A radical and confronting explanation of the human mind
Satire + Psychology + Neuroscience + Philosophy + Self-help + Fiction + Non-fiction => All in one place.
A book like no other.
A work with a preposterous premise offers a look at humans.
What if an alien were to write a manual that instructs compatriots how to “hunt a human”? This fantastical, fictional concept forms the basis of a story by Mazzi (Tainted by Fire, 2016), who maintains the charade until the very last page, wherein he reveals his rationale for writing the book. This is the kind of creative exercise that is likely to split its audience; some will be taken with the prose and play along while others will dismiss it as nonsense. The objective, though, is to expose the many foibles humans share and assess them as if viewed through an alien lens. The introductory chapter sets up the strangely insightful volume nicely by summarizing “some of the weaknesses” of humans that “we will explore.” These include emotions, fear, vanity, and widespread ignorance. The six short parts of the work provide an intriguing take on what generally makes humans tick. The titles of the parts, such as “DIGGING DEEPER INTO YOUR PREY’S REALITY” and “WHAT DRIVES THE ANIMAL,” are clearly constructed to reinforce the text of the simulated guide. The content is cleverly written, if forced at times, describing elements of humanity like language (“Just a system of codes and symbols that are ripe for misinterpretation”), critical thinking (“It’s the emotions inside their heads that matter to humans”), and feelings (“Humans can suffer and feel better—they can take pleasure from sacrifice”). The most intriguing aspect of the book is the way the alien observes human behavior, as if it is being evaluated from an outsider’s perspective. This can be amusing, disconcerting, perceptive, or bizarre depending on how readers process the material. If nothing else, it is an exercise that serves to point out the absurdities of the species. At the end, the author explains that his purpose for the novel format “is to raise attention to the importance of self-reflection and the pursuit of wisdom.” Hopefully, those who plow through this unusual work will be enlightened—or perhaps chagrined.
An offbeat, unconventional, and imaginative exploration of the human race.
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The human mind has fascinated countless experts in various fields, from biology to psychology and everything in-between, since time immemorial. The Art of Hunting Humans continues in the same vein in its attempt to help readers understand why people behave the way they do. In addition, its objective is to help people use this understanding to effectively gain advantage over their fellow human beings.
The chapters are laid out in a sequential and logical manner. It explains individual concepts, which will be used later on, in separate sections before moving on to the actual self-help part of the book. It makes the book easier to follow, even though readers may benefit from reading certain chapters twice just to make sure they fully grasp what is being explained.
Most readers will already be, at least in some way, familiar with the concepts being presented in this book. The idea that past experiences shape how we perceive our realities, and that the same situation may mean different things to different people, is nothing new. The book simply reframes these already known facts within the context of using said facts to “hunt” other people, adding a new twist to an often-studied subject.
The idea of people as prey can seem somewhat aggressive and hostile. The book makes no qualms about its intent to help readers manipulate and one-up their intended opponents. However, readers know from the outset what they’re getting into when they crack open this book. In a way, the straightforward method in which human perception and motivation are dissected for this very purpose is almost refreshing in its honesty.
Despite the nearly confrontational nature of some of the chapters, the author manages to keep things lively and almost humorous. The writing style is conversational. Sidney Mazzi adds personal touches here and there to draw readers in and to compel them to listen to his arguments. He also makes use of examples and metaphors to emphasize some of the points he’s trying to make.
However, he has the tendency to present these examples as universally applicable truths. This may put off some readers, as it can also be seen like an oversimplification of the complexity of the human psyche. There was also a noticeable lack of references from other experts in relevant fields, which could have lent more credibility to the author’s more provocative statements.
Both the stimulating tone and language of the book were perhaps meant to intrigue and titillate readers. Indeed, some people will feel compelled to finish this book if only to refute some it claims. Conversely, the author runs the risk of alienating and antagonizing his audience, some of which may object to him describing humans and human behavior as “ridiculous.”
Whether or not they agree with its assertions, whether motivated by the need for a deeper understanding of humanity or something less altruistic, the one thing that cannot be denied is that readers will find this book interesting. It will simultaneously polarize and bring people together, if only to engage in a debate about its merits. Deceptively simple and almost terrifyingly accurate, it is an unflinching examination of what drives human beings and is a worthy addition to the self-help genre.
