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Idiot Brain: What Your Head Is Really Up To

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,852 Ratings  ·  351 Reviews

A delightful tour of our mysterious, mischievous gray matter from neuroscientist and massively popular Guardian blogger Dean Burnett.

It's happened to all of us at some point. You walk into the kitchen, or flip open your laptop, or stride confidently up to a lectern, filled with purpose—and suddenly haven't the foggiest idea what you’re doing. Welcome to your idiot brain.


Kindle Edition, 328 pages
Published July 25th 2016 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published May 17th 2016)
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Richard Haller Sounds like this dude already had his mind made up to reject the book without having to read it.. As Kristin Davison pointed out, it is simply the…moreSounds like this dude already had his mind made up to reject the book without having to read it.. As Kristin Davison pointed out, it is simply the British spelling of "fetal".

Next time you might want to check with Google before you embarrass yourself.(less)
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Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘

^Are you excited already?

Well, my idiot brain genuinely liked this book very much, and it's always right, isn't it? (not really). Admittedly, specialists would probably find the explanations simplistic (I extrapolate), but then, why would they read this book in the first place? Neuroscientists, this book is not for you. You think you're so clever, right? (hehe) Anyway, given that my knowledge on the subject is very limited (understand : I studied language and metacognition in teaching school, h
Ahmed Samir
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most wonderful popular science books I have been lucky to come across. Although sometimes the examples diverge from the point, Burnett’s comedy and wit tend to make it worthwhile and very enjoyable. The book is plagued with scientific riches presented in the most elegant way possible. I not only learned loads from the book, but have used it for episodes on my YouTube channel.

Extremely accessible and very enjoyable!
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
I have never needed well researched neuropsychology to tell me that my brain is an idiot. The years I have spent alive have proved this to me without question. What this book has allowed me to feel is relief that i'm not the only idiot and the reasons why. Thankfully it's given me an out for some of the ridiculous behaviour I have displayed in the past (and still sometimes do if i'm honest). On the other hand, it's become clear that some of it is still just me. Oh well.

Written in an engaging, hu
Will Once
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stonking (a technical term).

This is one of those "popular science" books. These normally fall into one of two categories. Some are well written but not very authoritative. Others are not very well written, but well researched. In other words, the usual choice is between insubstantial fluff and weighty but indigestible text book.

The Idiot Brian is that rarest of rare things. A science book that is both well researched and well written.

Highly recommended. And five stars.

It is especially recommende
Dean Burnett is a neuroscientist. He writes a regular blog for The Guardian, called Brain Flapping. And his writing style is not just entertaining, it is spirited and humorous and faithful to the science as well. Oh, and did I mention that he is a stand-up comedian? He signs his name "Dean Burnett, Ph.D. (no, really)"

While most of this book is about psychology, he grounds quite a lot of his discussions in descriptions of the parts of the brain that are responsible for different actions. And, I l
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very humane and entertaining look at how the brain works (and works against us). It's only downside is I felt an annoying need to read out various passages to whoever would listen.
Maria Espadinha
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Um Fabuloso um pouco Idiota

Bem!... Isto de chamar idiota ao órgão que inventou a roda, o cinema, a teoria da relatividade e levou o Homem à lua, até parece contra-senso!
Mas, enfim!... A verdade é que nada é perfeito, e até mesmo um órgão extraordinário como o nosso cérebro é capaz de alguns impropérios ;)
Convém conhecê-los e emendá-los sempre que possível, para prevenir danos maiores!

Por exemplo, o desastre de Chernobyl, foi atribuído a erros cometidos por engenheiros sobrecarregados, pois um c
Clif Hostetler
Oct 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science

Neurology writ simple, this book provides an easy to understand description of the functioning of the brain and nervous system. Chapters are dedicated to the subjects of brain/body connections, memory, fear, intelligence, observational systems, personality, sociability, and mental health.

