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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What lies beneath - the tip of the iceberg!
As others have commented, this offers nothing new regarding the workings of the human mind and features no cutting edge research. But what it does offer is a well written, engaging, instructive and reasonably comprehensive review of where we are now in terms of understanding the degree to which our actions, feelings and thoughts are influenced beyond our conscious...
Published 20 months ago by still searching

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Primer
For those exploring for the first time the intricacies of our conscious and un-conscious selves this will undoubtedly be an exciting book, as a number of other reviews testify. Mlodinow writes clearly and with a lightness of touch that manages to get some pretty profound concepts across in an interesting and intriguing way.

There are of course a number of...
Published on 22 Nov. 2012 by Zipster Zeus


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What lies beneath - the tip of the iceberg!, 22 May 2013
By 
still searching (MK UK) - See all my reviews
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As others have commented, this offers nothing new regarding the workings of the human mind and features no cutting edge research. But what it does offer is a well written, engaging, instructive and reasonably comprehensive review of where we are now in terms of understanding the degree to which our actions, feelings and thoughts are influenced beyond our conscious awareness.

Most people, I imagine, are familiar with the idea that our conscious awareness uses only a relatively small amount of our brain's processing power: the majority is taken up by our unconscious, which busies itself with the myriad affairs and processes necessary to keep us up and running while our conscious mind struggles to cope with the 7+/-2 bits of sensory data that supposedly represents the limits of its capacity. However, while this faithful slave is relieving us of the burden of having to remember to breathe, filter our blood, maintain our core body temperature and so on as well as filtering out the million bits of sensory stimuli with which we are bombarded every second, it is also picking up little tidbits of information that we do, unwittingly, make use of in our dealings with the world and one another and which influence our behaviour in very surprising ways and, to a large extent, make us the people we are.

For anyone interested in the field of human behaviour, or anyone else who is simply curious to learn what might make them tick, this will be an entertaining and informative read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful and Enlightening Guide into How Our Minds Work, 10 Jun. 2013
By 
Oliver (Los Angeles) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior (Paperback)
Most of what happens in the human brain is below the level of consciousness. We don't think about how to walk, or how to type or even how to drive home from work. These things all happen automatically, unless we happen to focus our attention on them. And it has to be that way. Imagine if you have to focus your attention on each step of each task. But the subconscious mind is far more important than a servant that manages menial tasks. It also plays an important role in decisions that we think of as conscious and thoughtful. This well-written book provides an excellent guide to how our subconscious minds work, and how important they are in every day life. Everyone can and should benefit from reading books like this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Primer, 22 Nov. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
For those exploring for the first time the intricacies of our conscious and un-conscious selves this will undoubtedly be an exciting book, as a number of other reviews testify. Mlodinow writes clearly and with a lightness of touch that manages to get some pretty profound concepts across in an interesting and intriguing way.

There are of course a number of contemporary books charting the same territory at the moment- Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow comes to mind, which I actually think is a bit over-rated but that's another issue- but it has of course all been said and described in technicolor many years before now, notably by P.D. Ouspensky early in the twentieth century in The Fourth Way: Teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff, a book still in print and worth having a luxurious dive into if any one feels stimulated by the ideas sketched out in this book. Because it is an illusion that we have have only one 'I'- there a number of competing 'I's' in our brain, and our consciousness is far from what it seems...

So Mlodinow has made a fair stab at bringing these ideas to a wider audience although it is more of a primer than anything else, though non the worse for that. Well worth a try.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and well referenced book on the unconscious, 10 Oct. 2014
By 
Purpleheart (UK) - See all my reviews
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Leonard Mlodinow has the credibility of having worked with Stephen Hawking, and of having written a successful book called The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives. He clearly is able to reference scientific studies in an accessible way and here explores neuroscience - what he calls the 'New Unconscious'. Many of us are aware of the Freudian unconscious, but Mlodinow brings us up to date with what has been learned since then, even though the behaviourist movement and the cognitive and social psychology fields did not address the unconscious as a main field of study. It is neuroscience and the strides made there, partly through brain imaging etc, which has added much to the field in recent years.

