SUMMARY õ The Social Animal The Hidden Sources of Love Character and Achievement

The Social Animal The Hidden Sources of Love Character and Achievement

FREE READ The Social Animal The Hidden Sources of Love Character and Achievement

Yssey years” that have come to define young adulthood to the high walls of poverty; from the nature of attachment love and commitment to the nature of effective leadership He reveals the deeply social aspect of our very minds and exposes the bias in modern culture that overemphasizes rationalism individualism and I Along the way he demolishes conventional definitions of success while looking toward a culture based on trust and humility The Social Animal is a moving and nuanced intellectual adventure a story of achievement and a defense of progress Impossible to put down it is an essential book for our time one that will have broad social impact and will change the way we see ourselves and the world. Children are coached on how to jump through a thousand scholastic hoops Yet by far the most important decisions they will make are about whom to marry and whom to befriend what to love and what to despise and how to control impulses On these matters they are almost entirely on their own We are good at talking about material incentives but bad about talking about emotions and intuitions We are good at teaching technical skills but when it comes to the most important things like character we have almost nothing to say I appreciate this comment by Brooks in his introduction xiv Teaching character being intentional about teaching character is a foreign matter in our society today We are very good at allowing the culture to instruct and inform us I'm thinking largely of the grip consumerism has on our behaviors as a society on matters that have deep conseuences for how we think and live We do not do the difficult work of critiuing our culture and learning to behave in ways that counter the harmful effects of our cultural normsThis is one of the main objectives of Brooks' work to demonstrate through fictional narrative that we are indeed largely creatures of habit living lives of ritual and routine that are often unuestioned and unexamined We seldom give serious thought to how are social context is serving to shape our thoughts feelings and beliefs through our daily behavioral patternsIn this realm Brooks has done an excellent job of communicating his message Though the scientific mind might uestion the validity of a narrative approach his method is enjoyable and entertaining It's a different genre of academic material and obviously not the type of book that can stand on its own in the academic world But I do think it offers a different perspective an opportunity to use the other side of our brain as we consider the power of culture to shape our character

FREE READ ñ E-book, or Kindle E-pub ï David Brooks

With uneualed insight and brio David Brooks the New York Times columnist and bestselling author of Bobos in Paradise has long explored and explained the way we live Now with the intellectual curiosity and emotional wisdom that make his columns among the most read in the nation Brooks turns to the building blocks of human flourishing in a multilayered profoundly illuminating work grounded in everyday lifeThis is the story of how success happens It is told through the lives of one composite American couple Harold and Erica how they grow push forward are pulled back fail and succeed Distilling a vast array of information into these two vividly realized characters Brooks illustrates a fundamental new und. The premise of this book is a wonderful one and it seems like this book would have been both a challenge and really fun book to write In trying to describe modern advances in psychological sciences Brooks takes the unusual and potentially exciting tactic of weaving these findings into the lives of two fictional characters Thus the book holds the promise of straddling an interesting narrative and yet providing an informative look at the way the mind works Unfortunately the book overreached and fell flat in both arenas at least for myself As I was most sold by the non fiction aspect of this book ie the way the subconscious mind works to regulate our choices in the world this was where I was the most disappointed and is where I will start By taking two fictional characters to follow through a lifetime's worth of decisions the breadth of the psychology that Brooks attempted to cover was ambitious to say the least; mental ability and inclination were mentioned from infancy to senilityand gender differences interpersonal relationships family dynamics sex power and were all discussed or alluded to But I firmly believe that to capture the interesting aspects of any of these topics Brooks would need to slow down The science in this book is sprinkled in and popularized in the very worst sort of way Whole disciplines and areas with huge academic disagreements were summarized in half sentence factoids Through the first half of the book I kept waiting for the scientific discussion to get a little meaty but it really just felt like a barrage of pop sci references most of which seem to have become overused in recent literature I am sure that I partially fell this way because I have read a few other similar books and so the material was not uite as fresh Instead it just came across as far too over simplified even to me a casual reader of popular science psychology books Further I even had to remind myself of the central thesis of the book at times ie the role of the unconscious mind as it seemed like the ideas that were discussed ran all over the place including some very conscious decisions and aspects of personality that we do have some control overThe fictional aspect of the work was less disappointing to me I think that Brooks has a flair for picking some really great moments to highlight and for picking out little subtleties or pet peeves in his character that to make for moments of biting clarity In some of these moments the author really seems to have a detailed understanding of the depth of the brilliance and irrationality of the human condition and his characters take on a spark of life But here too the breadth of the subject overwhelmed the story The narrative of Harold and Erica was scattered and jumpy I guess because we were forced to leap to each moment of their lives where they made a significant choice or were affected by fate To cram it all in Brooks had to resort to a clipped style of describing certain scenes and people who crossed paths with our protagonists These passages felt like grocery lists of personality characteristics stamped onto the foreheads of lumps of protoplasm and I could never really get into most of the people or events described In the end the use of these two characters had the effect of cheapening and marginalizing the scientific points Since I never really identified much with Harold or Erica I would end up freuently thinking well that might be true for them but even though I already knew that the scientific idea Brooks was illustrating was much globalI would still consider recommending this to a non scientist who hasn't read anything in psychology and has a very broad interest or aptitude for trivia But I can't help but feel that any number of books that are slightly specialized would be a much better popular way to be introduced to modern ideas in psychology and neurobiology Ippo - saison 5, Dans l'ombre du champion - tome 13 (13) profoundly illuminating work grounded in everyday lifeThis is the story of how success happens It is told through the lives of one composite American couple Harold and Erica how they grow Ippo - saison 5, Dans l'ombre du champion - tome 07 (7) push forward are Ippo - saison 5, Dans l'ombre du champion - tome 10 (10) pulled back fail and succeed Distilling a vast array of information into these two vividly realized characters Brooks illustrates a fundamental new und. The Ippo - saison 5, Dans l'ombre du champion - tome 06 (6) premise of this book is a wonderful one and it seems like this book would have been both a challenge and really fun book to write In trying to describe modern advances in Ippo - saison 5, Dans l'ombre du champion - tome 08 (8) psychological sciences Brooks takes the unusual and Ippo - saison 5, Dans l'ombre du champion - tome 09 (9) potentially exciting tactic of weaving these findings into the lives of two fictional characters Thus the book holds the Ippo - saison 4, La loi du ring - tome 03 (3) promise of straddling an interesting narrative and yet Ippo - saison 4, La loi du ring - tome 02 (2) providing an informative look at the way the mind works Unfortunately the book overreached and fell flat in both arenas at least for myself As I was most sold by the non fiction aspect of this book ie the way the subconscious mind works to regulate our choices in the world this was where I was the most disappointed and is where I will start By taking two fictional characters to follow through a lifetime's worth of decisions the breadth of the Woooly Bay Bay éclaté 4 morceau gyroscopique ensemble toupies avec deux façons tirer la règle lanceur haute vitesse Spinning Tops pour enfants enfants jouets psychology that Brooks attempted to cover was ambitious to say the least; mental ability and inclination were mentioned from infancy to senilityand gender differences interpersonal relationships family dynamics sex Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 19 (19) power and were all discussed or alluded to But I firmly believe that to capture the interesting aspects of any of these topics Brooks would need to slow down The science in this book is sprinkled in and Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 23 (23) popularized in the very worst sort of way Whole disciplines and areas with huge academic disagreements were summarized in half sentence factoids Through the first half of the book I kept waiting for the scientific discussion to get a little meaty but it really just felt like a barrage of Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 18 (18) pop sci references most of which seem to have become overused in recent literature I am sure that I Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 22 (22) partially fell this way because I have read a few other similar books and so the material was not uite as fresh Instead it just came across as far too over simplified even to me a casual reader of Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 20 (20) popular science Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 24 (24) psychology books Further I even had to remind myself of the central thesis of the book at times ie the role of the unconscious mind as it seemed like the ideas that were discussed ran all over the Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 25 (25) place including some very conscious decisions and aspects of Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 21 (21) personality that we do have some control overThe fictional aspect of the work was less disappointing to me I think that Brooks has a flair for Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 05 (5) picking some really great moments to highlight and for Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 04 (4) picking out little subtleties or Ippo - saison 2, Destins de boxeurs - tome 04 (4) pet Ippo, saison 2 tome 5 peeves in his character that to make for moments of biting clarity In some of these moments the author really seems to have a detailed understanding of the depth of the brilliance and irrationality of the human condition and his characters take on a spark of life But here too the breadth of the subject overwhelmed the story The narrative of Harold and Erica was scattered and jumpy I guess because we were forced to leap to each moment of their lives where they made a significant choice or were affected by fate To cram it all in Brooks had to resort to a clipped style of describing certain scenes and Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 06 (6) people who crossed Ippo - saison 2, Destins de boxeurs - tome 06 (6) paths with our Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 17 (17) protagonists These Ippo - saison 4, La loi du ring - tome 14 (14) passages felt like grocery lists of Ippo - saison 3, La défense suprême - tome 19 (19) personality characteristics stamped onto the foreheads of lumps of Ippo - saison 4, La loi du ring - tome 15 (15) protoplasm and I could never really get into most of the Ippo - saison 5, Dans l'ombre du champion - tome 17 (17) people or events described In the end the use of these two characters had the effect of cheapening and marginalizing the scientific Ippo - saison 5, Dans l'ombre du champion - tome 18 (18) points Since I never really identified much with Harold or Erica I would end up freuently thinking well that might be true for them but even though I already knew that the scientific idea Brooks was illustrating was much globalI would still consider recommending this to a non scientist who hasn't read anything in Passe-moi l'ciel, tome : 3 : T'as de beaux saints psychology and has a very broad interest or aptitude for trivia But I can't help but feel that any number of books that are slightly specialized would be a much better Passe-moi l'ciel - tome 5 - Tous au paradis ! popular way to be introduced to modern ideas in Passe moi l'ciel T.2 : Flammes fatales psychology and neurobiology

