The Hidden Brain - A Book Review
The Hidden Brain by Shankar Vedantam, Published by Scribe, ISBN: 9781921640247, Paperback, RPP: $35.00
This was a very interesting read. I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but when I usually do it's a biography or a Popular Science book like this one. I have always had a fascination with psychology and sociology and so when I saw this book in the shop I figured it was right up my alley.
What B.o.B says -
'The Hidden Brain' is Shankar Vedantam's shorthand for a host of brain functions, emotional responses, and cognitive processes that have a decisive effect on how we behave. The hidden brain has its finger ont he scale when we make all of our most complex and important decisions - it decides whom we fall in love with, whether we should convict someone of murder, or which way to run when someone yells 'fire!'. It explains why we can become riveted by the story of a single puppy adrift on an ocean but are quickly bored by a story of genocide. The hidden brain can also be deliberately manipulated to vote against its interest, or even to become a suicide terrorist. But the most disturbing thing is that it does all of this without our knowing.
Vedantam writes in a really easy to read style, which is essential for this kind of book. I found the research that he presented was easily understandable and a lot of times made sense. At first I was a bit put off by some of the emphasis the author made when first introducing the topic, but that might have just been me as I got over it pretty quick once the book became more balanced.
There are some shocking findings in some of the research in relation to race bias, something which I would never have thought in a million years and it was very eye-opening.
His case study on a Company who occupied two floors of the second Twin Tower, which was a target of the September 11 attacks, looking at why half the people of one company died, while the other half, who were just one floor below (both floors were above where the plane hit), survived, is as fascinating as it is heart-breaking. It looks at the reactions of the people to the first Tower being struck, not knowing at the time it was a terrorist attack, and how the different actions of indiviuals influenced the group as a whole.
If you enjoyed something like Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, or books by Allan & Barbara Pease (Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps) then you should enjoy this.