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Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: How Intelligence Increases When You Think Less

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  256 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In these accelerated times, our decisive and businesslike ways of thinking are unprepared for ambiguity, paradox, and sleeping on it." We assume that the quick-thinking "hare brain" will beat out the slower Intuition of the "tortoise mind." However, now research in cognitive science is changing this understanding of the human mind. It suggests that patience and confusion-- ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published December 8th 1999 by Ecco (first published May 15th 1997)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  256 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Alison Livingston
Mar 12, 2010 rated it liked it
This book is alright. A good concept. But save yourself several hours by reading this sage bit of wisdom: Sometimes you can't solve problems by pounding them out with a mental hammer. Sometimes they just come to you after a long bout of waiting and lazily thinking it over.

There, you just saved yourself the trouble of reading a whole book. That basically sums it up.
Gary Moreau
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished reading this book with an armful of “aha’s!” and one question: Why hasn’t this book been the number one bestseller since its publication in May of 2016? It is beyond transformative and that it is not commonly acknowledged to be is the best evidence I can offer as to why it should be.

Mr. Claxton is a cognitive scientist, in his own words, but apparently has a strong professional background in the psychology of learning, and at least a passing interest in Eastern philosophy.

The premise
Amber Foxx
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Unencumbered by the Thought Process”

This book has been around a while, but it has aged well, with the exception of a few sections in the final chapter in which the author considers the future. Not bad. I read it around the turn of the 21st century when it first came out. At the time, I was an academic, not a fiction writer, so I read it as psychology research. Then as now, I practiced yoga and meditation, so the observations on mindfulness and the relationship of our busy “hare brain” with our
Chris M.H
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is about the 'Undermind' as Guy Claxton refers to it, aka the Unconscious mind; the Id.

It's about the ability to ponder on a question. From the unconscious comes creative answers to problems and the 'introverted intuitive' is the person who is most in tune with their unconscious experience, trusting it, exploring, facing what is unknown; to be comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty is to observe the unconscious and know that information is equivocal. Buddhist monks aim for the sta
Jonathan K
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Guy makes some extremely important points in this book when he defines intelligence as related to learning and creativity. Coining terms like 'undermind' rather than subconscious as well as 'd-mode' thinking he demonstrates through an array of studies coupled with a Zen essence how 'rushing' answers often works against us. In fact often the 'best' answer is one that's yet to come, aka Tortoise Mind.

In particular I love that he addresses the legacy educational systems and how standardizing human
Barry Davis
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I first learned of this book while reading a Fast Company article interviewing the inimitable John Cleese on Creativity (indeed, his quote 1Cthe essential guide to creative thinking 1D sits on the bottom righthand corner of the cover). Subtitled 1CHow intelligence increases when you think less, 1D this fascinating book is not an easy read. I must confess that I had some issues with the author 19s take on the evolution of thought as well as some of the applied meditation and wisdom theories, but ...more
Kimberly White
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is not the most engaging writing I've ever encountered, but I was really fascinated by the content.
Try Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" for a more accessible approach to the same general topic if the wordy writing bogs you down, but this one has more info and a more rigorous approach, and I think is worth getting through.
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Not only is this a wonderful book for stretching your linguistic muscle on, but it is also a book that encourages you to "zone out" reminds you to "chill" and advocates doing nothing to come up with good ideas. Love it. ...more
Frano Jančić
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: znanost
Author Guy Claxton explains in detail how brain works. I was introduced to concept of unconscious mind and how it behaves in everyday life. This is not theory you learn in school so be prepared for something new, revolutionary. Use this book to prepare yourself for life-long learning.
Nov 15, 2012 rated it liked it
I read this book as part of my MA in Human Resource Management. Found the concepts interesting however I did get a little bored towards the end but it's probably a lot more easier to read than some of other literature on the subject. A good starting point for problem solving topics ...more
Oct 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about brain science and more - Philosophy, psychology, spirituality, art, and wisdom. I receive echos of this book every time I am working on a problem.
It encourages us, as does Buddhism, to be in the present moment - and shows why that works.
Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Life-changing thoughts on intuition.
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots to think about, literally!

This book is very scientifically and theoretically based, and can sometimes be a difficult read. But it really made me take a second look at how I think and how I try to get my students to think. It also makes a case for why you can't teach people how they should think it learn.
Claire N
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really liked the idea of this book but overall thought it definitely could have been more condensed and a little clearer. If you don't have a semi strong background in psychology it may be a little much. However, it had some interesting ideas. ...more
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"Wisdom arises from a friendly and intimate relationship with the undermind." By the "undermind," psychologist Guy Claxton is referring to the nebulous part of our mind usually referred to as the "subconscious." In his illuminating book "Hair Brain, Tortoise Mind," Claxton expounds the benefits of allowing "slow ways of thinking" to help us find solutions to complex problems. In other words, by relaxing our minds and attending closely to the details of seemingly disparate elements, patterns will ...more
Apr 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Makes a strong case that we over-value a highly reasoned approach to living. It shows the pitfalls of analyzing and over-analyzing and shows, empirically, how sometimes it is just as important (maybe even more so) to "sleep on it" and to rely on that gut feeling. It also shows when which mode of thinking will be more productive.