David Brooks ï 9 SUMMARY

Erstanding of human nature A scientific revolution has occurred we have learned about the human brain in the last thirty years than we had in the previous three thousand The unconscious mind it turns out is most of the mind not a dark vestigial place but a creative and enchanted one where most of the brain’s work gets done This is the realm of emotions intuitions biases longings genetic predispositions personality traits and social norms the realm where character is formed and where our most important life decisions are made The natural habitat of The Social Animal Drawing on a wealth of current research from numerous disciplines Brooks takes Harold and Erica from infancy to school; from the “od. I listen to David Brooks because he has a way looking at the world that adds depth to my perceptions As a result of hearing his point of view I can articulate my own positions better Between the two of us we do not cover all possible iterations of an argument but we make a wider circle of opinion He seems to be a man I could negotiate with and come up with a better solution than if either he or I made decisions on our own Well anyway he’d have to negotiate if he wanted my participation Another thing I like about David Brooks is that he is not despairing despite knowing what he does about the way Washington works He just plods along looking for and picking up little gems along the road that might mean the difference between collapse and success in our post apocalyptic world Because he doesn’t make me comfortable that Washington is going to be able to change enough to save us from ourselves I think he essentially has a dark view of the path our leaders are walking But he says we the populace could change our fate if we took responsibility for learning the lessons science is now teaching usIn The Social Animal Brooks writes a story meant to illustrate in narrative the results of studies done for the psychology sociology neuroscience and medical fields in recent years It is a uick and easy read though I paused several times over the choices the protagonists made remembering choices in my own life that echoed I am familiar with many of the studies he used as a structure for the narrative so could follow his lead though I did wonder whether this was the best way to explicate the material It’s not what I would have done but then I didn’t write it It’s his way and once again I’m willing to negotiate Protagonists Erika and Harold grow up in different types of social environments and we follow them through life Things happen to them and they also impact and shape their environment They both end up in the same place despite getting there by very different means Brooks has his main character muse about limited government but with targeted interventions that may help people focus on the hard work that is necessary to build a democratic society with and here he laments that the term “socialism” has already been taken a strong social izing bent He gives voice to his Hamiltonian interest from conservative President Alexander Hamilton and tries to describe ways this successful president might make choices were he alive today Brooks makes a thoughtful attempt to synthesize disparate fragments of information that he has gleaned in the course of his life and work and so adds to the national dialogue Dessiner des mangas Poche pour les Nuls previous three thousand The unconscious mind it turns out is most of the mind not a dark vestigial Détective Conan - Tome 2 place but a creative and enchanted one where most of the brain’s work gets done This is the realm of emotions intuitions biases longings genetic Vagabond, tome 8 predispositions Réactions, des Atomes aux Galaxies personality traits and social norms the realm where character is formed and where our most important life decisions are made The natural habitat of The Social Animal Drawing on a wealth of current research from numerous disciplines Brooks takes Harold and Erica from infancy to school; from the “od. I listen to David Brooks because he has a way looking at the world that adds depth to my Le grand livre du dessin manga perceptions As a result of hearing his Air Gear - Tome 01 point of view I can articulate my own Tout le Dessin Manga positions better Between the two of us we do not cover all Nana, Tome 15 : possible iterations of an argument but we make a wider circle of opinion He seems to be a man I could negotiate with and come up with a better solution than if either he or I made decisions on our own Well anyway he’d have to negotiate if he wanted my UQ Holder! T07 participation Another thing I like about David Brooks is that he is not despairing despite knowing what he does about the way Washington works He just Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 01 (1) plods along looking for and Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 13 (13) picking up little gems along the road that might mean the difference between collapse and success in our Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 12 (12) post apocalyptic world Because he doesn’t make me comfortable that Washington is going to be able to change enough to save us from ourselves I think he essentially has a dark view of the Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 11 (11) path our leaders are walking But he says we the Ippo - saison 5, Dans l'ombre du champion - tome 14 (14) populace could change our fate if we took responsibility for learning the lessons science is now teaching usIn The Social Animal Brooks writes a story meant to illustrate in narrative the results of studies done for the Ippo - saison 5, Dans l'ombre du champion - tome 16 (16) psychology sociology neuroscience and medical fields in recent years It is a uick and easy read though I Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 02 (2) paused several times over the choices the Ippo - saison 1, La rage de vaincre - tome 03 (3) protagonists made remembering choices in my own life that echoed I am familiar with many of the studies he used as a structure for the narrative so could follow his lead though I did wonder whether this was the best way to explicate the material It’s not what I would have done but then I didn’t write it It’s his way and once again I’m willing to negotiate Protagonists Erika and Harold grow up in different types of social environments and we follow them through life Things happen to them and they also impact and shape their environment They both end up in the same Ippo - saison 5, Dans l'ombre du champion - tome 15 (15) place despite getting there by very different means Brooks has his main character muse about limited government but with targeted interventions that may help Ippo - saison 5, Dans l'ombre du champion - tome 12 (12) people focus on the hard work that is necessary to build a democratic society with and here he laments that the term “socialism” has already been taken a strong social izing bent He gives voice to his Hamiltonian interest from conservative President Alexander Hamilton and tries to describe ways this successful Ippo - saison 5, Dans l'ombre du champion - tome 11 (11) president might make choices were he alive today Brooks makes a thoughtful attempt to synthesize disparate fragments of information that he has gleaned in the course of his life and work and so adds to the national dialogue


