Showing of 16 next show all This book takes a quick trip through the human mind and what sort of evolutionary construction could have led to a mind that is a mess of half-developed solutions and new structures built on top of old, connections that twist and turn, and odd, irrational thinking patterns. The author writes well, and does his research. The book is easy to read, though I must say there is nothing in here that I was not already aware of from many other sources. This is a good introductory book for people who are only just beginning to delve into the topic, but it is a bit superficial and unsatisfying for a well-seasoned reader on the subject. It is written at a level that should not be difficult for people who are not particularly schooled in scientific terminology; in fact, I dare say even physicists, with their poor understanding of biology, could actually understand this book.
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But I think he underestimates the adaptive value at least in a Darwinian sense of some of the aspects of our brains. For instance, Marcus says "in a system that was superlatively well engineered, belief and the process of drawing inferences which soon become new beliefs would be separate, with an iron wall between them.
Sometimes observations seem to contradict well-founded beliefs and resistance to changing those beliefs is not necessarily irrational or counterproductive although sometimes it is. Are we better off in the end with some other system? Perhaps, but would our ancestors have been better off with that system in the Pleistocene?
The original hardcover version of this book did not include the word "evolution" in the subtitle, and its after-the-fact addition to the paperback reflects the paucity of evolutionary information within. Many aspects that are poorly designed for the modern world our endless predilection for salty and fatty foods, for instance may have been well adapted to life in the Pleistocene where fat stores could be called upon during periodic food shortages.
The same is true for all the hours we spend watching TV perhaps a substitute for storytelling or seeking non-procreative sex sex and procreation, for the most part, could not be decoupled in the Pleistocene. Studies show that teens actually overestimate the dangers of the activities they partake in, yet they do them anyway to gain peer acceptance. And it plausibly increases their reproductive success to this day, despite contraception.
To be fair, many of the traits described were just as maladaptive in the Pleistocene as they are today and many points remain valid.
Kluge-the Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind
But I think he underestimates the adaptive value at least in a Darwinian sense of some of the aspects of our brains. For instance, Marcus says "in a system that was superlatively well engineered, belief and the process of drawing inferences which soon become new beliefs would be separate, with an iron wall between them. Sometimes observations seem to contradict well-founded beliefs and resistance to changing those beliefs is not necessarily irrational or counterproductive although sometimes it is. Are we better off in the end with some other system?
Not that I mean that as a bad thing quite the opposite. The ideas in both books are terribly important to anyone with a brain, particularly anyone who finds that brain getting away with terribly odd and distressing things at times. When I Googled Kluge I found that there are quite a few people out there called Kluge as my American friends might say a bit of a bummer. In In some ways the start of this is just The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making put into chapters and continuous prose.
Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind
Published on Sat 31 May Minds are slow, noisy, error-prone, but highly intelligent. Computers are designed, minds have evolved. Yet these are the skills that human survival depends on, the products of 3bn years of trial-and-error evolution. Evolutionary processes can only select from among minor variants of what is there already. This means that human brains carry the traces of our ancestry, such as eyes that are wired inside out meaning that light entering the eye has to pass through a layer of nerve cells before it meets the retina , and seemingly redundant "lower" brain structures whose functions, important in the lives of reptiles, have now been taken over by our massively overdeveloped cerebral cortex. Such engineering nightmares are, as Gary Marcus points out, the reverse of anything resembling intelligent design.
Kluge : the haphazard construction of the human mind