The audacious use of the word "idiot" in the title is a bit off-putting, but it probably communicates a similar message as those books titled, "(blank) for Dummies." It makes clear that the author and publisher
K.J. Charles
A very readable popular science book from a neuroscientist/comedian (yeah, so many of them). Lots of good jokes and the technical bits are conveyed as lightly as possible for a lay reader. My main takeaway is to see the brain as something of a mess, a cobbled together lot of stuff rather than a brilliantly adapted organ. Explains a lot.
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
While this book may not be easy to read through, it was well worth the effort. I am sure that neuroscience junkies will enjoy this book. For myself, with only a slight background of this topic, I found the terminology and whatnot to be a little hard to remember, but Burnett excels in bringing analogs to his readers. I love that he compares many of the brain's processes to everyday events. Burnett writes well in the sense that I can always get a chuckle out of reading a chapter. The subjects in t ...more
Idiot Brain is a great, easily accessible introduction to neuroscience and psychology of human behaviour. If you've never read on the subject I can't think of a better place to start. Dean Burnett is writing in a light-hearted, clear style that is sure to appeal to most readers not looking for an academic tome. Because I've educated myself a little on the topic, I did find some chapters familiar, but a good refresher. If you've ever wondered why people might be irrationally scared of shadows in ...more
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw this book at the airport while travelling some months ago, but didn't buy it. I then saw it at a friend's the other week and she let me borrow it. I knew I would like it from the first paragraph about "Gary". A humorous look at the human brain, it covers a multitude of subjects we would all do well to learn about. My favourite parts included the 'just world' (just as in fair) idea, which makes a lot of sense from what I see happening around me, and the chapter on depression because the aut ...more
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever and insightful. I really admire his work - My brain found it irresistibly captivating :)
It's unpredictable and entertaining; the best kind of popular science out there.
James Hartley
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...if you feel the brain is a mysterious and ineffable object, some borderline-mystical construct, the bridge between human experience and the realms of the unknown, etc, then Im sorry; youre really not going to like this book." So starts this brilliant and brilliantly written book, and from the introduction, you have been warned.
Dr Burnett, a journalist and neuroscientist, is the best guide you could hope for - entertaining, witty, amusing and informative - as he takes you on a tour of this od
Michael Legge
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shame he dies in the end.
Elly (Schrody)
*General rant*

It often feels how many experts, when writing a pop science or more specific science books, think they don't need editors and proofreaders, and they're wrong. I've read several (not too much, but not too little either) science books (and that's all that I read nowadays), and every single one of them had the same issues. Yes, it's impossible (or should I say improbable?) to find and fix every single grammar or spelling mistake, but that's why you have editors.

Comparing fiction to n
Joshua James
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Idiot Brain starts of hilarious and almost tricks us into learning by slowly easing into how the brain works (or doesn't). Dean Burnett keeps the book light and humorous while going into the complex workings of the human brain. The author tends to introduce a concept in a relatively technical way, and then explain it with everyday thought malfunctions that leave the reader severely conscious of all of the processes that is going on with their body; I can still feel my eyes constantly jumping ...more
SoManyBooks SoLittleTime (Aven Shore)
I like to judge books by the author's photograph (jk!), and this one may be the best I've ever seen. Now that is one neuroscientist I'd be delighted to meet! (not joking now - really, that's a guy you'd want a chat with!).
Funny dude! Good writing, interesting! Probably the only neuroscientist to have read both Neil Strauss and Daniel Kahneman...or, hmmm, on second thought maybe just the only one to admit it ("it's for research!").
It was just a little too overview for me; I've brushed up agains
Steven Baumann
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From someone who is not a brain expert, this book was entertaining, insightful, and accessible.

I learned a lot and I was entertained. Dean Burnett has my attention as a teacher of the unknown. BUY THIS BOOK!