10 thoughts on “The Social Animal The Hidden Sources of Love Character and Achievement

  1. says:

    The premise of this book is a wonderful one and it seems like this book would have been both a challenge and really fun book to write In trying to describe modern advances in psychological sciences Brooks takes the unusual and potentially exciting tactic of weaving these findings into the lives of two fictional characters Thus the book holds the promise of straddling an interesting narrative and yet providing an informative look at the way the mind works Unfortunately the book overreached and fell flat in both arenas at least for myself As I was most sold by the non fiction aspect of this book ie the way the subconscious mind works to regulate our choices in the world this was where I was the most disappointed and is where I will start By taking two fictional characters to follow through a lifetime's worth of decisions the breadth of the psychology that Brooks attempted to cover was ambitious to say the least; mental ability and inclination were mentioned from infancy to senilityand gender differences interpersonal relationships family dynamics sex power and were all discussed or alluded to But I firmly believe that to capture the interesting aspects of any of these topics Brooks would need to slow down The science in this book is sprinkled in and popularized in the very worst sort of way Whole disciplines and areas with huge academic disagreements were summarized in half sentence factoids Through the first half of the book I kept waiting for the scientific discussion to get a little meaty but it really just felt like a barrage of pop sci references most of which seem to have become overused in recent literature I am sure that I partially fell this way because I have read a few other similar books and so the material was not uite as fresh Instead it just came across as far too over simplified even to me a casual reader of popular science psychology books Further I even had to remind myself of the central thesis of the book at times ie the role of the unconscious mind as it seemed like the ideas that were discussed ran all over the place including some very conscious decisions and aspects of personality that we do have some control overThe fictional aspect of the work was less disappointing to me I think that Brooks has a flair for picking some really great moments to highlight and for picking out little subtleties or pet peeves in his character that to make for moments of biting clarity In some of these moments the author really seems to have a detailed understanding of the depth of the brilliance and irrationality of the human condition and his characters take on a spark of life But here too the breadth of the subject overwhelmed the story The narrative of Harold and Erica was scattered and jumpy I guess because we were forced to leap to each moment of their lives where they made a significant choice or were affected by fate To cram it all in Brooks had to resort to a clipped style of describing certain scenes and people who crossed paths with our protagonists These passages felt like grocery lists of personality characteristics stamped onto the foreheads of lumps of protoplasm and I could never really get into most of the people or events described In the end the use of these two characters had the effect of cheapening and marginalizing the scientific points Since I never really identified much with Harold or Erica I would end up freuently thinking well that might be true for them but even though I already knew that the scientific idea Brooks was illustrating was much globalI would still consider recommending this to a non scientist who hasn't read anything in psychology and has a very broad interest or aptitude for trivia But I can't help but feel that any number of books that are slightly specialized would be a much better popular way to be introduced to modern ideas in psychology and neurobiology


  2. says:

