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We human beings have design flaws. Our eyes play tricks on us, our stories change in the retelling, and most of us are fairly sure we’re way above average. In Why We Make Mistakes, journalist Joseph T. Hallinan sets out to explore the captivating science of human error--how we think, see, remember, and forget, and how this sets us up for wholly irresistible mistakes.
In his quest to understand our imperfections, Hallinan delves into psychology, neuroscience, and economics, with forays into aviation, consumer behavior, geography, football, stock picking, and more. He discovers that some of the same qualities that make us efficient also make us error prone. We learn to move rapidly through the world, quickly recognizing patterns--but overlooking details. Which is why thirteen-year-old boys discover errors that NASA scientists miss—and why you can’t find the beer in your refrigerator.
Why We Make Mistakes is enlivened by real-life stories--of weathermen whose predictions are uncannily accurate and a witness who sent an innocent man to jail--and offers valuable advice, such as how to remember where you’ve hidden something important. You’ll learn why multitasking is a bad idea, why men make errors women don’t, and why most people think San Diego is west of Reno (it’s not).
Why We Make Mistakes will open your eyes to the reasons behind your mistakes--and have you vowing to do better the next time.
Joseph T. Hallinan: Partly, it has to do with how our memory works. Our long-term memory, even for things we’ve seen thousands of times, is limited. Most of the time, we recall meaning but not surface details. It’s the same reason we remember faces, but not the names that go with them.
Q: Are there other real-world examples of this?
JTH: Sure. We just watched as Chief Justice John Roberts and President Barack Obama muffed the words to the Inaugural Oath—even though the oath has only 35 words and even though both men no doubt rehearsed it many times. It’s actually very hard to remember things verbatim. Take the National Anthem, for instance. You’ve sung it hundreds of times. But how many of the Anthem’s 81 words can you remember without singing it?
Q: How does this limitation lead to mistakes?
JTH: Because we think our memories are much better than they are, and rely on them more than we should. Consider how many times an eyewitness has mistakenly identified a criminal and you begin to see the significance of this type of error. Basically, we look but don’t always see.
Q: Alright then, we’ve waited long enough: which of the pennies above is the real McCoy?
JTH: That would be penny A. But when researchers conducted this experiment, fewer than half of the people in the study picked the right one.
(Photo © Andrew Collings)--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This fact helps to explain why most of us make mistakes when trying to understand why we make mistakes.
Whether or not your life will change for the better depends a great deal on how dilligently you follow the advice revealed in this wonderful book.
His book is very easy to read and it is clearly comprehensive, well researched, and detailed, making perfect sense as it winds along.
Review in Summary:
Hallinan offers a basic introduction to what one might call 'the behavioral psychology of error,' but his book has been largely outdated by Kahneman's... Read more
Nicely written and very interesting treatment of the topic. The examples are great. I thought his "Self-Deception" book, although in the same vein, was a bit better, but... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Heartlander
An excellent book. If you are a malcontent this is a must for you. I am now free of the tyranny of being correct all the time.Published 1 month ago by Rod MacPhail
I use books like this when I teach Freshman Comp. This works fantastically for readers who are not really interested in reading, as Hallinan captures the imagination with research... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Stephen Swanson
This "goodie" took away some of the stress involved in life's little challenges ... and big ones, too! Read morePublished 5 months ago by Irene
The book came on time and is in perfect condition as stated in the description. There we're no rips or writing inside the book, I am extremely satisfied and ready for my next... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Jerome Williams