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

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

by Rick Shenkman
Political Animals: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics

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

by Rick Shenkman

Hardcover(New Edition)

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Can a football game affect the outcome of an election? What about shark attacks? Or a drought? In a rational world the answer, of course, would be no. But as bestselling historian Rick Shenkman explains in Political Animals, our world is anything but rational. Drawing on science, politics, and history, Shenkman explores the hidden forces behind our often illogical choices.

Political Animals challenges us to go beyond the headlines, which often focus on what politicians do (or say they'll 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.

Fortunately, we can learn to make our instincts work in our favor. Shenkman takes readers on a whirlwind tour of laboratories where scientists are exploring how sea slugs remember, chimpanzees practice deception, and patients whose brains have been split in two tell stories. The scientists' findings give us new ways of understanding our history and ourselves--and prove we don't have to be prisoners of our evolutionary past."

In this engaging, illuminating, and often riotous chronicle of our political culture, Shenkman probes the depths of the human mind to explore how we can become more political, and less animal.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465033003
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 01/05/2016
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Rick Shenkman is an Emmy award-winning investigative reporter, a New York Times bestselling author, and the editor and founder of George Mason University's History News Network. An associate professor of History at George Mason University, he lives in Seattle, Washington.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Mismatch: Why We Can't Trust Our Instincts

PART I: Curiosity
1. The Michael Jordan Lesson: Why people who don't vote and don't follow the news don't think they need to

2. We're Political Animals: So why aren't we better at politics?

3. Your 150 Closest Friends: How many people do you know?

PART II: Reading People
4. Why We Are Surprised When Our Leaders Disappoint Us: The mistake even smart voters make

5. 167 Milliseconds: The amazing speed at which we draw conclusions about people

6. Lying to Ourselves: The high cost of self-deception and why we can't stop ourselves

7. Do We Really Want the Truth?: Why we often seem less interested in the truth than we profess

8. Everything Happens for a Reason: It's not just kids we prefer fairy tales

9. It's Like It Was Still 1974: Why people make arguments so transparently feeble they leave others dumbstruck

PART IV: Empathy
10. When It Happens to You: The limits to empathy

11. The Accountant's Error: The danger of relying on our gut

Conclusion: A Way Forward: Solutions are at our fingertips if only we grasp them

Coda: The Widow's Advantage: And What We Can Learn From Her

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