Linda's Reviews > How We Decide

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
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's review
Nov 07, 2011

really liked it
Read in November, 2011

Everyone should read this book. First of all, it's easy to read. Lehrer has a smooth style and moves easily from examples to the backup science. Although he may not seem to deal with something you are particularly interested in (he has an entire chapter on playing poker), as you read, you find that what he has written DOES pertain to you and your decision-making process.

One of the things I found most fascinating is that people make rational decisions when they don't have very much information and that information is very straight forward. For instance, we can choose toothpaste easily because we can narrow down what is most important to us - price, whitening, certain ingredients, etc. But when it comes to buying things where we have too much information, such as a car, we tend to ultimately go with our emotions. We decide on the car that appeals to us the most and then begin to find "rational" reasons why we purchased it.

Obviously Lehrer disagrees that man is a rational animal. I think he proves his point quite well. Part of what he writes is just plain common sense. Much of the rest is based on MRI imaging provided during experimentation and the rest on "regular" scientific experiments.

It's amazing to realize how much we depend on our emotions to make decisions. Although you may not initially agree, I think you'll find, if you spend some time being truthful with yourself, you'll find that most of what Lehrer says is true of yourself. And if it's true about you, it must true about others and therefore makes interactions more understandable.

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