Books & Literature

Book Review: The Power of Not Thinking, by Simon Roberts

NON-FICTION: A fascinating and revelatory look at how our bodies learn unconsciously and how understanding this can transform our lives.

If your gut instinct has proved you right in the past, keep doing what you’re doing.

Do you ever ignore the facts and make decisions ‘just because’ and it turns out you are right?

Can you enter the pin number in your phone yet find you cannot recall your pin number when asked?

Is your gut instinct usually a better choice?

If so, then chances are you would be a Merleau-Ponty fan. For those already familiar with the concept of embodied knowledge, it is a philosophy that places value on the intelligence of the body to attain and use information effectively, irrespective of the mind. In The Power of Not Thinking,author Simon Roberts applies this concept to a modern landscape.

Contemporary thoughts of intelligence are primarily based on a Descartes or Cartesian mind-body model which assumes all knowledge is held in the mind. If you have ever questioned this idea, you’ll be pleased to know that the landscape is changing. Furthermore, you’ll delight in the concepts and examples used in Simon Roberts’ book.

Without getting technical and without drawing too much on the philosophical concepts, The Power of Not Thinking discusses how information is unconsciously picked up by our body; then remembered, used and applied to future situations. He teaches us to trust these ‘educated’ decisions. In other words, if you just ‘have a feeling’, then go with it.

Roberts, a leading business anthropologist, draws on years of teaching corporate business managers to use their bodies to learn by providing experiences that teach the body to pick up knowledge. Participants can then take that knowledge back to the boardroom for application in their decision making.

Although this may be Roberts first book, he has spent twenty years in the field, including founding the UK’s first ethnographic research company. He has advised multiple high-profile businesses such as Facebook, Spotify, Google and Intel, and the success of his work has been reported in the Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and Bloomsburg.

If you want to know more and are fed up with data, data and more data in business, or you already use your instinct in everyday life, then you need to read this book. If you are nervous about the way Artificial Intelligence will impact us in the future or you are a bona fide tech geek, Simon Roberts also has a focused chapter on the integration of embodiment, artificial intelligence and our bodies.

Reviewed by Rebecca Wu

Distributed by: Allen and Unwin
Released: July 2020
RRP: $29.99

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