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Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior [Hardcover]

Leonard Mlodinow
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 24 2012
Leonard Mlodinow, the best-selling author of The Drunkard’s Walk and coauthor of The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking), gives us a startling and eye-opening examination of how the unconscious mind shapes our experience of the world and how, for instance, we often misperceive our relationships with family, friends, and business associates, misunderstand the reasons for our investment decisions, and misremember important events.

Your preference in politicians, the amount you tip your waiter—all judgments and perceptions reflect the workings of our mind on two levels: the conscious, of which we are aware, and the unconscious, which is hidden from us. The latter has long been the subject of speculation, but over the past two decades researchers have developed remarkable new tools for probing the hidden, or subliminal, workings of the mind. The result of this explosion of research is a new science of the unconscious and a sea change in our understanding of how the subliminal mind affects the way we live.

Employing his trademark wit and lucid, accessible explanations of the most obscure scientific subjects, Leonard Mlodinow takes us on a tour of this research, unraveling the complexities of the subliminal self and increasing our understanding of how the human mind works and how we interact with friends, strangers, spouses, and coworkers. In the process he changes our view of ourselves and the world around us.

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Review

“Clever, engaging. . . . A popular-science beach book, the sort of tome from which cocktail party anecdotes can be mined by the dozen. . . . Subliminal makes its main point well and concisely.”
The Oregonian

“An assault against the idea that we control our decisions and our beliefs in the way that we think we do . . . A useful addition to the growing body of work arguing convincingly against the idea of the rational human brain.”
The Daily Beast
 
“Mlodinow, a theoretical physicist who has been developing a nice sideline in popular science writing, shows how the idea of the unconscious has become respectable again . . . Fascinating.”
The Economist

“This very enlightening book explores the two sides of our mental lives, with a focus on the subconscious or subliminal element. Drawing on clinical research conducted over a period of several decades and containing a number of rather startling revelations . . . the book appeals to readers with an interest in the workings of the human mind.” 
Booklist 

“One of the ten books to watch out for in 2012 . . . Physicist, science writer and Hollywood screenwriter Leonard Mlodinow is out to explore how important the unconscious is in shaping the way we process the world.”
—NewScientist.com
 
“Mlodinow never fails to make science both accessible and entertaining.”
—Stephen Hawking, author of A Brief History of Time
 
“Think you know the whys and hows of your choices? Follow Mlodinow on a gorgeous journey that will make you think again.”
—David Eagleman, author of Incognito
 
“With the same deft touch he showed in The Drunkard’s Walk, Mlodinow probes the subtle, automatic, and often unnoticed influences on our behavior.”
—Daniel J. Simons, professor of psychology, University of Illinois, and coauthor of The Invisible Gorilla
 
“If you liked The Drunkard’s Walk, you’ll love Subliminal. This engaging and insightful book not only makes neuroscience understandable, it also makes it fascinating. You will look at yourself (and those around you) in a new way.”
—Joseph T. Hallinan, author of Why We Make Mistakes
 
“A must-read book that is both provocative and hugely entertaining. Mlodinow provides many eye-opening insights into the ways we act in business, finance, politics, and our personal lives.”
—Jerry A. Webman, chief economist, OppenheimerFunds, Inc., and author of MoneyShift
 
“A highly readable, funny, and thought-provoking travelogue by Mlodinow, a trusted traveler in this treacherous region, who leads us on a tour of the little-known country that is our unconscious mind.”
—Christof Koch, professor of cognitive and behavioral biology, California Institute of Technology

About the Author

Leonard Mlodinow received his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of California, Berkeley, was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute, and now teaches at the California Institute of Technology. His previous books include three New York Times best sellers: War of the Worldviews (with Deepak Chopra), The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking), and The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives (also a New York Times Notable Book), as well as Feynman’s Rainbow and Euclid’s Window. He also wrote for the television series MacGyver and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
 
www.its.caltech.edu/~len


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
By Robert Morris HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Some of the best introductions to a work of non-fiction such as Subliminal are found when an author is sharing final thoughts. That is why I always read the epilogue or final chapter first. Here is what Leonard Mlodinow has to say when concluding his brilliant book:

"We choose the facts that we want to believe. We also choose our friends, lovers, and spouses not just because of the way we perceive them but because of the way they perceive us. Unlike phenomena in physics, in life, events can often obey one theory or another, and what actually happens can depend largely upon which theory we choose to believe. It is a gift of the mind to be extraordinarily open to accepting theory of ourselves that pushes us in the direction of survival, and even happiness. And so my parents did not sleep that night, while my father taught my mother to sew."

The details of that scene are best reveled within the narrative, in context, and have significance only if you have thought about all that Mlodinow has previously shared. I remain unconvinced that my subconscious mind rules my behavior or that it rules Mlodinow's but I realized decades ago that the subconscious was -- and remains -- one of the most powerful and yet least understood forces in neuroscience. Only recently has it been possible to quantify at least some of its influence on decision-making, for example. The Latin root of the word "subliminal" translates to "below threshold," suggests that there were a few curious souls who sensed, at least, that there was something other than reason involved with choices.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous insights June 28 2013
By yvonne
Format:Hardcover
Subliminal is an exquisite study on human behavior- every why and how of what we do. I couldn't put it down!
Great job of bringing attention to such an important subject and really well researched. This book is a classic!
Yvonne Oswald,PhD, - Best selling author of "Every Word has Power"
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By Oliver TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Most of what happens in the human brain is below the level of consciousness. We don't think about how to walk, or how to type or even how to drive home from work. These things all happen automatically, unless we happen to focus our attention on them. And it has to be that way. Imagine if you have to focus your attention on each step of each task. But the subconscious mind is far more important than a servant that manages menial tasks. It also plays an important role in decisions that we think of as conscious and thoughtful. This well-written book provides an excellent guide to how our subconscious minds work, and how important they are in every day life. Everyone can and should benefit from reading books like this.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Leonard Mlodinov, who with Stephen Hawking revealed us the mysteries of the universe in "The Grand Design", is now leading us with this fascinating book into the maze of our mind.
Scientifically sound and yet written in a very simple, understandable way, the book reads like an exciting story. The theoretical explanations are illustrated by many practical examples. Through the new discoveries of neurology, the author explains the astonishing functioning of our conscious and unconscious mind, where the first is highly influenced by the other. We come to know the reasons for our social and emotional behaviour, most of which originates at a subliminal level. This journey into the mysteries of our mind is as fascinating and full of appalling discoveries as the one into the universe of the stars.
It is a highly recommendable reading for those who want to understand what is behind the way we live, we think, we behave, we judge.
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