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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon February 15, 2009
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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