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Brain Bugs: How the Brain’s Flaws Shape Our Lives | [Dean Buonomano]

Brain Bugs: How the Brain’s Flaws Shape Our Lives

With its trillions of connections, the human brain is more beautiful and complex than anything we could ever build, but it’s far from perfect: our memory is unreliable; we can’t multiply large sums in our heads; advertising manipulates our judgment; we tend to distrust people who are different from us; supernatural beliefs and superstitions are hard to shake; we prefer instant gratification to long-term gain; and what we presume to be rational decisions are often anything but.
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Publisher's Summary

A lively, surprising tour of our mental glitches and how they arise.

With its trillions of connections, the human brain is more beautiful and complex than anything we could ever build, but it’s far from perfect: our memory is unreliable; we can’t multiply large sums in our heads; advertising manipulates our judgment; we tend to distrust people who are different from us; supernatural beliefs and superstitions are hard to shake; we prefer instant gratification to long-term gain; and what we presume to be rational decisions are often anything but. Drawing on striking examples and fascinating studies, neuroscientist Dean Buonomano illuminates the causes and consequences of these “bugs” in terms of the brain’s innermost workings and their evolutionary purposes. He then goes one step further, examining how our brains function—and malfunction—in the digital, predator-free, information-saturated, special-effects-addled world that we have built for ourselves. Along the way, Brain Bugs gives us the tools to hone our cognitive strengths while recognizing our inherent weaknesses.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2011 Dean Buonomano (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“Intriguing take on behavioral economics, marketing, and human foibles.” (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (206 )
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3.8 (160 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 07-02-14
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 07-02-14

    Acteon

    HELPFUL VOTES
    96
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    "A very worthwhile book"
    If you could sum up Brain Bugs in three words, what would they be?

    Stimulating, illuminating, enriching


    What did you like best about this story?

    As some reviews have pointed out, this book presents a lot of research that are by now fairly well-known, without adding much that is new. However, I disagree with the view that one would do better to read certain other books, which though good (or better in some ways) yet do not make this one superfluous (unless you have an exceptional memory that retains most of what you read, AND are able to synthesize it). Brain Bugs is indeed what one might call an introductory level book, but I (who had read quite a few books on the subject so that much of the material was not "new") found that it presents things in its own light and thereby gave additional meaning to them. Because of some of the negative comments here, I hesitated a long time before buying the book (finally did only because it was on a BOGO sale), but having listened to it, I would be more than willing to pay full price. What brain research has uncovered is germane to so many essential aspects of life that I am happy to go over it more than once and to try to find as many pertinent angles as possible.

    I was particularly stimulated by the author's reflections on religion and politics, and on our real-life relationship to these.


    What does William Hughes bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    William Hughes has a pleasant voice and an energetic, interested way of reading. I hardly noticed the mispronunciation of words that bothered another reviewer, and was on the whole entirely satisfied. I won't give him five stars, but four and a half if that were an option.


    Any additional comments?

    I strongly disagree with those who object to the book because of its political bias. I can find nothing that anybody looking at things from an objective, scientific viewpoint would contest. You may not follow the author all the way in some of what he suggests (always on the basis of scientific discoveries and not in a purely speculative way), but the topics he broaches and sheds considerable light on are those of the greatest importance: political behaviour, spiritual experience, religious tradition. And I found the author's reflections extremely stimulating.

    A terrific book that I almost missed because of a few negative reviewers. I urge you not to be misled as I almost was!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Oak Park, IL, United States 12-03-12
    John Oak Park, IL, United States 12-03-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "interesting information, easy reading style"

    "Brain Bugs" is an excellent combination of interesting information and an easy and enjoyable reading style.

    It is rare to find authors with such clear-headed ideas and with the ability to explain the ideas to the reader in a simultaneously efficient and understandable manner.

    The narration perfectly suited the material.

    John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer El Paso, Texas, United States 11-08-12
    Amazon Customer El Paso, Texas, United States 11-08-12 Member Since 2008
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    1
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    "Disappointing"
    Would you try another book from Dean Buonomano and/or William Hughes?

    How poor for the author to let his political biases enter into this subject. Of course such is the liberal need to insert their views everywhere.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Dean Buonomano again?

    No never, once a biased author always one. I would avoid him in any way that he might communicate.


    What does William Hughes bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Narrator did fine with what he had to work with.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Brain Bugs?

    Delete the politics and of course the author had to make religious values be a "brain bug" in predictable left liberal ideology ways.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish there was a way to pre-identify such political writings being inserted into such books. Maybe I need to take the time to read more reviews that might do that.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen 10-17-12
    Stephen 10-17-12
    ratings
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    8
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    "An informative cautionary tale, though a bit long"

    The author has clearly done a lot of research in this field and presents a coherent and thorough treatise. It took me a long time to put together almost 9 hours of listening time, though, and for me it started to drag a little toward the end. The author strays a little from relating facts to expressing speculative personal opinion, when he speculates that a tendency toward embracing spiritual beliefs may also be the consequence of a brain bug. (The truly devout may find that part of the book a bit offensive.)
    Overall, though, I think this book is a worthwhile read. Take notes, if you want to use his advice. There is just too much info here to hold it all in your head and consolidate it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Baalinooo Bruxelles, Belgium 08-16-11
    Baalinooo Bruxelles, Belgium 08-16-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Not a review, just a detail I enjoyed."

    Buonomano quoted all Four Horsemen: Hitch, Rich, Sam and Dan.

    Nice!

    PS: oh, and the book is great.

    5 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter BEAVERTON, OR, United States 02-27-13
    Peter BEAVERTON, OR, United States 02-27-13 Listener Since 2007
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    "Embarrasing commentary on what we 'think' we know"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    No one that thinks could possibly enjoy this book.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Not sure. I'm sure I can find something fun though. You have a good selection. I just need to be more careful next time :-)


    Would you be willing to try another one of William Hughes’s performances?

    Sure.


    Any additional comments?

    I was dumbfounded by the superficial,simplistic nature of this book. The mental gymnastics performed by the author to try and explain the functions of the brain from a naturalistic, evolutionary perspective was just embarassing for me. Sorry :( .... There were also derogatory remarks made towards the end regarding catholic dogma/belief. Not a good experience for me this one.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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