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Publisher's Summary

No skill is more important in today's world than being able to think about, understand, and act on information in an effective and responsible way. What's more, at no point in human history have we had access to so much information, with such relative ease, as we do in the 21st century. But because misinformation out there has increased as well, critical thinking is more important than ever.

These 24 rewarding lectures equip you with the knowledge and techniques you need to become a savvier, sharper critical thinker in your professional and personal life. By immersing yourself in the science of cognitive biases and critical thinking, and by learning how to think about thinking (a practice known as metacognition), you'll gain concrete lessons for doing so more critically, more intelligently, and more successfully.

The key to successful critical thinking lies in understanding the neuroscience behind how our thinking works - and goes wrong; avoiding common pitfalls and errors in thinking, such as logical fallacies and biases; and knowing how to distinguish good science from pseudoscience. Professor Novella tackles these issues and more, exploring how the (often unfamiliar) ways in which our brains are hardwired can distract and prevent us from getting to the truth of a particular matter.

Along the way, he provides you with a critical toolbox that you can use to better assess the quality of information. Even though the world is becoming more and more saturated information, you can take the initiative and become better prepared to make sense of it all with this intriguing course.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses

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Great flow

The organization of these lectures was very good. The material was not new for me - if you have read Dan Ariely, Daniel Kahneman or Michael Schermer, etc. then the concepts will not be new - but it was a great reminder and I particularly liked the way the material flowed and was organized. Very logical.

The narration by the professor was excellent. Great diction and pace.

These are essential concepts that are good for me to remind myself of at least once a year.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Same Material Different Title

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Steven Novella?

Yes, I would try another book from The Great Courses but "No" I would not listen to another book by Professor Steven Novella. This is the 2nd Great Courses I have listened to by Professor Novella/

What do you think your next listen will be?

Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition

What aspect of Professor Steven Novella’s performance would you have changed?

The information he presents is almost identical to his Great Course on Medical Myths.

Was Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills worth the listening time?

Yes, I enjoy the information presented in "The Great Courses".

Any additional comments?

I listened to "Medical Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths: What We Think We Know May Be Hurting Us" by Professor Novella as part of "The Great Courses" a couple of weeks before. I felt that this book was just a rehash of the same information under the guise of a different topic (the mind) as opposed to the Medical Profession. I recommend that users/members take one of Professor Novella's courses and not both since you will be frustrated he just goes over the same information. I do appreciate his "skeptic" approach to issues pertaining to the mind as well as medical profession but once you have heard him once you will understand his approach. I hope this review helps.

157 of 168 people found this review helpful

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  • Jason
  • FPO, AP, United States
  • 09-23-13

Clear thinking is valuable beyond measure!

First off, let me preface this review by saying I was already familiar with Steven Novella through his podcast, The Skeptics Guide to the Universe.

When I heard he had this series of lectures available on Audible, I was quite excited!

I was hoping for a clear, detailed and thorough treatment of Critical Thinking - and Novella delivers in spades, covering topic after topic with a treatment that is brisk, peppered with examples, constructed in a logical and understandable manner and order, and delivered eloquently.

The content is exactly what is says on the tin: if you are interested in Critical Thinking, in knowing how you think and how TO think -- there is no fat here. Logical fallacies and cognitive biases are examined, illustrated and explained.

I would caution the potential listener that this is a series of lectures on a specific subject; I enjoyed it immensely because I happen to be interested in the topic. If I didn't have that interest or I was expecting more of a narrative-type production, I think I would be disappointed.

A further caution: if you have a set of "alternative beliefs", prepare to be challenged! Examine the unfavorable reviews to see this side of things.

However -- and in summary -- if you desire to develop your Critical Thinking skills, to build the sharpest reasoning possible for yourself, or just to explore a scientific approach to understanding how your brain plays tricks on itself, then I give this work the highest recommendation!

185 of 200 people found this review helpful

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Common sense guide to skepticism

What did you love best about Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills?

The Professor did a very nice job of breaking down some modern-day myths and deconstructed them in such a way that there's little room for anyone to argue against it

Who was your favorite character and why?

Marianne? No Ginger. Kidding...this is a series of lectures narrated by the professor who provided the lecture

Which scene was your favorite?

I don't know that there was any one scene (lecture) in particular that was more compelling than the next. I did enjoy the lectures that discussed scientific greats throughout history that alllowed their biases to derail or misguide further achievements.

