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Human beings are primates, and primates are political animals. Our brains, therefore, are designed not just to hunt and gather, but also to help us get ahead socially, often via deception and self-deception. But while we may be self-interested schemers, we benefit by pretending otherwise. The less we...

Human beings are primates, and primates are political animals. Our brains, therefore, are designed not just to hunt and gather, but also to help us get ahead socially, often via deception and self-deception. But while we may be self-interested schemers, we benefit by pretending otherwise. The less we know about our own ugly motives, the better - and thus we don't like to talk or even think about the extent of our selfishness. This is "the elephant in the brain." Such an introspective taboo makes it hard for us to think clearly about our nature and the explanations for our behavior. The aim of this book, then, is to confront our hidden motives directly - to track down the darker, unexamined corners of our psyches and blast them with floodlights. Then, once everything is clearly visible, we can work to better understand ourselves: Why do we laugh? Why are artists sexy? Why do we brag about travel? Why do we prefer to speak rather than listen?

Our unconscious motives drive more than just our private behavior; they also infect our venerated social institutions such as Art, School, Charity, Medicine, Politics, and Religion. In fact, these institutions are in many ways designed to accommodate our hidden motives, to serve covert agendas alongside their "official" ones. The existence of big hidden motives can upend the usual political debates, leading one to question the legitimacy of these social institutions, and of standard policies designed to favor or discourage them. You won't see yourself - or the world - the same after confronting the elephant in the brain.

(From Goodreads)

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Number of Pages: 408

ISBN-13: 9780190496012


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Recommendations from around the web and our community.

I read this early and it’s phenomenal. @KevinSimler is one of the best living writers. Buy it and absorb it.

This is one of the five best books I have read in the last ten years. Have just plugged it in @spectator . When are you both coming to launch it in London? Will pay !

The paperback of @robinhanson's great book is available for cheap pre-order! https://t.co/IbTW5z5BDK P.S. I love @robinhanson with all my heart.

Brilliantly written and entertaining on every page.

Simler and Hanson uncover the hidden and darker forces that shape much of what we say and do.

"It's hard to overstate how impactful this book is.

An eye-opening look at how we deceive ourselves in order to deceive others.

The Elephant in the Brain is a masterpiece.

Fact check: great book #geekbookshelf

A disturbing and important book." --Arnold Kling

There are only a few people alive today worth listening to. Robin Hanson is one of them.

A captivating book about the things your brain does not want you to know.

Simler and Hanson have done it again- a big new idea, well told.

If you want to know what makes people tick, read The Elephant in the Brain. Simler and Hanson have created the most comprehensive, powerful, unified explanation of human nature and behavior to date.

In this ingenious and persuasive book, Simler and Hanson mischievously reveal that much of our behavior is for social consumption: we make decisions that make us look good, rather than good decisions

A thoughtful examination of the human condition.

Thorough, insightful, fun to read, with the slight negative that everything is now ruined forever. Zach Weinersmith

This book will change how you see the world. Allan Dafoe

Charles Darwin, Dan Kahneman and Malcolm Gladwell walk into a bar. . . It's no joke! Reading The Elephant in the Brain is like eavesdropping on a fascinating conversation among a group of well-read and clever iconoclasts as they speculate on why we vote against our economic intere...

Charles Darwin, Dan Kahneman and Malcolm Gladwell walk into a bar. . . It's no joke! Reading The Elephant in the Brain is like eavesdropping on a fascinating conversation among a group of well-read and clever iconoclasts as they speculate on why we vote against our economic interests, spend too
much on health care, give to the wrong charities and pray to gods we aren't sure really exist.

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