I’m just going to provide a quick review for this book. First, let me start with a description from Amazon.com:
With its trillions of connections, the human brain is more beautiful and complex than anything we could ever build, but it's far from perfect. Our memory is unreliable; we can't multiply large sums in our heads; advertising manipulates our judgment; we tend to distrust people who are different from us; supernatural beliefs and superstitions are hard to shake; we prefer instant gratification to long-term gain; and what we presume to be rational decisions are often anything but. Drawing on striking examples and fascinating studies, neuroscientist Dean Buonomano illuminates the causes and consequences of these "bugs" in terms of the brain's innermost workings and their evolutionary purposes. He then goes one step further, examining how our brains function-and malfunction-in the digital, predator-free, information-saturated, special effects-addled world that we have built for ourselves. Along the way, Brain Bugs gives us the tools to hone our cognitive strengths while recognizing our inherent weaknesses.
Brain Bugs was enjoyable enough to read, and Buonomano is a decent writer, too. He has a clear, concise style that does not leave you scratching your head or rereading passages to understand what he means.
If you’ve read even a moderate amount about neuroscience or cognitive biases, I think you will be hard pressed to find anything groundbreaking in this book. It’s pretty standard fare. However, if you are completely unfamiliar with the topic, Brain Bugs would be a good place to start, as it is very accessible to the layperson and offers a good overview of some of the structures and functions of the human mind.
Buonomano makes some astute observations at times (he’s clearly an atheist and a liberal), but there were a few instances where he seemed to draw conclusions from a study which I did not agree with. As I am not a scientist, it bothered me a little that I could clearly see a flaw in his reasoning that Buonomano had failed to notice.
But, overall, I’m giving this one a thumbs-up.
I am uploading a scan of chapter 4 for you (Temporal Distortions) and including a video interview below. Here is a link to the Buonomano Lab.