Most of us probably believe that the human brain is a highly efficient, nearly perfect supercomputer. NYU psychology professor Gary Marcus shatters this popular notion with his provocative and eminently readable book Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind. In it he argues that the mind isn’t a well-run mission-control center but a complex mishmash of synapses that’s basically held together by the cerebral equivalent of duct tape and spit. The book’s title is engineering slang for a clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem (think MacGyver); that’s what Marcus argues the human mind is.
In witty, easy-to-digest prose, Marcus lays out his theory that our mind often fails us (e.g., eyewitness testimony is usually erroneous; we want to diet but instead satiate our immediate desires) and is subject to irrational emotions, moods, and desires.
Happily, this book doesn’t take too long to read — perfect for our poor, frazzled minds.
Kluge (Houghton Mifflin; hardcover; 211 pages)
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