    Before reading this book I believed that I and most other humans used our rational minds to make life's decisions After reading this book I now know that the subconscious mind is a raging monster and the rational mind is the midget hanging on for dear life who thinks that since his hands are on the reigns that everything is under control The following is an example of how some of the most important parts of our lives depend on guidance from our subconscious minds with very little training or formal preparationChildren are coached on how to jump through a thousand scholastic hoops Yet by far the most important decisions they will make are about whom to marry and whom to befriend what to love and what to despise and how to control impulses On these matters they are almost entirely on their own We are good at talking about material incentives but bad about talking about emotions and intuitions We are good at teaching technical skills but when it comes to the most important things like character we have almost nothing to sayThe following is a listing of the objectives of this book as stated by the author1 Synthesize the findings of research of the subconscious mind into one narrative2 Describe how this research influences the way we understand human nature3 Draw out the social political and moral implications of these findings4 Help counteract a bias in our culture to ignore the importance of the human subconscious mind5 Explore why experiments in improving the educational system almost always result in disappointing results 6 Explore ways that integration of our true makeup could improved educationDavid Brooks uses his journalistic skills to organized this material into an interesting and easy to read format He narrates the lives to two fictional characters and follows every step of their development from pre conception through to death to illustrate the findings of research findings from the fields of psychology sociology physiology economics politics and neuroscience At first I thought the use of fictional characters to demonstrate the nonfiction facts was a bit hokey But by the end of the book I emotionally identified with these fictional friends and I was sad to see them grow old and dieThe following are some miscellaneous uotations from the book that I found interestingPeople rarely revise their first impression they just become confident that they are rightSubjects were given microsecond glimpses of the faces of competing politicians subjects could predict 70 percent accuracy who would win the election between the two candidatesSensitive early childhood care predicted competence at every subseuent age Attachment security and caregiver sensitivity rating were related to reading and math scores throughout the school years Children with insecure or avoidance attachments were much likely to develop behavior problems at school Kids who had dominating intrusive and unpredictable caregivers at six months were much likely to be inattentive and hyperactive by school ageBy observing uality of care at forty two months researchers could predict with 77 percent accuracy who would drop out of high school Throwing in I and test achievement data did not allow researchers to improve on that prediction’s accuracyAttachment patterns in early childhood also helped predict the uality though not the uantity of other relationships later in life especially romantic relationshipsA child born into a family making 90000 has a 50 percent chance of graduation from college by age twenty four A child born into a family making 70000 has a one in four chance A child born into a family making 45000 has a one in ten chance A child born into a family making 30000 has a one in seventeen chance


  3. says:

    The Social Animal is a ‘lost opportunity’ book Similar to The Black Swan I can recommend portions for its startling insight into the patterns of thought from which we must extricate ourselves to progress and reflect Unfortunately those insights are packaged in a specific way and most unfortunately they are packaged by David BrooksThe book which rapidly oscillates laundry lists of half baked research summations told without sufficient reflection or implication or really sufficient information regarding the methodologies the conclusions the rebuttals or the conflicting theories that are ever so present in the bullshittery of social sciences When it is not taking little tidbits and making impossibly giant leaps to its conclusions on that in a minute it is telling the story of Harold and EricaThe story of Harold and Erica is a boring stagnant impossible story It is told episodically in an embarrassing show of exposition that would make a creative writing teacher blush It is also told in a seeming stasis of chronological time hopping from contrivance to contrivance in the hopes of explaining some sect of neuroscientific research For a book about love and character these straw men are infuriatingly unidentifiable as people Much of the examples of their lives as it moves from chunk to chunk hardly account for the passage of time or really abide by the rules of the book They drift from scenario to scenario through a floating chronology that hardly accounts for any MAJOR societal shifts or diverse arrays of human experience wherein perhaps than one thing happens at a time These are social animals you say? These are people who are imitators prone to put on “different selves” around other people? Why are the prototypes then hardly seen to interact with anybody? Why doesn’t time seem to pass whatsoever? Why aren’t they socializing after college? How are their identities so distant?Not to mention Brooks’ condescending writing style which either tends to take whole communities of people and pan them for their lack of originality note the habits he delineates of Harold and his collegiate peers and how smug Brooks is for being so exacting in his holier than thou judgment of the archetypal college student community or exploits cheap strategies to keep the interest of the lowest common denominator in check you and I the occasional fuck the pop culture reference eg sad as a Tom Waits song and the teenage girls talking about – for no real reason – their own bulging tits Throw in some sex some “bullshit” and perhaps the reader will find herself engaged if only because her reading levels only keep her engaged through the unexpectedly wry use of sex and profanity It is not that I object to either of these but when it’s also contrived into a contrived narrative one realizes how abominable Brooks’ delivery system truly is It’s smug beyond belief and unjustifiably soBack to the giant leaps of logic I am very skeptical of the findings that are put forth in the book but this is meant to not suggest that the research itself is faulty but that it is poorly summarized or not given sufficient credence I’m not confronting social science methodology at large but much of the time Brooks doesn’t do his subject matter justice For example he states through one parenthetical phrase that people who ruminate do not tend to perform as well on problem solving tasks are those who are distracted NB I hate how the book is annotated there are no superscript numbers to reference each study and there are no footnotes The endnotes are numbered but not to correspond with a number in the book One has to simply go by a four word uotation Good luck putting in the work to re find what you are looking for It’s almost like Brooks is concealing the absence of scientific rigor and hoping to get by on the aesthetic sheen of a note less page Yet back to rumination several years ago a study was published in the New York Times about the evolutionary advantages of depression It suggested that depression was important to put people into a headspace that allowed them to solve problems How? By encouraging rumination Why did they know that? They saw that ruminators performed better on problem solving tasksSo who is right? They’re both published studies by renowned social scientists Disagreements between 'camps' still elicited sympathy for the others' perspective So who’s right? I can’t really go on one word or the other because The Social Animal is a literary review of other literature reviews and the other’s an article with no citations at the bottom Am I supposed to take both at their word? Did one get disproved? Can Brooks at least discount some of the opposing literature that his home newspaper printed and circulated to millions of readers?I hope he can and I wished he can I want to believe he isn't susceptible to the oft condemned confirmation bias but I have a hard time trusting Brooks Sometimes his glance at different findings is so cursory that it elicits a sense of alarm a sense that he is taking things at face value Sometimes it seems he is hypocritically obliging his own confirmation bias despite desperately railing against it Sometimes not enough information is given For example a brief aside tells us that Kenyans prefer paintings of the Hudson river over the desert pastures of their homeland because – and I’m paraphrasing – people find art that is reminiscent of the landscapes of the Pleiostocene era pleasing to look at This little study comes off the heels of recognizing the following people changing their actual tendencies upon being observed in an experiment people changing their opinions based on being properly anchored by a certain number being primed by certain images or having an issue framed appropriately eg Hillary Clinton’s approval rating is lower than Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton After going through the innumerable variations on self and identity the tenuous nature of true individual identity in different contexts the importance of contexts in decision making and the variability of preferences or truths within one person over the course of a shift in circumstance Brooks expects the reader to accept straightaway that a sampling of Kenyans’ painting preferences overwhelmingly proves the existence of a deep evolutionary codingLet’s do a thought experiment here Let’s ponder what the results of this particular study would be if we mixed it with other studies in the book One you took the same research group to the Hudson river to tease them and beat them up then asked them which landscape they prefer Would they still prefer their primitive origins or does the emotional context override that? If you showed them an image of a beautiful woman or man before you showed them the desert landscape they wouldn’t necessarily prefer the Hudson landscape Or would they? Other studies show an increased physiological arousal creates outward approval Would their affinity for primitive origins override their sex drives? Which abject truth in social science outweighs the other when you push two disparate “findings” like that together? What if they played with framing and introduced one painting as the “polluted hideous” Hudson river and the other as the “pure sacred” desert lands? Would framing go against their evolutionary grain? Which ultimate truth is then true?The thing with these studies is that they are attempting to eliminate factors to illuminate some past some inalienable fact about evolutionary behavior or human characteristics But this knowledge is virtually inapplicable There is no way I could demonstrate my preference for a painting without the circumstances of that day affecting it whether it be the weather a cornucopia of beautiful men and women walking down the street etc This is established by Brooks himself We may have approached a small bit of truth but this truth cannot be applied or replicated in real life because it is intentionally reductive of the human experience yet it is reductive in order to garner insight for the selfsame experience But when social science attempts to reintroduce the innumerable factors that come with being human and socializing multiple truths seem to arise but they also conflict and some truths may as we saw in the previous paragraph be preferred over other truths all because of context Some of the Kenyans may be primed some may be aroused some may bring trauma to the experience All are truths but none of the research really coalesces well enough to make such a blanket statement such as “Pleiostocene preference” Ultimately weaving the studies together only illuminates the diversity of mind and complexity of mind Nothing And that’s not something The Social Animal needed to say The book needn't exist to make this point But it can exist to show us the problems with its own existenceThe previous paragraph is meant to bring further illumination into the human experience by allowing for these studies to intertwine This would introduce factors into play But the problem with social science – and possibly with many of the studies uoted herein – is that they reduce the irreducible It is foolish to apply this variable eliminating regression analysis to any form of human behavior because to make any kinds of conclusions one attempts to control instead of allow for other factors That’s the apology after a high falutin conclusion anyhow “It controlled for other factors” Which “other factors”? The other factors that the human mind can control for which turns out according to other experiments to not be that many We can control situation maybe context maybe environment but we cannot control for most influencing factors What about the other factors we don’t know about? What about the other factors beyond human comprehension let alone control? How do we control in an experiment for the behavior of the unconscious or the most complicated object in the known universe? How do we dare predict the unconscious based on the models of the purely conscious mind? It's some form of cognitive imperialism a conscious brain imposing itself on a greater unknown to disastrous effectsThese overly reductive bits and pieces are not woven together very well in The Social Animal leaving a disjointed segmented sometimes confusingly over simple read In one section Erica concentrates deeply on a tennis game – and even creates pictures in her head to manage her self control yet in another Brooks says the experts perform best when they are not concentrating How do these facts relate? Brooks doesn’t relate them and continues to hastily and shoddily breeze past all the things that would make a skeptic pause This is strange given how overzealous he is to look to discredit the rationalist and scientific models Yet I’m supposed to just “believe” him? I’m supposed to believe in his radical implementation of social policy change based on a compilation of conflicting andor outdated studies studies that have not been replicated since 1978 and have only been performed once? That year may not be exact but consider it the 70s Or a study that was only cited – it seems – through a blog post?My point here is not that social science is bullshit it kind of is but that's not my point Far from it My point is that Brooks needed desperately to elaborate upon the credibility of his findings instead of finding an obliue means of referencing his studies and veering past results with abandon These studies were not meant to be shoehorned into the under developed life narrative of two inhuman protagonists eitherIn closing an episode in the book involves an imaginary grossly hypothetical school called The Academy It is Brooks’ invention that is meant to make a point about assimilating underprivileged students into a higher class Whether or not I found the imaginary place dehumanizing and sad is irrelevant; the point is that he’s using untested unverified imaginary symbols to make a scientific point It is the euivalent of examining Hogwarts for cues on adolescent development Sure there's some interesting cocktail party information in there and The Social Animal is rich with those nutrients and minerals But it’s the nutrients and minerals in an overzealous vitamin taker’s bucket of piss Good luck getting some use out of them


