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Blunder: Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions Paperback – Bargain Price, October 27, 2009
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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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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.