What makes people tick?
This is the main question in The Elephant in the Brain, an eye-opening book on understanding our “hidden motives in everyday life.”
In other words, why do we do what we do?
Programmer Kevin Simler and economist Robin Hanson explore why we’re prone to self-deception about our motives, and how this deception can shed light on otherwise inexplicable behaviors. For example, why do we laugh? And how come we laugh 30% more when we’re around others?
Well, as the authors explain in the first part of their book, we’re often blind to our own true motives for doing things. Or, the way Jonathan Haidt put it, “The conscious mind thinks it’s the Oval Office, when in reality it’s the press office.” …
When some guy cuts you off in traffic, you probably think, instinctively: What a jerk. (Or perhaps your self-talk is a little more impolite.) What you almost certainly don’t think to yourself is, Gosh, I wonder what’s wrong that he’s in such a hurry.
It’s not hard to see why we don’t think that. It seems naive. Almost as if we’re making an excuse for a bad person.
But think about your own behavior for a second. Think of a time when you were driving so recklessly that others would have been justified to curse you.
Was your crazy driving on that day a manifestation of your true character (i.e. you’re a jerk to the core)? Or was it sparked by the situation you were in? …
I’ve read 48 books this year. Here’s a curated list of the ones I’d gladly re-read in 2021 (and probably will). These five books cover world history, entrepreneurship, statistics, cognitive science, and everything in between.
I hope you’ll get just as much out of them as I did…
“But for its costliness and dangers, no better education for life among men could be devised than the gambling table — especially the poker table.” — Clemens France, The Gambling Impulse (1902)
This one might be the book of the year for me. The Biggest Bluff is a mix of psychology, game theory, memoir, and yes, some poker. …