Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Pg. 99: Rick Shenkman's "Political Animals"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: Political Animals: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics by Rick Shenkman.

About the book, from the publisher:
A bestselling historian holds our political choices up to the glare of social science to show just how illogical our voting habits are—and how we can fix them, and by extension, our democracy

Can a football game affect the outcome of an election? What about shark attacks? Or a drought? In a rational world the answer, of course, would be no. But as bestselling historian Rick Shenkman explains in Political Animals, our world is anything but rational. Drawing on science, politics, and history, Shenkman explores the hidden forces behind our often illogical choices.

Political Animals challenges us to go beyond the headlines, which often focus on what politicians do (or say they'll do), and to concentrate instead on what's really important: what shapes our response. Shenkman argues that, contrary to what we tell ourselves, it's our instincts rather than arguments appealing to reason that usually prevail. Pop culture tells us we can trust our instincts, but science is proving that when it comes to politics our Stone Age brain often malfunctions, misfires, and leads us astray.

Fortunately, we can learn to make our instincts work in our favor. Shenkman takes readers on a whirlwind tour of laboratories where scientists are exploring how sea slugs remember, chimpanzees practice deception, and patients whose brains have been split in two tell stories. The scientists' findings give us new ways of understanding our history and ourselves—and prove we don't have to be prisoners of our evolutionary past."

In this engaging, illuminating, and often riotous chronicle of our political culture, Shenkman probes the depths of the human mind to explore how we can become more political, and less animal.
Visit Rick Shenkman's website.

The Page 99 Test: Just How Stupid Are We?.

The Page 99 Test: Political Animals.

--Marshal Zeringue