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Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills cover art

Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills

By: Steven Novella,The Great Courses
Narrated by: Steven Novella
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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.

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87 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.

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41 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.

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35 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!

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  • 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.

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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'

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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.

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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.

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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.

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6 people found this helpful