583 of 623 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing addition to existing literature, good intro if new to the field,
This review is from: How We Decide (Hardcover)
Perhaps my expectations of one of my favorite authors/editors in Seed magazine and from his earlier book Proust Was a Neuroscientistwas too high...nevertheless, this book is a disappointment. Not that there is anything structurally or factually incorrect - it just doesn't add any value to a reader that is familiar with this field. The examples and studies mentioned in the book, for the most part, have been repeated many times in several books of this genre. Instead of providing additional insights or alternative interpretations, or any follow-ups to the experiments and studies, Lehrer, for the most part repeats the key points from these studies and attempts to make some points in the context of decision making. Despite best efforts, the book merely ends up reinforcing known and well-popularized concepts (even in popular literature) such as recency bias, cognitive dissonance, loss aversion, etc. If you have read books like Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness you will be hard pressed to find enough value in this book to invest in this. Other books such as Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts and Why Choose This Book?: How We Make Decisions also cover similar concepts in a more focussed manner.
Similarity to other books is no crime. But one will be hard pressed to determine any differentiating value when the book is serving as another book referencing almost an identical set of research papers without providing a compelling counter-argument or new inferences. For a reader who is aware of the work in behavioral psychology, this book provides incremental value at best. For a reader getting initiated to this field, this book is an OK introduction to the vast research, though my no means a unique interpretation. It is written in a very accessible manner and the narration sustains the interest of the reader throughout the book. The reader may have been better served if the author provided a synopsis of each chapter in the context of his title "how we decide".
Overall, an interesting read if you are new to this field, but an also-ran if you are familiar with the popular literature in this field.
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 24, 2009 8:38:17 AM PST
Ryan A. Shewcraft says:
I agree entirely. Even the cover is a rip-off of another book, Freedom and Neruobiology by John Searle. It makes me wonder of the near copyright infringement was intentional.
Posted on Mar 5, 2009 6:07:34 PM PST
G. W. Jaramillo says:
Than you for this review...it shows which are the books to go to if one is interested in the subject and makes clear the relative worth of the book. (So what to make of Product Description's "The first book to use the unexpected discoveries of neuroscience..."?)
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 11, 2009 12:15:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 11, 2009 12:16:24 PM PDT
Y. Scott says:
Authors can't choose the cover of their books. Publishers decide them. You can blame the similarity of contents, but not the covers.
Posted on Jul 24, 2009 12:22:39 PM PDT
You write: it just doesn't add any value to a reader that is familiar with this field.
But for those of us who are unfamiliar with this field the book is quite interesting.
Posted on Aug 23, 2009 10:43:52 AM PDT
Charles M. Wyzanski says:
I guess I'm relatively new to "the field," having read Blink and not much more. However, even if it adds little to the field, I'd say this book is very well written and highly engaging. That sets it apart from many other books, both within the field and without!
Posted on Sep 16, 2010 4:41:26 PM PDT
Hack Attack says:
Posted on Mar 2, 2011 8:03:12 PM PST
I disagree. I read the original Predictably Irrational and the revised version, as well as Sway, Nudge, Traffic and the Upside of Irrationality among other titles. I still found Lehrer's book interesting, perhaps because I enjoy reading similar information presented in more than one way.
Posted on Apr 17, 2012 12:31:42 PM PDT
E. Almeida says:
What book would you recommend?
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012 2:18:56 PM PDT
Solomon M. Mugabi says:
I think he mentioned that already. I quote him- ''Overall, an interesting read if you are new to this field'', lol
Posted on Jun 9, 2012 2:27:05 PM PDT
Solomon M. Mugabi says:
Very solid feedback. Very critical of what (new findings) John really adds to the existing literature on the subject!! Many people don't question this. There's a trend of recycling in many books nowadays. You kind of remind of those critiques I used to get from my classmates after presenting a paper in class back in grad school. I used not to take academic criticism really well then, but now I do appreciate it.