--Goodreads Giveaway

Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kniha „Mozek Sabotér“ od Deana Burnetta byla v knihovně mým zcela náhodným výběrem, avšak ten se tentokrát ukázal překvapivě hodnotným. Kniha je protkána neuvěřitelným množstvím informacím, souvisejících s naším mozkem a jeho rozhodováním se. Ku prospěchu autora je nutno říct, že vše je podloženo studiemi a citacemi. Nenechte se odradit obalem, obsah stojí za to.
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My second consecutive non-fiction book, and it's another (popular) science book - not always my best subject. Once again, a Goodreads First Reads giveaway win. This sounded pretty interesting and did not disappoint. The subjects and details are easy enough for a non-science type like me to follow and understand and the writing flows smoothly, easy to read, and often humorous. (Example: "Intelligence, like irony or daylight-saving time, is something most people have a basic grasp of but struggle ...more
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
I tend to read a lot in this genre, so I was worried that it would be all studies and stuff that I had heard before. And there are a few, but mostly, it's more general brain stuff. It's much more day to day than some of the heavier psychological books I've read, so learning about stuff that happens to you but you don't know why. There's also quite a bit that's relevant right now in regards to biases, groupthink and why we can be terrible to people in need of help instead of empathetic. I really ...more
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beyin ile ilgili okuduğum diğer kitaplarla karşılaştırdığımda daha güncel bilgilerin bulunduğunu söyleyebilirim. Yazar esprili bir dille beynin temel özelliklerine değiniyor. Beni en çok etkileyen şey ise kitabın ilerleyen bölümlerinde psikolojide ele alınan konuların beyin ile ilgili alt yapılarına benzetme ve örneklerle değinilmesi oldu. Neler hissettiğimizi bir psikologtan daha güzel anlatmış bazı yerlerde. Ufak ufak birçok bilgi ile dolu, dikkat isteyen bir kitap.
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad book, but not quite what I was looking for. I am by no means an expert in neuroscience, but even for me that was a bit basic. The majority of the experiments mentioned are just common knowledge, like the Stanford Prison experiment, and a lot of the explanations were on the level of my high school neurobiology classes. I found the writing style condescending at times, and the attempts at humour tiresome.
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uživala sam čitajući i dosađivala okolini prepričavanjem posebno zanimljivih delova o tome kako nas sve rođeni mozak navodi na stranputicu ili otkud nam neke osobine na koje baš i nismo ponosni. Autor nije preterivao ni sa terminologijom ni sa duhovitošću, našao je baš pravu meru u jasnom i prijemčivom izlaganju svega što treba znati o mozgu čak i ako vas neuronauka ne zanima.
Vicki Willis
Oct 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
Somehow I did it. I actually finished this book. It sounded so interesting and like the type of book I enjoy but I just found it boring. It read like blah blah blah and I didn't enjoy the author's style. I can't even think of any tidbits I learned to share with friends. Just not the book for me.
عبدالرحمن عقاب
كتابٌ دون الجيّد في مستواه، وكان يمكن له أن يكون أفضل مستوىً؛ لولا تشعّب المواضيع التي طرحها الكاتب وثرثرته في كثيرٍ من الصفحات. فأدّى ذلك إلى فصولٍ مملّة ومواضيع متشعبة لم تُغّطَ بشكلٍ وافٍ وإن احتوت -بالتأكيد- على فوائد ومعلومات مهمة.
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't enjoy this book as it failed to live up to the title. Apart from the first couple of chapters, the rest of the book is a just a run-of-the-mill write up of how our brain works with a little too much of corny jokes and stupid one liners interspersed.
Lammi Hearne-Sirman
A very accessible, witty and insightful read which I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in neuro-science and our incredible brains! One of my top books of the year no doubt.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This books makes a very good case for the brain not being anything at all like a computer and an even better case for not all scientists being condescending assholes with no sense of humor.
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Goodreads Choice ...: Idiot Brain - March 2017 16 69 Oct 08, 2017 05:51PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: #49 Idiot Brain 1 2 Sep 08, 2016 12:33PM  
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Dean Burnett is a neuroscientist and psychiatry lecturer at the Centre for Medical Education at Cardiff University and is the author of the Guardian’s most-read science blog, Brain Flapping. He lives in Cardiff.

The following is from his website:

This is the website for Doctor Dean Burnett, neuroscientist, lecturer, author, blogger, media pundit, science communicator, comedian and numerous other t

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“What have we learned so far about the human brain? It messes with memories, it jumps at shadows, it's terrified of harmless things, it screws with our diet, our sleeping, our movement, it convinces us we're brilliant when we're not, it makes up half the stuff we perceive, it gets us to do irrational things when emotional, it causes us to make friends incredibly quickly and turn on them in an instant.
A worrying list. What's even more worrying, it does all of this when it's working properly.”
“The brain apparently thinks logic is a precious resource to be used only sparingly.” 9 likes
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