Though Glaxton speaks of the unconscious "undermind", if you replace this with "subconscious", this book fits in well with every hypnotist's library.

Includes a huge colle
Diane Woodrow
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Here is a book that made me weep. As a home schooler this was how I taught my children, to sit, to think, to wait, to understand that there are more outcomes than just the logical one. I am now a part time tutor and find that I ache when I get told by parents that I am not working their child hard enough. If only I could get them to read this book and know how much more is going on than just the "workings out on the page".
A wonderful book that all involved in education or parenting or are into
Jun 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
If your own brain works against you, especially in the areas of creativity, and if you are fundamentally interested in brain science and cognition, this book will satisfy, and maybe even make you feel a little more whole. The pop-title and jacket description make it sound more fluffy than it actually is; true, it is written for the lay-person, but it's not a surface treatment. The author's writing style is clear and pretty penetrative. I ate this one up like candy. ...more
Will Napier
Jul 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in scientific investigation of intuition
Shelves: mindmatters
Perhaps we've all experienced thinking hard about something, only for the solution to pop into our heads when we give up and have a bath. Or sleep. It is refreshing to read proper psychology done by a proper psychologist (proper = backed up with experimental investigation) in an area where so much fluff abounds. If you want to understand how to 'incubate' your creative thinking and gain confidence in your intuition, read this book. Only 226 pages! ...more
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent exposition of the powers of the subconscious mind- the "undermind" as the author calls it. You realize the biases that modern society has toward engaging in conscious, analytical thinking. New idea: the conscious experience is not the driver or the one in charge, but just the result of the undermind working overtime and bringing certsin processes to the surface. ...more
Bryant Macfarlane
Jan 18, 2016 rated it liked it
I guess it distilled down to the near axiomatic suggestion that knee jerk reactions are seldom the best for any intelligent action. The book was filled with a dry wit, but all in all seemed less than compelling.
Shawn  Stone
Nov 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've ever had epiphanies or sudden answers to problems that you've been mulling over for ages, this book explains they whys and hows to more effectively cultivate the undermind thinking mode of the subconscious. Very good read. ...more
Public Words
Dec 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Claxton describes different ways of learning and gives the reader a real insight into how to learn more, faster and better. Cramming for the Bar Exam, a college final, or a new subject on the job? You'll do it differently after you read this.
Public Words
Apr 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Claxton describes different ways of learning and gives the reader a real insight into how to learn more, faster and better. Cramming for the Bar Exam, a college final, or a new subject on the job? You’ll do it differently after you read this.
Jul 27, 2011 rated it liked it
OK book, content is good, but he could have said everything in a book of half the size.
Oct 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
explains why sleeping on it is a smart thing.
Scott Ford
Apr 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Claxton exposes the over-reliance on analytical thinking as the bane of contemporary problem solving. Very Zen!
Charles Thornton
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Fascinating to learn how the brain works and this concept is helpful but could be communicated in a lot less pages.
a psychologist pleads for a greater appreciation of the unconscious mind in problem solving. this is well know, as the 3 bs, in physics etc. ok book
Andrew Macpherson
rated it really liked it
Mar 16, 2019
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Guy Claxton is Emeritus Professor of the Learning Sciences at the University of Winchester. His many publications include Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: Why Intelligence Increases When You Think Less. He lives in the UK.

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“As we have seen, the modern mind has a distorted image of itself that leads it to neglect some of its own most valuable learning capacities. We now know that the brain is built to linger as well as to rush, and that slow knowing sometimes leads to better answers. We know that knowledge makes itself known through sensations, images, feelings and inklings, as well as through clear, conscious thoughts. Experiments tell us that just interacting with complex situations without trying to figure them out can deliver a quality of understanding that defies reason and articulation. Other studies have shown that confusion may be a vital precursor to the discovery of a good idea. To be able to meet the uncertain challenges of the contemporary world, we need to heed the message of this research, and to expand our repertoire of ways of learning and knowing to reclaim the full gamut of cognitive possibilities.” 0 likes
“Everything is gestation and bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist’s life. Being an artist means not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap, and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide. Rainer Maria Rilke” 0 likes
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