The Cyber Effect, by Mary Aiken.

cybereffectMary Aiken describes herself as a “cyberpsychologist”. She has spent her career investigating the effect that continual exposure to internet-connected devices has on the human mind. She describes how the addictive nature of phones and computers leads to deviant sexual behaviour, risk-taking, and crime. She is a scientist, but she also believes that we should go beyond science in our understanding of the modern world, because the nature of social interaction is changing so fast that we have no time to wait for carefully controlled longitudinal studies.

“A great, important book – a must read” – Steven D. Levitt

“Fascinating and accessible” – Alexandra Frean, The Times.

“A social alarm bell” – Sunday Times, Books of the Year.


The Power of Mind, by Dan Jones, Shannon Fischer, and Laurence Sugarman.

Three New Scientist articles about short cuts to harness the brain’s hidden depths.

The Government has a “nudge unit” devoted to using psychology to influence people to behave in desirable ways. For example, previously you had actively to sign up for an occupational pension. Now, you have to tick a box saying that you want to opt out if you wish. Uptake of pension contribution schemes has dramatically increased.

These linked article are about how scientists are understanding more about how throwing simple switches in the mind can solve problems.

“Mindfulness meditation is a form of hypnosis.”

“Brain imaging studies have revealed specific areas of the brain are involved in the placebo effect.”

New Scientist No. 3064, 12th March 2016, p28-35.

Big Brother, by Lionel Shriver

bigbrotherPandora Halfdanarson’s brother is fat. And he’s coming to stay. And cook.

To what extent is it ethical or desirable for her to intervene in his addiction to food?

And what is the underlying cause of the eating behaviour that is killing him?

This novel is a great read, and very thought-provoking. Especially given that Lionel Shriver’s real brother died from obesity-related heart attack shortly after she wrote this article in the Guardian.