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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