adequate review.
First, may I say it is fascinating! What a great compilation of updated neurological knowledge about memory, the critical role it plays in our everyday lives, but put into easily grasped explanations. No easy task in itself.
Charles Fernyhough draws on his own background in cognitive science, the poetic viewpoint of authors, and individual accounts of memory to discuss his central thesis which is that memory is not an unquestionable imprinted movie of something in the past, but an active mental construction created at the moment is is being recalled, influenced by many factors, including our emotional sense of them, the conditions of the moment, and things that we have specifically attended to.
He explores ways that memory is dependent on factors such as smell, emotion, selective focus that serve our purposes, the meaning we create around them (among other qualities). At one place he refers to them as "imaginative reconstruction." He explores why we fail to remember (amnesia), recall too much (PTSD) or dissociate from particular memories. But largely he speaks to the role of memory in our everyday life. His assumption is, that since memories are constructions, they can be reassembled in different ways, as well.
Why does it matter to us how memories function? Well, the common view is that memories are fixed and immutable. Based on that, we use witnesses in Courts that can make a difference in the future of an accused person. On a less important level perhaps, though, consider how often we operate in ordinary relationships insisting that we remember things perfectly as they were. Ever try that at a family reunion, or have parents or spouses ever gotten into fights because of people recalling things differently? Then there is the traumatic role of memory. A soldier returns from the war with raw memories that just cannot settle, leading to an ever more frequent Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
Memory is behind most of learning and future thinking. It is part of our imagination, and a central part of all our thoughts.
I feel I simply cannot do justice to this powerful (and extremely well-read) work with this short review. However, I do feel confident to say that we should all pay attention to this information because it will change the way you think about memory forever. Fernyhough has done an extremely impressive job of assembling a great deal of recent research to help us understand the role and function of memory in our lives. This has great implications for many ways that we have made assumptions about what memories "are" and how they actually function in our lives. It is a great contribution to the field.