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Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently Paperback – 1 Mar 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press; First Trade Paper Edition edition (1 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422133303
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422133309
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.8 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 545,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Engaging from the first page. -- Leadership Matters, March 1, 2009

Fear - and the overcoming of it - plays a central part in this fascinating short book. -- The Independent, October 14th, 2008 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Gregory Berns is the Distinguished Chair of Neuroeconomics at Emory University, where he directs the Center for Neuropolicy. He is a Professor in the departments of Psychiatry, Economics and the Goizueta Business School. He is a founding member of the Society for Neuroeconomics. For the past fifteen years, he has used brain imaging technologies to study the neurobiology of human motivation and decision making, especially the effects of novelty and peer pressure.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is really an amalgam of three separate bits. First, some genuinely interesting insights from neuroscience. These include the importance of visual input in conception, and how the tendency to efficient use of energy in our brains leads us to look for the familiar when faced with new things (hence we can be put off if we can't find something familiar). This is used to point up some of the key features of successful iconoclasts (seeing differently, overcoming fear, social intelligence).

Second, laid on top of these insights - which whilst interesting alone wouldn't make a whole book alone - is some Malcolm Gladwell style waffle, providing short stories about successful people from business, politics etc and trying to claim that the aforementioned traits are in evidence. This stuff is tedious and I would argue not really supported by the science. No surprise to see a section on investors in here, which seems to be a requirement of any behavioural science book these days. My favourite low point is the claim in the privatising space travel chapter that the skills to get someone into space are just like those needed to get a dotcom company up and running. Bleurgh!

Then finally, tacked on the end without any thought of how to mesh the content of the rest of the book, is a kind of field guide to what impact different kinds of drugs have on your brain. Again this is actually really interesting, but it just doesn't really link in with the rest of the book (which is presumably why it's described as an appendix).

Strange book, and too expensive given that it's double-spaced, but there are a few interesting nuggets in there.
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Format: Hardcover
If I recall correctly, it was in a world history class in an elementary school in Chicago when I first became aware of the word "iconoclast" while reading about an Athenian political and military leader, Alcibiades (5th century BC), whose enemies charged him with sacrilege after seamen under his command became drunk while ashore and roamed the streets, smashing statues of various deities and dignitaries. Curious, I recently checked the Online Etymological Dictionary and learned that an iconoclast is a "breaker or destroyer of images" from the Late Greek word eikonoklastes. Centuries later, an iconoclast was viewed as "one who attacks orthodox beliefs or institutions." This brief background helps to introduce Gregory Berns's book in which he examines a number of people who in recent years accomplished what others claimed could not be done. When doing so, these modern iconoclasts attacked orthodox beliefs and, in some cases, institutions. "The overarching theme of this book is that iconoclasts are able to do things that others say can't be done, because iconoclasts perceive things differently than other people." Berns goes on to explain that the difference in perception "plays out in the initial stages of an idea. It plays out in how their manage their fears, and it manifests in how they pitch their ideas to the masses of noniconoclasts. It is an exceedingly rare individual who possesses all three of these traits."

I was already somewhat familiar with several of the exemplars discussed in this book but not with others. They include Solomon Asch, Warren Buffett, Nolan Bushnell, Dale Chihuly, Ray Croc, Walt Disney, David Dreman, Richard Feynman, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Format: Paperback
How do we face our own fears? How do face risk? How do we understand what shapes our own ideas? I recommend this book as a way to get to the neurological nuts and bolts of how fear works, how our perceptions of events and situations is linked to biology and can be warped, how we are social creatures that are deeply affected by others. Slightly irritating over-use of the book's title throughout the reading. This is useful to read in conjunction with Seth Godin's 'Linchpin'.
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Format: Paperback
This book deals with highly complex ideas in a straight forward and comprehensive manner. Insightful, well written and just a little bit inspiring.
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