America (The Audiobook)

America... is a very interesting listen, but nothing that you would not expect from the team of the Daily Show. It covers many topics to do with the make-up of the USA, and is quite thought provoking. For instance, why do people think they can read the minds of people from 200 years ago? Why do people treat the Patriots as if they were infallible? What do people understand by an Amendment? But it is not put together in the fashion of a lecture, instead it is very witty and quite brilliant.

I wasn't aware that this was abridged, but at under 4 hours, this is a great listen that teaches more interesting facts than most lectures - and also isn't afraid to point out inadequacies in the current system, something which is to be commended.

Predictably Irrational

Predictably Irrational pretty much tells us that humans are extremely irrational beings. The book (or audiobook in my case) is littered with examples of pre-existing bias or assumption that we have gleaned from somewhere that alter our behavior to the irrational. There are also examples galore of people just being... irrational. Things like how the majority of people are swayed by the offer of something free, even if it is not the best deal. On this basis, this book isn't just interesting from a psychological standpoint but also an economic one. If I ever am in the position in a company to come up with marketing strategies, I am certainly revisiting this book to take advantage of the behavior of the majority.

Overall, I found this book to be very interesting and full of fascinating snippets. I even ordered a copy for my friend as a birthday present! On this basis, I would recommend to anyone interested in the strangeness of human nature, as you won't be disappointed.

How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like

How Pleasure Works is an interesting discourse upon pleasure. The interesting thing about pleasure is that the way we humans discern pleasure is uniquely human, attaching value to things that otherwise would be worthless. It all verges upon perception, and Paul Bloom gives many examples throughout. Some of my favourites include people being unable to distinguish between dog food and pate in a blind taste test, wine experts rating the same wine in two completely different ways solely because one had an expensive label on and the other didn't, and another wine expert example of serving white wine in a black glass (giving it the appearance of red), and having it described as "berry-flavours". Another thing I recall is how monkeys also respond to pornography and celebrity worship.

I got this as an audiobook, and it was a very interesting listen. The nature of pleasure, when you think about it, is very frivolous. But it is one of the things that we define our lives by, and so it may be useful understanding how it works. I come away from this book armed with interesting facts and almost of the mind that pleasure is a useless abstraction. But a world without pleasure would be awful (think Iraq or North Korea hahaha).

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