Influencer provides a lot more comprehensive framework to make change possible, but this book does have some insights that Influencer and...morePretty good--
Influencer provides a lot more comprehensive framework to make change possible, but this book does have some insights that Influencer and Switch lack, such as the neurological explanation of habits, the simple habit loop model (cue, routine, reward), two other important factors in changing habits (craving and belief), the concept of organizations as bundles of institutional habits, and the three necessary elements of when societal changes occur.
The three elements are: 1) a movement begins because of the social habits of friendship and the strong ties between close acquaintances; 2) it grows because of the habits of a community and the weak ties that hold neighborhoods and clans together; and 3) it endures because a movement's leaders give new habits that create a fresh sense of identity and a feeling of ownership (p.217).
Some facts were interesting, too. How weak ties (acquaintances) are a powerful connecting force, how accidents and crises tend to make organizational changes easier, how a sense of control helps preserve one's willpower.
But the book fails to show exactly how to make changes in habits, and so it gets the three stars.
Combined with Influencer, Switch, and Change Everything, this will deepen your understanding of how change is made. Overall, recommended.(less)
This book made me admire what modern statistics—a topic I couldn't care less—is capable of doing and convinced me, like Taleb's The Black Swa...moreAwesome--
This book made me admire what modern statistics—a topic I couldn't care less—is capable of doing and convinced me, like Taleb's The Black Swan and Burton Malkiel's Random Walk Down Wall Street how randomness really rules our lives and it's important to recognize chance events and not mistakenly assign them some causality that's not there. The history of probability theory and statistics Mlodinow tells in this book is nothing short of fascinating, and I was floored by the answers to some of the problems he so deftly presents.
1) there are three doors. Behind one of them is a treasure, and behind two are geese. You pick a door. The host of the show opens one of the doors you've picked and show geese behind it. Is it better to switch your choice?
The answer: yes. You will increase your probability of winning from 1/3 to 2/3. Why? Read the book to find out why.
2) The Attorney's Fallacy. Take the O.J. Simpson trial. The prosecutor argued O.J. Simpson was an abusive husband. The defense attorney Alan Dershowitz then argued that the probability of an abusive husband killing his wife is so low, the prosecutor's argument for O.J.'s propensity for violence is misguided. In more detail:
4 million women are battered annually by their husbands and boyfriends in the U.S. Yet in 1992, a total of 1,432 women (or 1 in 2,500) were killed by their husbands or boyfriends. Therefore, few men who beat their wives or girlfriends go on to murder them.
Convincing, but that's not the relevant probability. The relevant probability is rather: the probability that a battered wife who was murdered is murdered by her abuser. And of all the battered women murdered in 1993 in the U.S.some 90% were killed by their abuser.
Then there's the reassuring implication that success comes to you largely by random—publication, prizes, business success, fame, etc.—and that means the longer we persevere, the better our odds are of succeeding. As an aspiring writer, this non-deterministic paradigm of looking at the world has helped me boost my confidence and determination.
I knew instinctively exercise was good for the brain, but this book goes into great detail about how exercise in...moreA GREAT tool to have under your belt--
I knew instinctively exercise was good for the brain, but this book goes into great detail about how exercise influences the biology of our brains and hence our minds, all backed up by science.
I learned all sorts of cool and useful facts—e.g. the calming effect of exercise lasts up to 1.5 hours, aerobic exercise increases brain capacity by growing new capillaries, exercise an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, and ADHD, and how the mind stays sharp even in old age as long as you're exercising—and you should know them, whether you like or don't like exercise.
The only regrettable point is that the author drops what he calls the "Paleo pattern" of exercise—the scholars' estimate of how much prehistoric human beings exercised—in the beginning of the book and never mentions it again. His recommended dose of exercise doesn't seem to bear any relationship to how much our Stone Age ancestors reportedly exercised, and I would've liked to see a study comparing the exercise regimen Dr. Ratey recommends with a high-intensity regimen based on the Paleo pattern. But it seems we have to wait for further research and study to know—if there's such a thing—the optimal exercise regimen.
A must read for anyone who wants to stay mentally sharp and healthy.(less)
Though the author seems reductionist in some places, this book delivers. Packed full of useful information about how your brain works and...moreVERY useful--
Though the author seems reductionist in some places, this book delivers. Packed full of useful information about how your brain works and how to use your brain wisely, it's a must-read for anyone who wants to perform better at work, school, or in life in general. In this book you'll learn how to fend off anxiety and negative emotions, be creative on demand, influence others, and much more backed up by neuroscience and told in easy-to-remember story format.
