Fake neuro-social-evolutionary-bio-psycho-science

Robert Cialdini's Pre-suasion, despite its touting by Scott Adams, is just OK. It has a number of good tips, and some nice stories, but the whole thing could have been a forty-page pamphlet or e-book. (As it is, the book ends at page 233, and the last 180 pages are references, notes, and the index.)

One thing particularly annoying in the book is its regular, phony invocations of neuro-this and evolutionary that. For instance, "kin selection" is invoked in a section on why being like people whom you are trying to persuade is a good idea. But it does absolutely no work: everyone knows that "blood is thicker than water," and evolution is conjured up to give a fake veneer of science to this commonplace knowledge. Every time neurology is brought up, it is the same: none of it does any work. This name-dropping plays the same role that mentioning "Oh, and the Pope likes it" would have played in an astronomical argument in 1300.


  1. Thanks for your service! I've taken the book off my list.

  2. I think you were primed not to like it.