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How the Mind Works Audiobook

How the Mind Works

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Publisher's Summary

In this delightful, acclaimed best seller, one of the world’s leading cognitive scientists tackles the workings of the human mind. What makes us rational—and why are we so often irrational? How do we see in three dimensions? What makes us happy, afraid, angry, disgusted, or sexually aroused? Why do we fall in love? And how do we grapple with the imponderables of morality, religion, and consciousness?

How the Mind Works synthesizes the most satisfying explanations of our mental life from cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and other fields to explain what the mind is, how it evolved, and how it allows us to see, think, feel, laugh, interact, enjoy the arts, and contemplate the mysteries of life. This new edition of Pinker’s bold and buoyant classic is updated with a new foreword by the author.

©2011 Steven Pinker (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“Undeniably brilliant.” (Newsday)

"Big, brash, and a lot of fun.” (Time)

“Hugely entertaining.... always sparkling and provoking.” (Wall Street Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (964 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jennifer 08-19-14
    Jennifer 08-19-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Sometimes Dense, But Still Held Interest"

    This book took me longer than average to get through, but I think it was well worth the undertaking. Slow going to start, but was rewarded for persistence through the pretty dense times. Chapter 1 felt never-ending, just a prolonged overview and intro it seemed, and the next chapters went on and on about the evolutionary aspects of how are brains developed, only finally making its ultimate justification for the discussion afterwards when I was losing patience for the topic. In fact, based on some of the negative reviews on audible, it makes me think they only got that far. I was rapt for the chapter all about the visual processes, leading off with some incredibly cool stuff about illusions and what we *don't* see and what we think we see... That is the kind of thing I think is really interesting and love to hear more about. Later chapters delved into family and social theory, which I am less riveted by but still find interesting.

    I liked the approach Pinker took, and how he drew attention to or gave new perspectives to lots of everyday phenomena - how we look at paintings, why/how relationships develop, what is funny, and even how we think about thinking and try to explain the unexplainable. He gave a logical progression, building on topics from introducing the foundational theory (which was referred to and relied on throughout) and working through the various levels of the brain, how we make sense of the world and interact with it, how we make sense of others and interact with them, and how we have fun and find meaning in it all.

    My particular interests were in the sections on perception, vision, language, and even a little in his brief discussion of the arts, fiction and music. I loved the time and detail he devoted to stereograms (which he mentions in the afterword as his favorite part)- not only could I visualize everything, but I actually recalled playing with stereoscopes as a kid, even an early 20th century one with photo panel inserts of Paris and other European destinations, just like he described. I was less keen on the long discussions of the evolutionary theory (mostly because I had some familiarity with it already, but it was clear he made the effort not to be misunderstood by creationists or people misconstruing the role of genes in our daily motives) and the chapter on family and social theory, though I thought it was well laid out; I have always found certain aspects of personality and social psychology to be interesting or illuminating, I just them less intriguing and cool than cognition.

    Also a great part of his argument structure that i could appreciate - the computer science and mathematical metaphors he employed in explaining the information processing. I am sure my familiarity with the topics helped me get more out of some of the discussions, but I am sure his overall style would be accessible to a novice who was willing and able to take this book on, as he often gives clear explanations of new ideas and seems to assume no level of expertise. I found myself wanting more from the discussion on language than he gave, but then he dedicated an entire book to that topic, which I will be delving into soon.

    A hefty and occasionally dense read, but sprinkled with lots of fun or interesting tidbits and pop culture references to keep it lively. Narrator did wonderfully giving voice to the style.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kevin 06-28-14
    Kevin 06-28-14

    Trying to support 1) the comparably smaller non-fiction selection and 2) the few here that are not misinformation. Got mind? Use it.

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    "Essential book on the mind. Challenging listen."
    Would you listen to How the Mind Works again? Why?

    My approach is to take notes/bookmark throughout the book the first time, so I can refer to certain sections in the future. <br/><br/>Definitely has enough info in this book to be a textbook, but fortunately it is a more enjoyable read.


    What other book might you compare How the Mind Works to and why?

    Steven Pinker's other masterpiece "The Blank Slate" is still my favorite non-fiction. "How the Mind Works" is a more technical and challenging read/listen, but both are highly recommended based on their wealth of researched facts and arguments.


    Any additional comments?

    Probably the best way to absorb "How the Mind Works" is to read it. I found myself rewinding multiple times to re-listen to the more technical parts. Be prepared to exercise your mind, and you will be rewarded.<br/><br/>For an easier listen, "The Blank Slate" is just as informative; it is more on societal impact of our understanding on the mind rather than the technical mind mechanisms explored in this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Defoe 11-12-12
    D. Defoe 11-12-12

    david25937

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    "Misleading Title"
    What would have made How the Mind Works better?

    The book started out good and seemed to be on topic. Not long into the book it was no longer about the mind. This should have been titled "An Argument for Evolution and Natural Selection". Never seemed to get back to how the mind works. After hours and hours of why birds have wings and how we grew eyes I just shut if off.


    Any additional comments?

    If you want a good book on Natural Selection this is a great listen. If you want a book on the mind look elsewhere.