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

meh...this is more of an academic excercise than a suspenseful thrill read. The material was good, but nothing I couldn't put down

Any additional comments?

the key to the title of this book is A "SCIENTIFIC" guide to critical thinking. Shame on me for not figuring this out, out of the gate, but I originally downloaded this due to an interest in "strategic" thinking in the workplace. While there are undoubtedly parallels in terms of the process of thinking and good information with respect to recognizing biases and how the brain/memory work...this is very much a discussion on debunking or veryifing scientific evidence versus any non-scientific business process.<br/>It's a very good listen nontheless but not what I was expecting and not overly applicable to a corporate business setting (which again, is my own mistake). I only point this out in case anyone else struggles with reading comprehension like I did.

96 of 107 people found this review helpful

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well worth the time to listen to, good roundup

What did you love best about Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills?

Most of the facts and ideas presented in this course are well known to everyone who has read a bit about or heard from modern "mind science" or "how our brain works" talks. Yet, Novella's roundup is great to listen to, well paced, always interesting and well worth both time and energy spent.<br/>I really enjoyed, for once, a scientist to remind the listener that he, the scientist, does not know it all and will probably not be right all the time. For one time a tutor explains, in detail, that using your own brain and mind means to check the facts and not just play along. A fair approach.<br/>

What other book might you compare Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills to and why?

M. Shermer's "The Believing Brain" is quite similar in general approach, but concentrates too much on personal vendetta of the author and/or believe system. There are more comparable titles, but most, in my eyes (ears), suffer from the same basic problem: Scientists that want to make you BELIEVE that they do not need to believe, because they know all the facts for fact, are ... wretched(?). <br/>Most comparable books start of with or repeat sentences like "well, we know for a fact that ..." - and that, exactly, is not scientific thinking. It's religion. <br/>Novella does not fall for this.

What does Professor Steven Novella bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Most books that cover the same topic come up with the ever repeating "experiments" that "scientists" have done, some of which date back to the 1930s or whatever. These experiments as well as the conclusions drawn from them are not that convincing, in setup, target and evidence. Yet, "science" seems unable to come up with new studies, new experiments and new approaches, so most books chew through the same data over and over again, almost in religious circles.<br/>Novella gets around this quite well by just shortly pointing towards those experiments, but explaining thought processes and prejudices in more "today's" contexts, seemingly being still in contact with the real world and not lost in "scientist's drinking clubs". His narration, wit, pointyness (does that word exist?) and personal involvement make you believe he actually means what he says, yet has the distance to always remember you: He might be wrong.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

There are a few "funny" side notes that are funny enough to make you giggle or even laugh for a moment, but overall the pace (30 minute lectures) and dedication is just about right to not NEED jokes or horror stories.

Any additional comments?

Can you expect "new insights"? No, if you have ever read anything about modern brain science or mind theory. Are you looking for a sumup of the current "believe" in why we believe and how we err in making up our minds: This is a great approach that won't even harm a religious listener (and those are often the targets of pity for so many other authors/teachers). <br/>Not that I am of that kind anyway :-)

47 of 53 people found this review helpful

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Blew. Me. Away.

Any additional comments?

As another listener stated, this should be required listening for everyone. I honestly feel like that the skills I learned as a result of these lectures have made me a more observant, overall better person. I have a better grasp on the reality of the world around me because I learned how to pierce through the crap, and really wonder why and how things happen. Thank you Professor Steven Novella for sharing your wisdom.

67 of 76 people found this review helpful

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  • Allan
  • Fredensborg, Denmark
  • 05-29-17

Ok summary

For me personally, nothing really new here. Listening to podcasts from Sam Harris and "you are not so smart" will more than adequately cover the subject but in and of itself it is a good collection of ideas that one is well served to listen to if you have not spent much time looking into this domain before.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Scientific thinking, not critical thinking

Was Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills worth the listening time?

This course is not worth the time spent on it, since all the ideas from these lectures could be explained in one 30 minute lecture.<br/>Moreover, the course is not about critical thinking, the course is about how to think as a scientist.<br/>It remains a mystery for me why this course has such high rating on audible!<br/>

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • Skaneateles, NY, United States
  • 02-10-14

Outstanding!

