A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives by Cordelia Fine

A Mind of its Own Cordelia Fine

Rating: 4 Stars ★★★★☆

Do you feel that you can trust your own brain?

About

In recent years, we’ve heard a lot about the extraordinary workings of our hundred-billion-celled brain: its amazing capacities to regulate all sensation, perception, thinking, and feeling; the power to shape all experience and define our identity. Indeed, the brain’s power is being confirmed every day in new studies and research. But there is a brain we don’t generally hear about, a brain we might not want to hear about…the “prima donna within.”

Review

Until it fails us in some way, we rarely think about our brain. Except that it doesn’t necessarily have to be broken to deceive us and this is exactly the focus of this book. It takes a look at all the little biases of our brain and how they affect the way we perceive the world.

When we explain to ourselves and others why things have gone well or badly, we prefer explanations that cast us in the best possible light. Thus we are quick to assume that our successes are due to our own sterling qualities, while responsibility for failure can often be conveniently laid at the door of bad luck or damn fool others. This self-serving bias, as it is known, is all to easy to demonstrate in the psychology lab.

With this book, you won’t get a detailed description of the different parts of the brain and how they work. Instead, the focus is purely on the psychological effects and they are fascinating.

The book is narrated clearly and concisely, easy to follow along and understand and peppered with interesting stories and anecdotes.

Each chapter takes a different aspect into consideration, though the author does connect the chapters whenever necessary to form a more complete picture. It talks about how our brain is vain, making us out to be smarter and prettier than we are. It talks about how stereotypes affect the way we see the world, how stubbornness is wired into our brain and how emotion affects us. That and much, much more.

Gender ‘deviants’ are at risk of far worse treatment than merely being rejected as irrelevant. Dor instrance, women who venture outside the acceptably limits set by gender stereotypes invite backlash against themselves. Research suggests that there are very good reasons why a woman can’t ‘be more like a man’. In the psychology laboratory, women who do unusually well on a ‘masculine’ test have been shown to have their chance of winning a prize sabotaged by others.

Conclusion

A fascinating look at the workings of the brain.

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