  4. says:

    I listen to David Brooks because he has a way looking at the world that adds depth to my perceptions As a result of hearing his point of view I can articulate my own positions better Between the two of us we do not cover all possible iterations of an argument but we make a wider circle of opinion He seems to be a man I could negotiate with and come up with a better solution than if either he or I made decisions on our own Well anyway he’d have to negotiate if he wanted my participation Another thing I like about David Brooks is that he is not despairing despite knowing what he does about the way Washington works He just plods along looking for and picking up little gems along the road that might mean the difference between collapse and success in our post apocalyptic world Because he doesn’t make me comfortable that Washington is going to be able to change enough to save us from ourselves I think he essentially has a dark view of the path our leaders are walking But he says we the populace could change our fate if we took responsibility for learning the lessons science is now teaching usIn The Social Animal Brooks writes a story meant to illustrate in narrative the results of studies done for the psychology sociology neuroscience and medical fields in recent years It is a uick and easy read though I paused several times over the choices the protagonists made remembering choices in my own life that echoed I am familiar with many of the studies he used as a structure for the narrative so could follow his lead though I did wonder whether this was the best way to explicate the material It’s not what I would have done but then I didn’t write it It’s his way and once again I’m willing to negotiate Protagonists Erika and Harold grow up in different types of social environments and we follow them through life Things happen to them and they also impact and shape their environment They both end up in the same place despite getting there by very different means Brooks has his main character muse about limited government but with targeted interventions that may help people focus on the hard work that is necessary to build a democratic society with and here he laments that the term “socialism” has already been taken a strong social izing bent He gives voice to his Hamiltonian interest from conservative President Alexander Hamilton and tries to describe ways this successful president might make choices were he alive today Brooks makes a thoughtful attempt to synthesize disparate fragments of information that he has gleaned in the course of his life and work and so adds to the national dialogue


  5. says:

