Scott Wood's Reviews > Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

Buddha's Brain by Rick Hanson
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's review
May 11, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: philosophy, science, religion, ebook, kindle-book
Read from May 11 to August 20, 2012

New Age-y psycho-self help books tend to make grand recommendations without providing any reason for believing that the author is doing anything but making sh*t up. So, here is Rick Hanson to provide the scientific basis.

Given the New Age pseudo-scientific misuse of quantum mechanics, he has a large hill to climb to get me to trust his judgment that any of this stuff has any basis in science. He doesn't get there, for two reasons:

1) For the most part the science references are pointless add-ons to his message. I do find it interesting that such and such emotion arises in the amygdala, is transmitted through the para-sympathetic nervous system, and so on, but in this book that knowledge is barren. It's like knowing that the Civil War was fought during the Lincoln Administration, without knowing who Lincoln was, and how he differed from Buchanan, and the historical lead-up to the conflict. "Fought during the Lincoln Administration" becomes a perfectly fine piece of trivia in a book about military strategy, but fundamentally irrelevant to the narrative.

For those uninterested in the science, the trivia becomes a burden and the practical advice sparse.

2) Even though Hanson includes ample references to scientific research, the nature of the writing doesn't convince me that he is using those references appropriately, or that he's even referencing scientifically respected work. Pretty much everything looks august in the "Author1, Author2, and Author3, 1995" form. I have neither the time nor the knowledge to independently verify them.

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