Ahead of the release of Leonard Mlodinow’s latest book Elastic: Flexible Thinking, I had a read of one of the author’s best-sellers: Subliminal: The New Unconscious and What It Teaches Us.
The book is both fun to read and hugely informative. Drawing on a wide range of classic social psychology, cognitive and neuroscience studies, spanning the last two centuries, Mlodinow unravels the development of our understanding of the unconscious: what it is, what it does, how we use it, and how it uses us.
With a good balance of scientific detail and anecdotal chatter, this book is certainly worth reading if you are intrigued as to how people make decisions, interact with others, and negotiate their way through life.
If you are interested in understanding more about research methods, but prefer to avoid the dryness of the methodology section of an academic article, Mlodinow explains a huge number of studies in clear and understandable terms, without getting bogged down in the heavy details.
It’s worth pointing out that the book doesn’t refer to subliminal messaging at any point in its 218 pages, so if you’re interested in discovering more about that then this book’s title is ever-so-slightly misleading. However, if you get this book, I assure you that you’ll be surprised and impressed by your subliminal (or unconscious) mind.
Mlodinow himself is from a theoretical physics background, which makes a change for a Psychology book. So, throughout the book, there are little references to physics as well. For me, this makes reading Mlodinow’s work a modern day equivalent to reading some of the classic philosophers (Weber, Nietzsche and co.) who tied many academic interests into whichever topic they were exploring at the time – a much more varied and interesting read than had the book been written without Mlodinow’s appreciation of other scientific and social disciplines.