    A beast of a book Oh my goodnessHuh?What was that?Those responses are not the typical ones I have after completing a book but they're the ones that have been circulating in my head after finishing and trying to digest all that went on in David Brooks' The Social AnimalStarting out the book I was pretty optimistic and hopeful There were tons of copies in the New Book collection in the library that's got to be a good sign right? the content seemed deliciously irresistible who doesn't want to learn about the hidden sources of love character and achievement? and the book jacket itself promised that This is the happiest story you'll ever read sign me upThe first part of the book was pretty engaging Admittedly I'm a psychology junkie so having chapters that rehashed what I've been reading about in recent books was pretty fun This part of the book was kind of a trip down a summary lane which had the cross streets of topics like behavioral economics choice architecture attachment limerence learning intelligence memory and culture But the I read the I realized that this section was indeed just a rehashing It was almost as if the author had spent years collecting interesting findings of psychology and sociology and was using the first part of the book to catalogue them There wasn't a whole lot of creativity and integration happening here despite the author's attempt to integrate science and psychology with sociology politics cultural commentary and the literature of success p 377OK I was a little disappointed at this point but the principle of loss aversion one of the many rehashed topics of this section kept me going I had already invested time and hope in this book and I couldn't admit to defeatThere was after all still the promise that this book was going to be the happiest story I'll ever read Unhappily this was probably the biggest and most deluded? over promise I've ever read on a book jacket Perhaps the author was referring to another book or he neglected to read what he had written? The story of Erica and Harold the main characters in the book is anything but happy Let me use the author's own words to demonstrateThey both had become profoundly sad Erica would cry while blow drying her hair She wondered to herself if it would be worth trading her career success in exchange for happiness at home Harold would sometimes see couples his own ageout for a walk holding hands That was unimaginable for him now For Harold as for Erica the profoundest source of satisfaction was work and it wasn't enough Harold wasn't going to commit suicide but if someone told him he had a fatal disease he felt he could face the prospect with euanimity p 266But once I got passed the happiness ever after over promise I was kind of entertained by just how absurd these characters or caricatures as other reviewers have noted were I could cite countless examples see other reviews but the one that stands out is the couple's decision not to have children Although Harold clearly and deeply wanted children he only mentioned this one time to Erica whose response was No not now Don't you ever burst in on me with that And the issue was never discussed again This is the happiest story I'll ever read? OK maybe I never did get over that over promiseSo now I was two thirds through the book and admitting defeat was not an option I was going to get through this social animal line by excruciating lineThe final part of the book seemed to be the author's attempt to congeal and share the political ideas that have been marinating in his mind over the past few decades Admittedly I am not familiar with the author's life's writings on politics policy society and culture but I'm guessing they're embodied in Harold's views and ramblings I could not help but wonder if the author was reflecting on his own mission and experience when describing Harold's exhausting plight He spent those years writing essays peppering the world with his policy proposals Not many people seemed to agree with himStill he plugged away feeling that he was mostly right about things and that someday others would reach the conclusions he hadHe was confident that his 'socialist' approach in one guise or another would someday have a large impact on the world p 335The ending of the book was the icing on the disappointment cake It was convoluted forced and disillusioned But I suppose that complemented the flavors of the rest of the book On the other hand the ending was a happy one for me I had finished this beast of a book I'm not uite sure if that is the happy ending the author had in mindWould I recommend this book to someone who wants a satisfying enlightening creative and well written read? NoWould I recommend this book to someone who wants a rehash over promise self idea promotion and absurd character development? YesOh my goodnessHuh?What was that?These thoughts won't stop It's time to return this book to the library


  6. says:

    I read this after reading this review Really I don’t have much to add to that reviewIn part this book is a kind of summary of lots of other books I’ve read – and these are mentioned along the way In that way it reminded me a bit of Drive The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – although I think this was perhaps a interesting summary He even discusses Bourdieu at one point and the idea of cultural capital in relation to education this guy really has been reading the books I’ve been reading lately – but I think he then contradicts himself later on exactly the same topic I found it hard to know what to make of the two main characters As a device to structure the work I could see where he was going but they became too particular at times and at others seemed to be little than mouthpieces for the political views of the author I agree with many of these views but that really isn’t the pointThe other thing that annoyed me about this book was this“Harold the ultra ego of the author pointed out that most nations have tried to battle this problem spending a lot of money in the process The United States has spent over a trillion dollars to try to reduce the achievement gap between white and black students Public education spending per pupil increased by 240 percent in real terms between 1960 and 2000 Major universities offer lavish aid packages and some of the richest like Harvard waive tuition entirely for those from families making less than 60000 a year The United States spends enough money on antipoverty programs to hand every person in poverty a check for 15000 a year A mother with two kids would get a 45000 check every year if the programs were converted into a simple transfer“He then goes on to explain that money isn’t the solution Have you ever noticed that money is never the solution? Let’s look at this a little closelyFirstly what was this trillion dollars spent on and by whom and over what time period? Is it a trillion dollars over the last six weeks for example? Or a trillion dollars since 1776? Does part of that trillion dollars include the cost of bringing black people to the land of the free in slave ships for example?Secondly never trust aggregate data A book I’ve just finished reading The Flat World and Education How America's Commitment to Euity Will Determine Our Future points out that rich schools get three times the funding of poor schools in the US But if you talk about aggregate data you can say there has been a 240 percent increase in per pupil funding and that sounds like something has been done – when in fact nothing has been done but benefit being provided to those already well offAnd just how many students at Harvard have had their tuition fees waived entirely? One percent? Ten percent? And what percentage of the population of the US earn less than 60000 per year? Do you imagine for one second that the proportion of students in Harvard from such families matches the proportion of such families in the US population generally? Sometimes granting free access to one person is a way to deny access to thousandsBut overall I agree with the main message of this book We need to see ourselves as social animals and we need to have compassion


  7. says:

    While i like david brooks a lot actually and often find his political commentary interesting and expressed well i was ultimately dissapointed in his book the social animal The device of harold and erica was so filled with boring and unimportant information and stereotypes that i almost gave the book up What saved it was the interesting research though it would have been a much better book had it been a discussion of research with small examples woven in rather than the other way around That brought the book up from a 1 to a 3 for me Additionally the pop culture references were often a bit misplaced especially the reference to a girl who would have wanted to be in a girls gone wild video being a disciple in the church of lady gaga Its definitely common knowledge that lady gaga is all about self respect and freedom of expression not about reckless drinking and boob videos Also is it necessary in a book like this to discuss what bands individuals were listening to at different periods as a social commentary It seemed like a ploy to look connected to pop culture that just didn't add anything to the book in my opinion


  8. says:

