I first heard of Richard Wiseman through the skeptical podcasts and blogs I frequent. And true to the skeptical point of view, this book is based on EVIDENCE. Indeed, evidence is front-and-centre right from the start. Every behavioural suggestion and piece of advice is backed by an experiment (a refreshing change from The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle). That's what separates this book from all the other self-help woo that's out there. Lots of books make claims that sound intuitive, but reality can often be very counter-intuitive. And this book has lots of examples. Here's one: praising children for their ACHIEVEMENTS can actually inhibit their progress by making them anxious about failure, while praising children for their EFFORT encourages them to work hard and challenge themselves. Hmmm!
This audiobook is SO good, I went and bought the hardcover too.
Fascinating, enlightening, scientific
"Thinking Fast and Slow" by Kahneman, or
"Slights of Mind" by Macknik et al, or
"The Seven Sins of Memory" by Schacter, or
"How We Know What Isn't So" by Gilovich, or
"Kulge" by Marcus, or
"On Being Certain" by Burton
All those books outline the irrational behaviour of humans, and how be arrive at beliefs that are not necessarily true.
I really like the format of the book. It is well organized into sections that address different cognitive illusions.
Short and to-the-point. Sam does a great job of illustrating that we do not REALLY have free will, even if we FEEL like we do.
"The Illusion of Free Will"
My only complaint is that there is no real organization to the book, or his argument. It might help some listeners (readers) if he was more explicit about the argument behind his thesis.
Sadly, this book fell well short of my expectations. I was hoping for some real insight into what makes a person tick. Instead, this book was more like a long, drawn-out horoscope. Leman makes little effort to substantiate his claims with objective evidence.
I did get a sense of the three basic personality types.
First born: Conscientious, orderly, organized, driven to please mom and dad
Middle child: Peace maker, independent, chooses a different route to recognition than older siblings
Last born: Disorganized, impulsive, attention-seeking, creative
However, those personality classes are very difficult to apply. Why? Because his definition of who is in those categories is vague. You are a first-born if you are the first girl or first boy in your family, or if your next older sibling is at least 5 years older than you. Similarly, you are a last-born if you are the youngest in your family, or if your next younger sibling is at least 5 years younger than you. A middle child is one who doesn't fit those categories.
I have an older sister (15 months older), and a brother who is about 5 years younger. That makes me a first-born and a last-born. But in many ways, I also fit the definition of a middle child. How uninteresting is THAT?! Without a clear picture of what class you're in, the book descends into an arbitrary list of personality types, and my personality spans across all of them. Bleh.
I agree with Ryan. This book seemed like nothing more than a collection of uncopyrighted material taken from writings by people who've gone through hard times. Moreover, parts of it are in old English. Disappointing.
Can you handle an argument based around how intelligence and intellect are opposites? Me either. They blame most social problems on the faulty mom/baby bonding perpetuated by hospital births. Yah, Big-Medica is out to get us. They claim that the American child is the most emotionally deprived child in the world. Poor USA. Those tsunami orphans have it so much better.
Even though they mention academic papers, this interview strikes me as unscientific opinion. Merely folk psychology.
This delightful and to-the-point book goes over the necessary material to understand the battle between monogamy and polygamy. It explains how each of the two strategies are evolutionarily advantageous, but also goes over their down-sides. Lots of examples are taken from zoology (gorillas, bonobo monkeys, prairie voles, etc.). Putting humans under the same zoological microscope, a myriad of evidence suggests that we fit the class of "mostly monogamous".
The end of the book is a little patronizing, as if trying to soften the news for those who have trouble accepting our biological reality.
All-in-all, a great little book. Well worth a read (or listen).
This books lays out all the best evidence for evolution in a way that is accessible to the layperson. Dawkins makes the point many times that the scientific consensus that evolution enjoys is a result of MANY separate lines of investigation all pointing to the same conclusion. The book even has some of the anti-religious vitriol that I loved in the God Delusion.
This book was NOT what I had in mind. I was hoping for predictions of science, technology, pandemics, evolution, ecology, etc. But this book is entirely about geopolitics. UGH!
What's worse, it is very U.S.A.-centric. OK, the US has a strong economy and an aggressive foreign policy. But this book puts America front and centre (notice the Canadian spelling) as the overwhelmingly dominant force for the next century. Maybe Friedman is right. But I'm not convinced. This book presents a narrative of how things might unfold, but ignores the unpredictable. I simply found it mostly uninteresting.
This book does a great job of outlining the evolutionary advantages, and costs, of murder. I believe that Dr. Buss is bang-on with his conclusions. The book is a window into our own behaviour, even if you've never killed anyone. It exposes the reasons for many of the drives and anxieties I've felt in my past: competition with other males, jealousy, etc. Excellent book!
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