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How We Decide Paperback – Bargain Price, January 14, 2010
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The first book to use the unexpected discoveries of neuroscience to help us make the best decisions.
Since Plato, philosophers have described the decision-making process as either rational or emotional: we carefully deliberate, or we blink and go with our gut. But as scientists break open the mind's black box with the latest tools of neuroscience, they re discovering that this is not how the mind works. Our best decisions are a finely tuned blend of both feeling and reason and the precise mix depends on the situation. When buying a house, for example, it's best to let our unconscious mull over the many variables. But when we're picking a stock, intuition often leads us astray. The trick is to determine when to use the different parts of the brain, and to do this, we need to think harder (and smarter) about how we think.
Jonah Lehrer arms us with the tools we need, drawing on cutting-edge research as well as the real-world experiences of a wide range of deciders from airplane pilots and hedge fund investors to serial killers and poker players. Lehrer shows how people are taking advantage of the new science to make better television shows, win more football games, and improve military intelligence. His goal is to answer two questions that are of interest to just about anyone, from CEOs to firefighters: How does the human mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better?
A Q&A with Jonah Lehrer, Author of How We Decide
(Photo © Nina Subin, 2008)
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
“As Lehrer describes in fluid prose, the brain’s reasoning centers are easily fooled, often making judgments based on nonrational factors like presentation (a sales pitch or packaging)...Lehrer is a delight to read, and this is a fascinating book (some of which appeared recently, in a slightly different form, in the New Yorker) that will help everyone better understand themselves and their decision making.” —Publisher's Weekly, starred review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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The real life examples from sports, politics, commercial aviation, gambling, etc may seem a little dated, but they are still applicable.
The book starts with revealing the prediction-making system in our subconscious mind and why sometimes we are better off relying on our instincts than deliberate thinking. Then it moves on to discuss how this feeling-based mechanism should and can be corrected by the thinking-based rational decision making process occasionally, for short-comings such as limited ability to process information and tendency to see things the way we want to (and ignore the opposing facts). Lastly, the book discusses how we can combine our conscious and subconscious mind in decision-making.
If you are interested in books such as "Blink" and "Kluge", this book is a must-read - it explains the phenomenon better than similar books and gives more concrete suggestions. If you want to learn more about yourself, this book is a magic mirror looking right through your skull.
In sum, this is a quick, pleasant, and informative read for people who are curious about our mind.
As readers learn from this book, there are many factors at work when facing a problem. The decision making process is not necessarily a choice between logical thinking or gut reactions, but rather a careful blend of both rational and emotional thought. Shedding light on what neuroscience has uncovered about this process can help people assess and improve their own decision making skills.
While some reviewers criticize How We Decide for being a lightweight in the neuroscience arena, its accessibility is just what makes this a great introduction for those new to the field. And clear, down to earth books like this are needed to attract a larger audience.
How We Decide is a thought provoking read that uses real world examples to clearly explain recent advances in neuroscience. It is a thoroughly interesting book that will leave readers examining their own decisions and possibly open their minds to a new way of thinking about both their own and others' intentions.
Descriptions of how various types of decisions are made will grab you and put you into the "decider's" mind. Cautions against the purely "rational decision-making" that we so higly prize are backed by hard evidence for the use of our emotional brain and it's faster, more informed processors. Dr. Lehrer tells us to pick our wine before we know how much it cost; becuase in blind taste test cheaper wine is rated higher.
Obviously, his focus is on all types of decisions and those that are more important. His tips for refining the decision-making process have already helped me change how I manage me. I recommend this book to anyone who not only is interested in the brain and it's inner working; but to those who want to improve their own decisions.
I see many of the reviewer complaints about "How We Decide" are because the book isn't technical or scientific enough, but it's not meant to be a college textbook. Just a really good overview of what's been going on recently in the field of neuroscience. In that, it succeeds brilliantly. Well written, not too technical. In fact, in my mind it was just right. Except for the length...I really didn't want it to end!