Idiot Brain: What Your Head Is Really Up to (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

An unbelievably funny romp through a great many foibles that evolution has gifted to our brains, which do often get us into trouble. Burnett is a neuroscientist that moonlights as a comedian and the dry British wit is relentless. He catalogues how different processes in our brains are often pulling in different directions, how our memories are unreliable and ego biased, how we terrify ourselves by obsessing over things that never did and never will happen, how we change our behaviors when we’re in groups and the list goes on. Certain chapters are also refreshingly self-skeptical—he doubts his own theories and often states that our techniques are not yet adequate for making strong claims about brain behavior. The book sometimes feels like it loses focus but in the end that is part of its charm—and certainly something our brains are good at as well.

— From Andy's Staff Favorites


The brain is an absolute marvel--the seat of our consciousness, the pinnacle (so far) of evolutionary progress, and the engine of human experience. But it's also messy, fallible, and about 50,000 years out of date. We cling to superstitions, remember faces but not names, miss things sitting right in front of us, and lie awake at night while our brains endlessly replay our greatest fears. Idiot Brain is for anyone who has ever wondered why their brain appears to be sabotaging their life--and what on earth it is really up to.

Library Journal Science Bestseller
Goodreads Choice Award Science & Technology Finalist

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393354119
ISBN-10: 0393354113
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: July 11th, 2017
Pages: 336
Language: English