The ARIA model of creativity, the labeling technique to calm your limbic system, and the SCARF model alone are worth the price of this book. I also took away how important mindfulness is in applying all the information contained in this book and using my brain to its full potential.
In this book, the authors of The Influencer apply the model of changing human behavior to changing YOUR own behavior, fro...moreRead it with the Influencer--
In this book, the authors of The Influencer apply the model of changing human behavior to changing YOUR own behavior, from kicking a bad habit like smoking to losing weight.
Their argument is basically this: if you know the six sources of influence and align them to your advantage, you can pretty much change anything about yourself.
And their model is an incredibly powerful tool—you're basically missing out if you don't know them.
In short, the six sources are:
1) Personal motivation (or the so-called the will) 2) Personal ability (skills) 3) Social motivation (people's praises and attention) 4) Social ability (teamwork, social network) 5) Structural motivation (what the environment makes you want to do) 6) Structural ability (what the environment enables you to do)
Granted, you'll need the RIGHT knowledge to accomplish what you want (the books' outdated and unscientific calories-in, calories-out model of weight control should be ignored), but AS LONG AS you have the right knowledge, this model will enable you to do change your behavior according to the knowledge and achieve whatever you want.
The only complain I have about this book is that the explanation of the model in the first part felt hasty and oversimplified. For more detailed account, you should check out their The Influencer, and just to reinforce it, the Heath brothers' The Switch, which gives another perspective on the model of changing human behavior.
This book pretty much covers everything about mnemonics you need to know and some more. It doesn't promise you any incredible things (e...moreComprehensive--
This book pretty much covers everything about mnemonics you need to know and some more. It doesn't promise you any incredible things (e.g.,You can remember ANYTHING in a matter of seconds! With no effort!) that other books do, but it doesn't dismiss mnemonics as a sham, either.
The mnemonics included in this book are the simple story and link system, the very useful loci system, the peg system, and the powerful phonetic system. I learned all of them and am intending to practice them to boost my memory (which isn't bad, but like anything else, there's always room for improvement).
So yes, the bottom line is this: you can improve your memory, and though mnemonics won't give you perfect memory, it will help you A HELL OF A LOT. So why not use them?
Though not as lavishly written as his masterpiece Omnivore's Dilemma, this is still a lucid and, more importantly, practical guide to w...moreDoes it again--
Though not as lavishly written as his masterpiece Omnivore's Dilemma, this is still a lucid and, more importantly, practical guide to what and how we should eat in view of the current state of affairs in the food industry as described in his previous book.
Basically, his advice is: Eat food, not much, mostly plants.
He makes two very crucial arguments related to this: 1) worrying about specific nutrients in food might not give you the right answer; 2) traditions represent accumulated wisdom science might not recognize. As for the first point, he makes a compelling case for the limitations of food science. As Cambpell in his China Study says, the sum is greater than the sum of its parts when it comes to food. Also, because of the reductionist nature of science (it has to look at single variables), it's almost impossible to understand the complex synergies and interrelationships of the nutrients in foods and our bodies. Another good point he makes is that our understanding of "crucial" nutrients is limited to what science can identify.
As for the second point, it follows from the first: since science is limited, we can turn to traditions--most notably those recognized as healthy diets, like the Mediterranean, French, and Japanese diets. But he doesn't just stop there. He argues we should import not only the food but the habits from those traditions. The French, for example eat in small portions, don't come back for seconds, and eat slowly with others. All these habits, Pollan says, may be conducive to good eating--and hence to good health--especially when the Western diet represented by fast food is spreading everywhere and people are spending less and less time eating and enjoying the food.
For anyone who cares about eating well and keeping good health, this is a must read. Definitely read it after Omnivore's Dilemma. They will enrich your understanding of what you eat and how you eat.(less)
Michael Pollan pretty much exposes the food industry by showing where all the food comes from, i...moreWhoa!
Right off the bat, I just have to say: READ THIS!
Michael Pollan pretty much exposes the food industry by showing where all the food comes from, industrial or organic. Then he goes on to describe a local farm called Polyface in Virginia and his own experience putting together a meal from scratch (from hunting a pig and foraging mushrooms).
