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Gary Marcus


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.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews