The Mind is Flat

Listen to a sample

What to expect

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of The Mind is Flat written and read by Nick Chater.

Most of us assume that our thoughts, desires and behaviour arise from the murky depths of our minds, and, if only we could access this inner world, we could truly understand ourselves. For more than a century, psychologists, psychiatrists and neuroscientists have struggled, using methods from psychotherapy to brain scans, to discover what lies below the surface of our minds.

In a profound reappraisal of how the mind works, pre-eminent behavioural scientist Nick Chater reveals that this entire enterprise is misguided: that we have no mental depths to plumb. Drawing on startling new research in neuroscience, behavioural psychology and perception, The Mind is Flat shows that we have no inner library of beliefs, values and desires lying with us, but instead generate them in the moment, and base them entirely on our past experiences. As the reader discovers – through eye-opening experiments and mind-bending visual examples – we are all characters of our own creation, constantly improvising our behaviour, rather than the playthings of unconscious currents within us.

Boldly original and utterly convincing, The Mind is Flat forces us to reconsider just about everything we thought we knew about ourselves, and shows that the result can be liberating.

Critics Review

  • An astonishing achievement. Nick Chater has blown my mind – as well as assuring me that my brain just doesn’t work the way I think it does. I haven’t been able to stop talking about the ideas in this book

    author of Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy and The Undercover Economist
  • A superb exposition of scientific findings

    Guardian
  • It’s a triumph in itself that Chater has written a book about cognition that is as gripping as a thriller. In fact, I would go even further. If you can measure a book by how often you find yourself bringing it up in conversation, then The Mind is Flat is one of the best I’ve ever read . . .

    Brilliant . . . beautifully written . . . you’ll be able to bored your relatives rigid with your new theories of cognition over the Christmas turkey

    The Spectator
  • This is a remarkable book. Every other book about the mind will tell you either why we’re so dumb, or why we’re so smart. Chater offers a single elegant theory to explain both: why our minds so often let us down and confound us, at the same time that they far surpass our current attempts to build intelligence in machines

    Josh Tenenbaum, Professor of Cognitive Science and Computation at MIT
  • The mind may be flat but this book is a fascinating, rounded and radical approach to understanding how we think and act. The implications for understanding human decision making are profound. Everyone who enjoyed Thinking, Fast and Slow must read this book

    Gus O'Donnell, former Cabinet Secretary and Chair of the Behavioural Insights Team Advisory Board
  • A total assault on all lingering psychiatric and psychoanalytic notions of mental depths to be plumbed. For Chater, surface is everything … Light the touchpaper and stand well back

    New Scientist

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