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Summary

No skill is more important in today's world than being able to think about, understand, and act on information in an effective and responsible way. What's more, at no point in human history have we had access to so much information, with such relative ease, as we do in the 21st century. But because misinformation out there has increased as well, critical thinking is more important than ever.

These 24 rewarding lectures equip you with the knowledge and techniques you need to become a savvier, sharper critical thinker in your professional and personal life. By immersing yourself in the science of cognitive biases and critical thinking, and by learning how to think about thinking (a practice known as metacognition), you'll gain concrete lessons for doing so more critically, more intelligently, and more successfully.

The key to successful critical thinking lies in understanding the neuroscience behind how our thinking works - and goes wrong; avoiding common pitfalls and errors in thinking, such as logical fallacies and biases; and knowing how to distinguish good science from pseudoscience. Professor Novella tackles these issues and more, exploring how the (often unfamiliar) ways in which our brains are hardwired can distract and prevent us from getting to the truth of a particular matter.

Along the way, he provides you with a critical toolbox that you can use to better assess the quality of information. Even though the world is becoming more and more saturated information, you can take the initiative and become better prepared to make sense of it all with this intriguing course.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses

What listeners say about Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills

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Excellent but listen like a true sceptic

What did you like most about Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills?

Overall and excellent overview of the way to attempt to cultivate a rational and balanced view.

Who was your favorite character and why?

There are no characters in this audiobook.

What about Professor Steven Novella’s performance did you like?

As with all the Great Courses the narrator is the expert and thus has a natural passion and thorough knowledge of what they are speaking about. This intimate connection is essential to enjoying an audiobook but is lacking in so many books that have employed professional narrators who clearly have little idea about the tone and rhythm appropriate to the subject matter.

Any additional comments?

I found some of the author's views to be strikingly incoherent.

The author seems to believe that media outlets have sufficient staff to thoroughly investigate an international act of terror, stocks and shares trading by multi-national financial corporations, the CIA/FBI, senior government officials and foreign governments yet he also states that they do not have the resources to employ a qualified science editor to research articles before publishing them.

He also completely ignores the complication of economics and politics that are intertwined with coverage by all modern media outlets whether this be the desire to retain large advertising contracts to the fact that governments have the jurisdiction and power to prevent information that they do not want to be exposed from being broadcast or published through laws that incorporate national security.

The method the author uses to reach his conclusions during some sections of the book are glib, presumptuous and rather hypocritical given the overall lesson of this audio book.

The author's own fallibilities only serve to highlight how easy it is to enter into lazy group think and lose a true sceptic's approach of dissecting and analysing information.

83 people found this helpful

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This covers it all

So as a scientist, this is an area of great personal interest and I've done a huge amount of background reading in this subject. This one book covers all aspects of critical thinking. If you are familiar with this area, then be prepared to hear some of the same examples you will have come across elsewhere, but don't let that put you off. This is clear and well laid out and I wish everyone could listen to it.

39 people found this helpful

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Excellent listen

Dr Steven Novella has written an excellent series of lessons that really helps one understand why people believe strange things. More importantly though, he explains how our own brains can deceive us. Ever wondered how everyone else around you remembers something completely different to how you remember it? Or how someone can come to a completely different conclusion to something than you did, even though you both had the exact same data? This book is fascinating and helps one realise, just because you saw it/ heard it/ analysed it (etc.) doesn't mean you'll come to the correct conclusion unless you take steps to ensure you don't let personal bias get in the way.

His many years as a teacher at Yale and podcasting ensure it is very easy to listen to this series of lectures. Broken down into half hour sessions, you can go through it is small chunks (I listened to it in three large chunks though, I was enjoying it so much). The one criticism I would have, being an audiobook, the times Dr Novella mentions different visual phenomena that fool us becomes a little difficult, not having the picture in front of you (some are famous and probably don't need an accompanying picture, but some aren't). The same with the audio phenomena. It would have been easy to include them in the audiobook. There also appeared to be mention of a workbook, which I could not find out anything about.