    This is a book which brings the latest neuroscience and psychological research to us via a story A story about the lives of two people Erica and Harold They grow up get married and grow old togetherThe book tells us that our brains love stories and perhaps that is why the author decided to choose this vehicle to bring us all this cutting edge research It's a method which acts as a cohesive umbrella pulling in all sorts of contemporary ideas and weaving them together into a scenario childhood adulthood partnership old age that is familiar to us on all levels If one was to establish a hierarchy of ideas in this bookabove everything else it discusses the importance of both the conscious and the unconscious mind but the hero of the book is undoubtedly the unconscious Descartes' maxim I think therefore I am is usurped by the thousands of unconscious messages we get every minute of our lives from our brain and the rest of our body Messages which really dictate our decisions The author says that the thinking bit is tacked on afterwards as stories we make up to justify our unconscious choicesMy one bugbear with the book was the author's critiue of rationalism which he sees as a rather blind mechanism attached to the conscious mind It assumes that reason is powerful and separable from emotion and appetite It assumes that perception is a clear lens giving the viewer a straightforward and reliable view of the world He refers to scientism an extreme form of rationalism Over the past centuries many errors and disasters have flowed from the excessive faith in pure reason Whilst I agree with many of the arguments that follow I still think rationalism is a vital component of trying to live a decent life even if we are largely governed by our unconscious minds His criticisms of rationalism also made me realise how much I was brought up in a family that revered itperhaps to an excessive degreeThere wasn't all that much in this book that was new to meI was familiar with a lot of the research described But I learn via repetition and the information was presented in a different and enjoyable format So I am pleased I read itWell I enjoyed most of it I didn't enjoy the the last section which I found boring If I were to read it again I would read up to page 400 skip pages 400 455 and then finish by reading the postscriptI shall end with my usual copious list of odds and sods that I want to remember I really don't expect anyone else to read this it's just for my records view spoiler Vocabulary We judge intellect via the other person's vocabulary a fact I find animating arresting and commoving Words are the fuel of courtship which may be why we have such large vocabularies Making decisions Emotion is important in helping us reach decisions eg I like this This will make me feel better If you have no emotion it becomes difficult to make any decisions You don't become a logical Mr Spock you become rudderlessBabiesBabies find physical touch as important as food They make an intense effort to get their mother's attention They organise their internal states by seeing their minds reflected back at them in the faces of others A baby's brain is built by his mother's brain Mammal brains grow properly only when they are able to interpenetrate with another A mother's love and attention can make a baby's I grow by 50 points GistHumans beat computers in the sense that we can see the gist of something We are capable of fuzzy thinking We have rough ideas of things and from variable patterns we can create gists Computers on the other hand are utterly preciseImaginationThis is phenomenally complex and consists of the ability to blend neural patterns'The Eureka Moment' This is the unconscious working its magic combining adjacent idea systems in new and creative waysEmotional intelligenceWork by David Van Roov suggests that only 5% of a person's emotional perceptiveness can be explained by their I score This is shown in Williams Syndrome whereby people with impressive social skills are severely impaired when dealing with other tasksPersonalityIn high school we fall into social circles of people who are social allies and we are acutely aware of this These are the personality types we get with We are also aware of the personality types who are our social opposites The adult personality including political views is forever defined in opposition to one's natural enemies in high school Groups People have a tendency to form groups even on the basis of the most arbitrary characteristics imaginableand when groups are adjacent friction will ariseThere is a lot of pressure to conform to the norms of your group and agree with other group membersWe feel deep loyalty and affection for our group and much less for other groupsWe empathise much when someone in our group feels pain when someone in another group feels pain it is much easier to dismiss itLearning People who already have some knowledge about a topic will become faster and better at acuiring knowledge and remembering what they learn Core knowledge helps us learn about a subjectPeople want to take conscious knowledge and turn it into unconscious knowledge which is almost automatic eg learning to drive a car The way to do this is via repetitionIt is far better to go over material five times on consecutive nights than it is to cram one long session into one night We need to read new things again and again PraiseIt is much better to praise people for working hard than for being smart The former encourages hard work whereas the latter suggests that achievement is an inborn trait and it deters people from doing difficult tasksChessSurprisingly I is not a great predictor of performance in chess Nor do the good players have brilliant memories What they do have is the ability to see formations eg when you lay out a mid game formation experienced players can remember the place of each piece on the board On the other hand when you lay out the pieces randomly on the board they can't remember where they areExpertiseThis is not just about remembering facts It's internalizing the relationships between pieces of informationEvery field has its own structure its own scheme of big ideas organizing principles and re occuring patterns in short its own paradigm The expert has absorbed this structure and has a tacit knowledge of how to operate within it Economists think like economists Lawyers think like lawyersThe result is that an expert doesn't think about a subject they think lessAnticipationThe brain is an 'anticipation' machine It is always automatically trying to build patterns out of data A telephone transmits only 10% of the tones in a voice and yet from that any child can easily build a representation of the person on the phone this is what the brain does easily and wellThe mental system is geared towards predicting rewards rather than the rewards themselves The main business of the brain is modelling so we can anticipate things We continually construct little anticipatory patterns in our brains to help us predict the future When we are right we get a little surge of reward or tranuillity when our model contradicts reality there is tension and concernFight or flight responsesWe all veer naturally towards a fight response showing low reaction to stimuli or a flight response trying to avoid stress and pain Even babies Some researches refer to dandelion kids and orchid kids Dandelion kids will do pretty well wherever you put them Orchid kids are variable They bloom in the right environment and wither in the wrong oneFake it until you make itTimothy Wilson of the University of Virginia has said that one of the most endearing lessons of social psychology is that behavioural change often precedes changes in attitude and feelingsI and workA good I enables you to do well at school but after school a good I only contributes to about 20% to successes in life Ambition and a high work ethic is important for success in businessSuccessPeople succeed who tend to find one goal in the distant future then chase it through thick or thin People who flit from one interest to another are much less likely to succeedWe are influenced by thousands of random factorseg Asian women reminded they are Asians will do better in a maths test Reminded that they are women they will do worseeg A 30 bottle of wine will seem expensive when placed amongst £10 bottles of wine but cheaper when placed amongst £100 bottles of wineInertiaMost of just stick with things we know investments we already have and so forth We therefore tend towards the status uoSelf regardA personality test asked teenagers if they considered themselves an important person1950 12% said yesLate 1980s 80% said yesMost people are overly self confident about their abilities People with the least skills and talents are the most likely of all to do thisMost people are incompetent Most people are in denial about their incompetenceThe Power of Social NetworksWe do what our friends do If our friends smoke we smoke If our friends are lonely we are lonely If our friends are fat we are fatHappinessPeople who place tremendous emphasis on material well being are less happy than people who don'tWhat really makes people happy are intimate bonds mixing with people even casually and big challengesSee it my wayMuch late night bar conversation involves one person trying to get another to see the world as they doOne of the reasons the Israeli Palestinian conflict has been so stubbornly unresolved is that each side wants the other to accept its historical narrativePrejudiceWe see and apprehend only what we already half know and believe eg fans at a football match can see the game very differently depending which side they support The Conscious v the Unconscious MindThe conscious mind relies heavily on the working memory system the bits of information that are consciously in the mind at any given moment The unconscious mind has vast implicit memory systems it can draw on It has a much higher processing capacity At its highest potential it is 200000 times stronger than the conscious mind It can help us know things we can't consciously remember eg we will know that someone is nasty or nice without remembering why we know thisThe conscious mind generally can't follow what is really going on It just looks at the results and forms an interpretation it makes up a storySome researchers believe that this is all the conscious mind doesie we have no free will just a bunch of post hoc rationalizationsBut there is a split some researchers take a dim view of the unconscious Some take a rosy view Some researchers seem temperamentally inclined to trust emotion and intuition others are distrustful of these thingsFree willThe unconscious mind doesn't rule us We can nudge it We may not possess free will but we possess free won't We can discourage some impulses and even overrule othersThe Human MindWe can't handle distractions very wellWe're better at handling visual images than abstract conceptsWe can only hold a thought for about 10 seconds at a time Lists and agendas are therefore helpfulWe are much better at comparing one thing to another thing rather than to three or four things We work best with binary comparisonsWe like evidence that confirms our own bias To hear opposing viewpoints it is better to listen to them firstWe are good at spotting our own mistakes eg typos are typed with a lighter stroke than the strokes for correct letters on our keyboards We hesitate with mistakesWe often make errors Life is about progressing forward through our errors learning as we go alongAlcoholics AnonymousIt doesn't work for most peopleResearchers can't predict who it will or will not work forResearchers can't agree if the programme works better than other programmes out there or if it works at allIt is the uality of specific AA groups that matter the core people running the groupMoralityPeople who discuss morality a lot are no or less moral than anyone else Murder and genocideMurderers don't kill people they regard as fully human like themselvesThe unconscious has first to dehumanise the victim This is also found in those who enact genocidesAfter the act the perpetrator will justify what he has done He will tell himself that the victim had it coming or that circumstances compelled them to act as they did or someone else is to blame PoliticsMost people inherit party affiliations from their parents or they form an attachment to a party early in adulthood Few switch parties once they hit middle age even in the face of major historic events such as war or the Watergate scandalDrawing on a vast range of data researchers argue that party attachment is like attachment to a religious denomination or a social club People have stereotypes in their heads about what Democrats and Republicans are like and they gravitate towards the party made up of people like themselvesOnce people have formed an affiliation to a party they bend their philosophies and perceptions of reality so they become and aligned with members of their political tribeeg In 1988 voters were asked if they thought that the nation's inflation had fallen during the Regan presidency It had it had fallen from 135% to 41%Only 8% of strong Democrats thought inflation had fallenBut 47% of strong Republicans said they thought inflation had fallenThe way candidates look is very important Candidates for senate or political positions elsewhere in the world can be largely picked correctly by studentsfrom photographs or from 10 second silent moviesMost voters are moderate but political campaigns are structured to take a moderate nation and make it polarizedOnce politics become a contest pitting one identity group against another it is no longer possible to compromise Everything becomes a status war between my kind of people and your kind of people Even a small concession feel like a moral capitulation Those who try and build relationships across party lines are ostracised Politics no longer becomes a place for trade offs but a contest for honour and group supremacyOlder peopleThey are still capable of learning and growthSome aspects of the brain aren't as good though Working memory The ability to ignore distractions The ability to solve maths problemsWhilst many neurons die in old brains ad many connections between different regions of the brain wither older people's brains re organise to help compensate for the effects of ageing Older brains may take longer to produce the same results but they do tend to get the problems solvedMost people report being happier as they get old Laura Carstensen of Stanform University found older people better able to keep their emotions in balance and they bounce back uickly from negative eventsPeople don't get wiser They reach a pinnacle of wisdom in middle age and this level continues until they're about 75Historical EcstacyHistorians speak of historical ecstacy the feeling that magically comes over them when the distance of the centuries disappears and they have the astonishing sensation of direct contact with the past Common errors in our thinkingPath DependenceThings that seem normal today began with a choice that made sense at a particular time and survived even though it might no longer make sense at allThe Focusing IllusionKahneman has said Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it I find this a bit ambiguous and wish the author had elaboratedThe Pareto PrincipleWe have in our heads the idea that most distributions fall along a bell curve ie most people are in the middle But this is often not how the world is organisedeg The top 2% of Twitter users send 60% of the messages hide spoiler


