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Nieświadomy mózg. Jak to, co dzieje się za progiem świadomości, wpływa na nasze życie

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Intensywne badania mózgu w ciągu ostatnich dwóch dekad wstrząsnęły światem naukowym tak silnie, jak rewolucja kwantowa. Badania, dzięki którym możemy – jak nigdy wcześniej – uzyskać wgląd w pracę mózgu dowiodły między innymi, że nasze wszystkie doświadczenia, sposób w jaki poznajemy rzeczywistość, a także zachowania są w ogromnym stopniu zdeterminowane przez procesy, przeb Intensywne badania mózgu w ciągu ostatnich dwóch dekad wstrząsnęły światem naukowym tak silnie, jak rewolucja kwantowa. Badania, dzięki którym możemy – jak nigdy wcześniej – uzyskać wgląd w pracę mózgu dowiodły między innymi, że nasze wszystkie doświadczenia, sposób w jaki poznajemy rzeczywistość, a także zachowania są w ogromnym stopniu zdeterminowane przez procesy, przebiegające poza granicami naszej świadomości. Leonard Mlodinow odkrywa przed czytelnikami zaskakujące i egzotyczne siły działające pod powierzchnią naszych umysłów oraz pokazuje, jak działają instynkty powstałe w nieświadomości, które zazwyczaj mamy za w pełni świadome i racjonalne przyczyny zachowań. Wyjaśnia, że jeśli chcemy naprawdę zrozumieć świat, a także pokonać przeszkody, które uniemożliwiają nam cieszenie się pełnią życia, musimy zrozumieć, jaki wpływ ma na nasze działania ten skryty przed naszymi oczyma, podprogowy świat.


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Intensywne badania mózgu w ciągu ostatnich dwóch dekad wstrząsnęły światem naukowym tak silnie, jak rewolucja kwantowa. Badania, dzięki którym możemy – jak nigdy wcześniej – uzyskać wgląd w pracę mózgu dowiodły między innymi, że nasze wszystkie doświadczenia, sposób w jaki poznajemy rzeczywistość, a także zachowania są w ogromnym stopniu zdeterminowane przez procesy, przeb Intensywne badania mózgu w ciągu ostatnich dwóch dekad wstrząsnęły światem naukowym tak silnie, jak rewolucja kwantowa. Badania, dzięki którym możemy – jak nigdy wcześniej – uzyskać wgląd w pracę mózgu dowiodły między innymi, że nasze wszystkie doświadczenia, sposób w jaki poznajemy rzeczywistość, a także zachowania są w ogromnym stopniu zdeterminowane przez procesy, przebiegające poza granicami naszej świadomości. Leonard Mlodinow odkrywa przed czytelnikami zaskakujące i egzotyczne siły działające pod powierzchnią naszych umysłów oraz pokazuje, jak działają instynkty powstałe w nieświadomości, które zazwyczaj mamy za w pełni świadome i racjonalne przyczyny zachowań. Wyjaśnia, że jeśli chcemy naprawdę zrozumieć świat, a także pokonać przeszkody, które uniemożliwiają nam cieszenie się pełnią życia, musimy zrozumieć, jaki wpływ ma na nasze działania ten skryty przed naszymi oczyma, podprogowy świat.

30 review for Nieświadomy mózg. Jak to, co dzieje się za progiem świadomości, wpływa na nasze życie

