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Download Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind Audiobook, by Gary Marcus Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.52 out of 53.52 out of 53.52 out of 53.52 out of 53.52 out of 5 3.52 (21 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: June 2008 ISBN: 9781400177516
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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 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 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 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 Bethany | 1/20/2014

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

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dustin Wyatt | 1/20/2014

    " I was already familiar with most of the work Marcus references, but the book does a nice job tying up a bunch of disparate sources and making a case that the evidence supports his thesis that the mind is a mish-mash of different systems layered in haphazard ways. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 1/14/2014

    " Found the content very interesting, not only as it applies to me but also, as a teacher, as it applies to my students (and why some of them just can't memorize their math facts or other useful information :-) I'm reminded of the importance that learning be contextual and am further inspired to keep plugging away at best teaching practices! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 lahvyndr | 1/8/2014

    " The final bit about "how we can be alert to the pitfalls in our own minds" was fun, this was a nice bit of brain candy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Morgan | 12/26/2013

    " I love books on the brain, and how strange it's workings are. And this books really explains it - a bit scary - with some good advice - quite a story. It sure makes you think... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 megan | 12/16/2013

    " Brings up some interesting points, but a little beleaguered. It couldn't decide if it was anecdotal or academic. I did enjoy the evolutionary psychology. Refutations needed some work. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ray Charbonneau | 12/9/2013

    " Discussion of how the brain's evolution, while for the most part beneficial, has resulted in a number of inefficiencies. Interesting concepts covered at a high level. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lynne | 12/8/2013

    " The first part was fascinating, the middle repetitive and the conclusion sunk to the level of self-help. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark Neumayer | 11/24/2013

    " Awesome exploration of the evolution of man's thinking process (and lack thereof.) Really makes you think about the way you think. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mysticzack | 5/12/2013

    " This has some conclusions in strange parts that don't follow (Our brains are wired funny, so there is no Creator) but all in all it's an excellent account of evolution's legacy in our brains. It is really clear that we have limitations, but Oh my goodness! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 12/26/2012

    " Interesting insight into how we're trying to evolve to keep pace with modern society. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian | 4/8/2012

    " Great book if you've ever been interested in how the human mind works. Funny and interesting in layman's terms. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris Pederson | 8/8/2011

    " Looks at memory, belief, decision making, language, and happiness and the ways in which our thinking falls short. The books I have been reading on cognition are a must read. Knowing why people think/believe they way they do has made me less judgmental. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cecile | 7/28/2010

    " Some interesting theories on how the brain works, and why it encounters the problems that it does. While I am more optimistic of the brain's potential, I am glad to be aware of its shortcomings. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amy | 11/25/2009

    " I just couldn't get into it. Determined to explain how our mind is not so great after all, Gary Marcus apparently thrills those who already agree with him. I was bored, and could hardly wait to return Kluge to the library. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julia | 11/18/2009

    " It is quite pop, but gives a great overview of the cognitive limitations of being human. I thoroughly enjoyed it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 9/27/2009

    " Relatively light science book about the imperfections of the human mind. So far it's encouraged me to think a lot about contextual memory, labeling and belief systems. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caroline | 4/18/2009

    " Neuroscience and evolution combined to make a cogent argument against intelligent design. It's a quick easy read targeted entirely to the layman. "

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About the Author

Gary Marcus is a professor of psychology at New York University and director of the NYU Infant Language Learning Center. A high school dropout, Marcus received his PhD at age twenty-three from MIT, where he was mentored by Steven Pinker. He was a tenured professor by age thirty. The author of the Norton Psychology Reader, he has been a fellow at the prestigious Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, the Los Angeles Times, and other major publications.

About the Narrator

Stephen Hoye has worked as a professional actor in London and Los Angeles for more than thirty years. Trained at Boston University and the Guildhall in London, he has acted in television series and six feature films and has appeared in London’s West End.