Deviate Book Summary - Deviate Book explained in key points
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Deviate summary

Beau Lotto

The Science of Seeing Differently

4.4 (198 ratings)
26 mins

Brief summary

Deviate by Beau Lotto is a book that explores how our perception of reality influences our behavior and decisions. Drawing on neuroscience and psychology, Lotto offers insights on how we can use perception to innovate and adapt to change in a rapidly evolving world.

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    There’s an objective reality, but our brains don’t see it.

    It’s February 2014 and the internet is, as usual, embroiled in a heated argument. All around the globe, people boldly declare their opinions, only to have family, friends, and complete strangers aggressively dismiss them as delusional.

    So what’s got the world all wound up? A simple picture of a blue-and-black dress. Or is it a gold-and-white dress? Well, that’s exactly the issue. Everyone’s looking at the same picture but seeing completely different things.

    This optical illusion became a viral sensation because it revealed an uncomfortable truth about the human mind. It showed millions of people that what we think of as reality is just an interpretation.

    The key message here is: There’s an objective reality, but our brains don’t see it.

    The controversial color-changing dress isn’t the only example of how our brains' interpretation of some circumstance or other can differ from reality. In fact, distortions like this are extremely common. Just think of all the different optical illusions you’ve encountered throughout your life.

    One popular example shows two circles, each surrounded by a different field of color. At first glance, the two circles appear different, with one clearly being darker than the other. But when you hold the shapes side by side, their shade is exactly the same. The variation only appears because your brain is interpreting the visual stimulus differently, depending on the surrounding context.

    Want another example? This time, imagine sitting in a stationary train. As you gaze out the window, the train on the next track starts to move forward. For a brief second, as you see it glide away, you may feel as if you’re moving backward, even though you’re not moving at all.

    Clearly, it’s not just your eyes that are vulnerable to deceit. All our senses can be tricked by the mind. But if all our senses are unreliable, how do we know what’s really real? Well, a lot of the time, we don’t. And that’s okay.

    For the most part, distortions of the outside world are harmless, or even beneficial, because they let us concentrate on more important sensations, like pain or fear. And, because our brains are the result of millions of years of evolution, the way they interpret reality doesn't have to be accurate. It just has to help us survive.

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    What is Deviate about?

    Deviate (2017) is a primer on the sometimes-tricky neuroscience behind human perception. It details all the illusions, distortions, and shortcuts our brains take when making sense of the world around us. 

    Deviate Review

    Deviate (2017) by Beau Lotto is a thought-provoking exploration of perception and how it shapes our reality. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • With its fascinating scientific research, the book challenges our assumptions and encourages us to question the way we see the world.
    • Engaging and insightful, it offers a fresh perspective on creativity and innovation, inspiring readers to embrace uncertainty and embrace new ideas.
    • Through real-life examples and compelling stories, the book shows us how our perception can be altered, leading to personal growth and a deeper understanding of ourselves and others.

    Best quote from Deviate

    Seeing differently . . . begins with knowing that some of those often invisible assumptions that maintained your survival in the past may no longer be useful.

    —Beau Lotto
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    Who should read Deviate?

    • Curious minds interested in the science of human perception
    • Designers seeking novel approaches to problems
    • Anyone who wants to see the world from a new perspective

    About the Author

    Beau Lotto is a professor of neuroscience at the University of London and founder of Lab of Misfits, a neuro-design studio. He has presented his research on cognitive functioning on the BBC, in National Geographic, and in multiple TED Talks.

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    Deviate FAQs 

    What is the main message of Deviate?

    The main message of Deviate is that our perceptions shape our reality, and by understanding how our brain works, we can create positive change.

    How long does it take to read Deviate?

    The reading time for Deviate varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours to read. However, the Blinkist summary can be completed in just 15 minutes.

    Is Deviate a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Deviate is a thought-provoking book that explores the power of perception. It's definitely worth reading for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of the human brain.

    Who is the author of Deviate?

    The author of Deviate is Beau Lotto.

    What to read after Deviate?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Deviate, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Descartes’ Error by Antonio Damasio
    • Activate Your Brain by Scott G. Halford
    • The Serendipity Mindset by Christian Busch
    • The Brain by David Eagleman
    • Phantoms in the Brain by V. S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee
    • The Disordered Mind by Eric R. Kandel
    • The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma
    • Lessons in Stoicism by John Sellars
    • The Biological Mind by Alan Jasanoff
    • Testing Business Ideas by David J. Bland and Alexander Osterwalder