Having said that, those few issues were not serious enough for me to take any marks off. This is a great book with some truly fascinating things to learn, read in a way that made the time pass by so quickly.

Thoroughly recommend it.

34 people found this helpful

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Steven Novella always nails it.

(this review should be read with a 1940's/50's news announcers voice)

Tired of being taken for a fool by simple and clichéd marketing tactics? Tired of holding cherished but ultimately wrong beliefs? Tired of loosing Facebook debates on the merit of being wrong?...then look no further. Prof. Steven Novella will take you through all the essential steps of being a skeptic.

You will learn how to only trust real science, and then how to be skeptical of said science.

You will chart some of the most hilarious mistakes in scientific history and then have all of your cognitive biases laid bare as your world crumbles around you.

lose your mind in most sane way possible.

Pick up a copy today!

17 people found this helpful

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  • J
  • 04-08-19

First half very interesting - then very repetitive

I really enjoyed that book until about halfway through. Then it started being very repetitive with basically accusing everyone and everything who's not from government/FDA or university of lying and telling that most of things what we know are not true and made up. Then at the end sentence that we shouldn't even believe him and check facts anyway.

13 people found this helpful

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not the best of the series. Quite basic stuff

He spends a disproportionate amount of time talking about sensory illusions all to illustrate the fact that you can't trust anything. The point was quite easy to make and to understand without countless examples to demonstrate it.

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very strong start but undermined in by bias

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Perhaps it cant be. How many of us can be truly objective?

I didnt expect anything different on brain structure and chemistry, so was expecting the a priori conclusion that there is no 'self', even though the explanations given need not be the final word in themselves. Is the cause of a light switching on, the switch itself ?

However for a course that billed itself as critical thinking I expected better when it came to genuine reservations regarding Darwinian Evolution. Why? Because there is no other subject in Science that seems to raise emotions as much as this. Objections are often dismissed simply because of who presents them and invariably assumes that each protestor must necessarily be a Creationist which is not necessarily true (Richard Milton for example described himself as an agnostic). So in such a course this was inevitably going to be a pivotal revealing topic. Yes, the context in which this was discussed was vis-a-vis Creationism, and from this the impression given was simply that there were some gaps that might be explained in the future. Is this not however a case of the very wishful thinking that is criticised earlier on in the course? Also the complaint that the alternative explanation was not scientific compelling is not for me the primary issue but rather the doubts of flaws of Darwinian Evolution expressed in the first place.

I think that the other issue was this course was really heavily centred around the scientific method with a logic overlay, which granted was pointed out at the start. However this precludes approaches such as metaphysics, that does not lend itself to the scientific method but is consistent and no less critical in the application of logic.

Has Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills put you off other books in this genre?

No because it will be very dependent on the individual course tutor.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The narration itself was well done.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

yes the first section of the book was very good, particularly some of the examples of conspiracy theory. Unfortunately once you see a bias, particularly in this type of course, it then undermines the delivery.

Any additional comments?

For logic and critical thinking I found D Q McInerney's 'Being Logical : A Guide to Good Thinking, a much smaller but good concise guide.
Importantly for the scientific paradigm Thomas Kuhn's 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' , Karl Popper's 'The Logic of Scientific Discovery' and yes even Paul Feyerabend's 'Against Method'

12 people found this helpful

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Reasons to think cautiously.

An invaluable guide from a giant of scientific scepticism. Although I have a degree in philosophy and an MA in cognitive science, I found some new things to reflect on in this course. Not to say those qualifications are necessary (or particularly useful) to follow this course.

9 people found this helpful

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How to grow your brain & explode your ego!

This course will grow your brain by challenging your beliefs and give you a clear process to reality check any of your conclusions. In other words, putting your dearest most lovingly held beliefs through the meat grinder of scientific critical thinking. Not for the faint hearted! It is not about how to be right, although it could be, but hopefully it will explode your ego in the same way it has mine and give you the tools you need to have more humility in the face of your thoughts and beliefs.

