Pinker answers a lot of questions about how and why people think the way they do. As always, he doesn't just make assertions, he backs everything up by explaining the state of the research and the ideas of the researchers in the field (even when those ideas are different from his). It's a much easier read than actual research papers, and has wit and good story telling to leven the large doses of information, but it's not easy to follow when listening. It requires a lot of concentration or you can do what I did and just listen to everything twice, sometimes three times, until you get it.
If you consider yourself an intellectual, you'll want to be familiar with Stephen Pinker's work. The Better Angels of our Nature, and The Blank Slate are easier to pick up just listening once so I would recommend one of those as a place to start.
This book was written more than 10 years ago. It's holding up very well though and an afterword written only a couple of years ago is included which explains how recent research relates to the book.
Yes, I'd definitively recommend it to friends. The book is very interesting, but Pinker got the title wrong. The book explains very well WHAT the mind works, and WHY does it make sense that the mind does what it does. But the book NEVER explains HOW the mind does it.
The most interesting is the variety of topics covered in the book. Full with interesting specific cases and references to studies.
The least interesting is the lack of substance in the theory of How the mind works. Pinker basically pushes 3 ideas through: 1) natural selection, 2) the mind is made up of organs like the rest of the body, 3) the analogy of the mind as a computational device
As much as those ideas are interesting, they are old and well accepted. So, the book is just a nice way to put them together, but without bringing any new argument to the discussion.
The performance of Mel Foster was outstanding.
This is one of my favorite books, and the audio format does not disappoint. If you're interested about human nature, why we are the way we are, why we're so smart, why we're conscious, and even why fools fall in love, this book is for you. (But be warned, this book is for people who like to think; don't expect to breeze through it like a malcom gladwell book.) Also, one recommendation: unless you're really interested in visual perception, I would recommend skipping the chapter called "The Mind's Eye," as it is hard to follow in audio format without the pictures, and it is the most technical chapter.
Yes, there's. Lot in here, some 25 hours worth of listening, and I want to come ack and listen to some things again!
The development of the sexual brain the differences in the sexual mind was very interesting indeed. It's easy to forget out behaviour and preferences were actually established during our extended hunter gatherer lifestyle, and how this fashioned our behaviour from an evolutionary perspective
Easy to listen to. Always run at 1.5x
Certainly made me think.
Love Steven Pinker, and would like to just read more. It's so refreshing to hear all the concepts related back to actual studies! I enjoyed this as much as the Blank Slate, possibly more.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
In this wonderfully informative and entertaining book on the human thought process, the source of emotions, sexual desire and everything else this marvelous three pound lump of spam in our head does for us, Pinker writes in the intelligent but amazingly amusing and witty style that makes him one of the greatest translators of complex science into lay terms, in the main because he does so without compromising or dumbing-down in the process. It is no wonder that this man is considered one of the greatest minds of our time. Buy the book and find out how his, and everyone else's works--and why.
I got this audiobook on sale for $4.95 and probably wouldn't have gotten it otherwise. I really liked Eagleman's Incognito, Lehrer's How We Decide, Nørretranders' User Illusion and even Kahneman's plodding Thinking Fast and Slow, so How the MInd Works seemed like a good fit. The author is not particularly interested in how the mind actually works (and when he does talk about the mechanisms of thinking, he gets terribly bogged down in computer programming minutiae). The book is actually about evolutionary biology, and Pinker spends a huge amount of the book bashing feminists and sociologists. The book was written in the 90's, so the author had probably been on the receiving end of a lot of fuzzy thinking about everything being socially constructed, but his harping makes the book seem incredibly dated (especially compared to the User Illusion, which still seems very fresh). I would also say that as the mother of a truck-loving toddler girl who has been told by other mothers that "girls don't like trucks," I see gender roles being socially constructed every day.
Based on scientifically determined information with a clear examples of the scientific method.
Performance is difficult in a work of this sort which presents a lot of scientific information. Difficult territory, meticulous, and matter of fact.
Summarizes a lot of material and information without tying all together, but that may be a function of the information which doesn't fit into a neat easily summarized comprehensive thesis.
Insightfull, Profound, Unstable
The concept about the diferent modes that the brain processes information is interesting, still I think needs a little polishing.
The narratives of personal experiences are very interesting when heard with the tone of voice of the person that experienced them.
It is a profound book with many concepts which I prefered digesting in various sesions. I listen to it while jogging and it was perfect.
Very detailed and most concepts are supported by examples, still there are some times that ideas were presented without too much support.
Audible subscriber with dozens of books listened to. Mostly non-fiction but with a number of epic fiction titles.
I don't have a massive audiobook library yet, but this was one of the best. The performance was well-paced and enjoyable, and the book was stimulating, although a bit mislabeled in my opinion. Still, the title in part motivated me to buy the book, so I suppose from the author's perspective the book's title was perfect!
My favorite parts, and the reason I purchased the book, were about neuroscience and psychology, and the supporting examples of the computational theory of the mind. I'm not in any particular neuroscience theory camp, but I have learned a bit about it from my studies in cognition and learning as well as human-computer interaction. The neurobiology and psychology perspectives were what I was reading this book for.
I did not have an extremely emotional reaction to this book. It really isn't that kind of book, unless maybe one is somewhat insecure in their own beliefs or can't bear exposure to different perspectives.
While enjoyable and intellectually stimulating, I don't like the title of the book. As far as the book's content, it seemed like much less material was devoted to *how* the mind worked than to the author's explanation as to *why* he thought it worked that way. If the book had been more about *how* the mind worked, it would have made a much more useful read, at least to me.
For those who are reading this review prior to purchasing the audiobook, you probably won't regret purchasing the book as long as you are a curious person; however, be aware that a huge portion of the book involves the author explaining why he thinks the mind works the way it does from a natural selection perspective, in comparison to the bits on how the brain does what it does.
I have consumed countless books, lectures, seminars, and podcasts about science, skepticism, critical thinking, behavioral economics, evolution, meta-cognition, and everything else that this book touches on. Pinker goes above and beyond by linking it all together in an engaging way. The concepts are deep but he breaks them down in such a way that they become simple.
Not applicable - this is non-fiction.
Excellent pace and tone. Auditory cheesecake!
I laughed several times, and it made me think very deeply and in new ways about many very basic concepts about life, relationships, and thinking.
Though we may be sacks of meat through-and-through we still manage to find each other beautiful, and that itself is beautiful.