The "hidden brain" is Shankar Vedantam's shorthand for a host of brain functions, emotional responses, and cognitive processes that happen outside of our conscious awareness, but that have a decisive effect on how we behave.
The hidden brain has its finger on the scale when we make all of our most complex and important decisions - it decides who we fall in love with, whether we should convict someone of murder, or which way to run when someone yells "fire!" It explains why we can become riveted by the story of a single puppy adrift on an ocean but are quickly bored by a story of genocide. The hidden brain can also be deliberately manipulated to vote against someone's interest, or even to become a suicidal terrorist. But the most disturbing thing is that it can do all of this without our knowing.
Shankar Vedantam, longtime author of the Washington Post's popular Department of Human Behavior column, takes us on a tour of this phenomenon and explores its consequences. Using original reporting that combines the latest scientific research with fascinating narratives that take listeners from the American campaign trail to terrorist indoctrination camps, from the World Trade Center on 9/11 to, yes, a puppy adrift in the Pacific Ocean, Vedantam illuminates the dark recesses of our minds while making an original argument about how we can compensate for our mental blindness - and what happens when we don't.
©2010 Shankar Vedantam; (P)2010 Random House Audio
This is a fascinating look at behavior. I use it to strengthen my classes in Psychology and Human Development. I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in human behavior and the brain.
I bought this book in a buying binge of what I like to call "Pop Psychology". I figured this would be another knock off of Malcolm Gladwell's books or Dan Ariely's books, but it wasn't. This fellow went fairly deep into similar subjects as the above mentioned authors, he leaned a bit more into the neurological side, but he did it in an interesting and original way. So, in my opinion you won't be wasting your money if you pick this book up and take a good listen.
The violence in this book was distasteful. There are so many examples the author could have used other than the one he picked, which was used to sensationalize for what seemed like a lack of talent or imagination.
a book without violent examples
the narrator was fine
the violent ones, especially when the guy beats the woman to her death with all the people watching.
Audio books with explicit violent content should have warnings. Violence is not the kind of thing one wants to introduce into a relaxed psyche falling asleep. It was so disturbing that I don't even want to hear the rest of the book. I'm just glad my 12-year-old didn't hear that part because we started listening to the book together as we usually do, but I listened ahead even though there were no indications it would suddenly get so violent.
"This is an absolute must read if you want to understand and counteract the biases caused by our unconscious or 'hidden' brain."
I was shocked, dismayed and intrigued to learn how many experiments and studies show that even if we consider ourselves non racist or sexist, our hidden brain causes us to perceive others in prejudiced ways- without our consent or awareness. This book covered topics such as the mindset of suicide bombers (the total opposite of what I expected -and I am well read on psychology), presidential elections, our responses to humanitarian crises and much more. I was fuming while listening to the studies done on the sexism that males who have transitioned to female encounter in the workplace, likewise, the females who struggle against invisible currents of sexism, only to transition to male and find themselves getting pay rises, more support, less criticism and more respect in general. This book packed a lot of solid data and research into a highly interesting, entertaining and eye opening read. The narrator did a fantastic job also. I believe this should be required reading for people of all walks of life. After all, who wants to spend their life being manipulated by their own brain? By being aware, we can counter the effects of insidious biases.
This book was too negative with too much violence. Did he need to rehash every detail about every person that was involved in every tragedy he discussed?
I don't think so. I had to skip many sections that were too depressing to read.... again. 9/ 11 as an one example.Finally just gave up and deleted the book; not just from my device but from my library.
There are lots of excellent books on the unconscious mind out there. This is not one of them. Unless he was trying to address address another subject.
Disappointment. A wasted credit.
Fascinating, well-researched, engaging
When he explained that when children are read stories about race relations in which the hero is African American, they still end up thinking that the white characters did the admirable things. This effect is somewhat offset if their teachers explicitly tell them otherwise.
No, but I definitely looked for occasions to keep reading more - like finding housework to do or go for a walk.
The case studies are remarkably interesting and well-researched. I learned unexpected concepts that alter they way I process situations now. Shankar Vedantam also shows incredible sensitivity to his interview subjects, which makes me think he is a good person. I highly recommend this book - Vedantam deserves more attention as a journalist.
I'm a recovering librarian. Since I had a stroke in 2002 I have found reading print difficult. I am so grateful for audiobooks.
Interesting research explained in an easy to understand manner. I recommend this book to anyone who believes that their decisions are based in logic.
An interesting start about the motivation of suicide terrorists and the hidden motivation that is in control. Interesting part about tests that reveal hidden biases.The author emphasizes that you can correlate the wearing of rain boots with the wearing of umbrellas, but that this does not mean wearing of rain boots causes you to wear an umbrella. So when he argues for gun control, he states that the correlation between gun owner ship and murders unequivocally proves that gun control saves lives. He claims that the day after you buy a gun, your risk of getting killed by a gun, increases 4 fold. He forgets that this correlation does not mean cause and effect. It could be that people who know they are in trouble eventually by a gun and are right they were in trouble and get killed. This does not mean the buying of the gun increases her risk. He also forgets that the way to control guns is... with guns. Laws always need to be backed up with violence against perpetrators. Furthermore jews were under gun control by the nazis before they were slaughtered by the millions. Maybe you should add the 200 million people that died by gvt guns last century, as victims of gun control. The author has no fear of tirannical government and no problem dissing the constitution to give the elites more power.
He also investigates why so many policemen and military kill themselves and claims this is because of availability of weapons. It could however also be that in order to take the job of rented killer, something had a loose wire before they chose to think that hitman was a respectable profession, causing later suicide.
The part about politics is terrible. At some point he defends Obama by saying he is a christian like you and me, later he defends evolution. Maybe one of those evolution christians. Then he claims Obama is someone he stands up for the little man. That must be when he sends the little man to war or steals his money to hand out military contracts or sends the TSA brown shi
This book started out really good, until you are about half way through the first portion, then it turns real negative, with the author explaining events like 9/11 or a brutal murder in great detail (as to make you relive the horror of the event) and then doesn't really explain how it is relevant to his overall theory or idea of "the hidden brain". It got to the point where I just had to shut it off and not listen to it any more - I would not purchase this book again and/or recommend it to friends or family..
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