Book Review: Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow

Book 5 for my #50BooksIn2016 challenge. Find out more about the challenge here.

Subliminal - Copy

Subliminal is a fascinating look at the dual layers of the brain – the conscious and the subconscious – and how everything in our lives is impacted by subconscious processing we aren’t even aware of.

Numerous scientific studies are described and discussed on how this subliminal processing goes on. One of the more interesting things that was found in many of these studies is how often people believed they were behaving or making choices based on one thing, but the researchers could prove the decisions were really based on something else.

A few of big things for me were:

1) The way people group themselves and how much it impacts decision making. Even when the grouping was completely random, and the people in the group together had nothing in common and no real reason to be grouped, they had a significant preference over the people in their group to those in other groups. Significant. Takeaway: You want to be in everyone’s group in some way. Find the commonalities and focus on them.

2) Categorization of things and people (read: stereotyping) can be minimized by maximizing contact with those in the “categories” and realizing how different they all are. Takeaway: go lots of places and meet lots of people – experience the world.

3) People are just as likely – if not more likely – to believe something is true and seek evidence to prove it than they are to rationally and logically seek evidence to prove something. We find reasons to justify that the horse we bet on is the fastest, just because we bet on it. We find evidence of what good drivers we are because we believe we are good drivers. Takeaway: If you believe that you are an exceptional, successful, happy person, you will start to find (and create) the evidence to prove that it is true.

Mlodinow takes some very heady scientific topics and research and makes them easy to understand and enjoyable. It was a great read and I highly recommend it.

 

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