The book opened my eyes to the reality behind what I've been eating, and one of the surprising things I've learned is: organic isn't unconditionally good. It also teaches a host of other things related to food (Do you know what we eat most? Do you know what it does to our health? Do you know what "organic" really means?).
This was equal parts philosophical and journalistic, and the blend simply blew me away. But oh man, Pollan can WRITE! The prose was lavish, lyrical, and engaging while being easy to understand and humorous.
Taubes presents a compelling case against eating carbohydrates and any food that has significant effects on the level of your insulin, wh...moreA must-read--
Taubes presents a compelling case against eating carbohydrates and any food that has significant effects on the level of your insulin, which, he argues, causes all sorts of problems like obesity, cancer, heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer's, and other exclusively Western diseases.
The argument rests on the mechanism of fat storage. Insulin is the hormone responsible for storing fat. When there's a lot of insulin, the body tends to store whatever is digested into fat, and when there isn't much insulin around, the body tends to burn fat for fuel. In other words, whatever that triggers massive insulin secretion will make us fat, and what does this? Carbohydrates, such as sugar, flour, rice, and potatoes.
When a lot of insulin is secreted, moreover, all sorts of things go wrong: HDL (the good cholesterol) goes down, dense LDL goes up, and triglyceride in the blood goes up, all risk factors associated with heart disease.
Another surprising conclusion is that people who are fat are NOT fat because they eat too much, but they eat too much BECAUSE they are fat. The reversal of this firmly held belief is simply mind-blowing. Fat people aren't lazy or morally deficient, but they're lazy BECAUSE they're fat.
All this is just the tip of an iceberg. For the detailed argument full of examples and historical and scientific reasons, DO read the book. It's easy to understand and you'll be infinitely grateful you've read it.
I knew of mnemonics, but didn't realize how powerful they can be until I read this book. Memorize a full deck of cards in under two minutes...moreExcellent--
I knew of mnemonics, but didn't realize how powerful they can be until I read this book. Memorize a full deck of cards in under two minutes? Memorize four hundred random numbers in five minutes? Very cool.
To an extent, I've always done some mnemonic manipulations whenever I had to memorize something, but I've never used mnemonics techniques systematically. Not to exaggerate my enthusiasm for mnemonics, I have to admit there are limitations. The techniques are good for memorizing a random list of things like digits, shopping list, and to-do list. Memorizing words and poetry are a bit harder but manageable. If you think you can effortlessly memorize ANYTHING, be warned, that is not true. It takes some hard work to commit stuff to memory, but using the techniques will definitely make stuff stick.
The only complaint I have of this book is that it doesn't really delve into how the author memorizes poems. After introducing two ways of going about it (the methodical syllable-by-syllable mapping and emotional method acting derivative), he drops the subject altogether without really going into details and nuts and bolts of how to actually do it.
Other than that, this is highly recommended.(less)
A tad long in audio format (16 hours). The main argument—that geography played an extremely important role in shaping the modern w...moreGreat contents but--
A tad long in audio format (16 hours). The main argument—that geography played an extremely important role in shaping the modern world—is simple to understand and yet profound in its implications.
His chain of reasoning follows four major factors:
1) the distribution of domesticable species of plants and animals; 2)the geographic barriers that affected rates of diffusion and migration of technologies, crops, and livestocks within continents; 3) Ease of diffusion between continents (some continents, such as Australia, were more isolated than others); and 4) continental differences in area or total population size.
The chain of reasoning is this: in Eurasia most of the domesticable plants and animals concentrated, so naturally agriculture arose there, leading to the advent of food production. Sustained food production meant the ability to sustain a large population, and as the population grew, political organization came into being. Also as the population density increased, germs from livestocks spread (and germs were important in decimating native Americans and other populations). The number of innovators also increased and brought about new technologies. And that's why, in a nutshell, Europe conquered the rest of the world and not vice versa.
I know I'm not doing the book justice with this clunky summary of the author's argument, but it blew my mind with its simplicity and intuitiveness.
And hate it because you've been doing so many things wrong. There are SO much useful information in this tome you sort of owe it to your body...moreRead it--
And hate it because you've been doing so many things wrong. There are SO much useful information in this tome you sort of owe it to your body to get it. For me, the chapters on the low-carb diet (which I reinforced with the reading of The Primal Blueprint), ice baths, sleep, and gaining muscles were simply golden. Accordingly, I've cut my gym time from about three hours a week to one hour for the past month and I'm getting stronger. I've stopped eating grains and rice, and I feel great. I've also started taking cold showers in the morning and at night, and I'm waking up and sleeping a lot better.