He says 'we perceive, we remember our experiences; we make judgements, we act - and in all of those endeavours we are influenced by factors we aren't aware of.' The book presents us with information that is convincing - often we think we are making a rational conscious decision, but it may well be influenced by factors we're not aware of - one example he gives is that whether French or German music is playing in the supermarket was shown to influence people's buying choices, though they were mostly unaware of that.

I thought Mlodinow's chapter headings and subtitles give a good overview of the book, so I've reproduced them here:

1 The New Unconscious
the hidden role of our subliminal selves...what it means when you don't call your mother
2 Senses Plus Mind equals Reality
The two tier system of the brain...how you can see something without knowing it
3 Remembering and Forgetting
How the brain builds memories...why we sometimes remember what never happened
4. The Importance of being Social
the fundamental role of human social character..why Tylenol can mend a broke hear
5 Reading People
How we communicate without speaking...how to know who's the boss by watching her eyes
6 Judging People by Their Covers
What we read into looks, voice, and touch...how to win voters, attract a date, or beguile a female cowbird
7 Sorting People and Things
Why we categorise things and stereotype people..what Lincoln, Ghandi and Che Guevara had in common
8 In-groups and Out-Groups
the dynamics of us and them...the science behind Lord of the Flies
9 Feelings
the nature of emotions...why the prospect of falling hundreds of feet onto boulders has the same effect as a flirtatious smile and a black nightgown
10 Self
How our self defends its honour...why schedules are overly optimistic and failed CEOs feel they deserve golden parachutes

The evidence that Mlodinow presents is compelling and in the final chapter, Self, it is clear how we kid ourselves that the dats support the beliefs and instincts we hold. I think it's important of us all of to be aware of this, so that we don't delude ourselves though Mlodinow argues that positivity is a good reason for some self delusion - 'Our unconscious is at it best when it helps us create a positive and fond sense of self, a feeling of power and control in a world full of powers far greater than the merely human.'
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read and a lovely review of current understanding, 27 Sept. 2014
By 
Dave C "Condyk" (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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I really enjoyed this book once I actually got into it. I have studied a lot of counselling, therapy, personal development literature, both for my own interest and during my time as a social worker and coach. In some ways, on reflection, I approached the book with a mildly jaded 'what else can I learn here' attitude, so probably not very helpful (and a very clear illustration of a core premise of this book!)

However, the style proved to be engaging and much of the content coalesced material I'd forgotten or simply didn't realise or connect before. The author thinks and writes clearly and the words fly by nicely. It's not a drudge of a book, or a mission to actually read. It's a pleasure.

Yes, of course the unconscious powers us pretty much every moment and without it we'd like 'break down' very quickly. Just do every single action consciously for a few minutes, every movement, and hold every perception actually in mind, and you'll realise how much we rely on it and how tiring it would be were it otherwise!

At root, there is nothing here that any student of Eastern thought would find surprising ... but there's no mysticism, it's all presented in an up to date fashion. What I'm left with is a renewed notion that my thoughts, my perceptions, must be examined rather than simply taken for granted. Forget the initial perception and go deeper to second or third levels of understanding. What ARE we experiencing? What IS the basis of that perception? Ultimately, how 'true' is anything?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good book. Ideas supported by lots of fascinating research., 20 Sept. 2014
By 
M. Hadfield "Ammonite" (Runcorn, Cheshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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I enjoyed this book. It was an easy, and at times quite fascinating, read. Quite how a theoretical physicist comes to be writing about what amounts to neuroscience I’m not quite sure, but he did a good job.

The book is about how we are not as in charge of our thinking and decision-making as we’d like to think we are. There’s a whole stack of stuff going on outside of our awareness that effectively controls us. The author describes many pieces of research that demonstrate this quite clearly. About half of the research he mentions was familiar to me, the rest I was unaware of. Little of this research material is recent so there is not anything really new in this book, but he does pull together a lot of related material in an entertaining way, woven together with a little of his personal history and experiences.

