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Customer Review

on September 24, 2010
First of all, if you haven't read any other titles on neuro-science or decision-making, this will be a good introduction.

I gave it a 2-star rating because I have read books like: How We Decide,Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average,Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior and I found these titles more informative and engaging. If you have similar stuff on your bookshelf, don't bother reading this one.

This book tries to do 3 thihgs:
1. How we make decisions and why are we prone to making wrong decisions.
2. What are the situations under which we are most vulnerable in making a flawed decision.
3. What can we do about it.

For starters, 95% of what is written about 1. is a shallower and briefer reproduction of the books I mentioned above.

For 2., it tries to teach us how to spot "red flags" i.e. misleading experience, misleading judgments, inappropriate self-interest and inappropriate emotions. (Which, I think, could be summarized in one word: biases). Basically, it says that we have to beware of our biases, which are generated from our previous experiences and emotions, because they work subconsicously.

For 3., it basically tells us what we already know: we should confront the decision makers with alternative views and options and arguments against their initial judgment; we should discuss and debate before making important decisions; we should have corporate governance mechanisms to counterbalance the key decision-makers' views and we need to track the outcomes of the decisions in order to spot problems early. Aren't all these intuitive?

The reality is, even if we have all the above "practical suggestions" in place, there's still no guarantee that the decision-makers - usually those with great power and a huge ego - to listen to other people's opinion and take heed of contrary data that is staring at their faces. And the truth is, risk and contrary views are inherent in every decision. It is very likely that even after considering, thoroughly and whole-heartedly, all the options available, people calling the shots would stick to their own judgments - with a much stronger claim: now that they have already discussed and considered alternative courses of actions.

Not that practical after all.
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