Customer Reviews for

How the Mind Works

Average Rating 3.5
( 21 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

I still don't know how the mind works, but who cares! It works!

Pinker is overwhelmingly entertaining. Everything he says explains something about the society of feelings, about the seeming chaos of mind, about the meaning of life. I don¿t care whether Pinker got it right about our minds. At least we know how his mind works! Gisela...
Pinker is overwhelmingly entertaining. Everything he says explains something about the society of feelings, about the seeming chaos of mind, about the meaning of life. I don¿t care whether Pinker got it right about our minds. At least we know how his mind works! Gisela Gasper Fitzgerald, author of ADOPTION: An Open, Semi-Open or Closed Practice?

posted by Anonymous on August 24, 2003

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Bait and switch writing

The title of this book, while undoubtedly geared to sell copies, is a vast overstatement of what Mr. Pincker is actually selling. In fact, what we laymen generally refer to as 'mind'--the feeling of sentience and the sense of 'I'--are precisely the faculties that Mr. P...
The title of this book, while undoubtedly geared to sell copies, is a vast overstatement of what Mr. Pincker is actually selling. In fact, what we laymen generally refer to as 'mind'--the feeling of sentience and the sense of 'I'--are precisely the faculties that Mr. Pincker admits are currently beyond scientific explanation, indeed which he admits it may be impossible for science to adequately explain. But those admissions are late in the book, while most of the book discusses the current knowledge about how the brain constructs the world from sensory input and how it calculates (thus the bait and switch title to this review). Those descriptions of what science currently knows are actually very informative and worth the price of the book, had the book been adequately edited by the publishing company to remove the grandiose claims and disjointed digressions. Mr. Pincker also trots out a number of old straw men--such as the nonsensical 'Standard Social Science Model'--and then proceeds to cut them down with glee, followed by a wink and a nod to the reader to let us see how very clever he is. So, if you are a good skimmer of books, buy this and pick out the important information. If you are looking for an enjoyable read, then look elsewhere.

posted by Anonymous on April 3, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2003

    I still don't know how the mind works, but who cares! It works!

    Pinker is overwhelmingly entertaining. Everything he says explains something about the society of feelings, about the seeming chaos of mind, about the meaning of life. I don¿t care whether Pinker got it right about our minds. At least we know how his mind works! Gisela Gasper Fitzgerald, author of ADOPTION: An Open, Semi-Open or Closed Practice?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2003

    How the mind works....sort of

    This book is quite impressive- very well researched, thorough, provocative, and very well written. Pinker has done an admirable job approaching such a massively complex problem. However, I think he's a little thick on the psychology, and thin on the neuroscience. For example, I'm not sure he mentions the word 'neurotransmitter'. Nonetheless, anyone remotely interested in how the mind works ought to read this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2008

    Bait and switch writing

    The title of this book, while undoubtedly geared to sell copies, is a vast overstatement of what Mr. Pincker is actually selling. In fact, what we laymen generally refer to as 'mind'--the feeling of sentience and the sense of 'I'--are precisely the faculties that Mr. Pincker admits are currently beyond scientific explanation, indeed which he admits it may be impossible for science to adequately explain. But those admissions are late in the book, while most of the book discusses the current knowledge about how the brain constructs the world from sensory input and how it calculates (thus the bait and switch title to this review). Those descriptions of what science currently knows are actually very informative and worth the price of the book, had the book been adequately edited by the publishing company to remove the grandiose claims and disjointed digressions. Mr. Pincker also trots out a number of old straw men--such as the nonsensical 'Standard Social Science Model'--and then proceeds to cut them down with glee, followed by a wink and a nod to the reader to let us see how very clever he is. So, if you are a good skimmer of books, buy this and pick out the important information. If you are looking for an enjoyable read, then look elsewhere.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2007

    If only I knew everything in this book ...

