Political Animals

Political Animals

How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics

Book - 2016
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This book "challenges us to go beyond the headlines, which often focus on what politicians do (or say theyll do), and to concentrate instead on what's really important: what shapes our response. Shenkman argues that, contrary to what we tell ourselves, it's our instincts rather than arguments appealing to reason that usually prevail. Pop culture tells us we can trust our instincts, but science is proving that when it comes to politics our Stone-Age brain often malfunctions, misfires, and leads us astray"--Dust jacket flap.
Publisher: New York : Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, [2016]
ISBN: 9780465033003
0465033008
Branch Call Number: 320.019 SHENKMAN
Characteristics: xxx, 302 pages ; 25 cm

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c
callig
Jan 24, 2017

Most general introductions to scientific subjects by journalists tend to be facile, but this guy has really done his homework. It's as exhaustive as it is readable.
His subject matter is, for me, wearisome [american politics!] but the principles are universal, and, indeed, even trans-political. After all, evaluating the claims of an individual politician uses the same skills, and is subject to the same pitfalls as that of any idea, system, or private individual. His summation of common cognitive biases is quite useful.
I must admit i was left depressed. I thought i was sufficiently forewarned already, and quite cynical, but even i felt flattened by the evidence and research he presented.
Just one example: people actually blame incumbent politicians for bad weather, that they vote politicians out of office disproportionately. Oh, they swear that they're doing so for rational reasons but the statistics say otherwise. And conservatives are even scarier than you thought, neurologically.
Read it! Just have a bottle of comfort, or a candy bar on hand when you're doing so.

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