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on 22 April 2011
When you come across a book with the title "Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control", you expect to open its pages and come across a mixture of conspiracy theory and egotistical mentalism. In fact, this is a book which is probably as far from its perceived title as can possibly be, and arguably for good reason, as the author explains.

The thrust of the author's argument is that the stereotypical notion of brainwashing as thought of by most people who use the term is fundamentally flawed. Specifically, we go looking for zombies and "Yes Master" style Hollywood stories, when in fact such notions belong firmly to the world of fiction rather than fact. This is not surprising when you think about it rationally for a few minutes. Instead, the author explores the much deeper areas behind the notion of brainwashing, and in doing so expands into areas that the reader probably hasn't considered before.

The book is split into three themes of sorts. First, a casual look at the historical uses of brainwashing is covered. The author is keen to point out that the word and concept of what we think of as brainwashing is a relatively new concept, yet the purpose behind (to convert a person from one belief system to another) is far from new at all. Torture has been used throughout the ages to attempt to force people to accept new truths, and as you read on you see how relatively haphazard the results have been.

Secondly, the author delves into the relatively advanced world of neuroscience. Taking an extremely objective and biological consideration of the brain as a reductionist computer, we look at how the brain itself is wired and works. This may seem an overtly complex tangent initially, but is key to the author's argument that simplistic notions of mind-control are pipe dreams. The brain is a fiercely complex organ, and our approaches to control are large-scale and a far distance from the fine grained ideas of individual thought modification.

Lastly, the notional of brainwashing is considered from a philosophical standpoint in relation to society at large. The subject is looked at from both positive and negative perspectives, and the author takes on a fairly abstract approach, covering the very notions of community and education. This goes to show that brainwashing is not an independent process that happens, but is woven into the very fabric of our lives.

This is a relatively advanced book, and if you are used to light casual reading this is not the book for you. Similarly, if you are looking for a tips and techniques to influence people tone, then you will be sadly disappointed. But, if you are willing to take a step back, and look at the wider pictures of how humans interact and what happens when opinions differ and are pushed forcefully, you will find this an enlightening read.

One warning, as another reviewer has pointed out, although the author does her best to be fair and objective, there is a fairly strong anti-religion and collectivism feel to the book. That didn't bother me, and I probably agree with most of her viewpoints, but it may put others off.
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on 15 June 2014
This book takes a comprehensive look at brainwashing. It looks at the origin, the methods, the ideas, the social and political implications, the neuroscience behind it, as well as the philosophical concepts that surround our ability to think 'freely'. A great book, well worth reading.
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on 27 January 2013
Given this a four star, because it was a very thought provoking book, delivered in a style understandable to a layman.I also liked the author's obvious enthusiasm for the subject.
This is not a "how to" book, but does describe the mechanisms that are work when we are influenced by or seek to influence other people.
I think any one who likes books by Brian Cox, Simon Singh et al, or who has in interest in how people interact with each other would enjoy this book.
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on 30 May 2013
I chose this book as part of a research project. It is an easy read however that does not diminish the excellent content.
The historical roots are well explored with discussion of the terms used for mind influence .
In all this is a very enjoyable read fro any one interested in how people battle for our minds and influence our choices and views.
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on 21 July 2012
The book a lot better than may expect from the title, a good introduction nuroscience , well was for me as new so little before.

I boasted my review to 5 stars as thinking about problery still very good. Like 2 books in one, one a little samey but good other was new to me.
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on 10 August 2014
Great job, would recommend
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on 15 April 2012
The book fills gaps (caverns)in my knowledge. More to do with neuroscience than simple brainwashing. For those of us with an interest, a very good book. The author is impressive.I'm glad I bought it. Recommended...
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on 23 August 2013
Bought for husband again for fathers Day, it was already on his wish list so i have no idea if the book is good or not.
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on 4 August 2015
Interesting book.
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on 25 July 2008
This is a wildly profound book written with intelligence and humour.

It's as much about how we think and learn as about brain washing.

Whenever I found myself limiting my thoughts to rigid templated thinking Taylor would throw in a mental curve to derail my own unconscious beliefs.

Simply a wonderful book, an understanding of this subject is as important now as it has ever been. Quite frankly KT's FACET approach to thinking should be lesson 101 for school children and adults alike.

You won't be disappointed by this book. I can't wait to see what she does next with her current research into belief.
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