Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently Hardcover – September 2, 2008
See the Best Books of 2017 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
From Publishers Weekly
Psychiatry professor Berns (Satisfaction: The Science of Finding True Fulfillment) describes an iconoclast as "a person who does something that others say can't be done." Though keeping his promise to reveal the "biological basis" for the ability to think outside the box, Berns keeps technical explanation to a minimum, instead using themes like perception, fear and networking to profile a number of famous free-thinkers. While the ordinary person perceives the world based on his past experience and "what other people say," the iconoclast is both willing and able to risk seeing things differently; in the case of glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, his creative breakthrough (departing from symmetry in his ice-sculptures) came after a car crash blinded him in one eye, literally changing his view of the world. The will to take risks is also paramount; Cardinals baseball coach Branch Rickey and his controversial hire Jackie Robinson, the first black man in the Majors, provide models of imagination and fearlessness. Berns also looks at iconoclasts like Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr., Henry Ford, the Dixie Chicks, Warren Buffett and Picasso, relating in lucid terms the mindsets that set them apart.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This fascinating work lays out where great ideas come from, how our brain often works against us, and what we can do about it to seize the day. --Fast Company, Best Business Books of 2008
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
The overarching theme of this book is that iconoclasts are able to do things others say can’t be done, because iconoclasts perceive things differently than other people. This difference in perception plays out in the initial stages of an idea. It plays out in how they manage their fears, and it manifests in how they pitch their ideas to the masses of noniconoclasts. It is an exceedingly rare individual who possesses all three of these traits. In the following chapters, the stories of iconoclasts provide lessons in how their brains, to varying degrees, implement the three key functions. Each story was chosen to exemplify one of these functions. Roll them all together, and you would have the ultimate iconoclast’s brain.”
~ Gregory Berns Ph.D. from Iconoclast
Wonder what the iconoclast’s brain looks like?
Well, that’s what this book is all about.
Our guide is Gregory Berns, one of the world’s leading pioneers (iconoclasts?) in the field of neuroeconomics. Berns is a professor in the department of Psychiatry and Economics and at the Goizeta Business School at Emory University.
This book is a fascinating look at the three primary facets of the iconoclast’s brain (perception + courage + social skills), brought to life via research studies and biographical sketches of modern iconoclasts.
Here are some of my favorite Big Ideas:
1. Iconoclast Brain - Is different.
2. Step #1 - See the world differently.
3. Your Amygdala - Keep it in check.
4. Stressed? - Swap short-term for chronic.
5. Be a Good Human - = Social intelligence.
Here’s to optimizing our perception, courage and social skills as we use our greatest gifts in greatest service to the world Iconoclast-style!!!
More goodness— including PhilosophersNotes on 300+ books in our *OPTIMIZE* membership program. Find out more at brianjohnson . me.
"The definition of an iconoclast as a person who does something that others say can't be done. This definition implies that iconoclasts are different from other people. Indeed, this is true, but more precisely, the, iconoclast's brain is different." P. 6
Berns must have spoken to my wife before he wrote the following:
"the brain runs on about 40 watts of power ( a light bulb!)." p. 7.
"perception is a process that is learned through experience, which is both a curse and an opportunity for change. P. 8
"To see things differently than other people, the most effective solution is to bombard the brain with things it has never encountered before. Novelty releases the perceptual process from the shackles of past experience and forces the brain to make new judgments." P.8.
After having overcome the sheer terror of Berns speaking to my wife before he wrote the above, I am comforted by what he shares thereafter, including these tidbits:
The problem with novelty, however, is that, for most people, novelty triggers the fear system of the brain. P.8.
Fear is the second major impediment to thinking like an iconoclast and stops the average person dead in his tracks. P. 8.
I thought these two (Berns and my wife) got together to conspire to destroy me. Listen to the following from Berns:the word iconoclast, which means literally "destroyer of icons," p. 10.
