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Judgment Misguided: Intuition and Error in Public Decision Making Hardcover – May 21, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0195111088 ISBN-10: 0195111087 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


"Jon Baron insightfully connects ground breaking work on how we make decisions with contemporary public policy issues. The integration is brilliant. This book should be required reading for students of public policy. The world would be a better place if all government officials read this book. The ideas in this book can save thousands of lives, billions of dollars, and bring sanity to the legislative process."--Max H. Bazerman, J. Jay Gerber Distinguished Professor, Dispute Resolution and Organizations, Northwestern University

"This is a bold and important book. . . . a must read for policymakers. Psychologists who fret that their field has had too few public policy implications have only to read this book. Nobody does this meshing of empirical psychology, philosophy, and social policy better than Jonathan Baron."--Keith E. Stanovich, Professor of Human Development and Applied Psychology, University of Toronto

About the Author

Jonathan Baron is at University of Pennsylvania.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (May 21, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195111087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195111088
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #678,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

See my web page at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Allinger on September 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
No book I've read does a better job explaining in a calm and objective fashion, why so many policies of the US government make no sense. This is not a political book. Instead, Baron applies the findings of cognitive psychology to examine irrational attitudes where they do the most harm, in politics.
His main thesis is that a number of rules of thumb, or "moral intuitions" are used by everyone from kids to consultants to make even the most serious decisions. These intuitions include "do no harm," group loyalty, and respect for what is "natural."
Thus, vaccinations against will be dodged because they pose a risk, even when the risk of the disease is greater. A free trade agreement will be opposed if someone loses his job, even when it will lead to the creation of more jobs than before. Overpopulation will not be confronted because of an intuitive "right" to breed. More resources will be spent to get a kitten out of a tree in America than to save starving children in Africa because of the tribal instinct that instills loyalty selectively.
A few small faults are worth mentioning. Some of the biases discussed have slippery definitions: "my-side bias," "wishful thinking," or "naturalism." The style of writing is accesible, but somewhat dull. Order of the topics is somewhat arbitrary.
The author is a leading expert in psychology and decision-making, yet he shows great restraint in making dogmatic or unqualified statements, and allows for all kinds of objections. His critique of human folly follows from the work of Amos Tversky, Paul Slovic, and other researchers into cognitive biases, grounding the book in solid scientific facts.
The final chapter tries to provide a ray of hope.
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