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Download The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives Audiobook, by Shankar Vedantam Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (330 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Shankar Vedantam Narrator: Steve West Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2010 ISBN: 9780307715616
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Most of us would agree that there’s a clear—and even obvious—connection between the things we believe and the way we behave. But what if our actions are driven not by our conscious values and beliefs but by hidden motivations we’re not even aware of?
 
The “hidden brain” is Shankar Vedantam’s shorthand for a host of brain functions, emotional responses, and cognitive processes that happen outside our conscious awareness but have a decisive effect on how we behave. The hidden brain has its finger on the scale when we make all our most complex and important decisions: It decides whom we fall in love with, whether we should convict someone of murder, and which way to run when someone yells “Fire!” It explains why we can become riveted by the story of a single puppy adrift on the ocean but are quickly bored by a story of genocide. The hidden brain can also be deliberately manipulated to convince people to vote against their own interests, or even become suicide terrorists. But the most disturbing thing is that it does all this without our knowing.
Shankar Vedantam, author of The Washington Post’s popular “Department of Human Behavior” column, takes us on a tour of this phenomenon and explores its consequences. Using original reporting that combines the latest scientific research with compulsively readable narratives that take readers from the American campaign trail to terrorist indoctrination camps, from the World Trade Center on 9/11 to, yes, a puppy adrift on the Pacific Ocean, Vedantam illuminates the dark recesses of our minds while making an original argument about how we can compensate for our blind spots—and what happens when we don’t.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diane | 2/8/2014

    " This has been the most amazing book because it impacts the way you think about most everything. I am partial to fictional works but this is written in such a way that the stories illustrate the science behind the book. Our unconscious thoughts are truly what runs our world and only through awareness of the way it works will we change how we make our decisions. The last chapter on the telescoping mind is really a stunner. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bryan Kim | 2/3/2014

    " An immensely readable primer on the latest research into the unconscious minds. While a little light on science and a little heavy on conclusion-jumping, I none-the-less found Vedantam's assumptions reasonable. Like Malcolm Gladwell, Vedantam is gifted at interspersing and pacing the right anecdote to drive home a concept, without getting too personal. Definitely a good intro to the emerging study of the human unconscious. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 JulieK | 1/31/2014

    " Some interesting stuff, but the book feels a bit meandering. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kimberly Wiggins | 1/20/2014

    " It's incredible - really brings to light a lot of our unconscious biases and why we do things. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gene Satterfield | 1/8/2014

    " Very informative. Learn a lot about people, biases, and how to help more people live a better life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jrobertus | 1/2/2014

    " I have read a number of books on cognitive science and so the role of the unconscious mind is not new to me. Perhaps that is why I am less than enthusiastic about this book. The author is not a scientist, but a journalist and the book is really like an article for a lay audience. He relates the concepts via personal stories, which are, in my opinion, overly long and redundant. There is interesting stuff in here, but you pay too much overhead for it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tyler | 12/25/2013

    " One of the more interesting books I've read. It makes a lot of sense to me and it's one that I've already thought about quite a bit, and quoted quite often. I found the author's style of writing slightly annoying, but it couldn't mar a very engaging read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 June | 12/8/2013

    " Written by a journalist so this is a good read - very interesting. Not much for concrete science but the stories and theories gave a lot of food for thought. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janis | 12/5/2013

    " This book started out really good, couldn't put it down. Then the last chapters, I don't know what happened. It was like someone started writing a whole other book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bernadette | 10/28/2013

    " Along the same lines as Blink, this book takes a fascinating look into what we don't realize we think. Though not as good a storyteller as Gladwell, I appreciated the applications to real life and the layman's terms. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kara | 10/17/2013

    " Very accessible review of the latest research and thinking around unconscious bias and the short-cuts our brain takes that we're usually unaware of. The stories are engaging and provide vivid examples of the forces that shape our ideas. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 bookish | 9/30/2013

    " Definitely an eye-opener and will probably be among the best nonfiction books I'll read all year. Highly recommended. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rise | 7/21/2013

    " I love all the ways Vedantam systematically reveals the inner workings of our brains. A paean to reason and a delight to read, if dispiriting at moments along the way. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Daniel DeLappe | 12/31/2012

    " I expected alot more from this book. All been said and written before and the most of the theories are still full of crap. The science was glossed over in to many cases. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Geoff Kirkwood | 8/3/2012

    " A fascinating book and an absolute must for anyone wanting to better understand why people do what they do, particularly across cultures. One of the best books I have read in the last 10 years. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Betsy | 6/23/2012

    " A fascinating read about how our brains work. I wish there was more to do to offset some of the effects of the hidden brain... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 C.E. | 3/12/2012

    " So far, very interesting, particularly the examples. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kimberly | 1/31/2012

    " This book was full of interesting concepts. Some of the ideas presented are common-sense, but the stories he uses to tell the ideas are what make it interesting all over again. There were also some fascinating studies regarding our prejudices and the way our minds try to save our lives. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kelly | 3/23/2011

    " Good, but lost interest toward the end. Malcolm Gladwell is better. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jaimit | 2/5/2011

    " quite boring. good research i assume but quite a bore "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Damien | 2/4/2011

    " Quite a good read, though the stories are familiar from other behavioral economics books. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Harold | 12/25/2010

    " This is a short book which takes much too long to make its point(s). The title is an overstatement. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ben | 12/18/2010

    " Similar to Gladwell's work, but not as good. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Betsy | 11/19/2010

    " A fascinating read about how our brains work. I wish there was more to do to offset some of the effects of the hidden brain... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rise | 11/16/2010

    " I love all the ways Vedantam systematically reveals the inner workings of our brains. A paean to reason and a delight to read, if dispiriting at moments along the way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann-Marie | 9/10/2010

    " Somewhat frightening in its theory that our base natures are more insidious than we think possible. However, rather than submit to racism, sexism and discrimination, this book alerts the reader to a more careful and conscious examination of our beliefs, thoughts and actions. "

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About the Narrator

Steve West, the winner of nine Audiofile Earphones Awards for narration, is an actor of international standing. He is known for his appearances on London’s West End Stage in Mamma Mia!, contemporary plays, and Shakespearean classics. He has appeared in Hollywood movies and on television screens in the United States and the United Kingdom and performed for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. His work has also been screened at the Cannes International Film Festival.