The Haphazard Makeup of the Human Mind

I apologize for posting so late but I just found a video on the Situationist Blog by Gary Marcus “on his book, Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind. Marcus discusses the accidents of evolution that caused this structure and what we can do about it. (Situationist Blog)” (Click here to skip intro and watch vid)

Book Background ( Via Publishers Weekly)


Why are we subject to irrational beliefs, inaccurate memories, even war? We can thank evolution, Marcus says, which can only tinker with structures that already exist, rather than create new ones: Natural selection… tends to favor genes that have immediate advantages rather than long-term value. Marcus (The Birth of the Mind), director of NYU’s Infant Language Learning Center, refers to this as kluge, a term engineers use to refer to a clumsily designed solution to a problem. Thus, memory developed in our prehominid ancestry to respond with immediacy, rather than accuracy; one result is erroneous eyewitness testimony in courtrooms. In describing the results of studies of human perception, cognition and beliefs, Marcus encapsulates how the mind is contaminated by emotions, moods, desires, goals, and simple self-interest…. The mind’s fragility, he says, is demonstrated by mental illness, which seems to have no adaptive purpose. In a concluding chapter, Marcus offers a baker’s dozen of suggestions for getting around the brain’s flaws and achieving true wisdom. While some are self-evident, others could be helpful, such as Whenever possible, consider alternate hypotheses and Don’t just set goals. Make contingency plans. Using evolutionary psychology, Marcus educates the reader about mental flaws in a succinct, often enjoyable way. (Apr. 16)

Author Background (Via KlugeBook.com):

Gary Marcus author of the The Birth of the Mind (Basic Books, 2004, translated into 6 languages) and editor of The Norton Psychology Reader, is an award-winning Professor of Psychology at New York University, where he is director of the NYU Center for Child Language. His research, published in leading journals such as Science, Nature, Cognition, and Psychological Science, focuses on the evolution and development of the human mind.

Click Here to Watch Video on the Makeup of the Human Mind

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *