How We Decide
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 ...more
Things I learned:
People need to use both rational thought and emotion to make the best decisions.
We need to make our own mistakes because that is how our brains get rewired not to do it again. Emotions turn mistakes into educational events and then use those lessons unconsciously.
We get cranky when we're hungry and tired because the prefrontal cortex is the ...more
You know, in this type of book it seems there has to be an American Football story, a plane crash or two or maybe ev ...more
I'm really glad now that I didn't miss it. Most of the science books I choose to read are interesting but very few are also what I would call “entertaining”. This book was. As other reviewers have mentioned I too am leery when I start to read a book that immediately launches into a case study, because this can sometim ...more
and plain old plagiarism...
I'm not a journalist; honestly, I have trouble understanding the ethical dilemmas of "self-plagiarism." Yes, I understand that one should cite oneself, but I can also understand why this would fail to occur to an author.
Making up quotes from Bob Dylan?
Taking quotes from Wikipedia and pretending that they were interviews?
What makes one decide to do that?
Think Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, but with much better explanations and less exciting writing.
Actually these two books use quite a number of the same studies to make their points, but where Gladwell tends toward obfuscati ...more
Something strikes me as odd. Before reaching the end of the two paragraph opening page, I find myself flipping to the author photo on the b ...more
The brain is our defining organ, giving us not only self-awareness, but also the ability to wonder about ourselves, our world, and our own mortality. It is, nevertheless, a mystery why brains work better than others---why some of us make consistently good decisions, and others never seem to learn from their mistakes.
In How We Decide, author Jonah Lehrer explores our current understanding of the human mind. In well-crafted and engaging prose, he draws on examples from professional football player...more
First of all, why would the author, who can put any picture of himself in the entire world (or no picture at all) on the back of his book choose a picture where he is wearing an unzipped hooded sweatshirt? How am I supposed to take this guy seriously? Speaking of decisions, am I right?
Second, this book seems to be formulaic pop psychology at its worst. Each chapter opens with an overly d ...more
In my recent review of The Grand Design I went on about my love of science, particularly of physics. I’ll be honest: although biology is really, really cool, I also find it kind of gross. It’s full of squishy stuff, and it was my least favourite of th ...more
Told with many examples, from pilots who saved airplanes, to all the decisions a quarterback has to make, to the best way to pick a strawberry jam, it's insightful, if perhaps not as conclusive ...more
With Blink, The Tipping Point, and Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell has cornered the market on popular studies of human behavior. But Jonah Lehrer's How We Decide holds its own with Gladwell, Stephen Pinker, Daniel Dennett, and the host of science writers increasingly focused on the complexities of the human brain. "There isn't any spectacular revelation, unique viewpoint or knockout final summation," noted the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Washington Post felt that Lehrer "does little to integrate...more
While that part has gotten repetitive for me, the author does come to some feasi ...more
What I didn't like: The use of monkeys in experiments. Super sad!
Who I'd suggest it to: Anyone who likes pretending they are a psychologist. This will add more ammunition to the psychological gun.
(Selected for the Cognitive Science Reading & Discussion Group in May 2010.)
Excellent introductory book — I bumped the rating a bit above what my personal reaction was: I’ve read so many of these now that most of his lessons and examples are old news to me. But if you’re only gonna rea ...more
I found the subject matter fascinating and the author's enthusiasm infectious. The book sets out to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of different modes of thought - conscious and rational vs intuitive - and which situations favour which mode of th ...more
I was attracted to it after hearing Jonah Lehrer on a Radiolab podcast, where he was talking about how we make rational decisions and emotional decisions (usually some mix of the two). And in order to make good decisions, we have to be conscious about these influences and judge which type of decision is appropriate for the particular situation. This idea is basically the foundation o ...more
This book ran along the same lines as Predictably Irrational and The Drunkards Walk but tended more toward a comparison of classical rationality in decision making, and reasoning based on your gut, or emotional responses that don't break down neatly in to clear reasons. Both have their place, and I guarantee you'll be surprised by some of them (make a pro/con list when buying a can opener, bu ...more
Essentially this book says that there are good and bad times to use your rational brain to make decisions and that there are times when the best decisions you can make are those you will make by relying on your emotions.
If the problem has few variables then reason can cope with that and won’t be overloaded. If the problem is sufficiently novel – that is, you are in a situation in which you have never been before, you need to avoid relying on your emotions and you need to try ...more
How We Decide was not too scientific and complicated, or simple to the degree of childishness. The scientific information is made easier to understand by the striking examples Jonah Lehrer uses, which vary from s ...more