The Power of Habit

Saturday, March 14, 2015 17:53 Posted by Leo Saumure 0 comments
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started out reading this book with a lot of optimism. The author had began by talking about the science behind habit. Granted it was a bit of dumbed down version of science, but it was grounded in science none-the-less.

The following chapters took less of a researched base approach, and more of a story-telling approach to explaining habit; which other readers had admonished him for, but I thought it worked in the first couple of chapters. Then he went off the science and evidence formula and just dove into what seemed to be his own pet theories. This started with the Alcoholics Anonymous chapter.

I had two problems with this chapter; the first being that AA has a horrible and largely unpublicised record of reforming alcoholics, so using AA as an example of using good habit to reforming bad habit seemed doomed from the start. The second problem I had with this section is that the author pretty much admits that the research on AA is spotty at best, but he still decides to bend and twist his theory in order to relay what he believes to be a good story. Speaking of bending a twisting, there were also a couple of REALLY tortured analogies he used later on to discuss habit.

One of the chapters he does this in was about the civil rights movements where he tries to shoe-horn social ties and peer pressure into the habit definition. But the worst example of this bending and twisting to make it fit his idea is the sleep-walking/night terrors section. In this chapter, he claims that a clinical disorder is basically a habit. At which point in the book, I just sort of tuned out.

The appendix at the end gave some good examples of using habit to reform habit, which kind of brought the book back for me. In the end, I would have like to see more science in this book, a little less analogy, and a lot less conflation of habit with every thing a human does.

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