    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amit 07-03-17
    Amit 07-03-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Did not meet expectations"

    As a meditation practitioner, was hoping the book would give a detailed scientific account of "thoughts & feelings", how they originate, what causes them- maybe more on understanding of the "Mind". The book is more a rant on how the human brain might have evolved than how the mind works. I just completed The Blank Slate and I think Pinker did a better job there. The narrator did a good job but the content just doesn't meet expectations.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 04-02-17
    David 04-02-17
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    "Old Book, and Obviously Not "How the Mind Works""

    This book came out in the 90s and I read it then, and forgot it entirely because it was so obviously wrong about "how the mind works", even for what was known then.

    The mind doesn't work as Pinker says at all - it's not even close - and even lay people know it. The book is so intellectually dishonest that the title really amounts to defrauding the reader / listener.

    The narrator, Mel Foster, gets a good rating, but I cannot rate the book itself low enough.

    Since AI is highly Topical now, the re-marketing of this stinker is more than a little mercenary - unimpressed all over again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy Fernandez 03-29-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Brilliant insight; still relevant today!"

    This would be my second 'reading' of this book. And as a non academic person with a business education, I still didn't fully understand every point made. However, I'm making strides I think.

    First of all, this book is an excellent, if somewhat technical, primer on the general way the human mind works. But that's not the whole story.

    As a book on evolutionary psychology, it introduces plausible and proven theories of why certain behaviours exist. It relies heavily on concepts from books such as The Selfish Gene. So an interest in genetics and evolution is necessary.

    The delivery/reading was intelligent and passionate. Kind of like that friendly, and lively old professor everyone liked at school.

    Overall, a solid recommendation for anyone interested in the origins of human behaviour and psychology.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Milwaukee, WI, United States 03-06-17
    Richard Milwaukee, WI, United States 03-06-17 Member Since 2012
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    "Weak Narration"

    The sing-song "lecture to the kindergarten class" narration made it impossible to finish a dry but important topic. Read the book and skip the audio version.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. Pike Indiana, USA 01-30-17
    G. Pike Indiana, USA 01-30-17 Member Since 2017

    Writer/artist with an interest in zoology and linguistics.

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    "good concepts"

    great stuff for the most part, though the narrator for this book was sometimes a bit monotonous to listen to. my only beef with the content is Pinker's weird need to use a lot of straw man arguments to back up some of his points (even ones where I agree with his conclusions!) overall good and important stuff, but a very long listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ZOLTAN 01-24-17
    ZOLTAN 01-24-17
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    "Probably very interesting for science crowd"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Only to someone very interested in the scientific specifics of the working of the brain and with strong interest for the study of genes.


    What was most disappointing about Steven Pinker’s story?

    Too much detail for my non scientific mind!


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Mel Foster?

    On a lighter subject perhaps.


    Do you think How the Mind Works needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    A 60 minute abridge version


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Luke Muller 08-28-16
    Luke Muller 08-28-16
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    "Brain explosion in a book"

    It's 5:40am and I just finished the book. As sad as I am that the wondrous journey is over, there is still so much more I would like to understand now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Yomi
    UK
    1/8/17
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    Performance
    Story
    "enjoyed it enough to listen to it twice."

    I'll describe myself as a philosophy lover of the technical kind, with a more than casual interest in artificial intelligence.
    I enjoyed this book enough to listen to it twice, while worrying on my app.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lazmac
    3/2/16
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    "Interesting but starting to show its age"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Its a interesting psychology book not focusing on self help which is a nice change. However it is starting to show its age its from the late 1990s and computers are a much newer aspect of life


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    Nice voice


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I can't stay awake that long!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Alexander
    3/23/15
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    "Changes the way you think"

    This book, as with all of Stephen Pinker's stuff, long and occasionally difficult. However, finishing it is exceptionally fulfilling and I never once considered giving up. The insights presented into the reason that we think the way we do will change the way that you think about everything, and they provide answers to questions which you might have thought of as unanswerable. I would thoroughly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • T. Griffith
    London, UK
    7/7/14
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    "I like this book.."
    Where does How the Mind Works rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 3.


    What other book might you compare How the Mind Works to, and why?

    The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Stephen Pinker refers to Dawkins' book in "How The Mind Works" and also uses his word "meme" a lot.


    What does Mel Foster bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Mel Foster had a slow, thoughtful, melodic voice that I find very clear and settling. I could never read a book like this - I have to have it read out to me.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I re-wind bits sometimes and because it's so deep am not sure if I've heard that bit before and accidentally re-wound it/gone back to the beginning and heard it again or it is an actual repetition within the book. I don't mind though. The matter is so "meaty" that it's fine to hear it overlap. I am often out and about when listening to my books and if I cross a road, open a door or get served in a shop I need to either let something pass and admit I haven't heard it or wind back. Seven times out of 10 I will re-wind a bit. I'm not sure if I've heard this book through and started again but am still happy to keep listening. I always listen to an hour before I fall asleep and probably only catch 10 minutes of that before I've dozed off so should be able to listen to it about three times before I think I've caught it all.


    Any additional comments?

    I'd love to know what the author's voice sounds like but can totally understand why someone may not want to read their own book out. I used an mp3 player to record revision and my throat tightened up as if it had a noose around it..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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