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Gary Marcus

Kluge

The mind is the pinnacle of billions of years of evolution - well you could say that. However, in Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind Gary Marcus points out that it is still fae from perfect.

The book starts off by looking at memory - you would think that keeping an accurate record of events should be a simple task, but it seems to be beyond the capabilities of our minds. Marcus goes on to consider belief - why are so prone to accept some things without much evidence? He then looks at the way we respond to choice. We usually want the widest possible choice, but are often happier when choices are made by someone else. The chapter on pleasure argues that our predictions of how happy (or unhappy) an choice might make us are often wide of the mark, and we are too keen to give in to temptation and regret it later. There are chapters on language - hardly the most logical way of communicating it seems, and on how the deficiencies in the structure of our minds can lead to mental illness.

I had thought that the book might have more about the evolution of the mind, or about the structure of the brain, but if that's what your looking for then you won't find much in this book. Indeed, I felt that the book follows the same line as quite a number of other recent books. However, it's an enjoyable read, and contains some useful advice on how to compensate for the shortcomings of your mind, so you might like to give it a try.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 224 pages  
ISBN: 0618879641
Salesrank: 208780
Weight:0.7 lbs
Published: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Co
Marketplace:New from $8.77:Used from $2.49
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 224 pages  
ISBN: 0571236510
Salesrank: 1701264
Weight:0.75 lbs
Published: 2008 Faber & Faber
Amazon price £15.99
Marketplace:New from £0.01:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 224 pages  
ISBN: 0618879641
Salesrank: 748214
Weight:0.7 lbs
Published: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 17.58:Used from CDN$ 0.01
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Product Description
Are we noble in reason? Perfect, in God's image? Far from it, says New York University psychologist Gary Marcus. In this lucid and revealing book, Marcus argues that the mind is not an elegantly designed organ but rather a "kluge," a clumsy, cobbled-together contraption. He unveils a fundamentally new way of looking at the human mind -- think duct tape, not supercomputer -- that sheds light on some of the most mysterious aspects of human nature.

Taking us on a tour of the fundamental areas of human experience -- memory, belief, decision-making, language, and happiness -- Marcus reveals the myriad ways our minds fall short. He examines why people often vote against their own interests, why money can't buy happiness, why leaders often stick to bad decisions, and why a sentence like "people people left left" ties us in knots even though it's only four words long.

Marcus also offers surprisingly effective ways to outwit our inner kluge, for the betterment of ourselves and society. Throughout, he shows how only evolution -- haphazard and undirected -- could have produced the minds we humans have, while making a brilliant case for the power and usefulness of imperfection.