  1. 5 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    Lots of interesting trivia illustrated with anecdotes (no doubt, to hold the reader from getting bored and/or distracted). Q: People seemed to “decide”... (c) yep, our subliminal is a tricky pal. Q: That’s why doctors instinctively “package” themselves in nice shirts and ties and it’s not advisable for attorneys to greet clients in Budweiser T-shirts. (c) Q: As the psychologist Jonathan Haidt put it, there are two ways to get at the truth: the way of the scientist and the way of the lawyer. Scientists Lots of interesting trivia illustrated with anecdotes (no doubt, to hold the reader from getting bored and/or distracted). Q: People seemed to “decide”... (c) yep, our subliminal is a tricky pal. Q: That’s why doctors instinctively “package” themselves in nice shirts and ties and it’s not advisable for attorneys to greet clients in Budweiser T-shirts. (c) Q: As the psychologist Jonathan Haidt put it, there are two ways to get at the truth: the way of the scientist and the way of the lawyer. Scientists gather evidence, look for regularities, form theories explaining their observations, and test them. Attorneys begin with a conclusion they want to convince others of and then seek evidence that supports it, while also attempting to discredit evidence that doesn’t.” (c) Q: Kant said, there is Das Ding an sich, a thing as it is, and there is Das Ding für uns, a thing as we know it. (c) Q: People have a basic desire to feel good about themselves, and we therefore have a tendency to be unconsciously biased in favor of traits similiar to our won, even such seemingly meaningless traits as our names. Scientists have even identified a discrete area of the brain, called the dorsal striatum, as the structure that mediates much of this bias.” (c) Q: Rosenthal went on to study precisely that – what expectation mean for our children. In one line of research he showed that teachers´ expectations greatly affect their students´ academic performance, even when the teachers try to treat them impartially. For example, he and a colleague asked schoolkids in eighteen classrooms to complete an IQ test. The teachers, but not students, were given results. The researchers told the teachers that the test would indicate which children had unusually high intellectual potential. What the teachers didn’t know was that the kids named as gifted did not really score higher than average on the IQ test – they actually had average scores. Shortly afterwards, the teachers rated those not labeled gifted as less curious and less interested than the gifted students – and the students´ subsequent grades reflected that. But what is really shocking – and sobering – is the result of another IQ test, given eight months later. When you administer IQ test a second time, you expect that each child´s score will vary some. In general, about half of the children´s scores should go up and half down, as a result of changes in the individual’s intellectual development in relation to his peers or simply random variations. When Rosenthal administered the second test, he indeed found that about half the kids labeled “normal” showed a gain in IQ. But among those who´d been singled out as brilliant, he obtained a different result; about 80 % had an increase of at least 10 points. What´s more, about 20 % of the “gifted” group gained 30 or more IQ points, while only 5 % of the other children gained that many. Labeling children as gifted had proved to be a powerful self-fulfilling prophecy. (c) Amen. The way you name a ship...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Whilst this book covered some ground I had already covered elsewhere, it nevertheless painted a good picture of our unconscious minds and motivations, which I found useful. The unconscious is a slippery critter, sliding out of our grasp nearly every time we reach for it. Various researchers have designed myriad tests to try and monitor it - but it isn't easy. It's a bit depressing to think about it really. We aren't totally irrational, but my goodness we're a bit woolly around the edges, that is Whilst this book covered some ground I had already covered elsewhere, it nevertheless painted a good picture of our unconscious minds and motivations, which I found useful. The unconscious is a slippery critter, sliding out of our grasp nearly every time we reach for it. Various researchers have designed myriad tests to try and monitor it - but it isn't easy. It's a bit depressing to think about it really. We aren't totally irrational, but my goodness we're a bit woolly around the edges, that is for sure. Herewith a few issues raised by the book.... * We are biased in the way we access information, and usually we are unaware of our biases.We see what we want to see. We hear what we want to hear. * We do top-down thinking. We make up our minds and then think of arguments to justify our decisions. (I've experienced this, a 'gut feeling' that something is right or wrong...and my subsequent research will back up my initial viewpoint...) * We are drawn towards some things and repelled by others whilst often being totally unaware of the true factors motivating us. * Consciously we can be liberal, fair and just, but unconsciously, at the same time, we can be prejudiced ...... racist, or prejudiced against fat or old people for instance. (I wish this idea had been better explained.) * We operate largely on automatic pilot. It is likely that some of the things we do and say may seem to be clearly thought through, but sometimes we get hints that we are largely acting below the threshold of consciousness. (For instance I often apologise when someone bumps into me....this may well mean there is some sort of unconscious script telling me to apologise when things go wrong. Whose fault it is may be irrelevant to this script. ) * Most of us have an unrealistically rosy view of ourselves (and the author thinks this is a very positive thing.) * We are strongly inclined to support the groups we belong to, however superficial our membership. We really have to guard against in-group, out-group prejudice. * Our memories are fragile, rehashed, and often just plain wrong. My one problem with the book is that I would have liked a description of the possible origins of the unconscious. Part of it must be physiology (the book mentions that we are buffeted around by the more primitive areas of our brains, and various hormones and so forth.) Plus there are idiosyncrasies in the way we see, hear, think and remember. Part of it must be upbringing (my urge to apologise at the drop of a pin must largely be due to years of parental insistence on please, thank you and I'm sorry.) And what about the rest? The unconscious is obviously a powerful factor in our lives. I'd like to know more about how it comes into being. I end with a huge cacophony of notes. I really don't recommend that anyone else bothers to read them. (view spoiler)[ * UNDERSTANDING OUR FEELINGS When it comes to understand our feelings, humans have A) Low ability B) High confidence. eg. You take a job because you think it presents a challenge, but really you are more interested in the greater prestige that it offers. You think you like a fellow because of his humour. You really like him because of his smile, which reminds you of your mother's. You think you trust your consultant because she's a great expert. You really trust her because she's a good listener. *WE ARE AFFECTED BY ALL SORTS OF THINGS WE ARE NOT CONSCIOUSLY AWARE OF. These factors can increase pleasure in the pleasure centres of the brain... In fact we even have a brand-appreciation part of the brain - the ventromedial pre-frontal cortex (VMPC). It gives us warm fuzzy feelings when we contemplate a familiar brand-name product. eg Flowery and evocative descriptions sell food better than just generic names....and people say this tastily-described food tastes better, even if it's exactly the same food. If fonts are difficult to read people think instructions are more difficult. We are manipulated into buying things purely on the basis of the attractiveness of different packaging. Research shows we buy washing powder in colourful boxes rather than plainer boxes, even when the washing powder is identical. Beer described in different ways, or labelled as different brands, or with a different price, can taste very different. Pepsi frequently beats Coke on blind tests for taste, but when people can see what they're drinking they prefer Coke. *SEEING A third of our brain is devoted to processing vision. There are gaps/blindspots in our vision, but our brain fills in these gaps and gives us an impression of continuity. *HEARING The same is true with regard to auditory data. *OUR MEMORIES ARE NOT REALISTIC For instance about 75,000 police line ups take place each year. Statistics show that 20% - 25% of the time witnesses make a choice that the police know for a fact is incorrect eg maybe they pick detectives, used as "fillers" in the line up, or they pick an inmate taken from the local jail. Hugo Munsterberg, a psychologist who died in 1917, did a lot of research into memory, and he summed up his ideas as follows. 1) None of us can retain memory in the vast quantity of details we are confronted with at any given moment. 2) Memory mistakes are due to the techniques our minds employ to fill in the inevitable gaps. 3) These include.... - Relying on our expectations. - Relying on our belief systems - Relying on our prior knowledge. So, when our expectations, beliefs and prior knowledge are at odds with actual events, our brains can be fooled. 4) People have a good memory for the general gist of events, but a bad one for the details. 5) When pressed for details, people will unknowingly fill in the gaps by making things up....and people will believe the memories they make up. Our memories are perfect for dealing with the vast amounts of information we receive. The challenge the mind faces is just to remember the things that are important to you. *WHEN WE ARE ASKED TO REPEATEDLY RECREATE A MEMORY, WE REINFORCE IT EACH TIME. In a way we are remembering the memory, not the original event. * FALSE MEMORIES These are often easy to introduce, especially for memories that seemed to happen a long time ago. *FRONTAL LOBE OF THE NEOCORTE The unconscious thought area in animals a very similar to that of humans, it's just that as a percentage of the brain, it is much bigger in animals. We have much to learn from unconscious animal behaviour. eg The hormone oxytocin. Ewes are unfriendly to most lambs in a flock. But during the birthing process, the stretching of the birth canal causes a simple protein called oxytocin to be released in the ewe's brain. This open a window of a couple of hour's duration in which the ewe is open to bonding. She will bond with any lamb - although because her own lamb is closest it is likely to be him or her. Then once the oxytocin window has closed, she will stop bonding with new lambs. After than, if she has bonded with a lamb she will continue to suckle it and bleat soothingly at it. But she will still be her usual nasty self to other lambs. In the brains of all mammals who are monogamous there are receptors of oxytocin and receptors for vasopressin. In promiscuous mammals who are not monogamous there are very few receptors for either oxytocin or vasopressin. These hormones are released during childbirth and sexual intimacy. For women, even when they hug another person. Sociable animals are much more likely to have these hormones. Loner animals have far fewer. Oxytocin also makes us trust other people. MENTAL SCRIPTS. It may be that our social behaviours may be influenced by some unconscious, predetermined mental 'scripts'. Psychologists did a test in a room with a photocopying machine. Scenario one: A tester butts in front of someone about to use the machine and says. "Excuse me, I have 5 pages, May I use the Xerox machine?" The tester made no justification for the intrusion, so why yield? Lots of people felt this way and 40% refused. Scenario two: The tester tried again, this time he said... "May I use the Xerox machine, because I'm in a rush?" The number of refusals fell radically, from 40% to 6%. BUT.... The researchers suspected that something else might be going on - maybe people weren't consciously assessing the reason and deciding it was a worthy one. Maybe they were mindlessly - automatically - following a mental script? That script might go like this: Someone asks a small favour with zero justification = say no. Someone asks a small favour but offers a reason = say yes. This sounds like a robot or computer programme, but could it apply to people? Scenario 3: The tester approached someone again and said... "Excuse me, I have 5 pages, may I use the Xerox machine...because I have to make some copies." Only 7% of the people refused! Conclusion of experimenters: While such mindlessness may at times be troublesome, this degree of selective attention, of tuning the external world out, may be an achievement. In evolutionary terms here is the unconscious performing its usual duty, automating tasks so as to free us to respond to other tasks in the environment. * FUNCTIONAL MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (fMRI) This is a twist on the ordinary MRI scanner that doctors use. It measure oxygen consumption in different parts of the brain. It also provides a map of the structures of the brain.....it can therefore show us brain activity in different parts of the brain. Mental processes can now be associated with specific neural pathways and specific brain structures. *THE BRAIN HAS 3 REGIONS 1) Reptilian 2) Limbic (old mammalian) 3) Neocortex (new mammalian) But there is overlap eg some primitive creatures have neocortex-like tissue. This mean their behaviour may not be purely instinct-driven. Also, whilst the three areas are described as distinct, in reality they are integrated and work in concert. They have numerous neural interconnections. * DOGS ARE FANTASTICALLY GOOD AT READING SOCIAL NON-VERBAL SIGNALS (HUMAN SOCIAL SIGNALS) They seem even better than primates at doing this, in spite of primates being better at things like problem-solving and cheating. This suggests that during the history of domestication, evolution favoured those dogs who were better companions to human beings. MESSAGES THAT CONDEMN YET HIGHLIGHT BAD SOCIAL NORMS CAN BE COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. eg a message that says "Americans are dropping more litter than ever!" can actually encourage bad behaviour..... Everyone is doing this, so why not me as well? *WE CHANGE ALL THE TIME. WE CAN EVEN BE DIFFERENT PEOPLE AT THE SAME TIME The conscious "I" who abhors prejudice, versus the unconscious "I" who holds negative feelings about people like blacks, the elderly, fat people gays or Muslims. *THE SHORTCOMINGS OF PSYCHOTHERAPY We feel many things we are not aware of feeling, and because of this, psychotherapy may be useless, or of limited value. *WE MAKE UP STORIES TO EXPLAIN OUR ACTIONS Researchers instructed a patient, via the right hemisphere of his brain, to wave. The left hemisphere of his brain observed the waving, but was unaware of the instruction to wave. But the left hemisphere wouldn't admit ignorance. Instead the patient said he waved because he thought he'd seen someone he knew. Again and again, the left hemisphere responded as if it knew the answer as to why an action had taken place. In these, and in similar studies, the left hemisphere of the brain generated many false reports. The researchers concluded that the left hemisphere of the brain tries to understand our feelings. It's as if the left hemisphere has mounted a search for a sense of order and reason in the world in general. We all make up stories to fill in gaps in our knowledge about our feelings. Whilst we know what we are feeling, we often know neither the content nor the unconscious origins of that content. And so we come up with plausible explanations that are untrue, or only partly accurate...and we believe them. *WE FIGHT TO SEE OURSELVES IN A GOOD LIGHT eg. Criminal after criminal has justified their behaviour, however violent or anti-social. eg. Directors of companies that have lost millions of dollars, nevertheless justify the exit package they get from the company they have been working for. eg. One million high school seniors were interviewed re their ability to get along with others. 100% rated themselves at least as average. 60% rated themselves in the top 10% 25% rated themselves in the top 1% eg. College professors were asked to rate the standard of their work. 94% said they do above-average work. We are prejudiced about ourselves. We see ourselves as above average...and we slant our perspectives to bolster our attributes. eg if we are better at grammar than arithmetic we give linguistic knowledge more weight in our view of what is important...but if we're better at arithmetic, we think language skills aren't that critical. We put a positive slant on our history. eg a group of researchers asked 99 college students to recall their leaving/graduating grades from school exams. They were told their answers would be checked against their school records. The students' memories of 3,220 grades were checked. Correctly remembered. A grades 89% B grades 64% C grades 51% D grades 29% Thus these students skewed their memories to have a brighter picture of themselves. * SCIENTISTS WITH AN INVESTMENT IN A BAD THEORY WILL CLING TO IT. eg all those scientist who opposed the Big Bang theory. Scientists with an investment in an established theory sometimes stubbornly cling to their old beliefs. Sometimes, as an economist wrote, "Science advances funeral by funeral." *TRUTH IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER Researchers interviewed the audience after a football game between Dartmouth and Princeton. (A game where Dartmouth had been told to play very roughly.) The Dartmouth supporters saw one game, the Princeton supporters saw another. Princeton supporters saw Dartmouth commit twice as many infractions as their team. Dartmouth saw both teams committing the same number of infractions. There is no such thing as a game existing 'out there' in its own right, which people merely 'observe'. *WHAT MOTIVATES US TO THINK A CERTAIN WAY IS UNCONSCIOUS. People therefore think they are unbiased. (hide spoiler)]