    ... I'd be happy and smarter indeed. Unfortunately, the price to pay for the study is high. Maybe it's because I like to learn more from lists of facts as opposed to wandering through prose - as entertaining as it may be. That said, I have a problem remembering anything in the book for long because there's simply too much information spaced over too many words. Give me a concise textbook anytime. Make no mistake about it however, this guy certainly knows what he's talking about. If you're able to follow the information flow, you'll walk away with a great deal of insight into what you are and why. For that reason alone, I'll probably give the book another read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2006

    A very informative book

    This is the sort of book you dip into when you're feeling curious, or consult when you have a question about the squishy thing inside your head. Pinker knows what he's talking about, and answers most questions people ask about the mind. While it is very long, this is to be expected as the mind is a complicated thing. I recommended this book to a friend in high school because he kept asking me questions about the mind. It is now one of only two books listed in his Myspace page. Despite what people have said, it is not that difficult to read if you have half a brain. All in all, an excellent book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2000

    essay contest

    I, Jeremy T. Clark, think that How The Mind Works by Stephen Pinker was chosen as a part of the Independent Thinkers Series because it is an excellent example of an author pioneering his way through information that is unfamiliar to most by taking a different approach to a subject. He explains the amazing complexity of the human mind and how we use it to plan our actions. Our senses provide all-important input that we accumulate to create the outcome of our decisions. He explains that we as humans, 'wonder about the causes of fortune and misfortune'. Pinker goes on to identify the multiple meanings of life and how they control everything around us. We still maintain beliefs about the supernatural that contradict everything that we really do know about the world, or think that we know. Since the beginning of time, things have been withheld from mainstream knowledge seekers because it may not fit into their current streams of thought that have been intentionally provided by many credible institutions. When more independent critical thinkers that inhabit our world are exposed to an infinity of truths that could be available to them, we can begin to formulate an intelligent scientific hypothesis about each of the anomalies that still baffle us. Pinker concludes that we find pleasure in enlightenment through a vehicle that we call 'the arts'. Passionate seekers of truth can and will decide what facts are actually fiction and which works of fiction are actually closer to being facts.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Quite comprehensive, not entry level reading

    Plus: there is a LOT of information in this book. It goes quite a bit beyond just describing what we know about brain functions. It is very wordy and can be difficult to read in places. This is probably due to the authors effort to be comprehensive.
    Minus: Its a bit too speculative in some respects. I personally can only hold a few speculative theoretical contexts in my head at a time. I know that is not a problem for some. I also think the author perhaps overemphasizes the natural selection process, or perhaps better said seems to try to make it fit into nearly every aspect of everything.

    Otherwise the book is very informative. Not sorry I bought it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2006

    Boring read

    It takes quite a talent to turn a fascinating subject into such a chore to read. The analogies, digressions and arcane references from unrelated fields are without end. This amounts to the worst of both world a bloated and meandering literary style coupled with an egghead inability to see the woods for the trees.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2006

    Ridiculous

    This book was full of information, but at a level that is beyond what many can grasp. It was difficult to read and understand. Not only that but he repeated himself over and over again. He used 565 pages to write about something that he could have written in less then 100 pages in laymen terms. He tried to hard to prove his point by making it more intricate then what it really is. His ideas great his presentation needs serious work. I do not recommend this book at all, if you really want to learn how the mind works look somewhere else. Reading this book is just a waist of time.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2006

    My head hurts!!

    Wow...The book was well written. Pinker is obviously a well educated man, but he tries to cram too much material and information into his chapters. I found myself reading some paragraphs several times before I actually captured what he was trying to say. Some chapters were endless pages of repetitive information. I must give Pinker credit, however, for the chapters that did capture my interest, however long and confusing.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2004

    too much!!

    The author puts too much information in his book. As reader your overwhelmed, sometimes excited and very interested, but mostly borred and tedious! all in all to me a disappointing work

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2004

    UMMMMMM... NO

    dude... This book is nothing but long, complicated, boring, pages after pages of torture. Sometimes you have to read these thick paragraphs over and over until you understand it. You also have to understand everything in every page because he will use it for the rest of the book. I got 1/4 through chapter 2 before i lost interest and quit reading it. I highly recommend you dont read it. Read the Bible instead..

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 1, 2009

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