From the acclaimed author of "Proust Was a Neuroscientist" comes a fascinating look at the new science of decision-making. Lehrer explores two questions: How does the human mind make decisions? and How can those decisions be made better?From the acclaimed author of "Proust Was a Neuroscientist" comes a fascinating look at the new science of decision-making. Lehrer explores two questions: How does the human mind make decisions? and How can those decisions be made better?Read Less
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The book was an enjoyable and interesting read. The explanations were mostly believable.
May 14, 2009
Science made fun
How We Decide is a great book. It probes the psychology and the biology behind how we make decisions, and what is interesting is that not all decisions are made in the same way. That is in some cases, it's better not to think at all and in other cases it's best to do a whole mess of thinking. Of course, I think I will probably forget which is which and go on making bad decision after bad decision.
What makes How We Decide so interesting is all the anecdotal evidence and the scientific research some of it serendipitous into the whole idea of the human brain and how it goes about getting us through all those decisions that life throws in our path everyday.
So, how do we decide? Well, the answer is that there is no good answer. In chapter after chapter Lehrer goes on to reveal that our decisions are not based on the things we think they are based on, but there is hope. Readers can figure out ways to make better decisions, though I have a feeling the processes we use to make our decisions are so ingrained that it may be very difficult to shake them off. For example, athletes can perform better by not thinking about their performance, which is kind of like not thinking of an elephant.
Publishers Weekly, 2008-11-24 What is going on in the brain of a pilot deciding how to handle an emergency or a man trying to escape a wildfire? Does reason or emotion rule our decision making? Seed magazine editor-at-large Lehrer (Proust Was a Neuroscientist) brings recent research in neurobiology to life as he shows that the view, dating back to Plato, of the decision-making brain as a charioteer (reason) trying to control wild horses (emotions) comes up short. 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). And Lehrer cites a study of investors given varying amounts of financial data to show that our inner charioteer also can be confused by too much information. Even more surprisingly, research shows that "gut instinct" often does make better decisions than long, drawn-out reasoning, and people with impaired emotional responses have trouble coping with the decisions required in everyday life. 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. (Feb. 9) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2009-05-25 With a casual style and frequent use of anecdotes, this pop neuropsychological book imparts complex information in easy-to-take audio doses. The book explains how the conscious, rational part of the brain and the pattern-seeking "instinctual" system participate in decision making-and which system is most reliable in various situations. David Colacci has an engaging, relaxed delivery that enhances the book's accessibility. The only jarring note: Colacci provides different voices for the people interviewed in the text, which feels odd given that Lehrer, not Colacci, did the interviewing, and Colacci could have no idea what these real people actually sound like. However, this is the most minor quibble with this intriguing peek into the complex mystery of our own mental functioning. A Houghton Mifflin hardcover (Reviews, Nov. 24). (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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