  3. 4 out of 5

    GodLike

    Great book that outlines just how weak human minds are. Or more specifically, how weak the conscious mind really is after all and how overpowering our unconscious is in our everyday lives. We filter the world with our five senses and further reduce that filtered information through evolutionary cognitive biases to construct a mental artificial environment in which we call "reality". Few people ever get to realize this, especially in its entirety. This book is definitely worth reading if you want Great book that outlines just how weak human minds are. Or more specifically, how weak the conscious mind really is after all and how overpowering our unconscious is in our everyday lives. We filter the world with our five senses and further reduce that filtered information through evolutionary cognitive biases to construct a mental artificial environment in which we call "reality". Few people ever get to realize this, especially in its entirety. This book is definitely worth reading if you want to gain a deeper understanding of how you work and why you make certain decisions in life.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ken Montville

    Usually I love reading books in the genre. I love learning how people make decisions and how our subconscious mind directs our behavior. This book really tries to do a good job of explaining what our subconscious is and how it influences our behavior. Yet, for me it is a little heavy on the science and a little light on the application. To be fair, the author really tries to intertwine interesting analogies and folksy anecdotes with the science of how life is really a subjective experience. But, Usually I love reading books in the genre. I love learning how people make decisions and how our subconscious mind directs our behavior. This book really tries to do a good job of explaining what our subconscious is and how it influences our behavior. Yet, for me it is a little heavy on the science and a little light on the application. To be fair, the author really tries to intertwine interesting analogies and folksy anecdotes with the science of how life is really a subjective experience. But, it seems, he can't help himself from proving his point through reference to numerous studies and minute description of the brain and it's physicality. Yes, it's interesting to know that out subconscious helps us function in life by filtering out a multitude of activities, sights and sounds. It's interesting that our memory isn't as accurate as we would like to believe. It's interesting that even our vision isn't as all encompassing as we think. It's when he gets wades into the weeds of highly scientific explanation of evolution and neuroscience that he loses me. Many of the later chapters also reveal what most of us know, if not factually, then intuitively. Women like deeper voiced men, tall men. Both sexes attribute positive characteristics to good looking people, in general. So, toward the end, I put it down. The books of Dan Ariely are more to my liking. I also thought that The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business was a lot more engaging and memorable. Read the book if you like a lot of scientific backup for the author's assertions of how your subconscious mind rules your behavior. If you're looking for ways to help change your own behavior or better understandand possibly influence the behavior of others, you may be disappointed.

  5. 4 out of 5

    John Martindale

    Plenty in this book can be found in others, like "Strangers To Ourselves" or "Blink". But yeah, there was some new stuff as well. What he shared on "Blindsight" was fascinating, and there was other findings in the book that I've found interesting and have been fun to share with others. In one section of the book Mlodinow covered cognitive biases--how we won't consider the evidence on the other-side and how experiments have proven that none of us are objective. The problem is we unconsciously fil Plenty in this book can be found in others, like "Strangers To Ourselves" or "Blink". But yeah, there was some new stuff as well. What he shared on "Blindsight" was fascinating, and there was other findings in the book that I've found interesting and have been fun to share with others. In one section of the book Mlodinow covered cognitive biases--how we won't consider the evidence on the other-side and how experiments have proven that none of us are objective. The problem is we unconsciously filter what we don't agree with and uncritically confirm everything that fits our world-view. After sharing all of this Mlodinow just couldn't help but give some examples, like how stupid people are who just won't face that fact that "man is causing global warming" and those retards who won't acknowledge the fact that man evolved from lower animals. Which assumes (from Mlodinow's materialist perspective) that matter banged into existence from nothing, complex life formed from inanimate matter, information accidentally formed due to unintelligent forces and that consciousness evolved from unconscious matter. I would have been perfectly fine with him bringing up these examples, if he could have been humble enough to acknowledge that his own biases, just maybe hinder him from considering the evidence on the other-side which I find very convincing. Of course, I doubt Mlodinow ever could truly consider the evidence that clashes with his naturalistic worldview. Anything that doesn't coincide with materialism is a priori considered not to be evidence. Naturalist have so effectually stacked the deck and thus can confidently assert no other worldview has a spec of evidence, only blind faith and only they themselves hold truth. Or maybe I am wrong, maybe the author is truly objective in these two controversial issues and only us who disagree with him are blinded by our biases. No doubt I am plagued by them as much as anyone else.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Mills

    Thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening book. Among other things, it's interesting how our minds fool us into remembering things that never happened, and rationalizing evidence for what we wanted to believe to begin with. Thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening book. Among other things, it's interesting how our minds fool us into remembering things that never happened, and rationalizing evidence for what we wanted to believe to begin with.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Book

    Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow "Subliminal" is the provocative and fascinating look at the unconscious part of our minds. One of my favorite authors and physicists, Leonard Mlodinow, takes the readers on a journey into the science of the unconscious. What a fun and enlightening book this was. Mlodinow is the master of making the difficult accessible and fun for the masses. How are mind works is one of the most interesting subjects and I was thrilled Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow "Subliminal" is the provocative and fascinating look at the unconscious part of our minds. One of my favorite authors and physicists, Leonard Mlodinow, takes the readers on a journey into the science of the unconscious. What a fun and enlightening book this was. Mlodinow is the master of making the difficult accessible and fun for the masses. How are mind works is one of the most interesting subjects and I was thrilled to see that the coauthor of both the Grand Design and the equally interesting book War of the Worldviews makes his latest venture into this intriguing science. This excellent 272-page book is composed of the following ten chapters: 1. The New Unconscious, 2. Senses Plus Mind Equals Reality, 3. Remembering and Forgetting, 4. The Importance of Being Social, 5. Reading People, 6. Judging People by Their Covers, 7. Sorting People and Things, 8. In-Groups and Out-Groups, 9. Feelings, and 10. Self. Positives: 1. A fascinating topic (science of the unconscious) in the hands of a master. 2. Elegant, conversational tone that makes this book a treat to read. 3. Mlodinow consistently produces great books and this one lived up to my expectations. 4. As accessible a book as you will find. A difficult topic made easy and fun to read. 5. The book is loaded with great and I mean great examples to help the reader grasp the latest in the science. One of the books strengths. 6. Great use of science history. 7. The pioneers of the science of the unconscious. 8. Great use the latest scientific research in this fascinating topic to support well-stated positions. 9. You will end up with a better grasp at how our brains work. 10. A good use of illustrations. 11. Great quotes and factoids abound, "The truth is that our unconscious minds are active, purposeful, and independent." 12. Evolution...why our brains evolved to be what they are. 13. A truly exceptional study that mirrors the subjects' sexual preferences. 14. What modern neuroscience tells us about our brains and how we perceive the world. 15. How our memory system works. Who does it change over time? Find out. 16. Social interactions and the subliminal. Theory of mind. The three regions of the brain and the three basic types of nonverbal communication. 17. An interesting look at stereotyping. 18. Popular misconceptions analyzed. 19. What do we know about our feelings our emotions? Find out. 20. The ways to the truth...our worldviews. 21. How our brain creates unconscious biases. 22. Is unrealistic optimism good for you? 23. Great links. Negatives: 1. Notes are great but a formal bibliography never hurts. 2. Nothing about supernatural beliefs and why they are so prevalent. 3. Having to get multiple copies to share. In summary, I loved this book. It was an intellectual treat. The science of the unconscious is a fascinating topic and this book was loaded with a lot of great research. Mlodinow is a great author who is able to tackle complex topics and make it fun and interesting to read. If you want to learn about the science of the unconscious, make a conscious decision to get this one, I highly recommend it!! Further suggestions: "The Grand Design" and "War of the Worldviews: Science Vs. Spirituality" coauthored by this same author were excellent, "Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time" and "The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths" by Michael Shermer, "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature" by Steven Pinker, Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals about Morality" by Laurence Tancredi, "Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain" Michael S. Gazzaniga, "The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life" by Jesse Bering, "50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True" by Guy P. Harrison, "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts" by Carol Tavris. For the record, I have reviewed all the aforementioned books, enjoy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Camelia Rose

    Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior is good summary on the topic of the unconscious mind. The the author clarifies at the beginning that unconscious mind in modern psychology and neuroscience is a totally different concept than Freud's subconsciousness. I have read some of the topics elsewhere, but still find the book useful. The human mind constructs a picture of reality for the purpose of our survival, therefore accuracy is not a priority. Same is our memory. Our mind co Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior is good summary on the topic of the unconscious mind. The the author clarifies at the beginning that unconscious mind in modern psychology and neuroscience is a totally different concept than Freud's subconsciousness. I have read some of the topics elsewhere, but still find the book useful. The human mind constructs a picture of reality for the purpose of our survival, therefore accuracy is not a priority. Same is our memory. Our mind collects information that caught our attention, then constructs memory from the material available, and from time to time, the mind re-organizes and fills the missing details. One chapter is dedicated to our ability to categorize the world, which is a crucial talent that also gives rise to stereotypes. This talent, in combination with our tendency to form in-groups and to favor in-group members, becomes the psychological foundation of discrimination. There can be explicit and implicit biases. The book makes me thinking: is there a better way to fight discrimination? The chapter of motivated reasoning reminds me of Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. Oxytocin research has been advanced since the publication of the book in 2012. Here is an article on the subject of oxytocin and oxytocin nasal spray I find it odd that the author did not mention Daniel Kahneman when he talked about behavior economy. My final problem of the book is the title: to claim your unconscious mind rules your behavior is inaccurate. The author wants to convey the idea that the unconscious mind is underestimated, but to call it "rule" is over-simplification.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Owlseyes

    This is not really the Freud’s (or Jung's) notion of unconscious; rather, another level of processing information well beyond the conscious. Drawing heavily on studies of memory (including the Münsterberg theory of memory) the author leads us to believe the uncomfortable truth that our own memory is not that reliable; instead, it may deceive us, as sometimes we fill in the gaps through the unconscious use of certain “techniques” (mediated by beliefs, expectations, desires, context and prior know This is not really the Freud’s (or Jung's) notion of unconscious; rather, another level of processing information well beyond the conscious. Drawing heavily on studies of memory (including the Münsterberg theory of memory) the author leads us to believe the uncomfortable truth that our own memory is not that reliable; instead, it may deceive us, as sometimes we fill in the gaps through the unconscious use of certain “techniques” (mediated by beliefs, expectations, desires, context and prior knowledge). The understanding of these “techniques” may be paramount when we deal with witnesses reporting on crimes. To be more precise, this (new) notion of unconscious implies "brain processes which are automatic, beyond awareness and control". The author approaches also the expression of emotions in the human face (referring the work of Paul Ekman), as well as the notion of social unconscious.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Reid

    While there were some good points in this book, the writing wasn't interesting enough to hold my attention for long. It was too boring to get through and even though I got to ~80% I still couldn't force myself to finish it all. While there were some good points in this book, the writing wasn't interesting enough to hold my attention for long. It was too boring to get through and even though I got to ~80% I still couldn't force myself to finish it all.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    **edited 01/27/14 When I first saw this book, I knew I had to read it. Not only is it written by an author I've already had a positive experience with (The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives), but the book had one of the funniest cover designs I've seen all year. In black text on a green background, it says, "Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior." In the spaces in between, in green only slightly lighter than the background, it says, "Psst: Hey There, Yes: You, Se **edited 01/27/14 When I first saw this book, I knew I had to read it. Not only is it written by an author I've already had a positive experience with (The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives), but the book had one of the funniest cover designs I've seen all year. In black text on a green background, it says, "Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior." In the spaces in between, in green only slightly lighter than the background, it says, "Psst: Hey There, Yes: You, Sexy. Buy This Book Now. You Know You Want It." I laughed when I saw it and obeyed--well, not to the point of buying it, but I did pick it up. I dove in eagerly, only to be brought to an abrupt and unpleasant halt in the first chapter. There's nothing that irritates me more than bad science, and the misapplication of statistics is on my permanent hit list. One of Mlodinow's examples of the importance of the subconscious is (according to him) that we are more attracted to people who share our last name. As "evidence", he provides a chart of raw counts of husband-wife surnames over three states which indicates that a Jones is more likely to marry a Jones even though Smiths are more common. My problem? Well, this is a perfect example of Bad Statistics: he grabs a convenient weak correlation over a ridiculously tiny sample, ignores all potential confounding variables (e.g. names aren't uniformly distributed: even though the overall population of Jones are smaller, a Jones may be more likely to meet another Jones than a Smith; last names indicate ethnicity and nationality and we know people have strong homophilous preferences that have nothing to do with melodious surnames, etc, etc.), and then extrapolates an outrageously broad and demonstrably inaccurate causal conclusion (this data indicates that we are subconsciously attracted to people who share our names). I put the book down in disgust. And so the story ends, until one day, I ran across a version of the book on audio, read by none other than Mlodinow himself. I decided to give the book one more chance. I'm glad I did. ... Due to my disapproval of GR's new and rather subjective review deletion policy, the rest of this review can be found on Booklikes.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

    This was a timely book to read given the political maelstrom has so often in the past and continues to characterize American politics where we see individuals supporting, defending, and promoting their teams quarterback with a fervor that in most cases takes some pretty impressive mental gymnastics. Think the decisions and choices you make are the result of careful scrutiny, reflection and logical deduction? ABSOLUTELY ...(insert mental drum roll please)(view spoiler)[NOT. Sorry. At least not mos This was a timely book to read given the political maelstrom has so often in the past and continues to characterize American politics where we see individuals supporting, defending, and promoting their teams quarterback with a fervor that in most cases takes some pretty impressive mental gymnastics. Think the decisions and choices you make are the result of careful scrutiny, reflection and logical deduction? ABSOLUTELY ...(insert mental drum roll please)(view spoiler)[NOT. Sorry. At least not most of the time (hide spoiler)] . Like it or not most of us are on automatic pilot way more than we realize, and that automatic pilot is highly influenced in ways that are often hidden to our conscious minds. And even when we believe we are making well-thought out, well-researched choices, the reality is we are hard pressed to escape our own biases and for good reason. Our brains can't possibly evaluate every shred of data it encounters. It must categorize, simplify, and even ad-lib as needed to keep us focused on what's important as determined by the unconscious. Our genetics, our life experiences, our environment are all affecting our brains, much of the time, in ways in which we are unaware. Scary, maybe. Enlightening, absolutely. After all, we can't possibly begin to address our innate biases unless we can admit they exist and then identify them. Bottom line: Consciousness is a mystery that may only be superceded by the mysteries of the unconscious and our will isn't as free as we would imagine it to be. In my opinion, this is a book everyone should read. Fascinating on so many levels, it will make you question the bases for every belief (and memory) you've ever held and how you got there to begin with. Good stuff.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Teo Mechea

