Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently Hardcover – Sep 2 2008
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About the Author
Gregory Berns, MD, PhD, is professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University. He has written for numerous science publications and has been interviewed on National Public Radio, CNN, and ABC's Primetime. He has been profiled frequently in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and other media.
Top Customer Reviews
I was already somewhat familiar with several of the exemplars discussed in this book but not with others. They include Solomon Asch, Warren Buffett, Nolan Bushnell, Dale Chihuly, Ray Croc, Walt Disney, David Dreman, Richard Feynman, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Jr.Read more ›
I admire books that can create a balance between story and fact. Iconoclast is quite well done from that perspective. If your mind is stuck in a rut, you'll get both some solid information and helpful inspiration to help you head off in a fruitful new direction from Iconoclast.
Before saying more, I must comment that this book is incorrectly titled. To me an iconoclast is someone who "attacks widely accepted ideas, beliefs, etc." at least as my dictionary puts it. This book is much more about "thinking differently" in a creative sense than it is about attacking the status quo as a rebel with a different perspective. As a result, those who want to be more iconoclastic may be disappointed in the content. Those who wish to be free of William Blake's "mind-forged manacles" will be pleased, however.
The book's main weakness is that not all of the stories are well chosen for the purpose. In addition, I felt that some didn't match what else I had read about the individuals. As a result, the book felt a little "off" at times . . . as though it was stretching too far to make a point.
The book could also have used more on the subject of how original thinkers can capture the popular imagination and rein in any anti-social attitudes that arise as part of their singular viewpoints.
It's a short book and a quick read. Don't be afraid to read about neuroscience. It's not painful!
His argument is simplistic and circular in its reasoning, and is as follows:
Premise 1: Those who do things that others say can't be done are iconoclasts
Premise 2: The brains of iconoclasts are different from the brains of non-iconoclasts
Premise 3: Only those born with iconoclastic brains can be iconoclasts
Conclusion: Only iconoclasts can do things that others say can't be done.
Berns writes that "It seems obvious that there should be something different in the brains of [iconoclasts], but because these individuals are rare, it is difficult to pin down what these differences might be" (p. 119). The focus for Berns is on brains, not thinking, which is the result of his biological determinism. Furthermore, he provides no evidence in the book that he has ever studied the brain or the thinking processes of a single iconoclast, or ever interviewed one, so there is no scientific, or even anecdotal evidence to support his deterministic viewpoint. To put it bluntly, he's making the whole thing up through deduction from arbitrary premises, supported with weak to non-existent evidence that sorely fails to support his arbitrary assertion that the brains of iconoclasts are different.
Don't bother to read this book. I read it hoping to gain some insight into the minds of those Berns identifies as iconoclasts, people like Walt Disney and Richard Branson, Ray Kroc, and Warren Buffet.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I teach a business course and use this to highlight an important point that people think different...and that is a good thing. Easy read, leaves you wanting, but recommended.Published on Feb. 8 2014 by Grayson M Bass
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