Searching for Truth about the Unconscious Mind
232 pp., 6 x 9 in, 20 b&w illus.
- Published: August 8, 2023
- Publisher: The MIT Press
A provocative look at the unconscious mind that challenges contemporary perceptions and exposes the indefensible science that fostered them.
How much of a role does the unconscious play in our decision making? In Open Minded: Searching for Truth about the Unconscious Mind, authors Ben R. Newell and David R. Shanks would argue: not very much. Behavioral science and public discourse have placed an outsized emphasis on the unconscious mind when it comes to understanding human behavior. Pursuing trails of fraud, intrigue, and claims about the power of unconscious thought, Newell and Shanks scrutinize the science that has contributed to our conventional wisdom and offer an important counterpoint to the ever-stronger traction that the unconscious mind has gained in public debate, such as the now ubiquitous claim that unconscious bias plays a large role in people's decisions and behavior.
Open Minded is divided into two sections: the first examines the modern understanding of the conscious mind, and the second shifts the focus to how to reform current research. Focusing on the core processes of decision making, Newell and Shanks cut through many questionable claims about unconscious behavior. Then, they delve into the nuts-and-bolts of methodology, challenging not only psychology and the behavioral sciences but also medicine and science more broadly. In this against-the-grain approach, Newell and Shanks chart new possibilities for how we may be more open to understanding how our minds actually work.