    The ending felt rushed and somehow incomplete but it didn't matter so much due to the abundance of facts, explanations and (my favorite part) lots and lots of descriptions of studies conducted by research scientists along the decades, in different fields of interest. It's basically a 200-page collection of studies and experiments that prove various theories from neuroscience and social psychology. If you're into the way the brain works and like to hear weird and sometimes highly unexpected (and The ending felt rushed and somehow incomplete but it didn't matter so much due to the abundance of facts, explanations and (my favorite part) lots and lots of descriptions of studies conducted by research scientists along the decades, in different fields of interest. It's basically a 200-page collection of studies and experiments that prove various theories from neuroscience and social psychology. If you're into the way the brain works and like to hear weird and sometimes highly unexpected (and disturbing) facts about yourself and about how everything you actually perceive is most probably an illusion orchestrated by your unconscious, read on. I really enjoyed it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Marvelous read. The dynamic of this book, unlike that of ‘Thinking Fast and Slow', is so righteously tuned, keeping the reader thoroughly hooked. I was eating my way through the pages. The author is outright witty and happens to be a theoretical physicist who’s probing a psychological subject – neuroscience to be precise. Basically, a great mash up. The theory of mind, how it correlates with human behavior and social norms. The impact of our unconscious on everyday life. The biases and judgments w Marvelous read. The dynamic of this book, unlike that of ‘Thinking Fast and Slow', is so righteously tuned, keeping the reader thoroughly hooked. I was eating my way through the pages. The author is outright witty and happens to be a theoretical physicist who’s probing a psychological subject – neuroscience to be precise. Basically, a great mash up. The theory of mind, how it correlates with human behavior and social norms. The impact of our unconscious on everyday life. The biases and judgments we conjure. The stances we take, opinions we formulate and arguments we postulate. Objectivity, in the broad sense of the word, is put to question. How truly independent are we regarding to how truly independent we think we are? Experiment after experiment, social study after another the reader learns how fallible the brain process really is. Like the blind spot where the optic nerve links to the retina, most of our experiences suffer from incomplete sets of data, yet we manage to draw our conclusions by combining, filling and interpolating the available vertices, or those we judge apt to. Right down to scientists, we keep clinging to false theories we have invested in (e.g. pro-static universe theorists or anti-global climate change advocates.) And when the book seems to converge toward human impotence and overall inability to impartially judge events, Mlodinow states that,“studies show that people with the most accurate self-perceptions tend to be moderately depressed, suffer from low self-esteem, or both.” He adds, “An overly positive self-evaluation, on the other hand, is normal and healthy.” So after all the critical analysis of the brain workings, after all the thought experiments are we to conclude that, whether or not we have power over our limbic system, we should leave it alone, that intuitive data be left alone, that a scrupulous conscious inspection is dismissible? Since an overly positive self-evaluation is normal, exclusively common might I add, are we to conclude that introspection aiming to subsume objectivity under the realm of the self should rather be discouraged, an end we should not strive for? “Unlike phenomena in physics, in life, events can depend largely upon which theory we choose to believe. It is a gift of the human mind to be extraordinarily open to accepting the theory of ourselves that pushes us in the direction of survival, and even happiness.” Then I guess we have to choose our beliefs wisely.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mario Tomic

    This book was so interesting I went through it in just 2 days! It goes deep into self-fulfilling prophecies, group think, effects of optimism and how our brain chemistry is physically changing depending on our perception. This is a book you don't wanna miss out on, a lot of the studies mentioned in the book are also fairly new discoveries as the real-time brain-scanning technology wasn't even available for such studies in the past. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! This book was so interesting I went through it in just 2 days! It goes deep into self-fulfilling prophecies, group think, effects of optimism and how our brain chemistry is physically changing depending on our perception. This is a book you don't wanna miss out on, a lot of the studies mentioned in the book are also fairly new discoveries as the real-time brain-scanning technology wasn't even available for such studies in the past. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

  16. 5 out of 5

    David Dinaburg

    “When you come up with an explanation for your feelings and behavior, your brain performs an action that would probably surprise you: it searches your mental database of cultural norms and picks something plausible.” There is a touch of existential terror when thinking about the brain as physical. When you're not actively engaged in thinking about what is in your head, it feels natural to treat it like a magical repository of all your experiences and leave it at that. Subliminal took me longe “When you come up with an explanation for your feelings and behavior, your brain performs an action that would probably surprise you: it searches your mental database of cultural norms and picks something plausible.” There is a touch of existential terror when thinking about the brain as physical. When you're not actively engaged in thinking about what is in your head, it feels natural to treat it like a magical repository of all your experiences and leave it at that. Subliminal took me longer than normal to finish, but it contains the same Mlodinow charm that filled The Drunkard's Walk and Euclid's Window; stories, delivered easily and frequently as examples or illustrations, retain all of their inherent complexity. Mlodinow conjures up the image of Aesop recounting a fable to a truculent child, explaining away complexity with patience, supported upon an ethereal balance of dry scientific treatises, personal stories, and detailed examples. Dense topics are made accessible without any hint of condescension, trusting the reader to follow along all while elegantly constructing a bridge between the gap of his considerable knowledge and skills and the infinitely complex hypothetical baseline understanding of the brain, or basic science, that a reader may bring. I will continue to read whatever he writes whenever I can. That said, I liked Subliminal less than the others, yet I wonder if I would have liked it less still had it not had the author's name attached. “The “causal arrow” in human thought processes consistently tends to point from belief to evidence, not vice versa.” [citation omitted] I wonder if came in expecting to be less impressed, less open to hearing about neuroscience from a physicist. “Motivated reasoning involves a network of brain regions that are not associated with “cold” reasoning, including the orbitofrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex—parts of the limbic system—and the posterior cingulate cortex and precuneus, which are also activated when one makes emotionally laden moral judgments.” [citation omitted] That the general areas of the brain that act and interact can be quantifiably tracked, and that conclusions can be drawn that from where and what systems are engaged in different types of decisions and thoughts is an unbelievably amazing window into thoughts. It is terrifying to think of reductivist conclusions, but Subliminal avoids any sort of,“This neuron does this, and only this, so buy some fish oil and you'll be smarter,” reductio ad absurdum arguments. The ascension of fMRI in the last 20 years has changed the way psychology and psychiatry will move forward, and there is more upheaval now and more data that haven't yet entered the basic public lexicon than any time since Freud. That there is now supported science backing Emerson's view of personage thrills me. Subliminal: “We behave differently when we are in a good mood than when we are in a bad one. We behave differently having lunch with our boss than when having lunch with our subordinates...our character is not indelibly stamped on us but is dynamic and changing,” is well paired with Self-Reliance: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblins of little minds. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today.” Talk of in-groups and out-groups might well have been torn straight out of the pages of C.S. Lewis' The Inner Ring, and Subliminal tends to back up with experimental data. “In one study, researchers asked subjects to rate the likability of doctors, lawyers, waiters, and hairdressers, on a scale from 1 to 100. [citation omitted] The twist was, every subject in this experiment was him- or herself either a doctor, a lawyer, a waiter, or a hairdresser. The results were very consistent: those in three of the four professions rated the members of the other professions as average, with a likeability around 50. But they rated those in their own professions significantly higher, around 70. There was only one exception: the lawyers, who rated both those in the other professions and other lawyers at around 50...of the four groups, lawyers form the only one whose members regularly oppose others in their own group.” After enough time with Subliminal, you would be remiss not to question whether the zeitgeist around the flexible persona in the neuroscience community is in response to a pre-built acculturated desire to bolster the pillars of great philosophers, social and literary theorists. Did Emerson and Lewis preempt the science that supported them, or did society find a way to conform to Emerson and Lewis? Be wary,lest motivated thinking find its way into the very theory that it supports. "And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee." It is interesting to see something you thought was peculiar to yourself is a physiological trait of your species. “Linguists recognize two types of language structure: surface structure and deep structure. Surface structure refers to the specific way an idea is expressed, such as the words used and their order. Deep structure refers to the gist of the idea. [citation omitted] Most of us avoid the problems of clutter by retaining the gist but freely discarding the details. As a result, we can retain deep structure—the meaning of what was said—for long periods of time, we can accurately remember surface structure—the words in which it was said—for just eight to ten seconds [citation omitted].” If you've ever had an argument with your significant other about the exact phrasing of some prior verbal exchange, I do not recommend pointing out that the brain is not meant to remember surface structure longer than ten seconds. Remembering the gist but jettisoning the fiddly details has biological advantages, which Subliminal covers, and then goes the extra step to include a vivid story of a man who could not shed those minute, typically pointless, bits of information and the problems that his unique brain created for him. This is a fascinating book, and from the blue-pen underlining of the “Reading People” chapter that my public library copy came burdened with, someone else believed that they could pick up some subtle tips to help with upcoming job interviews. If you pick this up, be prepared to be fascinated, informed, and a little bit sad. “Studies show that the people with the most accurate self-perceptions tend to be moderately depressed, suffer from low self-esteem, or both.” [citation omitted] Perhaps I did not appreciate having the "magical repository" image I had constructed of my brain altered. Have we now found an answer to why I trudged so slowly through Subliminal, and why it got short shrift on my list of favorite Mlodinow books? "Motivated reasoning enables our minds to defend us against unhappiness, and in the process it gives us the strength to overcome the many obstacles in life that might otherwise overwhelm us." No, it was the book, not me.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Clark Hays

