- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (October 28, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1596912421
- ISBN-13: 978-1596912427
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 35 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,057,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Blunder: Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions Hardcover – October 28, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Shore (Breeding Bin Ladens), a professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, explains why smart people do dumb things in this glib guidebook that is more pop psychology than serious inquiry. According to the author, people blunder because they fall into inflexible mind-sets formed from faulty reasoning—or cognition traps. Using examples drawn from history, wars, medicine, business and literature, Shore identifies seven common cognition traps such as causefusion (confusing the causes of complex events), flatview (black and white thinking) and static cling (an inability to accept change). Shore cites examples of various actors (individuals, corporations and even nations) stumbling into one trap or another with unfortunate results (e.g., a person will compound a blunder through different kinds of faulty reasoning). Shore points to America's Iraq debacle as a kind of perfect storm where all of the cognition traps... combined to sabotage America's success. But Shore remains optimistic that society can learn to avoid cognition traps and inevitable blunders by following his prescription of cultivating mental flexibility, empathy, imagination, contrarianism and an open mind. Despite the clever wordplay, neat categories and accessible examples, Shore mostly recycles common sense in a fancy package. (Nov.)
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“Blunder is a shrewd, smart book, full of entertaining stories and wise insights. Drawing his examples from history, literature, and current events, Zachary Shore shows how smart, well-meaning people are often trapped into making the wrong decisions. Every policy-maker should have a copy of Blunder near at hand.” ―James Sheehan, Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Stanford University, author Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?
“Engaging…[Shore] teases out the cause and effect of seven [cognition] traps (from ‘infomania' to ‘exposure anxiety') with witty stories of famous blunders…Beyond shining a light on our propensity to apply an old solution to a new situation, Shore's goal is to teach the basis of good judgment. Like all good historians he's hoping we can avoid making the same mistake twice.” ―O magazine
“Zachary Shore explains why smart people Blunder into bad decisions.” ―Vanity Fair
“Well-chosen case studies, all of which lead to a resounding climax…Eye-opening.” ―Kirkus
“Shore explains why smart people do dumb things in [Blunder]… clever wordplay, neat categories and accessible examples.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Blunder is a book that will make you think about how you think. With the deft touch of a master storyteller, Zachary Shore ranges across the centuries and around the world in this eye-opening account of how our minds so often fall into cognition traps. Think Malcolm Gladwell meets David McCullough. NOT reading this book would be a blunder of historic proportions.” ―Eric Weiner, author of New York Times bestseller, The Geography of Bliss
“Though most of us often make irrational choices, Zachary Shore shows that history can teach us much about our judgment. Blunder is a clever, engaging, and thought-provoking book that can help us better understand irrationality and wisdom.” ―Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational
Top customer reviews
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Zachary Shore reviews what he considers to be seven major foibles of human nature that contribute to our poor decision-making, our blundering. He labels these personality flaws as: exposure anxiety, "causefusion," flat view, "cure-allism," "infomania," mirror imagining, and static cling. Each of the seven receive just explanations and examples from the lives of Shore and others.
Although I found his insights amusing, I can't say that I found them to be original. In many ways the concepts he highlights are a rehashing of quirky problems that many of us have identified in the personalities of others. Here he gives them cute names. Reading this book is a bit like poring over a sociology text. Both discuss and give names to concepts with which you've long been familiar.
However, the book is entertaining in that he brings to the fore some human eccentricities in reason for which we can all be on the alert, either in others or in ourselves.
If you like the topic - "Thinking, Fast and Slow" is a better, albeit longer and denser, book on the same subject.
This is an excellent book if you want to better understand how people made decisions. With very clear examples (including current examples which allowed me to relate more-so) it afforded me the best opportunity to learn about the cognitive traps we all have made when making decisions. Each chapter breaks down a cognitive trap from Causefusion to Flatview, all clearly defined end explained.
Highly recommended for anyone with a management responsibilities especially those leading organizations."