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Matthews, NC, USA

  • 2 reviews
  • 100 ratings
  • 192 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2014

  • The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Drew Westen
    • Narrated By Anthony Heald
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In politics, when reason and emotion collide, emotion invariably wins. In this landmark book, scientist and psychologist Drew Westen shows how electorates vote not with their heads but with their hearts, and how the marketplace that matters most is the marketplace of emotion - filled with values, images, analogies, moral sentiments, and moving oratory.

    Hayden says: "Revealing"

    Contrary to its subtitle, The Political Brain offers scant examination of the psychology of political thought, and it is anything but objective or scientific. Nor is it, as suggested by the euphoric reviews of Bill Clinton and Howard Dean, a masterpiece of political science, the author misidentifies Minority House Leader John Boehner as a Senator. The book, nonetheless, is made worthwhile by its profound, if unintentional, insights into the workings of the U.S political system.

    Westen clearly intends his book as a strategy guide for Democratic candidates. The problem, he explains, is that Republican, while incompetent in every other respect, have masterful political strategists who understand, unlike the Democrats, that voters cannot comprehend rational appeals and must therefore be pandered to on an emotional level.

    The party of Old Hickory, Westen counsels, needs to follow the party of Lincoln in abandoning any pretense to rational, issue based campaigns. Instead, they must pander to the emotions of voters, who unlike elites such as Westen, are either too dumb or too impulsive to make informed decisions. The children's Story The Little Engine that Could, not well thought out and publicized policies, he advises, is an ideal framework for speaking to voters.

    Westen's skills as a propagandist and insights into the minds' of voters are debatable. The unintentional insights his book offers into the cynical and self-justifying world of the partisan ideologues who choreograph American political culture are not. The cynical counsel of an esteemed, albeit publicly unknown, partisan apparatchik reveals more about American politics than any textbook or criticism from even the most astute observer could. This book is a must read, though not for the reasons the author intended.

    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Dave Grossman
    • Narrated By Dave Grossman

    The good news is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. The psychological cost for soldiers, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating.

    g says: "Adam G"
    "An Interesting Idea"

    The topic of the psychological effects of violence is an intriguing topic with much potential, particularly when addressed by a professor of psychology who is also a career military officer, but ultimately that potential is what made On Killing so disappointing.

    With verbatim repetitions throughout, it more resembles a collection of essays than a book. The most serious issue though, is the presence of speculative and sweeping assertions, such as the claim that, what is hubristically described as a previously undiscovered aspect of psychology (revulsion to killing), may have been responsible for the election outcomes of wartime Presidents forced to go to the polls immediately after the end of hostilities. To the author's credit he does acknowledge that last assertion might be extending his work too far.

    It is clear when evidence is offered, such as frequent references to B.F Skinner's (at best) obsolete work, that Grossman didn't do his homework. Most troubling, however, is the study on which Grossman rests his thesis; S.L.A Marshall's survey of World War II soldiers claiming to show only 25% will fire at an exposed enemy. The soldiers supposedly interviewed later denied ever being asked about their firing rates, a fact which has been known to military psychologists for over twenty years. It would be interesting to buy the physical copy of this book to see the bibliography.

    The number and severity of basic errors costs makes the reader wonder if the author knows what he is talking about, and that's a shame given the enormous potential and relevance of this topic. On a positive note, the narration was good.

    18 of 30 people found this review helpful

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