  9. says:

    Children are coached on how to jump through a thousand scholastic hoops Yet by far the most important decisions they will make are about whom to marry and whom to befriend what to love and what to despise and how to control impulses On these matters they are almost entirely on their own We are good at talking about material incentives but bad about talking about emotions and intuitions We are good at teaching technical skills but when it comes to the most important things like character we have almost nothing to say I appreciate this comment by Brooks in his introduction xiv Teaching character being intentional about teaching character is a foreign matter in our society today We are very good at allowing the culture to instruct and inform us I'm thinking largely of the grip consumerism has on our behaviors as a society on matters that have deep conseuences for how we think and live We do not do the difficult work of critiuing our culture and learning to behave in ways that counter the harmful effects of our cultural normsThis is one of the main objectives of Brooks' work to demonstrate through fictional narrative that we are indeed largely creatures of habit living lives of ritual and routine that are often unuestioned and unexamined We seldom give serious thought to how are social context is serving to shape our thoughts feelings and beliefs through our daily behavioral patternsIn this realm Brooks has done an excellent job of communicating his message Though the scientific mind might uestion the validity of a narrative approach his method is enjoyable and entertaining It's a different genre of academic material and obviously not the type of book that can stand on its own in the academic world But I do think it offers a different perspective an opportunity to use the other side of our brain as we consider the power of culture to shape our character


  10. says:

    Here's what I absolutely hated about the book The whole Harold Erica concocted storyline Really could Brooks BE any rigid with gender roles and adopt a hetero sexist view of the world? A book that is discussing people as social animals should approach the topic with keener eye that would examine how much we as animals socialize ourselves through constructions of race gender etc and that these constructions are fluidchangeableI would go so far as to say bendy just because that's a funny wordHere's the deal I think David Brooks and I have read many of the same books and articles and so the basis for much of what he's 'woven' together I have already read in a complete version so this book felt a little bit like an introduction to for me I was familiar with many of the case studies he cites etc etc I will say that Chapter 20 which begins on page 312 was the chapter that I felt was most worthwhile in the book for me It discusses the relationship between poverty culture economics and government I don't agree with some of his ideas but there was a lot there that made sense yes I just said that about a conservative political pundit


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