The book comes in two parts. Part one is about mind and brain and covers such things as how our brain fills in lots of missing pieces in order to make sense of the patchy sensory information supplied to it by things like our eyes. It has to make stuff up because our eyes, apparently, are jiggling around all over the place all the time and if the brain didn’t interfere we’d never see a stable image and would probably be seasick all the time.

Part one also deals with memory, and eye-witness testimony, which the courts apparently like to pretend is fool-proof. However, research demonstrates quite clearly that most of what eye witnesses remember can be heavily influenced by something as simple as being shown a set of photographs in a police station. I find memory research quite fascinating and by the end of the chapter you may well find that you no longer trust anything at all that you remember clearly.

Part 2 is a much bigger section and deals with how we navigate our social world. It looks at things like body-language, but not the usual crossed-arms, body-pointing stuff. The author goes into much more subtle levels of communication that we are constantly picking up and reacting to when we encounter others. Here’s the description of Chapter 6 from the contents page: ‘What we read into looks, voice, and touch… how to win voters, attract a date, or beguile a female cowbird.’

If you are interested in personal development at a level beyond the superficial, or are fascinated by the magical mind that seems to live inside your head, then I would wholeheartedly recommend this. It is easy to read; the author’s style is light and comfortable; and if you are genuinely interested in you then I think you’ll enjoy it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, profound and unsettling, 10 Oct. 2014
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Excellent entertaining, informative and really rather shocking. We think we know why we do things, that we are cool rational beings. Mlodinow reveals in page after page of very well explained psychological experiments that we are all great big liars. Most of all to ourselves. We simply are not to be relied upon! We are biased to favour our in group, therefore we are prejudiced towards the "other" whoever they are at a given moment, no matter how right on a Guardian reader we are. We judge each other on flimsy superficial evidence. But most of all. We make stuff up, post hoc to fit our views and our prejudices. No matter how truthful we think we are. Even our eyes give us jerky incomplete images and we make the rest up! There is not a huge amount about what we can do to balance our dangerously lopsided constructions of reality but the implications are obviously pretty huge for everyone from sales teams to psychotherapists. And anyone who makes decisions. Except me. I don't do this crap. I do know what I am doing don't I?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For fans of Dan Areily, 26 Mar. 2013
By 
Pardo (Kent) - See all my reviews
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I must admit I was a little sceptical about the author - on the one hand he has co-written with Stephen Hawking, on the other he has co-authored with Deepak Chopra. However, this is a fascinating, and easy to read overview n recent research on the way subliminal and unconscious influences have a surprisingly large impact on our behaviour and decision making. If you have read and enjoyded the work of Dan Ariely or Daniel Kahneman you shoudl enjoy this (although it should be noted that this book's style is much closer to Ariely than Kahneman).
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5.0 out of 5 stars For everyone... yes everyone., 17 July 2014
By 
JoMaynard (UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a really interesting book on psychology. You don't need to be an expert (in fact an expert might get less out of this than an interested amateur) to read and understand this book.
An intelligent victim, who observed the criminal carefully is the best person to say who committed the crime, surely? You might be surprised when you read this book, how much we mis-remember.
Then there is the Coke paradox, which do you prefer the taste of Coke or Pepsi? Would it change if you didn't know which one you were drinking?

Can we trust our eyes? Our senses? Our memories?

What is really going on?

This book should be interesting for anyone who wants to learn a little more about themselves.
I'm going to get my daughter who wants to study psychology to read it next.
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4.0 out of 5 stars mindfulness does a pretty good job of making something usable out of these ..., 26 July 2014
By 
C. J. Tyler "cjtbrocco" (England) - See all my reviews
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Not another book by a professional research psychologist which sexes up research findings, throws in some amateur evolutionary psychology and encourages us to make lifestyle changes? In some respects, yes. The book dashes through the field with some entertaining examples and some analysis of research.

Most readers will probably not be alarmed at the thought that we are only consciously in control of a limited amount of our behaviour. There are many lessons to be drawn here and, one could argue, mindfulness does a pretty good job of making something usable out of these findings.

Easy reading and may encourage a deeper search elsewhere.
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Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior
Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow (Paperback - 12 Feb. 2013)
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