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Publisher's Summary

Why do we routinely choose options that don't meet our short-term needs and undermine our long-term goals? Why do we willingly expose ourselves to temptations that undercut our hard-fought progress to overcome addictions? Why are we prone to assigning meaning to statistically common coincidences? Why do we insist we're right even when evidence contradicts us?

In What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite, science writer David DiSalvo reveals a remarkable paradox: what your brain wants is frequently not what your brain needs. In fact, much of what makes our brains "happy" leads to errors, biases, and distortions, which make getting out of our own way extremely difficult. DiSalvo's search includes forays into evolutionary and social psychology, cognitive science, neurology, and even marketing and economics - as well as interviews with many of the top thinkers in psychology and neuroscience today.

From this research-based platform, DiSalvo draws out insights that we can use to identify our brains' foibles and turn our awareness into edifying action. Ultimately, DiSalvo argues, the research does not serve up ready-made answers, but provides us with actionable clues for overcoming the plight of our advanced brains and, consequently, living more fulfilled lives.

©2011 David DiSalvo (P)2012 Gildan Media LLC

Critic Reviews

"This lively presentation of the latest in cognitive science convincingly debunks what DiSalvo calls 'self-help snake oil.'" (Publisher's Weekly)
"DiSalvo offers 'science-help' (as opposed to self-help) by detailing the mental shortcuts our minds like to take but that don't always serve us well, with the assumption that understanding brain function helps us fight its stubborn behavior." (Psychology Today)

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  • Sean
  • BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States
  • 08-02-12

Cursory but not instructive

The book provides a decent tour of current psychology and behavior science but does not offer any substantive tips about how to use the information.

As a science author (as opposed to a scientist) he does a good job of explaining subtle concepts. The other side of this coin is that most of the information is presented in layman's terms. So if you are looking for a more scientific exploration of these issues you should look at other titles.

Like most books in this category, the author spends a great deal of time describing how we are led astray by cognitive biases without offering any insight about how to avoid them. I would like to see a book that tried to tackle that problem more seriously.

Unfortunately, the author chose to read his own book, which is almost always a mistake. The delivery is rather flat--not monotone, but it doesn't really hold your attention.

Overall, the content is accurate and informative and the performance is adequate. If you are looking for an introduction to cognitive bias then the book will be interesting. If you want a more in depth scientific approach I would recommend "Thinking Fast and Slow."

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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slow down

What did you love best about What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite?

The content of the book is relevant, interesting, and captivating. I had to listen twice, though, because he reads it a bit too fast. Awesome book and so useful, reminding me of topics I haven't studied for awhile, and adding new info and support in a way that is accessible to those versed or new to psychology concepts. It would be a lot better if the reader slowed down so I didn't have to listen twice :-)

What was one of the most memorable moments of What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite?

Reviewing the concepts

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Read slower

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Sucks

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

This is generic non-authoritative self help. I prefer the words of experts not a cheezy rehash of old ideas. I already know everything in this book. I don't need a lecture on cognitive bias. If I can read it on wikipedia already I'm not learning anything new. I was hoping for some new insight. The Power of Habit and Will Power are both better books.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good content, untrained narration

What did you like best about What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite? What did you like least?

This book is good on all fronts, except for when it comes to narration (which is about half the battle when it comes to audiobooks). I recommend the non-audio version of this book. The author narrates it himself. The recording quality and clarity is acceptable, but the inflection and delivery is so off it's painful to listen to after five minutes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great content but non-professional narration

The subject matter is critical for anyone wishing a better understanding of the mistakes that our brain's wiring causes. But by choosing to narrate his own book the author in my view made it more difficult to follow than similar audiobooks that featured professionally trained narrators.

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Very technical and bad storytelling

This books has brilliant concepts explained in a very boring manner. Parts of the audio is cut and the delivery of narration is very boring. The Book's content structure is technical and lacks good storytelling techniques.

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Snore!

I listen to a lot of books in this genre, so the title of this book peaked my interest. But alas, this book was poorly written and narrated. It was very difficult for me to stay awake while listening.

After listening to the introduction, where the author talks about how knowledge isn't enough to make change, but that we need practical advice, I was excited to see where he gives the practical advice. I kept listening to his ridiculous anecdotes where he only tenuously connects the dots between the anecdote and the meaning behind it, but they just don't relate to each other.

The book is about cognitive bias, not happiness, and it is a poorly written book at than. So many other books have done a better job at explaining cognitive bias. Why happiness is in the title, I don't know. I'd recommend Fooled by Randomness or Thinking: Fast and Slow instead.

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Too much data for audio

Would you try another book from David DiSalvo and/or David DiSalvo?

No hard too understand what the point of the book really is. Too many studies no good summary of the results and how it relates to the title of the book. What is this about? Not for average reader. Every other paragraph is a quote from an work or study. Maybe a number crunched would like this book.

What was one of the most memorable moments of What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite?

Happy brain never defined. Nothing is memorable. Would not recommend to anyone looking for insigh to their behavior. WE IMITATE OTHERS.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

SPEAKER HAS A LISP. HE NEEDS TO SLOW DOWN AND STOP AFTER IMPORTANT IDEAS. AUTHOR NEED TO CHOSE A READ WHO WAS NOT HIMSELF.

You didn???t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

If you finally get to the last chapter; you might get some useful info.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • mazc
  • 11-08-15

Unlistenable.

maybe this guy has something interesting to say but this is an audio book and he is reading his own book like a robot. odd. and unpleasant frankly.