SOME INSIGHT FROM MY TIMES COLUMNIST DAVID BROOKS

I just finished reading a book, published in 2012, by NY Times columnist David Brooks:  “The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement”.  Overall, I’d give the book a B or B-minus.  There’s a lot of good stuff in it, but it could have used some sharper focus and tighter editing.  (My wife:  “Pot.  Kettle.  Enough said.”)  I wanted to pass along a couple of sound bites that I thought were particularly spot-on.  JG

From Page 167: 

“(O)ne of the great temptations of modern research is that it tries to pretend that every phenomenon is a clock, which can be evaluated using mechanical tools and regular techniques.  This is surely true of the study of intelligence.  Researchers have spent a great deal of time studying IQ, which is relatively stable and quantifiable, and relatively little time studying mental character, which is cloudlike.”

From Page 226:

“In short, the rationalism method has yielded many great discoveries, but when it is used to explain or organize the human world, it does have one core limitation.  It highly values conscious cognition...which it can see, quantify, formalize, and understand.  But it is blind to the influence of the unconscious...which is cloudlike, nonlinear, hard to see, and impossible to formalize.  Rationalists have a tendency to lop off or diminish all information that is not calculable according to their methodologies.”’