Irrevenant's Reviews > How We Decide

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
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's review
Feb 02, 11

Read in January, 2011

I've read a few reviews saying this book trots out the same old case studies that are standard for this kind of book. That could be, but since I'm not familiar with them I'll be reviewing the book in and of itself, rather than making comparisons.

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 thinking. It achieves this aim brilliantly.

The examples are a mix of the dramatic (high-stakes athletes and poker players) and the mundane (how do people choose a jam or a wine or a car). And the explanations are high-level but informative.

There are subjects I would have liked to see covered in more depth (for example addictive behaviours and what can be done about them) but it's hard to fault a book for making you wish there were more of it. This is a diverse, bird's-eye summary that keeps the topic interesting.

I've docked the book one star for a couple of reasons: Firstly, the section on practical application of the book's message felt very light and tacked on. Secondly, it sometimes felt a bit simplistic - as though, in his zeal to illustrate a point, the author skipped over some of the complicating nuances of an idea.

I don't know if this is the best book in the field but if you're looking for a thought-provoking overview of "how the brain makes up it's mind", I'd definitely recommend this book.
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