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184 of 199 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book!!, April 28, 2012
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This review is from: Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior (Hardcover)
Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow

"Subliminal" is the provocative and fascinating look at the unconscious part of our minds. One of my favorite authors and physicists, Leonard Mlodinow, takes the readers on a journey into the science of the unconscious. What a fun and enlightening book this was. Mlodinow is the master of making the difficult accessible and fun for the masses. How are mind works is one of the most interesting subjects and I was thrilled to see that the coauthor of both the Grand Design and the equally interesting book War of the Worldviews makes his latest venture into this intriguing science. This excellent 272-page book is composed of the following ten chapters: 1. The New Unconscious, 2. Senses Plus Mind Equals Reality, 3. Remembering and Forgetting, 4. The Importance of Being Social, 5. Reading People, 6. Judging People by Their Covers, 7. Sorting People and Things, 8. In-Groups and Out-Groups, 9. Feelings, and 10. Self.

Positives:
1. A fascinating topic (science of the unconscious) in the hands of a master.
2. Elegant, conversational tone that makes this book a treat to read.
3. Mlodinow consistently produces great books and this one lived up to my expectations.
4. As accessible a book as you will find. A difficult topic made easy and fun to read.
5. The book is loaded with great and I mean great examples to help the reader grasp the latest in the science. One of the books strengths.
6. Great use of science history.
7. The pioneers of the science of the unconscious.
8. Great use the latest scientific research in this fascinating topic to support well-stated positions.
9. You will end up with a better grasp at how our brains work.
10. A good use of illustrations.
11. Great quotes and factoids abound, "The truth is that our unconscious minds are active, purposeful, and independent."
12. Evolution...why our brains evolved to be what they are.
13. A truly exceptional study that mirrors the subjects' sexual preferences.
14. What modern neuroscience tells us about our brains and how we perceive the world.
15. How our memory system works. Who does it change over time? Find out.
16. Social interactions and the subliminal. Theory of mind. The three regions of the brain and the three basic types of nonverbal communication.
17. An interesting look at stereotyping.
18. Popular misconceptions analyzed.
19. What do we know about our feelings our emotions? Find out.
20. The ways to the truth...our worldviews.
21. How our brain creates unconscious biases.
22. Is unrealistic optimism good for you?
23. Great links.

Negatives:
1. Notes are great but a formal bibliography never hurts.
2. Nothing about supernatural beliefs and why they are so prevalent.
3. Having to get multiple copies to share.

In summary, I loved this book. It was an intellectual treat. The science of the unconscious is a fascinating topic and this book was loaded with a lot of great research. Mlodinow is a great author who is able to tackle complex topics and make it fun and interesting to read. If you want to learn about the science of the unconscious, make a conscious decision to get this one, I highly recommend it!!

Further suggestions: "The Grand Design" and "War of the Worldviews: Science Vs. Spirituality" coauthored by this same author were excellent, "Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time" and "The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths" by Michael Shermer, "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature" by Steven Pinker, Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals about Morality" by Laurence Tancredi, "Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain" Michael S. Gazzaniga, "The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life" by Jesse Bering, "50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True" by Guy P. Harrison, "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts" by Carol Tavris. For the record, I have reviewed all the aforementioned books, enjoy.
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Comments

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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 30, 2012 2:43:14 PM PDT
loved this review! loved not only the content but how you approached it! thank you!

In reply to an earlier post on May 2, 2012 3:40:08 PM PDT
Book Shark says:
Thanks Mr. Steiner your comment is appreciated.

Posted on May 6, 2012 2:25:29 AM PDT
G. Andrews says:
Thank you for providing additional suggestions on the topic for further review.

In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2012 6:03:54 PM PDT
Book Shark says:
You are welcome Andrew. To suggest my favorites: I absolutely loved The Believing Brain..." by Michael Shermer and "Who's In Charge?" by Michael Gazzaniga...for a more fun book, "50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True" by my friend Guy P. Harrison is excellent.

Posted on May 8, 2012 9:39:27 AM PDT
It's wonderful to see such a thoughtful and thorough review! And thank you for providing additional related resources...that is very helpful.

In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2012 6:28:36 PM PDT
Book Shark says:
Thank you so kindly Ms. Newton.

Posted on Jul 14, 2012 3:52:05 AM PDT
In my opinion this is a very good review of the book I very well may purchase, and I also very much appreciate all the additional sources toward the end of the review. Thank You.

Posted on Jul 22, 2012 5:16:34 PM PDT
NYNM says:
I am a PhD psychology professor who has many disagreements with this book. It has cherry-picked studies without a consistent position or a critical examination of the research it cites. Psychologists have acknowledged the "uncs" since Freud, and even if you reject Freud, this has been a topic in, for example, cognitive psychology, narrative psychology, contextual psychology, developmental psychology, and much more, since the 1960's. M. misreads much on personality theory and constrains psychology so that his ideas sound "new" when they are not.
As you know. M. is a physicist and he takes an unquestioned view of neuroscience. Many people (behavioral economists for example) grab on to psychological research without a critical view and make wildly exaggerated interpretations.
I think M is good for entertainment value but I would not take him as a serious psychologist or neuroscientist.

Posted on Aug 2, 2012 3:34:48 PM PDT
Wonderful review giving concise reasons why the reviewer thought the book was great. Also mentions negatives though they are few. I will keep this review on file as a model to follow if I wish to submit my own reviews of any book.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2012 12:26:01 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 18, 2012 12:27:19 PM PST
hr says:
This is my biggest point of criticism as well. I thought the examples were interesting and converged to several key points but those points went unchallenged by the author and rarely, if ever, was there an alternative consideration. As well, the explanations behind our subconscious selves were in regrettable short supply, as I think this is a topic better explored by an evolutionary psychologist who can test his own theories. One such book comes to mind, in fact: Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite by Robert Kurzban. After finishing Subliminal it would be worthwhile to read Kurzban's book, not only because it tackles the subject in a more satisfactory manner, but also because it is the perfect continuation of the last chapter which deals with the self, more specifically "motivated reasoning" although Kurzban uses slightly different language but more in depth insights. I'm not necessarily dismissing Subliminal, though; it's a perfect "intro" book for laypeople who lack the patience or time to read books that take harder examinations.
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