Obviously Awesome

Elephant in the Brain - my book notes (in progress)

Animal Behavior

social grooming
competitive altruism - for prestige status

Competition
the parable of the redwoods
sex
social status
politics
structural similarities
signaling
looking ahead
Norms
our forager ancestors
why norms?
gossip & reputation
subtle
but important ones
bragging
currying favor ("sucking up")
subgroup politics
selfishness
Cheating
a caveat
common knowledge
a little discretion
pretexts (ready-made excuses)
conspiracy (discreet communications)
examples: body language cues
crypto
subtlety & subtext
symbolism
informal speech
skirting norms
minor sins
Self-Deception
old school: self-deception as defense
new school: self-deception as manipulation
closing/degrading comms channels
opening oneself up to future punishment
ignoring info
purposefully believing something that is (probably) false
why do we believe ourselves?
self-deception in practice: the madman; the loyalist; the cheerleader; the cheater
modularity
self-discretion
Counterfeit Reasons
"i wanted to go get a coke"
rationalization
introducing the press secretary
sneaking past the gatekeeper
rationalization in real life
Everyday Hidden Motives
Body Language
honest signals (actions >> words)
sex
politics
social status
why we're unaware of it
Laughter
biology
play signals
dark side
norms
psychological distance
deniability
Conversations
sharing conversation
costs & benefits
reciprocity
resolution: sex & politics
puzzles revisited
prestige
news
academic research
the elephant in the book
Consumption
beyond wealth
inconspicuous consumption
product variety
advertising
Art
parable: bowerbirds
art in humans
extrinsic properties
when factors change
practicality
discernment
Charity
effective altruism
real-world altruism
the "warm glow" theory
visibility
peer pressure
proximity
relatability
mating
appearances
missing forms
Education
puzzles
signaling
signals & implications
beyond signaling
propaganda
domestication
Medicine
evolutionary arguments
history
today
rand health insurance experiment
but... but...
conspicuous care
Religion
the mystery
do beliefs explain behaviors?
religions as social systems
sacrifice
loyalty
trust
pre-social norms
rituals
sermons
supernatural beliefs
celibacy & martyrdom
Politics
the "do-right"
puzzles
apparatchiks
daily life
loyalty signaling
Conclusion
putting the elephant to use
perspective