Synopses & Reviews
Are we "noble in reason"? Perfect, in God's image? Far from it, says New York University psychologist Gary Marcus. In this lucid and revealing book, Marcus argues that the mind is not an elegantly designed organ but a "kluge," a clumsy, cobbled-together contraption. He unveils a fundamentally new way of looking at the human mind—think duct tape, not supercomputer—that sheds light on some of the most mysterious aspects of human nature.
Taking us on a tour of the fundamental areas of human experience—memory, belief, decision making, language, and happiness—Marcus reveals the myriad ways our minds fall short. He examines why people often vote against their own interests, why money can't buy happiness, why leaders often stick to bad decisions, and why a sentence like "people people left left" ties us into knots even though it's only four words long. He also offers surprisingly effective ways to outwit our inner kluge—for example, always consider alternative explanations, make contingency plans, and beware the vivid, personal anecdote. Throughout, he shows how only evolution—haphazard and undirected—could have produced the minds we humans have, while making a brilliant case for the power and usefulness of imperfection.
"Evolution seems a rushed process in which traits and attributes of humanity have been pieced together to make a functioning but far from perfect or rational being. Marcus explores the ways in which the human mind, while magnificent in its overall ability, still stumbles on several points. Focusing on areas such as memory, decision making and language, Marcus keenly identifies the makeshift devices humans have created in order to contend with what he describes as 'evolutionary inertia.' Stephen Hoye traverses the complicated aspects of the book with ease, his melodious voice providing just the right emphasis for listeners to understand Marcus's major points. Yet his delivery misses some of the more humorous elements of the book. And Hoye's lingering voice, which seems to trail off after the end of a sentence, may be good for poetry, but can wear on the nonfiction listener. A Houghton Mifflin hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 11)." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
How the accidents of evolution created our quirky, imperfect minds—and what we can do about it.
About the Author
Gary Marcus is a professor of psychology at New York University and the author of the Norton Psychology Reader.Stephen Hoye has won more than a dozen AudioFile Earphones Awards and two prestigious APA Audie Awards, including one for Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki. He has recorded many other notable titles, such as Every Second Counts by Lance Armstrong and The Google Story by David A. Vise and Mark Malseed.