Iconoclast - a neuroscientist reveals how to think differently. Gregory Berns
. Harvard Business Press, 2008.
This is a remarkable book in that Berns takes us inside to brain to show what happens when we think. More importantly, he discusses the brain's activities when we think in unconventional ways. The iconoclast - someone who does things others say are impossible - is usually an innovator. Indeed Berns gives us many examples of iconoclastic innovators.
His treatment of how our brains act is wonderfully revealing. For example, the brain is 'lazy' and tends to rely on experience to guess at what we are seeing. Or to put that another way, rather than process all the pixels it gets from the eyes, it uses what is already knows to make assumptions to fill in the rest of the frame. From this we conclude that if you want to be an iconoclast, you have to deny your brain's shortcuts and ask it to process the whole picture.
But the subtitle 'how to think differently' is a little disingenuous. Berns tells us how iconoclasts think in different circumstances, or more fairly, how our brains should be acting under certain stimuli. For example, how our brains should act when we see things, how our brains should react to fear, and so on. However, I found very little that told me how I can make my brain act like an iconocalast's. Perhaps I am being lazy - now that I understand what my brain is doing, I can persuade it to see things in a different light, the way an iconoclast would. -- jsr London, April 2009.