Oh, and all that jogging I used to do three times a week? I've switched it to walking, with one day of intense sprinting session (per The Primal Blueprint).
There are, however, some complaints. One major one I have is the internal inconsistency over a crucial issue between some chapters. In the low-carb diet chapter, he says we can only eat carb ONLY within one hour of resistance training. Then you flip the pages to the resistance training chapter and read that you're supposed to add a starch to EVERY meal. So, which is it? Only after the twice-a-week-training days, or with every single meal throughout the week???
He also recommends the paleo diet, while recommending beans and forbidding fruits. The Primal Blueprint, a descent book on the diet, recommends NOT eating beans and encourages eating fruits.
Hmm... I already found myself in a tangle.
I'm not eating beans OR fruits at the moment, and eat a starch--sweet potato--only after resistance training. Haven't seen any dramatic decrease in my body weight, so that means I'm not losing muscle, which is good.
Anyways, as you can see, this book completely transformed my view on what to eat and how to exercise, and everyone should read this and a book on the paleo diet.
One caveat, though: don't take everything he says at face value. Experiment. See if this works for you. So far, it's been working for me.
This is one of those paradigm-shifting books that pretty much changes your belief system. Having read Robin Baker's Sperm Wars and absorbin...moreFantastic--
This is one of those paradigm-shifting books that pretty much changes your belief system. Having read Robin Baker's Sperm Wars and absorbing its grim interpretation of human sexuality, this book, Sex at Dawn came as a pleasant and generally kick-ass surprise.
With abundance of humor and compelling narrative, the authors posit that human beings, like their primate cousins, originally engaged in multiple mating for most of their existence on earth before the advent of agriculture. And "multiple mating" means both males and females having multiple sexual partners at any given time, and it doesn't mean "polygamy" where alpha males get all the girls (such as in the case of gorillas)
From the premise that hunter-gatherers shared everything, including food and mates, the authors draw surprising conclusions that pretty much blew my mind.
First, they make the question of "are humans inherently selfish?" moot by suggesting that of course human beings can be selfish, but it largely depends on the context, sort of like asking, "Is water gas, liquid, or solid?" They take on Hobbes's grim view that life without government is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" point by point and basically proves him dead wrong.
If anything, the life of prehistory humans, the authors claim, was the opposite: social, rich, healthy, cooperative, and long. They had plenty to eat, plenty of time to play and take naps, plenty of opportunities to have sex; they generally lived long, healthy, happy lives.
One serious--and to some, unsettling--implication of the multiple mating premise is that we weren't made for monogamy. Witness the soaring divorce rates in the Western countries and all the wrecked relationships everywhere you look. Fidelity, defined as being sexually faithful to one partner for one's entire life, is--so the authors say--unnatural.
The hardest question that arises from this interpretation of human sexuality is what to make of marriages? The authors' answers are anything but specific: find alternative, untraditional arrangements (e.g. two couples sharing mates and living together), or just stop taking sex so seriously.
But the alternatives are more discouraging: not getting married at all and live a solitary life, or get married with an unreasonable expectation of sexual fidelity, have kids, and leave them when you get involved with another man/woman, thus fucking up their lives forever.
Not very appealing.
This book makes you think about one of the most important aspects of your life, and it's worth it.
I say this as someone who majored in Philosophy in college: this book is probably the best introduction to moral philosophy I have eve...moreA great listen--
I say this as someone who majored in Philosophy in college: this book is probably the best introduction to moral philosophy I have ever read. Not only does Michael Sandel breaks down Kant's difficult philosophy for laypersons in lucid prose but also makes a compelling case against John Rawls's conception of justice as social equality and holds up communitarianism along with the Aristotelian concepts of virtue and justice.
I was familiar with utilitarianism as conceived by Bentham and later reworked by Mill, Kant's deontology, libertarianism, Rawls's conception of justice, and Aristotle's thoughts on virtue but the book gave me a very clear and concise review of the different schools of thought. On top of that, I got to learn about communitarianism which conceives of the individual as part of a larger community and incorporates collective responsibility into the concept of justice.
All this may sound like gobbledegook, but believe me, when you read this, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
Highly recommended, and kudos to Professor Sandel.(less)