9 people found this helpful

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Very interesting

This really should be taught in school. If humanity was taught how to properly think a lot, if not all of humanities problems would be a thing of the past. No more self perpetuating lies and rhetoric in the public sphere of consciousness would do a lot, Imo, to sort out a lot of the nonsense driving our world.

6 people found this helpful

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  • rkeinc
  • 21-09-14

Same Material Different Title

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Steven Novella?

Yes, I would try another book from The Great Courses but "No" I would not listen to another book by Professor Steven Novella. This is the 2nd Great Courses I have listened to by Professor Novella/

What do you think your next listen will be?

Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition

What aspect of Professor Steven Novella’s performance would you have changed?

The information he presents is almost identical to his Great Course on Medical Myths.

Was Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills worth the listening time?

Yes, I enjoy the information presented in "The Great Courses".

Any additional comments?

I listened to "Medical Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths: What We Think We Know May Be Hurting Us" by Professor Novella as part of "The Great Courses" a couple of weeks before. I felt that this book was just a rehash of the same information under the guise of a different topic (the mind) as opposed to the Medical Profession. I recommend that users/members take one of Professor Novella's courses and not both since you will be frustrated he just goes over the same information. I do appreciate his "skeptic" approach to issues pertaining to the mind as well as medical profession but once you have heard him once you will understand his approach. I hope this review helps.

778 people found this helpful

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  • Jason
  • 23-09-13

Clear thinking is valuable beyond measure!

First off, let me preface this review by saying I was already familiar with Steven Novella through his podcast, The Skeptics Guide to the Universe.

When I heard he had this series of lectures available on Audible, I was quite excited!

I was hoping for a clear, detailed and thorough treatment of Critical Thinking - and Novella delivers in spades, covering topic after topic with a treatment that is brisk, peppered with examples, constructed in a logical and understandable manner and order, and delivered eloquently.

The content is exactly what is says on the tin: if you are interested in Critical Thinking, in knowing how you think and how TO think -- there is no fat here. Logical fallacies and cognitive biases are examined, illustrated and explained.

I would caution the potential listener that this is a series of lectures on a specific subject; I enjoyed it immensely because I happen to be interested in the topic. If I didn't have that interest or I was expecting more of a narrative-type production, I think I would be disappointed.

A further caution: if you have a set of "alternative beliefs", prepare to be challenged! Examine the unfavorable reviews to see this side of things.

However -- and in summary -- if you desire to develop your Critical Thinking skills, to build the sharpest reasoning possible for yourself, or just to explore a scientific approach to understanding how your brain plays tricks on itself, then I give this work the highest recommendation!

413 people found this helpful

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  • samuel gherman
  • 10-11-15

A boring, long, less educational Brain Games

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Someone who wants a brief overview of a lot of quirky things the mind does, but doesn't really want to know why or how it does those things.

What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

I don't see how this is a "Guide to critical thinking", he literally just tells you stories of times the mind has done strange things contradictory to logic. It was all stuff I've heard before, several times, from other sources. There was no delving deeper into the why our minds do the things he says in the numerous examples. It was more stories of strange things our minds do, with a one sentence recap of why the mind did it (possibly), and then on to the next story. Literally I think almost everything in the first two chapters was in the Nat Geo show Brain Games.

193 people found this helpful

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  • Ralph Wiggum
  • 02-10-13

Common sense guide to skepticism

What did you love best about Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills?

The Professor did a very nice job of breaking down some modern-day myths and deconstructed them in such a way that there's little room for anyone to argue against it

Who was your favorite character and why?

Marianne? No Ginger. Kidding...this is a series of lectures narrated by the professor who provided the lecture

Which scene was your favorite?

