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Extended Audio Sample Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind, by Gary Marcus, Stephen Hoye Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (612 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gary Marcus, Stephen Hoye Narrator: Stephen Hoye Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Are we noble in reason? Perfect, in God’s image? Far from it says New York University psychologist Gary Marcus. In this lucid and revealing book, Marcus argues that the mind is not an elegantly designed organ but rather a “kluge,” a clumsy, cobbled-together contraption. He unveils a fundamentally new way of looking at the human mind—think duct tape, not supercomputer—that sheds light on some of the most mysterious aspects of human nature. 

Taking us on a tour of the fundamental areas of human experience—memory, belief, decision-making, language, and happiness—Marcus reveals the myriad ways our minds fall short. He examines why people often vote against their own interests, why money can’t buy happiness, why leaders often stick to bad decisions, and why a sentence like “people people left left” ties us in knots even though it’s only four words long. 

Marcus also offers surprisingly effective ways to outwit our inner kluge, for the betterment of ourselves and society. Throughout, he shows how only evolution—haphazard and undirected—could have produced the minds we humans have, while making a brilliant case for the power and usefulness of imperfection.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Using evolutionary psychology, Marcus educates the reader about mental flaws in a succinct, often enjoyable way.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Marcus develops his idea of the klugelike mind, in which emotion perpetually besieges the intellect, with appealing clarity.”

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Rosi | 2/15/2014

    " A lovely book about the imperfections of our mind that have been accumulated in the process of evolution, mostly from a psychological point of view, but including some neurobiology and the like along the way. Gary Marcus writes in an engaging and sometimes personal way without ever omitting the research that backs up his arguments. Also, in the course of the book, he gives many interesting hints to further literature about key aspects of his theories or funky trivia that might just make you curious to find out more. I really enjoyed reading this book, despite the occasional repetitiveness, and I'll try to consider his suggestions for how to work around the mind's shortcomings the best we can. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Pete | 1/28/2014

    " Not a terribly convincing or interesting book. At least pop psych like ye olde "Naked Ape" had some funny theories. This one runs along with a theory that we're the haphazard product of evolution leading to some innate inconsistencies. Seems a bit obvious. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Leif | 1/27/2014

    " This book is a sort of laundry list of quirks in human psychology and information processing. Marcus tries to use this list (in the conclusion) as an argument against creationism, but from my perspective it comes across as offering a bunch of vaguely related anecdotes. If you've already read something from Kahneman Tversky or Lakoff, I'd say you're safe skipping this one. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Bethany | 1/20/2014

    " Loved his take on the not so great, not so adaptive parts of the brain! Very refreshing viewpoint. "

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