As never before , we have easy access to massive amounts of information from a myriad of sources.

How can we determine fact from fiction, science from pseudo science, the effect of biases, and the relative validity of the information we are exposed to? How do we avoid scams, charlatans, con artists, spin meisters, , bad science, and deception? How do we keep from fooling ourselves by our own faulty senses, biases, and flaws in our cognition?

Critical thinking. These skills are vital to most accurately understand and interact with the world around us. Bad information abounds and this course will give you the tools to avoid the pitfalls so many fall into.

This course is excellent. The material is presented in a very clear and enjoyable way with many examples we are all familiar with. I can't say enough good things about this course.

EVERYBODY should listen to this course!!!! The world would be a much better place.


14 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Magnus
  • Hägersten, Sweden
  • 07-29-13

Should be required reading for everyone.

With bogus information bombarding us every day, many people would benefit from a skeptical guide to the universe such as this.

33 of 44 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • 03-22-16

Excellent but listen like a true sceptic

What did you like most about Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills?

Overall and excellent overview of the way to attempt to cultivate a rational and balanced view.

Who was your favorite character and why?

There are no characters in this audiobook.

What about Professor Steven Novella’s performance did you like?

As with all the Great Courses the narrator is the expert and thus has a natural passion and thorough knowledge of what they are speaking about. This intimate connection is essential to enjoying an audiobook but is lacking in so many books that have employed professional narrators who clearly have little idea about the tone and rhythm appropriate to the subject matter.

Any additional comments?

I found some of the author's views to be strikingly incoherent. <br/><br/>The author seems to believe that media outlets have sufficient staff to thoroughly investigate an international act of terror, stocks and shares trading by multi-national financial corporations, the CIA/FBI, senior government officials and foreign governments yet he also states that they do not have the resources to employ a qualified science editor to research articles before publishing them. <br/><br/>He also completely ignores the complication of economics and politics that are intertwined with coverage by all modern media outlets whether this be the desire to retain large advertising contracts to the fact that governments have the jurisdiction and power to prevent information that they do not want to be exposed from being broadcast or published through laws that incorporate national security.<br/><br/>The method the author uses to reach his conclusions during some sections of the book are glib, presumptuous and rather hypocritical given the overall lesson of this audio book.<br/><br/>The author's own fallibilities only serve to highlight how easy it is to enter into lazy group think and lose a true sceptic's approach of dissecting and analysing information.<br/>

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-07-14

This covers it all

So as a scientist, this is an area of great personal interest and I've done a huge amount of background reading in this subject. This one book covers all aspects of critical thinking. If you are familiar with this area, then be prepared to hear some of the same examples you will have come across elsewhere, but don't let that put you off. This is clear and well laid out and I wish everyone could listen to it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Stan
  • 09-29-13

Excellent listen

Dr Steven Novella has written an excellent series of lessons that really helps one understand why people believe strange things. More importantly though, he explains how our own brains can deceive us. Ever wondered how everyone else around you remembers something completely different to how you remember it? Or how someone can come to a completely different conclusion to something than you did, even though you both had the exact same data? This book is fascinating and helps one realise, just because you saw it/ heard it/ analysed it (etc.) doesn't mean you'll come to the correct conclusion unless you take steps to ensure you don't let personal bias get in the way.

His many years as a teacher at Yale and podcasting ensure it is very easy to listen to this series of lectures. Broken down into half hour sessions, you can go through it is small chunks (I listened to it in three large chunks though, I was enjoying it so much). The one criticism I would have, being an audiobook, the times Dr Novella mentions different visual phenomena that fool us becomes a little difficult, not having the picture in front of you (some are famous and probably don't need an accompanying picture, but some aren't). The same with the audio phenomena. It would have been easy to include them in the audiobook. There also appeared to be mention of a workbook, which I could not find out anything about.

Having said that, those few issues were not serious enough for me to take any marks off. This is a great book with some truly fascinating things to learn, read in a way that made the time pass by so quickly.

Thoroughly recommend it.

21 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Iain
  • 01-02-17

Reasons to think cautiously.

An invaluable guide from a giant of scientific scepticism. Although I have a degree in philosophy and an MA in cognitive science, I found some new things to reflect on in this course. Not to say those qualifications are necessary (or particularly useful) to follow this course.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Luke
  • 07-20-15

A great insight into the ways we think

If you could sum up Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills in three words, what would they be?