I don't know that there was any one scene (lecture) in particular that was more compelling than the next. I did enjoy the lectures that discussed scientific greats throughout history that alllowed their biases to derail or misguide further achievements.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

meh...this is more of an academic excercise than a suspenseful thrill read. The material was good, but nothing I couldn't put down

Any additional comments?

the key to the title of this book is A "SCIENTIFIC" guide to critical thinking. Shame on me for not figuring this out, out of the gate, but I originally downloaded this due to an interest in "strategic" thinking in the workplace. While there are undoubtedly parallels in terms of the process of thinking and good information with respect to recognizing biases and how the brain/memory work...this is very much a discussion on debunking or veryifing scientific evidence versus any non-scientific business process.
It's a very good listen nontheless but not what I was expecting and not overly applicable to a corporate business setting (which again, is my own mistake). I only point this out in case anyone else struggles with reading comprehension like I did.

147 people found this helpful

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  • Douglas
  • 10-08-13

The Great Courses Lectures...

are perhaps the best use of audible books ever. I have listened to countless courses in literature, philosophy, and medicine, and they NEVER disappoint. They are all given by a leading lecturer in any given field and are ALWAYS high level university material... This set of lectures by Steven Novallis should be heard by absolutely everyone. As a college instructor, I can unequivocally state that the thing most needed in our culture is clear, logical, critical thinking. This is why I am always saddened to see the paucity of reviews on audible books like this one (I think I am the third one here on Audible with ZERO on Amazon!) while readers line up for tripe, titillation and magical beliefs in "books" about little boys who supposedly go to heaven, satanic ritual hoaxes, the Twilight series and, of course, the poorly conceived and even more poorly rendered pornography of James, Day, and a growing list of other female writers striving for their place in the smut trade. It is no wonder so few of us can think clearly and why human evolution remains such a slow and unsteady process...

104 people found this helpful

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  • Allan
  • 29-05-17

Ok summary

For me personally, nothing really new here. Listening to podcasts from Sam Harris and "you are not so smart" will more than adequately cover the subject but in and of itself it is a good collection of ideas that one is well served to listen to if you have not spent much time looking into this domain before.

93 people found this helpful

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  • Cody
  • 17-08-13

Blew. Me. Away.

Any additional comments?

As another listener stated, this should be required listening for everyone. I honestly feel like that the skills I learned as a result of these lectures have made me a more observant, overall better person. I have a better grasp on the reality of the world around me because I learned how to pierce through the crap, and really wonder why and how things happen. Thank you Professor Steven Novella for sharing your wisdom.

89 people found this helpful

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  • Emily
  • 15-02-15

Great flow

The organization of these lectures was very good. The material was not new for me - if you have read Dan Ariely, Daniel Kahneman or Michael Schermer, etc. then the concepts will not be new - but it was a great reminder and I particularly liked the way the material flowed and was organized. Very logical.

The narration by the professor was excellent. Great diction and pace.

These are essential concepts that are good for me to remind myself of at least once a year.

78 people found this helpful

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  • Marc
  • 27-03-14

well worth the time to listen to, good roundup

What did you love best about Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills?

Most of the facts and ideas presented in this course are well known to everyone who has read a bit about or heard from modern "mind science" or "how our brain works" talks. Yet, Novella's roundup is great to listen to, well paced, always interesting and well worth both time and energy spent.
I really enjoyed, for once, a scientist to remind the listener that he, the scientist, does not know it all and will probably not be right all the time. For one time a tutor explains, in detail, that using your own brain and mind means to check the facts and not just play along. A fair approach.

What other book might you compare Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills to and why?

M. Shermer's "The Believing Brain" is quite similar in general approach, but concentrates too much on personal vendetta of the author and/or believe system. There are more comparable titles, but most, in my eyes (ears), suffer from the same basic problem: Scientists that want to make you BELIEVE that they do not need to believe, because they know all the facts for fact, are ... wretched(?).
Most comparable books start of with or repeat sentences like "well, we know for a fact that ..." - and that, exactly, is not scientific thinking. It's religion.
Novella does not fall for this.

