Shawn's Reviews > How We Decide

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
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May 24, 11

bookshelves: neuroscience, decision-making, personal-growth
Read in May, 2011

Fascinating read that fluidly blends the latest studies in neuroscience with real-life examples, creative ideas and practical applications. Decision-making is our daily blessing and curse. Nobody makes perfect decisions all the time. However, this book argues that becoming self-aware of the logical and emotional parts of your brain can empower people with better decision-making skills and intuition. In fact, both rational thoughts originating from intentional considerations and innate hunches often based on emotion are crucial to maneuvering through life's choices, according to the book. For example, simple situations such as which strawberry jam to purchase at the grocery store are often hindered by paying too much attention to the (logical) pre-frontal cortex. Similarly, being taken hostage by an emotional reaction to a bad bet in poker that creates symptoms of "loss aversion" will often increase illogical risk-taking and hurt your overall chances at winning. Bottom line: Jonah Lehrer asserts that knowing when to pay attention to which part of the mind is the key to making the best decisions.

I appreciated the attention to detailed studies that Jonah took, but was uncomfortable with his statements (portrayed as factual) on the "evolution" of the brain considering how the theory (key word) of evolution is full of holes (as would be noted by even the most staunch supporters), and is still just a theory. Basing assumptions off of a faulty theory can lead to inaccuracies and an inconsistent argument. Despite this misstep, I highly recommend the book.
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