Jordan Castillo Price's Reviews > Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

Brain Rules by John Medina
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Oct 13, 09

Read in October, 2009, read count: 1

There were parts of this book I loved and parts I hated, so it was really difficult for me to figure out how to rate it. I loved the first chapter so much -- about how exercise makes your thinking sharper -- that I devoted a podcast episode to it. Other chapters were fascinating too, in particular the sleep chapter.

However, there was a description of the making of foie gras on page 88 that was a dealbreaker for me. And because it came during the chapter on "Attention," I presume it was a technique the author was employing to break the monotony of a bunch of dry scientific facts with an anecdote the listener would remember.

I remembered it all right.

So much so that I was enraged for the rest of the book, that the mere thought of the book makes me sick. So if this particular page could be stripped, the book would have rated a five for me. But the author's choice, to relay a deeply disturbing explanation about how animals are tortured for the sake of gluttony, tainted the book for me to the point where I'm going to need to give it a two. (He was using the explanation because it was so disturbing; it disturbed his mother to the point that she can't get it out of her head.)

There are other incidents where disturbing animal experiments are described -- but those are experiments for the sake of medicine. The practice of making foie gras is a socially condoned torture for no reason other than the fact that a force-fed goose's liver tastes rich -- how insane that it even happens, that no one has put a stop to it. That we, as a society in general, condone it. And so the author's tactic has worked a bit too well here. I'll remember this book, all right. For the rest of my life.

To be clear: I understand that the author does not condone foie gras. What I resent is the fact that I've been manipulated.
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