    Who's driving this thing? Ever wonder what’s going on in your brain while you are busy strolling around saying funny stuff and thinking big, important things? Turns out, a whole lot. There’s an entire world of unconscious activity hidden just below the surface. If conscious thought is like a speedboat you pilot across the surface of the ocean(cue the Miami Vice theme), unconscious thought is the teeming, chaotic, beautiful mass of rainbow-colored tropical fish, graceful coral reefs, steely-eyed s Who's driving this thing? Ever wonder what’s going on in your brain while you are busy strolling around saying funny stuff and thinking big, important things? Turns out, a whole lot. There’s an entire world of unconscious activity hidden just below the surface. If conscious thought is like a speedboat you pilot across the surface of the ocean(cue the Miami Vice theme), unconscious thought is the teeming, chaotic, beautiful mass of rainbow-colored tropical fish, graceful coral reefs, steely-eyed sharks and even a few grotesque bottom-dwellers hidden beneath. Once you dive in, you realize our subliminal thoughts are more powerful than the speedy, unreliable conscious thoughts we’re so proud of, skimming along the top. That’s because unconscious thought ultimately shapes our decisions, forges our world views and guides our relationships with others (and with ourselves), all without us even knowing or – equally important – without controlling or consenting. Subliminal, by Leonard Mlodinow – a theoretical physicist – is a guided tour (blitzkrieg?) through the unconscious mind and shows that we are only loosely in control of our own consciousness, completely unaware of the things our brains take in when we aren't paying attention and at the mercy of filters we didn’t even know existed. Study after study and weird example after weird example bring this to life: Folks who read a recipe in a difficult font rated it harder to prepare than the same recipe presented in an easy font (take note, designers), because our brains get us ready for tasks before we start them. Folks using exactly the same detergent in three differently-colored boxes consistently rated one in particular — the most colorful — the best of the three by far. Shoppers who heard French background music bought more French wine, and bought more German wine when German background music was playing even though none of them even remembered music playing. In another classic study, people consistently prefer Pepsi over Coke in a blind taste test, but they prefer Coke when the blindfold comes off. Can you actually taste “brand?” People with brain damage in a specific location can’t. When the VMC area — thought to be the generator of warm, fuzzy feelings — was damaged, they didn’t experience the “Pepsi paradox.” (Please, Pepsi, don’t start damaging our brains). There’s so much more: Statistical analysis found investors were more likely to invest in the initial public offerings of companies with easy-to-pronounce names. There are naturally occurring dead spots in our vision that our brain compensates for without us even knowing. Oxytocin, released during sex and even during hugs, affects social bonding, which in turn is shaped by brain size and complexity across species. When you read this book, you’ll realize that it's crazy town up in your brain, and there ain't no mayor. We think we are driving the machine, but we are actually just along for the ride. There’s power in knowing that, though. This book is breathless, geeky fun, well written and packed with insights and puzzles and hard science and so many “ah-ha” moments that I eventually had to consign myself to the notion that I would have to read it twice. An aside: This topic takes on even greater significance when you consider the recent Wired article that suggests consciousness continues for up to a few hours after death. The Meta isn’t sounding so crazy now, is it?

  18. 4 out of 5

    thewestchestarian

    Maybe you secretly liked or dislike the book more than you think? Mlodinow presents a solid literature review on recent research that all seems to point to the rationale mind holding far less power in the direction of human behavior than we would like to think. This discounting of the power of human thought follows a long series of scientific discoveries taking our self-image from lesser god to higher animal. Galileo demonstrated the sun did not revolve around us. Darwin negated our notions of d Maybe you secretly liked or dislike the book more than you think? Mlodinow presents a solid literature review on recent research that all seems to point to the rationale mind holding far less power in the direction of human behavior than we would like to think. This discounting of the power of human thought follows a long series of scientific discoveries taking our self-image from lesser god to higher animal. Galileo demonstrated the sun did not revolve around us. Darwin negated our notions of divine creation. Freud and Skinner should our behavior was influenced by forces outside our control. And now functional MRI machines demonstrate that the conscious mind learns of rather than makes decisions. The research on unconscious intentionality has yet to coalesce around one central figure as behaviorism found its Skinner but a number of authors have taken to writing about it. One of these is Mlodinow who does a solid job covering the field although many of the studies are covered more entertainingly in GLADWELL MALCOM, more authoritatively in Ariely Dan and more comprehensively inThinking, Fast and Slow from Dan Kaheman the "giant of science" in this field. If you don't want to pick up any of those authors, Mlodinow's review makes a good substitute. All of the head-scratching studies are here. Teachers told that randomly chosen children hold special genius find them far advanced compared to their equally talented control groups. This finding is intriguing enough but add to it a study concluding that students told their randomly chosen rat was bred to solve mazes more quickly actually find faster times from these compared to their genetically identical control group and you really have an intriguing result. Studies showing how much memory is a constructive process are fascinating particularly in a historical context such as a comparison of John Dean's testimony about what he said to President Richard Nixon during the Watergate coverup and the secret tapes later found of those conversations. Despite Dean having no reason to lie, the tapes and the testimony differ wildly. Add this to research demonstrating a 20-30% accuracy rate for eyewitnesses and you really begin to understand that your memoir could equally sit on the non-fiction and fiction library shelves. Mlodinow's straight-forward solid writing style never veers into story-telling but it is generally tight if a little plodding. To his credit, Dr. Mlodinow doesn't sound like a physics professor for the most part and the book is fairly readable if a little dull at times. In short, a good book for those who like psychological studies or just dislike feeling in control although other authors cover the same ground with better results.

