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

1. Why We Hide Our Motives
  • social grooming
  • competitive altruism - for prestige status
  • the parable of the redwoods
  • sex
  • social status
  • politics
  • structural similarities
  • signaling
  • looking ahead
  • our forager ancestors
  • why norms?
  • gossip & reputation
  • subtle but important ones
  • bragging
  • currying favor ("sucking up")
  • subgroup politics
  • selfishness
  • 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
  • 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
  • 2. Everyday Hidden Motives
  • honest signals (actions >> words)
  • sex
  • politics
  • social status
  • why we're unaware of it
  • biology
  • play signals
  • dark side
  • norms
  • psychological distance
  • deniability
  • sharing conversation
  • costs & benefits
  • reciprocity
  • resolution: sex & politics
  • puzzles revisited
  • prestige
  • news
  • academic research
  • the elephant in the book
  • beyond wealth
  • inconspicuous consumption
  • product variety
  • advertising
  • parable: bowerbirds
  • art in humans
  • extrinsic properties
  • when factors change
  • practicality
  • discernment
  • effective altruism
  • real-world altruism
  • the "warm glow" theory
  • visibility
  • peer pressure
  • proximity
  • relatability
  • mating
  • appearances
  • missing forms
  • puzzles
  • signaling
  • signals & implications
  • beyond signaling
  • propaganda
  • domestication
  • evolutionary arguments
  • history
  • today
  • rand health insurance experiment
  • but... but...
  • conspicuous care
  • the mystery
  • do beliefs explain behaviors?
  • religions as social systems
  • sacrifice
  • loyalty trust
  • pre-social norms
  • rituals
  • sermons
  • supernatural beliefs
  • celibacy & martyrdom
  • the "do-right"
  • puzzles
  • apparatchiks
  • daily life
  • loyalty signaling
  • putting the elephant to use
  • perspective