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Book Review: Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow

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Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Mlodinow is an excellent book which explains the subtleties of the unconscious mind on our everyday activities and choices. Mlodinow makes some very fine distinctions on how willed behavior differs from habit. The conscious mind does not register all details and the discrepancies can be considerable. Our memory can be in error because the mind tends to fill in gaps based on expectations, beliefs and prior knowledge according to the researcher Munsterberg.

Sometimes people are influenced by irrelevant factors in their decision-making. An example would be defining our experience with a product based upon marketing alone. For instance, the famous Schaefer beer commercial sticks in the minds of people even today. The catchy jingle served as a reminder that, “Schaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one.”

In the minds of consumers, Schaefer beer was to be consumed on occasions when more than one beer was contemplated. This commercial lasted for decades due to its acceptance by the public. The author spent some time discussing mis-perceptions. Mlodinow felt that people tend to misperceive family relations, misremember important events and misunderstand investment decisions. Each of these mis-perceptions can have cataclysmic impacts on our personal lives.

Mis-perceiving family relations could result in conflicts over things that may not even be in dispute. Misremembering important events could involve crucial time frame differences. Misunderstanding investment decisions could result in a huge loss of money due to the failure to perform due diligence resulting from impulse buying.  In discussing how the mind works, Mlodinow reminds readers to employ logic more often instead of caving into emotions now and experiencing the downside later on. In addition, the author spends a considerable effort to remind people of the importance of nonverbal cues in human relations.

Another classic error involves identifying with a group for flimsy reasons. This is one of the prominent fallacies people rationalize in joining gangs. Sometimes, people take a job for the wrong reasons. These reasons could include prestige or salary alone versus a thoroughly considered career choice.

Subliminal is a carefully crafted book on the dynamics of human relations and the impact on our conscious and unconscious mind. Mlodinow has some barely recognizable messages on the front and back covers, if the book is held up to the light. The messages read, “Buy this book. Now you know you want it.”

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.