  19. 5 out of 5

    jeremy

    leonard mlodinow's new book, subliminal: how your unconscious mind rules your behavior, is an engaging, stimulating work exploring the relatively young field of social neuroscience. mlodinow, a theoretical physicist (and one time screenwriter for both macgyver and star trek: the next generation), offers an introduction to, and overview of, the current science relating to our understanding of the unconscious and its ever-present role in shaping our daily lives. subliminal considers the two-tier s leonard mlodinow's new book, subliminal: how your unconscious mind rules your behavior, is an engaging, stimulating work exploring the relatively young field of social neuroscience. mlodinow, a theoretical physicist (and one time screenwriter for both macgyver and star trek: the next generation), offers an introduction to, and overview of, the current science relating to our understanding of the unconscious and its ever-present role in shaping our daily lives. subliminal considers the two-tier system of the brain and the ramifications it has on the ways sensory input data is filtered and processed. mlodinow focuses a good portion of the book on theory of mind, memory and forgetting, language and non-verbal communication, categorization, and motivated reasoning. incorporating into the narrative a large number of descriptive and illustrative studies and experiments, subliminal's main ideas are easy to conceptualize and their corresponding real-life corollaries amply explained. mlodinow is a lucid, descriptive writer; one adept at infusing his work with clever analogies and humorous one-liners. subliminal excels beyond many other popular science books in that it is consistently engrossing, never deigns to simplified or dumbed-down explanations, and encourages in its readers introspective ways of applying its insights. evolution designed the human brain not to accurately understand itself but to help us survive. we observe ourselves and the world and make enough sense of things to get along. some of us, interested in knowing ourselves more deeply- perhaps to make better life decisions, perhaps to live a richer life, perhaps out of curiosity- seek to get past our intuitive ideas of us. we can. we can use our conscious minds to study, to identify, and to pierce our cognitive illusions. by broadening our perspective to take into account how our minds operate, we can achieve a more enlightened view of who we are. but even as we grow to better understand ourselves, we should maintain our appreciation of the fact that, if our mind's natural view of the world is skewed, it is skewed for a reason.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dan Connors

    Look at the tasty photo above. In addition to selling you chicken, there is another message hidden cleverly. If you look closely at the lettuce, you see a dollar bill there plain as day. What's up with that? It turns out that advertisers are able to sneak things like this into advertisements without our knowledge to tap into a vast underground system of awareness that lies below the surface of our conscious minds. In college I read a book called Subliminal Seduction by Wilson Bryan Key that det Look at the tasty photo above. In addition to selling you chicken, there is another message hidden cleverly. If you look closely at the lettuce, you see a dollar bill there plain as day. What's up with that? It turns out that advertisers are able to sneak things like this into advertisements without our knowledge to tap into a vast underground system of awareness that lies below the surface of our conscious minds. In college I read a book called Subliminal Seduction by Wilson Bryan Key that detailed how advertisers, especially cigarette and liquor advertisers were using images of sex and death to influence potential customers and mess with their minds. It is scary stuff. Things have evolved today and there isn't as much talk about subliminal ads, many of which have been replaced by double entendres- sneaky messages that wink at us to find the naughty hidden meaning behind their message. But one has to believe that subliminal messages are still in use today, albeit in a much more sophisticated form. Leonard Mlodinow takes a fascinating look at the world of subliminal and unconscious thought with his book, Subliminal. Mlodinow is a theoretical physicist at Cal Tech and writer, and has worked with the likes of Stephen Hawking and Deepak Chopra. He obviously knows his stuff. What he presents here is a a brief, accessible, look at the hidden world of the brain and how it affects our conscious selves. We are exposed to 11 million bits of information every second. At best, our brains can process 16-50 of those bits, which leaves a huge gap of information that flies right past us. Our conscious brain takes the visual, auditory, and other information and tries to respond to it. There is a second brain system- the unconscious- that operates below the surface to deal with this remaining overflow. This is where all the mental shortcuts, cognitive biases, rules of thumb, and blind spots try to help us make sense of things by sifting things down to their essence. What we experience as "reality" is anything but real. It's a mental model, a construct, that works to keep us alive and functioning, and it is one of the most powerful things about humans that makes us the dominant species on earth. It is this mental model that enables us to go to the moon, invent vaccines, and build economies. But the weaknesses in our models also allow such undesirable things as racism, sexism, false memories, and blinding overconfidence that we know more than we actually do. There are many gaps in our models that our brains try their best to fill in with guesses, and that's where the problems start. Mlodinow looks at a variety of psychological studies that show how our subconscious both serves and blinds us, and the real-life examples are very instructive and fascinating. Here is a brief summary of some of his points from studies. - Our memories are faulty and unreliable, especially when it comes to small details. Evolutionarily, our memories are built to get the main idea, or gist, out of our experiences so that we can use that information later on. Details are tossed aside, which is why witness testimonies are notoriously unreliable. - Our subconscious is pre-wired to prefer social groups versus being alone. We rely on non-verbal communication, tone of voice, and facial expressions to read people and build relationships, with much of that activity done below the conscious level. - Good looks matter when judging leaders, touching someone for a split second activates subliminal signals for them to like you, and women are attracted to men that have lower voices. This is all ruled by subliminal systems we don't control consciously. - There is a test called the Implicit Association Test, (IAT), that measures our unconscious associations between things that we claim not to associate. No matter how much we protest that we aren't racist, sexist, or ageist, this test shows that we all are. - We misjudge our feelings and emotions sometimes. Our brain uses physical cues from our body plus social and emotional context to figure out things like sexual attraction or fear. Again, this is all done unconsciously. - In group bias is a persistent, depressing trait of the subconscious. In experiments, people preferred to punish out-groups more often, even if that meant that they themselves would suffer. This is the root of racism and hate throughout the world. We'd rather see those we judge to be beneath us fall further, than to lift everybody up and make things better for all. This us vs them dynamic is manipulated by politicians the world over, even though we don't want to acknowledge it consciously. As humans, we all put on a fake persona to some degree, hoping that the world doesn't figure us out. There's a name for it- imposter syndrome. We secretly doubt ourselves and subconsciously over-estimate our abilities to compensate. The above average effect is a fascinating bias where almost everybody judges themselves to be in the top half or top 10% of just about everything. We have to get up every day to face a somewhat unforgiving world, and we armor ourselves with overconfidence to make it through the day. We can look at the world as scientists, starting with the evidence and going slowly towards a theory, or we can look at the world as lawyers, starting with a verdict and working backwards to twist all the information to a desired conclusion. Most of us act as lawyers, with our subconscious our chief aid in making reality bend to our assumptions. We curate our information intake to align with what we already believe, which works much of the time but can hold us back from important realizations as things change. Sometimes reality is unpleasant and full of bad news, and that can be hard for inner lawyers to deal with, but inner scientists would dive in and test new theories. This book is a nice introduction to the world of subliminal thought, though I wish it would have covered more things like the advertising world referenced above. (Key's book is still the best in that regard.) We need our subconscious to help make sense of the 11 million bits of information hurling at us, or we would die. And we need the false confidence and optimism our subconscious provides us so that we can have the courage to tackle the difficult and challenging things in life. (If we always knew the odds ahead of time, we'd probably give up trying) We just need to stay aware that the subconscious part of our brain is there, and not always accurate. It is this awareness that gives us the power to know when to listen to it, and when to ignore its well-meaning nonsense.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Talenelat

    Damn, I just love Psychology. “Research suggests when it comes to understanding our feelings, we humans have an odd mix of low ability and high confidence.” This book was more enlightening than I anticipated. In Subliminal, Leonard Mlodinow gives you certain facts about the human unconscious, simply put, and written in an interesting way through a clear structure. Each point is well supported with several examples that leave small room for doubt. The examples come from both this century and t Damn, I just love Psychology. “Research suggests when it comes to understanding our feelings, we humans have an odd mix of low ability and high confidence.” This book was more enlightening than I anticipated. In Subliminal, Leonard Mlodinow gives you certain facts about the human unconscious, simply put, and written in an interesting way through a clear structure. Each point is well supported with several examples that leave small room for doubt. The examples come from both this century and the past ones, giving in the process a general view to Psychology in general. It could be argued that the exemplification is over-done, but I think that was the case for me only, as I did not need need as much convincing as others might. Some ideas presented here could be very hard to swallow for some people because by admitting the grasp your unconscious has on you, you give up the belief in your control over yourself, quite the ego-breaking if you ask me. I also liked the author, the way Mlodinow presents information makes it easier to get around. With all the research cited in this book, credibility is at its highest, as far as my knowledge serves me that is. I suggest that you read this, find out more about yourself, have better control over it, live more of your life on your terms. A good sequel to this book would be: how to rule your unconscious mind. Although a better man would deduce that from this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Doug Eymer

    I am sure that there will be lingering effects of this book. Quite honestly, I was determined to get through it and I succeeded. I can put a check mark next to it. (I have allowed my unconscious mind to write this review.)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    Really 2.5/5, but any behavioral econ./neuropsychology/social psychology (I could go on, but you get the gist) book's worth suffers when read right after the work of Kahneman. To be reviewed... Really 2.5/5, but any behavioral econ./neuropsychology/social psychology (I could go on, but you get the gist) book's worth suffers when read right after the work of Kahneman. To be reviewed...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paula Cappa

    Are you curious about the mystery of the unconscious mind? Well, this book is about the ‘new unconscious.’ The book is quite un-Freudian—no more self-reflecting therapy to process our reality. Freud believed that our unconscious was filled with repressed lust and anger, but Leonard Mlodinow says our ‘new unconscious’ is a kinder and more gentle reality, and it’s still evolving. You have to like that, right? There’s lots of information here about the ‘fluency effect,’ that is, the influence that Are you curious about the mystery of the unconscious mind? Well, this book is about the ‘new unconscious.’ The book is quite un-Freudian—no more self-reflecting therapy to process our reality. Freud believed that our unconscious was filled with repressed lust and anger, but Leonard Mlodinow says our ‘new unconscious’ is a kinder and more gentle reality, and it’s still evolving. You have to like that, right? There’s lots of information here about the ‘fluency effect,’ that is, the influence that our unconscious has on our conscious minds. The chapter on the link of social pain (social rejections) and physical pain was fascinating and very convincing. As was the part on unconscious gender bias, political bias, racial bias, etc. The brain makes mistakes. Our thinking is skewed with ‘motivated reasoning,’ even to the point of unconscious vision and processing. You’ll find a lot of reporting of test results, fMRI data analysis, studies, and anecdotes of human and animal sensory experiences. I found this book to be more of a history of the unconscious and the current trends discovered by the newest technology. All very fascinating. But if you are looking for answers as to the mechanism of how or why our ‘unconscious feeds the conscious mind,’ you will not find any definitive answers. Maybe that part is still buried in the unconscious. I liked Carl Jung’s take on all this that our dreams arise from our unconscious instincts and that they do have a purpose. Jung is quoted in the book: ‘These subliminal aspects of everything that happens to us may seem to play very little part in our daily lives. But they are the almost invisible roots of our conscious thoughts.’ Our subliminal worlds remain hidden within ourselves and perhaps that is the beauty of the mystery.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    Reviewed for The Bibliophibian. This book was a bit of a disappointment. It covers basically the same ground as dozens of other books which purport to explain the irrationality of the human brain, including the same experiments discussed with more or less the same conclusions. I’m wary of the way Mlodinow decides that certain anatomical areas of the brain are solely and uncomplicatedly involved in specific emotions. For example, he identifies the “ventromedial pre-frontal cortex” as being all the Reviewed for The Bibliophibian. This book was a bit of a disappointment. It covers basically the same ground as dozens of other books which purport to explain the irrationality of the human brain, including the same experiments discussed with more or less the same conclusions. I’m wary of the way Mlodinow decides that certain anatomical areas of the brain are solely and uncomplicatedly involved in specific emotions. For example, he identifies the “ventromedial pre-frontal cortex” as being all there is to it when it comes to preferring Coke over Pepsi because of the brand-name. This isn’t my area (alas) so I’m not going to say he’s definitively wrong, but I’ve read around enough to be cautious when someone decides that a bit of brain anatomy means x or y universally. It smacks of going for a simple, catchy answer instead of acknowledging the actual complexity of the brain. Anyway, it’s probably a good read if you haven’t read one of the dozens of other books covering the same topic, and in its favour I did find myself snorting in amusement at some of Mlodinow’s commentary. It’s nothing new, though.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Majed

    I don’t usually write long reviews but I was really fascinated by this work. It is also a good overview for those who are new to this genre. I will share some of what I found interesting about this book. The first part of the book covers the rudiments of how our unconscious mind governs our senses and perceptions which in turn translate into decisions. Unlike the general notion that our decisions are based on our conscious perspective, its actually the unconscious, or subliminal, part of the brai I don’t usually write long reviews but I was really fascinated by this work. It is also a good overview for those who are new to this genre. I will share some of what I found interesting about this book. The first part of the book covers the rudiments of how our unconscious mind governs our senses and perceptions which in turn translate into decisions. Unlike the general notion that our decisions are based on our conscious perspective, its actually the unconscious, or subliminal, part of the brain that rules our attitudes and decisions without us being aware of it. The book also goes over the science of sensory perception and how the unconscious mind is actively involved in shaping our memories. On the social level, it is fascinating how we subliminally adjust our nonverbal attitudes towards others depending on the social position hierarchy. This unconscious behavior points to the level of superiority in terms of social level among, not only humans, but other relative primates. This was illustrated by examples of unequivocally nonverbal cues exhibited by facial expressions (eye contacts, smiling) portraying submissiveness toward others or acceptance of superiority for those who are more accomplished on a social basis, all of which happens unconsciously. Another interesting aspect of the subliminal mind is our perceptual biases and propensity to favor those who are similar to us, or as it called in the book “group members”. We tend to treat our fellow group members differently from those outside our group without us being aware of this distinction. In fact, group social identity becomes unconsciously discriminatory even for very minute details. Many of us identify ourselves as being objective when we evaluate a certain phenomenon or ideology, but are we? At times we tend to persuade our conscious mind into believing that our judgment is not based on our personal opinions and that it is solely based on objective reasoning, but in reality this is not the case. The book follows these sort of topics and there a lot of examples of experimental tests carried out by psychologist with surprisingly fascinating results

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katie Fleming

    This book has all the juicy interesting bits of psychology that you've always wanted to know (without paying for a degree so it's worth it fo sure). The first half kinda sets you up with some chapters on how the mind works and the second half focuses on behaviour. Favourite chapters would have to be 'Reading People: how to know who's the boss by watching her eyes' and 'In-groups and Out-groups: the science behind lord of the flies.' Mlodinow describes all the experiments in a way that's easy to This book has all the juicy interesting bits of psychology that you've always wanted to know (without paying for a degree so it's worth it fo sure). The first half kinda sets you up with some chapters on how the mind works and the second half focuses on behaviour. Favourite chapters would have to be 'Reading People: how to know who's the boss by watching her eyes' and 'In-groups and Out-groups: the science behind lord of the flies.' Mlodinow describes all the experiments in a way that's easy to understand while still being interesting and relevant to each chapter, he doesn't bore you with a load of stats etc. A lot of the stuff was familiar to me from college but I'd say it's a great start for anyone looking to dip your toes into psychology without it being a heavy read. Enjoyed it anyway 👍

  28. 5 out of 5

    Misty

    I'm completely fascinated by the human mind and this book does a great job explaining the science and studies that prove how in control our unconscious mind really is. See the top reviews for great point by point reviews of the content. I'm completely fascinated by the human mind and this book does a great job explaining the science and studies that prove how in control our unconscious mind really is. See the top reviews for great point by point reviews of the content.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Linda Branham Greenwell

    This is a great book. I learned a lot - and I loved the examples The book is an easily understandable look at our unconscious mind and the impact it has on our behaviors and who we are The science behind the unconscious is a fascinating topic and this book is loaded with a lot of great research on the topic. I loved his examples of categorical memory and the bear - I will certainly use that example in class to help students understand schema and why our memories are not always accurate :) I also en This is a great book. I learned a lot - and I loved the examples The book is an easily understandable look at our unconscious mind and the impact it has on our behaviors and who we are The science behind the unconscious is a fascinating topic and this book is loaded with a lot of great research on the topic. I loved his examples of categorical memory and the bear - I will certainly use that example in class to help students understand schema and why our memories are not always accurate :) I also enjoyed the parts about how the new fMRI has impacted our understanding of the brain. I try to teach kids this in Psychology lass. If this technology had been invented when I was in grad school, I believe it would have steered me in the direction of neuroscience. Psychologists now have the opportunity to understand so much more about our brains... and our minds If you are interested in our unconscious mind and how great an impact is has on human behavior - you will enjoy this book

  30. 4 out of 5

    Terence

    That crazy old hermit was right: "Your eyes can deceive you. Don't believe them!" That crazy old hermit was right: "Your eyes can deceive you. Don't believe them!"

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