What does Professor Steven Novella bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Most books that cover the same topic come up with the ever repeating "experiments" that "scientists" have done, some of which date back to the 1930s or whatever. These experiments as well as the conclusions drawn from them are not that convincing, in setup, target and evidence. Yet, "science" seems unable to come up with new studies, new experiments and new approaches, so most books chew through the same data over and over again, almost in religious circles.
Novella gets around this quite well by just shortly pointing towards those experiments, but explaining thought processes and prejudices in more "today's" contexts, seemingly being still in contact with the real world and not lost in "scientist's drinking clubs". His narration, wit, pointyness (does that word exist?) and personal involvement make you believe he actually means what he says, yet has the distance to always remember you: He might be wrong.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

There are a few "funny" side notes that are funny enough to make you giggle or even laugh for a moment, but overall the pace (30 minute lectures) and dedication is just about right to not NEED jokes or horror stories.

Any additional comments?

Can you expect "new insights"? No, if you have ever read anything about modern brain science or mind theory. Are you looking for a sumup of the current "believe" in why we believe and how we err in making up our minds: This is a great approach that won't even harm a religious listener (and those are often the targets of pity for so many other authors/teachers).
Not that I am of that kind anyway :-)

65 people found this helpful

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  • peter
  • 22-09-13

Between skeptic and denialist

Although many of the principles and fallacies are valid, the author is not realy a critical thinker at heart in my opinion. It shows from the examples and words he chooses. When he thinks skepticism is valid he calls is skepticism, but when he thinks it is not, he calls it denialism, just like using the word 'authoritive source'. That is just labeling. When he discusses MMR/authism, he says: because of this 1 report 'compliance' of MMR vacine dropped. Why not use the word 'usage' ? Compliance sounds like an authority robot and that is what the author is leaning towards. He does not understand the amount of money driving scientific reserach for vaccines and global warming research and how that affects the outcome of research.
He also complains that media has become too diverse with internet and that caused a loss of an 'authoritive filter'. A bottleneck in the media however makes it extremely simple to manipulate. That aspartane is not toxic because the FDA approved it, and foreign FDA's as well does not prove anything. You do not need a big conspiracy to explain this. The producing companies own all these monopolies through the revolving door circuit. It's like saying the intelligence agencies can't all be wrong about WMD in Iraq. You have to understand the revolving door with gvt's and the military industrial complex. They WERE wrong, all of them and you could understand why if you follow the money and watch the interaction between regulators, industry and academia. What about all those regulators saying the mortage market was fine before 2008? The author would have called me a tinfoil head conspiracy nut if I had told them all these regulators were wrong in 2007 with their AAA ratingson on junkmortgages. No, I was right, because you have to understand the revolving door between industry and regulators and the big pool of tax money they fish in.
To filter the bogus from truth he advises to 'check if the web site has an ideology or is a respected academic gvt agency, bound by transparancy'. How silly does that sound after Edward Snowden?
The Canadian gvt, besides funding 23000 scientist also issued a gag order for them recently. The gvt is a big corporation with a license to kill and steal.
Aother argument he uses is to ask 'if the source is licensed' Licensed by the goverment I assume? What makes this bunch of people invulnerable to base instincts? gvt's killed 200 million people world wide in the 20th century. His reasoning has a single point of failure, which is a giant pool of tax money, collected by a monopoly of violence in every country on earth.
His 911 views will also prove a big spot on this book in hindsight. A complete building, WTC7, falls at free fall speed in it's own foot print, presumably caused by office fires. Any critical thinker with some physics knowledge, can know a big steel re enforced building does not lose structural integrity everywhere, completely all at the same time because of some office fires. You have to be a denialist to think so ;-)
Every war in history started with a false flag.Hitler dressed up prisoners in Polish uniforms and had them attack german radiostations in operation canned goods, to justify 'retaliation'. After what has become known on operation Northwood and operation Gladio, you have to watch all events that call for a retaliation war with extreme skepticism considering the past.

60 people found this helpful