My wife says she is just trying to move me out of the ruts and routines I seem to fall into. Along with Berns, I guess they have a point, based upon the following:
"The brain must be provided with something that it has never before processed to force it out of predictable perceptions."p.25
"we can say one thing about the iconoclast's brain, it would be this: it sees differently than other people's brains." P.32
Iconoclasm begins with perception. More specifically, it begins with visual perception, and so the first step to thinking like an iconoclast is to see like one. p. 32
"But epiphanies rarely occur in familiar surroundings. The key to seeing like an iconoclast is to look at things that you have never seen before. It seems almost obvious that breakthroughs in perception do not come I from simply staring at an object and thinking harder about it. Break- throughs come from a perceptual system that is confronted with something that it doesn't know how to interpret. Unfamiliarity forces the rain to discard its usual categories of perception and create new one." P. 33
"Imagination comes from the visual system. Iconoclasm goes hand in hand with imagination. Before one can muster the strength to tear down conventional thinking, one must first imagine the possibility that conventional thinking is wrong. But even this is not enough. The iconoclast goes further and imagines alternative possibilities. P.37
"but creativity seems to become more difficult for many people as they get older." P. 37
"we cannot see that which we don't know to look for. Second, the ability to see these subtle differences depends on experience. And this means that perception can be changed through experience." P. 42
"In order to think creatively, and imagine possibilities that only iconoclasts do, one must break out of the cycle of experience-dependent categorization-or what Mark Twain called "education." For most people, this does not come naturally. Often the harder one tries to think differently, the more rigid the categories become. There is a better way, a path that jolts the brain out of preconceived notions of what it is seeing: bombard the brain with new experiences. Only then will it be forced out of efficiency mode and reconfigure its neural networks." P. 54
"It typically takes a novel stimulus - either a new piece of information or getting out of the environment in which an individual has become comfortable-to jolt attentional systems awake and reconfigure both perception and imagination. The more radical and novel the change, the greater the likelihood of new insights being generated. To think like an iconoclast, you need novel experiences." P. 57-58.
OK...OK...I need to change --- I get that. My wife is HUGE on getting me involved in new experiences (painting the house, taking the garbage out, changing up what I read, and inviting me to new and fascinating social engagements(???). CLEARLY, she has conspired with Berns about this as well. Listen to what he writes:
"Categories are death to imagination. So the solution is to seek out environments in which you have no experience." P. 58
"The critical fears that inhibit people from sharing their ideas: the fear of being rejected. At its core, this fear has its origin in social pressure, which is one of the most common of human phobias." Pp.77-78
Individuals who tended toward social reticence felt comfortable pitching half -baked ideas." P. 78.
The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea. - Martin Luther King Jr. p.83.
"We know what we see, and we know right from wrong, but with enough social pressure, we cave in to the fear of standing alone. --- If we grant that we are all a bit reticent at times to stand up for our personal opinions, this leaves the door open to act as individuals when we choose. It is a noble grasp for free will. But-and this is the kicker-we must be brave enough. This was Asch's point. Even in a neutral laboratory setting, most people are not that brave." P. 92
"Groups are, indeed, superior to individuals, but only when they are diverse and individuals act as individuals. Statistically, most people in a group will lie along a spectrum of opinions, but because of the social pressure to belong, these opinions contract to the social norm. The availability of a minority position breaks the stranglehold of conformity, and groups that allow for minority opinions are statistically more likely to make better decisions than groups that require unanimity." P.103.
It an institutional level, the implications are clear: committees should not be required to arrive at a unanimous decision. Dissension must be encouraged." Pp.104-104
"The most effective way for a group to make a decision is by aggregating the opinions of independent individuals. Lt also follows that a group with a lot of diversity among its members is more likely to arrive at a good decision than a group that is composed of members who are alike." P.104.
"The human brain comes to like that with which it is familiar. And it is this sort of familiarity that the successful iconoclast must strive for. Rightly or wrongly, people put their money into things that they are familiar with." P. 141.
Yes, I have been referred to as "soft-minded and lazy" by family members.They have been attempting to rewire me since birth. Oncegain, Berns and my wife have been conspiring here. Listen to Berns:
"The brain is lazy. It changes only when it has to. And the conditions that consistently force the brain to rewire itself are when it confronts something novel. Novelty equals learning, and learning means physical rewiring of the brain." P. 199.
Berns is a boundary buster...he is on the frontier of breakthroughs in how we think and ways in which we might become more (much more) than we believe we are capable of becoming.