Insightful, useful, applicable

What did you like best about this story?

The useful and applicable methods to make the most of our inherent methods of thinking

What about Professor Steven Novella’s performance did you like?

Engaging examples, useful approaches

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

No

Any additional comments?

Highly recommended for everyone, especially those whose work depends on thinking

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-12-15

How to grow your brain & explode your ego!

This course will grow your brain by challenging your beliefs and give you a clear process to reality check any of your conclusions. In other words, putting your dearest most lovingly held beliefs through the meat grinder of scientific critical thinking. Not for the faint hearted! It is not about how to be right, although it could be, but hopefully it will explode your ego in the same way it has mine and give you the tools you need to have more humility in the face of your thoughts and beliefs.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • kasia
  • 04-21-16

Very interesting

Very interesting subject, delivered in a clear and engaging manner. I highly recommend to everyone.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ben
  • 08-31-14

A toolkit for life

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is quite the most useful course I have bought, I have so many bookmarks and notes in this. I felt the need to have the content: including heuristics and logical fallacies memorised so that I can steer a safe course around the hucksters of modern advertising and over the pitfall of modern life.

What other book might you compare Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills to, and why?

It's pretty unique, but if I had to I'd say it reads like a survival guide (or a handbook to common problems you might be having with your wetware). The problem/issue is stated clearly (usually some kind of problem with perception or the brain's habit of creating useful but problematic short cuts to methodical truth evaluation) then a useful label then the remedy to ameliorate the problem, cool I promise.

What about Professor Steven Novella’s performance did you like?

Engaging, I love the supporting evidence the set up so to speak for the course, fascinating!

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Lol, it would be a documentary and it might be:The brain a users guide, or Under the hood

Any additional comments?

Thanks great courses

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Yeh C.
  • 12-13-17

Enlightened counterweight to biases of the mind

Excellent insight into the biases your mind operates on, and how critical thinking can overcome them

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-03-17

Thought-provoking Science

Interesting topic and insightful, however some of the Science went over my head, although that may be the point of getting to know my Science more!

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  • George Broadfoot
  • 01-18-15

excellent

I highly recommend this to everyone who is old enough to comprehend it. That age will be different for every individual I imagine.
I am a science teacher in Australia and I strongly feel that critical thinking should be explicitly taught in the science syllabus (prior to the senior years).

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Raymond
  • 02-20-17

Highly recomended for 1st yearPsychology students.

Most of The Great Courses provided by Audible, contain valuable and indepth material. I just wished I had listened to this particular course prior to my first year studying Psychology at University. Critical thinking plays a major role in the field of science, and much of what can be gathered in this lecture will prepare you for life at university.

Professor Steven Novella is an amazing lecturer, elaborating on real world applications of critical thinking that can appeal to just about everyone.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-14-16

A copy on every device Invaluable for students

Loved It. I keep a copy on every device. Should be compulsory for all students and educated laymen. Great "cognitive fine tuning".

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Starbuck
  • 08-04-16

There are no tigers in Africa

I love listening to these lectures and have done so on several occasions. The only thing that bugs me is the story about the tiger in Africa. Was that meant to deceive my mind?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Andreas
  • 06-18-15

Fantastic..<br />

These lectures should be mandatory for everyone. For me, it resolved some cognitive dissonance I experienced observing the world around me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-08-17

no problem with the narrator ideas repetative

see above. I guess the audience ate already going to be interested in critical thinking and have a logical mindset.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-11-17

Heavily biased review

Massive supporter of the SGU so it's inevitable I would enjoy this, defiantly great for anyone wanting to learn skepticism and critical thinking

Phil

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  • Brendan
  • 06-13-17

Great listen, interesting topic

I loved these lectures; it got me thinking about thinking and how I could apply critical thinking to every day life. Obe of the most memorable parts, ironically, was the part about memory, how it's not passive but constructed. All topics were very interesting and felt I learnt something new each lecture I listened to. Thanks!

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  • Bradley
  • 06-06-17

Critical thinking

Really good explanation of how to think about the world and important issues in a scientific or critical way to get a better idea of the reality.

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  • Doug
  • 03-07-17

Outstanding

Great source of knowledge! Enjoyed the 30 mins lectures due to my schedule. They were easy to retain due to their lecture size (bite size chunk).