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Charlie Dickinson

Guy Claxton

Hare Brain Tortoise Mind

When we are trying to solve a problem, we may feel that we need to put all of our efforts into the solution, and to stick at it until it is cracked. But in Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: Why Intelligence Increases When You Think Less Guy Claxton claims that often we need to step back and let our unconscious come up with the answer.

Claxton argues that we are brought up to think that conscious deliberation - what he calls d-mode thinking - it the way to approach any problem. He shows, using plenty of recent scientific research, that the unconsious mind - or undermind - can often do better. Thus we can pick up information which doesn't enter our conscious mind, and our decisions are often better if we aren't made to write down our reasoning behind them. In particular Claxton looks at education, and argues that students need more 'learning by osmosis' and less force feeding of facts.

I would agree with much of what Claxton says, in particular because he is careful to take a balanced view, and admit that there are many situations where d-mode thinking is what is required. However, I felt that he didn't give a lot in the way of guidance of when this is likely to be the case. Hence the book is probably most suited to those wanting to get a general overview of the usefulness of the undermind, rather than those wanting a guide to apply to their everyday lives. (Claxton has written several other books in this subject area, and it may be that one of those would be more suited to this purpose).