Washington Post science journalist Vedantam theorizes that there's a hidden world in our heads filled with unconscious biases, often small, hidden errors in thinking that manipulate our attitudes and actions without our knowing it. Autonomy is a myth, he says, because knowledge and rational intention are not responsible for our choices. This thesis is not news— since Freud, psychologists have taken the unconscious into account—but Vedanta argues that if we are influenced sometimes, then why not all the time, whether we're launching a romance or a genocide. This is a frightening leap in logic. In anecdotal, journalistic prose, we learn that, through bias, rape victims can misidentify their attacker; people are more honest even with just a subtle indication that they are being watched; polite behavior has to do with the frontotemporal lobes rather than with how one was raised; and that we can be unconsciously racist and sexist. Though drawing on the latest psychological research, Vedantam's conclusions are either trite or unconvincing. (Jan. 19)
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A Washington Post science writer, Vedantam explores the findings of social psychologists about unconscious bias. Recounting people’s stories, he grips attention immediately. Introducing a rape victim whose mistake in identifying her assailant was revealed by DNA evidence that exonerated him, Vedantam establishes his theme of how people get things wrong (in the crime-and-punishment category, he adds death-penalty cases involving possible misidentification) or behave seemingly irrationally. After each individual story, the author repairs to relevant psychological studies. To Vedantam, the studies reveal that subtle biases unconsciously coexist alongside people’s conscious convictions that they are free of prejudice. He cites examples such as Senator George Allen, whose racial remark ended his career; the electorate’s perception of candidate Barack Obama; and the sexual discrimination case of Lilly Ledbetter. Branching into other arenas, such as crowd behavior during crisis situations and the minds of suicide bombers, Vedantam highlights a mental battle of which, he wants his readers to learn, they are largely unaware. This work has strong appeal for the psychology audience. --Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Editorial Reviews
If you are interested in this subject you'll find excellent sight and science to back it up.Published 13 days ago by Lois
I couldn't put this book down. What a great look at how unconscious biases dictate so many of our feelings and actions. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Eddie Walker
invaluable for comprehending how we must approach ourselves, our children, our educational systems and even our political process - we mostly operate by multiple layers of habits... Read morePublished 3 months ago by G Rice
Excellent -- forces me to take a hard look at my unexamined beliefs. My guess is that the reviewers who didn't like the book don't want to question their own.Published 5 months ago by Inquiring Mind
If you read a lot of books in this genre, then this is likely to be a retread of older studies for you. If not, then you might enjoy it. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Addict
I fully admit up front that I have not read the ENTIRE book. I have only read parts of the book that the "Read Inside" option allowed. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Lance
If you are interested in how our brains work, but you aren't a brain surgeon (!), this is a really good read. Shankar Vedantam explains things in regular everyday language. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Shopper
As a psychotherapist I was interested in the author's thesis of bias. Sadly the book was so politically bias as to be shoddy at best and immature at worst. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Stuart
The hidden brain is a brilliant piece of writing presenting data and statistics in a convenient and seamless narrative form. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Jordan L.