We are in the midst of a brain science revolution. Highly sophisticated neuroimaging technology and cunning psychological experiments have helped researchers delve into the darkest corners of the human brain to shine light on how it works and explain human behavior.
Their conclusions boggle the mind: We make decisions before we are even conscious of our choices; we allow irrelevant influences to dominate our thought processes; and we go against our own best interest as a matter of course. In short, the latest brain science has conquered the mind and determined that we are all irrational and helpless in our condition.
But should that be the last word? In this startling account, Eric Robert Morse takes on the pop psychology establishment to show how this new understanding of the mind isn't the paradigm-shifting revelation it is claimed to be. With meticulous precision, Morse dissects the latest Behavioral Economics and brain imaging research to reveal a discipline that is full of holes and bordering on pseudoscience.
In Psychonomics, Morse uses captivating stories to bring to life the often mystifying world of behavioral psychology. We hear tales of beautiful fashion models and brilliant finance models, of MVP quarterbacks and GDP architects. In all of these stories, Morse shows how modern science uses the most advanced techne and experiments to defeat the human mind, and, ultimately, how the mind wins.
©2014 Eric Robert Morse (P)2014 Eric Robert Morse
I would recommend this book because it provides a well-written, entertaining examination of a pertinent topic. Very likely to spur discussion.
There are many behavioral economics books that deal with the same content, but that abuse the material and thus misguide readers. Predictably Irrational, Thinking Fast and Slow, and Blink come to mind. This book falls in line with The Rational Animal, Seeing What Others See, and Brainwashed.
It made me laugh on occasion, but mostly made me think.
Don't read this book if you're a behavioral economics apologist or dogmatically hold the belief that human brings are irrational and must be regulated by the state. This book will shake your faith in science and you will be left dismayed.
This is some extremely creative yet also strictly rational information—a view that is obscured in mainstream thought but that is immeasurably valuable. It is common sense but no one else is saying it, which speaks of our time more than anything else.
No doubt- It's entertaining and engaging.
Re: the other review that says you shouldn't read it; I think that's a pretty good reason to read it.
This is a terrible and dangerous book, and best characterised as the same kind of denialism that affirmed anti science groups draw on- I continued to read on in horror, so that I could in good conscience write a fair review to save you the trouble.
You shouldn't read this book, but if you do- listen to the first chapter through the filter of the following, and then return it for a refund if you agree with me.
The author claims to be a skeptic, but this is straight out of the denial playbook- some examples that characterise the entire book:
From the first chapter he constructs a straw man of behavioural economics to attack, while ironically attempting to point out all the logical fallacies the field suffers. Contrary to the authors opinion, behavioural economists do define rational, and they never claim that there aren't reasons for the heuristics and biases we see evidenced in their experiments or make value judgements like the author claims (he goes so far as to say that because there's reasons for these biases and some stories in which he shows that might actually work out in our favour, that this means we are clearly rational, and ergo behavioural economics is wrong)- but any cursory examination of the work produced by the field shows these biases do exist, do yield clear sub-optimal outcomes, and are easily replicated, yet all of this to the author constitutes a clear attack on the value of the wonderful and amazing human brain (which it should be noted is a kluge of parts cobbled together over our evolutionary history, not a perfectly optimised machine.)
The author moves the goalposts when talking about decision making and neuroscience, saying the studies have only been applied to simple decisions in a lab, and so can't be generalised to the wonders of more complex human decision making in natural environments- I'm sure when this research is done he'll find some other post hoc rationalisation to move the goal posts again. He also then tries to link this back to behavioural economics, railing against the straw man that not having clear free will is akin somehow to an argument that we are irrational beasts- I doubt any behavioural economist has ever made this claim.
The author claims the results of one very large and often repeated behavioural economics study (again... repeated hundreds of times) can't be trusted because there is a control group and a test group, and each participant is only given one scenario- the study might see different results if all participants were given both conditions (seriously- he actually argues this... Hence = denialism, not skepticism)- ignoring the obvious that this is how scientific experimental design works, and that we have rigorous statistical controls for exactly this kind of thing, in one of the books he criticises (Thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman) there is actually a discussion of 'The Linda Problem' in which participants are essentially given both conditions and still make the logically incoherent choice- but the author ignores this because it doesn't suit his purpose: attacking the strawman he has constructed (or he didn't read/understand the subject material he attacks?)
The author generalises behavioural economics as being concerned only with judgements of economic value (i.e. money), and that humans are about more than money, so obviously they are wrong because he gives some supporting stories (seriously) that show that there's more to decisions than money. This is an obvious straw man, behavioural economics is concerned with utility, and even in studies looking solely at money, he fails to show why participants in these studies would be rational in not maximising their earnings when they showed up with the intention of participating for a monetary reward. He fails to address similar studies that show the same heuristics and biases in non monetary conditions- even though he attacks books and authors who talk extensively about said research.
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