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Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior

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Winner of the 2013 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

Over the past two decades of neurological research, it has become increasingly clear that the way we experience the world–our perception, behavior, memory, and social judgment–is largely driven by the mind’s subliminal processes and not by the conscious ones, as we have long believed. As in the bestselling The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, Leonard Mlodinow employs his signature concise, accessible explanations of the most obscure scientific subjects to unravel the complexities of the subliminal mind. In the process he shows the many ways it influences how we misperceive our relationships with family, friends, and business associates; how we misunderstand the reasons for our investment decisions; and how we misremember important events–along the way, changing our view of ourselves and the world around us.


Guest Reviewer: V.S. Ramachandran on Subliminal
V.S. Ramachandran is a neuroscientist known for his work in the fields of behavioral neurology and visual psychophysics. The author of The Tell-Tale Brain, He is the Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and is currently a Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Neurosciences Graduate Program at the University of California, San Diego.

This delightfully accessible yet intellectually rigorous book transcends traditional boundaries between neuroscience, psychology and philosophy, to tackle the riddle of the unconscious mind. Freud bashing is a popular intellectual pastime these days (I myself have been guilty on occasion) but Mlodinow shows that by emphasizing the unconscious he was on the right track: we are completely unaware of the vast majority of events going on inside our brains. The book presents compelling evidence gleaned from a variety of sources to show that much of our behavior is governed not so much by our conscious mind – which is prone to claim credit – but by a cauldron of motives, drives and unconscious propensities of which we are largely oblivious. Indeed, most of our actions are carried out by the unconscious mind (or minds ) which exists in peaceful harmony with the conscious person “inside” your body. The question of why we are conscious of the tip of the iceberg of neural activity continues to remain elusive but, perhaps, the answer can be found by asking what you can do without being conscious; What’s the IQ of the unconscious mind? Here Mlodinow offers dazzling new insights into what the unconscious can and does do, to influence our lives.

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