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This book is a little hard to review for several reasons. First, it's a pretty good book, which is why I gave it four stars. But it's really about how the mind works rather than the brain. I know it's generally one and the same thing, but this book is about cognitive (thinking) psychology rather than neuro (brain) psychology. It's about thinking rather than neurons and neurotransmitters. So that's my first quibble with it. The next one is it's biggest weakness that also happens to be its greatest strength. The book is very broad in its coverage of "thought", ranging from economic decisions, to memory, to biases, to perception, to socialization. The overall theme is that our brain doesn't always operate the way we think it does and our unconscious mind controls/influences much more of our behavior than we tend to admit (or even know). In this regard, it's part of a whole slew of psychology books that delve into the surprising, often counter-intuitive ways that our minds work.

DiSalvo pitches the book at a general audience, making this an excellent introduction to a wide range of important topics about the mind. Each topic presents a scientific study to back it up, and many also include a fictional example of how it would work in real life. In this regard, it's a five-star book. The downside is that the topics jump almost randomly at times, with little overall coherent narrative. Furthermore, citing only a single study (sometimes two) leaves one unsure of just how proven each idea is. Is there controversy over any of the ideas he presents? How many other scientists agree with the evidence he presents? Ironically in a book that often preaches skepticism, DiSalvo asks that you rely on his reading of the literature as the truth. To be fair, the end of the book has about 15 pages devoted to related books and web pages one can read on the various topics (which is a nice addition). But this doesn't replace the more rigorous scientific references one would expect from a more serious book. In that regards, this is a three-star book at best.

Overall then, I'm giving this book four stars. It's good, it's easy to read, and there's lots of interesting pieces of evidence along with some suggestions about how to get around some of the mind/brain's bad default thoughts/actions. For those who read a lot in this area, there's not likely to be a whole lot new in this book. But as a general introduction to how we think and why that "how" can sometimes cause us problems, this is an excellent book. So with those thoughts and caveats in mind, I think I can recommend this book as a fun guide to a fascinating topic- ourselves and how we think.
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on February 14, 2014
I purchase a second one for my daughter, as it would be very beneficial to any body who has been ripped off and didn't like it and couldn't figure out how they we so gullible. This book explains how.
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on January 29, 2017
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