Foreword Clarion Reviews
Taking a satirical approach to human psychology, The Art of Hunting Humans removes the baggage from study and uncovers ideas that feel fresh and exciting.
Sidney Mazzi’s tongue-in-cheek psychology book The Art of Hunting Humansanalyzes humanity from an alien perspective.
Playful and aiming to spur self-reflection, the text is framed as a guidebook for alien trophy hunters looking to bag a human being. It provides psychological distance as it covers the foibles and contradictions that humans display. Exploring topics like sensation and perception, culture, theories of the mind, and a wide range of lived experiences, the book seeks to define and describe what it means to be human.
The book’s questions regarding how meaning is defined, how assumptions are formed, and how behaviors are determined are answered with parables, secondary observations, and extended hypothetical examples that cover psychological ideas about how humans interact with their environments and project, or “hallucinate,” their own realities. Such notions recall Gestalt psychology, if they are not named as such. The book takes the same approach to unconscious desires, including academic notions but leaving out specifics from theories and the names of key theorists. This strategy removes the baggage from studying psychology and uncovers ideas that feel fresh and exciting.
Metaphors—including “captain” for consciousness, “cabin” for the brain, and “crew” for the body—run throughout the text, drawing on the notion that hidden associations drive unconscious desires and are like “personal codebooks.” The central, and grim, metaphor of hunting humans is never far away. These illustrations are often compelling, but they require unpacking.
Matter-of-fact language, expletives, and a snarky, biting tone keep the book light and approachable. Its Hunting Tips and notes on topics like human communication styles and religion are alternately amusing and flat.
Each chapter is divided into clear sections with defined subheadings that make for easy reading. Accessible summaries of important points are included and incorporate engaging lists and graphics. Summary material also comes in at the end, helping to clarify the text’s purpose, but it does not include citations about where the underlying ideas come from.
While it aims to encourage superior living, the book’s separate and contradictory work of poking fun at human beings and working to inspire honest consideration of psychological ideas is not always reconciled. Its approach is original, but sometimes at the expense of clarity, and the trade does not always seem worth it.
The Art of Hunting Humans is a satirical psychology book that considers human beings through the scope of an alien’s rifle.
THE ART OF HUNTING HUMANS is an exploration of the intricacies of the human mind and behavior.
In THE ART OF HUNTING HUMANS, author Sidney Mazzi explains the foundations of human behavior. He argues that once one understands why humans behave the way they do, they will be easier to control. More importantly, understanding the unconscious impulses of the mind allows us to avoid being manipulated—either by others or by our own desires and fears.
THE ART OF HUNTING HUMANS begins by exploring how human communication and perception are often clouded. According to Mazzi, human communication is not only “highly inefficient,” it also reveals a lot about an individual. Paying careful attention to how a person communicates can divulge a lot of information to the observer—information which can be used to the observer’s advantage.
Like human communication, human perception is also often distorted and unreliable. Mazzi employs the metaphor of the “Captain in the Cabin” to show how a person’s perception controls his or her behavior. This perception can become muddled and confused by individual assumptions, subconscious associations, and defense mechanisms.
THE ART OF HUNTING HUMANS also shows how our emotions and desires influence nearly everything we do. Mazzi applies the concept of a “Holy Grail” to illustrate the goal that each person pursues, whether consciously or unconsciously. Understanding someone’s “Holy Grail” is essential to influencing his or her behavior.
A great resource for those interested in human psychology, THE ART OF HUNTING HUMANS explores how human weaknesses (such as fear, ignorance, vanity, and pride) drive an individual—often without his or her knowledge. Readers can learn to exploit these weaknesses in others and attempt to eliminate them in him- or herself.
While THE ART OF HUNTING HUMANS presents a lot of information on human psychology, it does so in a humorous way. Readers need not worry about information-overload as Mazzi illustrates psychological concepts using easily understood metaphors and maintains a humorous tone. The result is a fun, absorbing and satirical read that entertains as it informs, resulting in a self-help book that offers humor, psychological insight, and practical application.
IR Verdict: A satirical take on self-help books, THE ART OF HUNTING HUMANS provides a unique and humorous way to understand human psychology—and how readers can use it to their advantage.