Cover Image: Determined


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Member Reviews

Compelling and persuasive. The author doubts himself and his theory but provides very convincing data to support it nonetheless. It will make you think, and it will challenge your self-perception.

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This is a very technical book, yet Sapolsky made a considerable effort to break it down for the average reader. I have a bachelor's in Psychology and have read Dennett and some of the other authors Sapolsky mentioned, so many of the experiments mentioned were familiar to me already, and I have given a fair amount of thought to the free will debate in my personal life.

He's good at timing his jokes to keep you interested when things get dense. Once, he even tells you to just skip an entire paragraph and come back to it later if you need it, which was great (I had no idea what that paragraph meant, anyway).

I can't speak to the science of the book, as to its accuracy or the methodology of the experiments. As a casual reader, however, I don't think it matters a whole lot whether or not his argument is "correct." What matters is how we respond to it. I actually would have loved a few more chapters at the end on this part of the argument (what do we do if there's no free will?) because I felt like that was the strongest part of the book. It leaves you questioning whether any choices you make actually matter, but it also makes some important points about our criminal justice system that happen to be in line with my views: i.e., punishment should be about protecting people from likely future harm, not retribution against the perpetrator. In some cases, we punish too harshly, and in some not enough. Jail time may not be the best punishment for some crimes, either.

Overall, it's a good introduction to the subject if you've never thought about it before. It provides a positive view of Determinism, rather than a bleak diatribe about how nothing matters.

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