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Mind Hacks – the book

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Okay, even though it’s implied in the fine print on the copyright page, chances are, you won’t void your warranty using anything in this book. So, if you’re worried about waking up naked in the zoo, go ahead and read it. And if you want to wake up naked in the zoo, you don’t need this book.

“Mind Hacks” by Tom Stafford and Matt Webb is a look at cognitive psychology, and like other “Hacks” books looks at the boundaries of what the system can do. Right from the start, they dispel the model of the brain and mind as a computer, with a great example, pour a beer into a human, pour a beer into a computer, which is still working?. The brain isn’t a computer, but it does have particular modes of operation which we aren’t consciously aware of, starting with the “blind spot”.

The book gives an introduction of what we know about the basic function of the brain and nervous system, and moves on to various tests and examples of where the boundaries are in our perception. Obviously since it is a book, it mostly focuses on visual, attention, memory and perception issues. If this becomes a best-seller, perhaps O’Reilly will issue a special edition with a vanilla cookie.

This edition is a great example of how O’Reilly is moving beyond programmers, anybody who is involved in user experience would do well to read this book: graphic designers, copy writers, marketing people, bloggers, and so on. It is a great introduction to a very complex topic, entertaining and smoothly written. And you just may find out that half of everything you think you know is wrong, and yes, they tell you how you may fix it.

The book is laden with links to examples and exercises, to get you started, go to http://hacks.oreilly.com

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About Jim Carruthers

  • LOVE the inclusion of Penn and Teller in the ASIN list for Mind Hacks.

  • Since half of their act is showing you how the illusion works, and then doing stuff you can’t figure out how they did it, I’m surprised Penn and Teller aren’t doing a book for O’Reilly.

  • Magic Hacks? Or Illusion Annoyances?

  • Maybe “Bullshit In a Nutshell”, I’ll leave it up to you to figure out what animal should illustrate the cover.

  • I’m sure P&T would prefer that a human illustrate their cover, rather than an animal.

  • Eric Olsen

    very nice job on what sounds like an important and valuable book Jim, thanks! Self-analysis and the ability to examine our own processes are what distinguish us from the beasts and fluttery things