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A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives Paperback – June 17, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"'Fine sets out to demonstrate that the human brain is vainglorious and stubborn. She succeeds brilliantly.' Mail on Sunday 'In breezy demotic, Fine offers an entertaining tour of current thinking' Telegraph 'This is one of the most interesting and amusing accounts of how we think we think - I think.' Alexander McCall Smith 'A fascinating, funny, disconcerting and lucid book... by the end you'll realise that your brain can (and does) run rings around you.' Helen Dunmore 'Consistently well-written and meticulously researched' Alain de Botton The Sunday Times 'Fine, a cognitive neuroscientist with a sharp sense of humour and an intelligent sense of reality, slaps an Asbo on the hundred billion grey cells that - literally - have shifty, ruthless, self-serving minds of their own.' The Times 'Clear, accessible writing makes her a science writer to watch' Metro 'Fine wears her learning lightly, blending facts with humorous observations. The result is a fascinating insight into how our minds work.' Psychologies 'A witty survey of psychology experiments demonstrating the depths of our suggestibility, the irrationality of our reasoning and the limits of free will.' Focus" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Cordelia Fine, the author of A Mind of Its Own and Delusions of Gender, is a research associate at the Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics at Macquarie University and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Department of Psychology. She lives in Victoria, Australia.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (June 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393331636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393331639
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #723,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Nowack on September 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
Cordelia Fine's book, A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives, showcases an aspect of the brain many scientists and researchers don't talk about: how your brain manipulates stimuli to your favor. Through the summations of hundreds of research studies, Fine portrays the brain as a manipulative force which protects us from the environment. Our brains, Fine concludes, are egotistic. We are always right, always attractive, and always considerate and never biased or with faults - even when faced with evidence of the contrary. I read this book for my undergraduate neuroscience course, and was overall satisfied with the information presented.

Fine presents information through a series of analogies of research studies to her personal life, which may leave the reader, as it left me, disinterested. While informative, the style of writing and tone of the book edges of gossipy in nature, and does not represent the seriousness or complexity of the material it describes. The tone of the book therefore becomes too casual and distracting at times; this weighed heavily into my rating of this book. When Fine sticks to describing research studies, her tone may be helpful to those not versed in the field. Complex research studies are boiled down to their essence, describing only the important set up scenarios and final outcomes. Then, Fine curtly states what this means. This honestly, is likely good for most readers as many difficult subjects are explained sensibly and understandably. For those wishing a deeper understanding, namely WHY, not just "this happens as shown in this study", this book falls short.

The book is broken down into 8 chapters, each similar in structure.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Atheen on July 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book. The author has a magic formula for capturing and keeping the attention of her readers despite the sometimes heavy stuff she's unloading on them. She combines a delightful sense of humor, an often self-effacing personal candor, and a thorough knowledge of her field to create a lucid demonstration of what we know and think we know about our own minds.

While most of the information has been presented in other earlier works, Dr. Fine does a splendid job of making our motives and behaviors much more transparent than many of them do--though my all time favorite is still Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, Third Edition.

I found some of the more sobering information a little depressing. While the author makes her discussion of these areas, many of them dealing with racism and sexism, upbeat, I can't help but feel that changing anything in a positive way will be a very up-hill proposition. The most hopeful of her observations is that while we may continue to be both unconscious racists or sexists, at least by arming ourselves with this knowledge, we can start to make changes in our behavior and in our society; fore warned is fore armed, as it's said.

This probably is a very good starting point for anyone interested in the topic of mind and how it works. The author does not give a great amount of neurological or biochemical information on the underpinnings of the nervous system, as "Zebras" does, nor does she go extensively into the neuropathology that has given science so many insights into the workings of the human mind, as do Sachs,
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kate Oszko on August 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
The subtitle of this book is "How your brain distorts and deceives".

This is a readable and interesting book about the way our brains access and interpret information. The chapters are titled "The Vain Brain", "The Emotional Brain", "The Deluded Brain", "The Pigheaded Brain", and "The Bigoted Brain".

The author gives lots of examples and explains the results of experiments to show how our brains work. In effect, our brains work the way they do to protect us, keep us healthy, make us more efficient and make us fully human. For example, in "The Emotional Brain", the author talks about how we often depersonalise a situation which is very traumatic; that is, we take the emotion out of it so we can survive the event. This is fine if we do it now and then. However, there are people who have a psychiatric condition called depersonalisation disorder who are always in the depersonalised state, and for them it is as though they are not alive at all.

It is not a heavy book to read and there are plenty of funny anecdotes and passages. Still, there is a lot of information and new insights into how we tick.

There is an abundance of footnotes and an index, which is a great idea because you will probably want to read and re-read the book (there is a lot to take in).

The author, Cordelia Fine, has studied Experimental Psychology, has an M.Phil in Criminology and a Ph.D in Psychology. She is currently a Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne.
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