The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life

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You’re a pretty good person, right? Well, maybe. This book digs lots deeper into the human psyche than most of us really have ever wanted to go, searching out hidden motivations behind our actions and even our beliefs. It’s not to say the reasons we tell ourselves we do things are not true–for example, that your general love of humanity drives your altruism or that your buying of that new piece of jewelry is because you just love the way it looks. It is just to say that they are rarely, if ever, the only reasons. The root causes of our actions, if we are perfectly honest, show us to be less endearing than we’d like to believe.

This is an intriguing book, very interesting and meant to be a little (or a lot) discomforting. Our brains are made for keeping us in the dark about ourselves. But numerous studies show that what we do is not at all consistent with why we say we do it. It is really fascinating, and well worth the read, although you will probably find by the end you are a lot more cynical, both about others and yourself, than you were when you went in.


Reviewed By:

Author Kevin Simler, Robin Hanson
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 416 pages
Publisher Oxford University Press
Publish Date 2018-Jan-02
ISBN 9780190495992
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2018
Category Science & Nature
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