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Thinking: The New Science of Decision-Making, Problem-Solving, and Prediction

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  873 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Unlock your mind. From the bestselling authors of ThinkingFast and SlowThe Black Swan; and Stumbling on Happiness comes a cutting-edge exploration of the mysteries of rational thought, decision-making, intuition, morality, willpower, problem-solving, prediction, forecasting, unconscious behavior, and beyond. 

Edited by John Brockman, publisher of ("The world's
Paperback, 432 pages
Published October 29th 2013 by Harper Perennial (first published October 15th 2013)
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Mel la question, en effet la question tous les frères et soeurs, tous pareils.

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Peter Gelfan
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
As a book editor and novelist, I constantly have to remind my clients and myself that wondering is more interesting than knowing. Readers want to know, and writers like to teach, but what would happen to the author-reader interaction if, on the first page, we obligingly told readers whodunit, why, and the meaning of it all? Not knowing is what revs up our cognitive engines and moves us into new territory; knowing gives us a moment or two of satisfaction before shutting the engine back down. Even ...more
Sep 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, science
Please Note: This is a review for an advance copy.

Thinking: The New Science of Decision-Making, Problem-Solving, and Prediction is the newest Brockman essay collection featuring well-known cognitive scientists, psychologists, and philosophers on cognition, intuition, and moral psychology. While I was already familiar with most of these writers, there was still enough new material so it wasn’t like reading through a bunch of book summaries.

Most of the essays were very well done; however, the Edge
Amy Neftzger
Jan 07, 2017 rated it liked it
First of all, I really enjoyed the content of this book. It's essentially a collection of essays that appear to be transcriptions from verbal presentations at a conference. With that understanding, a reader can skip around to different chapters without missing anything. Although the pieces are connected through their relationship to thought and decision-making processes, a reader can pick and choose essays without having to read the whole book.

While there was a lot of very interesting informatio
Leo Walsh
Jun 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Not sure why I checked this book out of the library -- I've read the books of 75% of the authors, and was familiar with the material -- I ended up liking it a lot. Because it took the best bits of dozens of books I've read over the past five years and distills the ideas into a single volume.

The problem for me, though, was the format. Though some of the material is essays by famous cognitive scientists, a lot of the sections are transcriptions of speeches given at assorted Edge Conferences. Whic
Jeff Swystun
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
The first question you need to ask yourself is why are you reading this review? Is it because you are reading all reviews to gain a holistic, qualitative view or was my review the most recent posted or did it's title intrigue or all of the above? One of the least fair questions ever posed is, how do you make a decision? The tangled factors that go through our brains when buying a can of beans or deciding to marry or wrestling with a theory are of head scratching complexity.

Perhaps I should share
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Fascinating and very engaging - like being at a conference listening to these presenters.
Rick Presley
There is so much that could have been done to make this book better. I listened to the audio version of it and every single talk was cut off before it finished. Would have been nice to have the whole thing.

Would have been nice to have two narrators. One to read the titles and introduction. The other to read the articles. That way I would know where one left off and the other begins. There was nothing but a brief pause. At least the narrator could have announced when he was reading the author's w
Dec 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-2013
usually I love these Edge collections, but this one was a bit tired: a lot of people just recounting research or things that are already familiar to me, which was fine if you're a fan, not so great if you're not. Still, some good essays in there and stuff I hadn't been familiar with, and some new ideas. Just not as much as I would've hoped. ...more
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting book of essays that by all accounts feature the best responses to's annual question. Whilst nearly all of chapters follow this format, one is in the form of minutes from one of Edges conferences.

The subject matters focuses primarily on decision making with diverse discussions ranging from predictions, morality to philosophy. Each chapter is written by a distinguished thinker in their field, most of which do a good job of bringing their research down to a level that is rel
Nawar Youssef
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
First, I found this book an interesting one, it includes many topics in one book with some interesting points of views and researches. I enjoyed some of its chapters.

However, the main drawback is that this book was written as it is based on conference speeches. So the language used and the way the topics been presented is meant to be for a conference speech not for a book. I found it difficult for me to follow and what it makes it more difficult is the fact that English is my second language.
Steven Blais
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lots of interesting observations and commentary from some of the more brilliant cognitive and behavioral psychologists around, ending with Daniel Kahneman. Brockman collected a series of speeches and talks that the various contributors did at conferences and presentations so the language is very casual as though talking directly to the reader which in a sense is what is happening. Lots of good ideas and explanations of why we think the way we do and why we are not as rationale as we think we are ...more
Pete Welter
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Thinking" is another collection by's John Brockman, who specializes in getting leading edge people from various fields and putting them together - in discussions, in conferences and in books like this one. In this case, the topic is decision-making - how and why we make discussions, and to what end.

My favorite section was "The New Science of Morality," a multi-faceted discussion of moral psychology by some of the leading thinkers in that field. The book is worth it for that chapter alo
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed hearing summaries of papers and books I've read over the years from some of my favorite authors. The research papers, discussions and debates following each of the topics was excellently compiled thus a 4 star. I've added a couple more books to my 'to-read' list after completing this one. ...more
Dec 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Two takeaways -

"Affective forecasting"
Your prediction of how happy something will make you (e.g. vacationing at a certain resort, working at a particular job) is probably less accurate than a random stranger's experience with the same because humans are unable to anticipate all of the factors that determine happiness.

Experience >> patterns - decision points and what should happen after a particular decision (i.e. you know what to watch, what to ignore, and what to expect) >> menta
Sal Coraccio
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brain
A collection of informative talks, of a length you'd find at a conference attended by experts.

Essentially a transcript of such an event, so the flavor words and the occasional stumble are there, intact. Most of these folks are familiar to each other and there are some references to "Tom's work", for example, so you may find yourself needing Google on occasion to fill in some background. Not necessary, but I found that helpful.

Some of it exploratory, some familiar, some controversial - all fasci
Eric Lawton
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the Edge series of annual collections. This one is worth getting. I was so impressed by what I learned, and I still have 18 stickies marking the pages. I gave this to my science undergrad. niece when she came for Christmas 2014 and she just sat there reading it, so I'm not the only one who found it a page-turner. It's subtitle (New Science...) is a good summary and it has short essays from many of my favourite authors on this topic. It is unlikely you will read it and not learn something ...more
Colm Gillis
Dec 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a collection of essays written by academics on the issues related to human thought and sometimes (un)-thought. It would be near-impossible to give a synopsis of the whole book. However, there was a good variety of essays. No two essays seemed the same and I can honestly say there were many gems contained in practically every essay. Also, the essays weren't merely promoting a raw physicalism or materialism, which I had thought would have been the case when I started reading. A great book ...more
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
I love it when authors glean all the latest research and expert thinking for me, and then deliver it in a very readable package--entertaining, even. Watered down? No--I don't have time to find this level of info in every field that interests me. I'd say compact instead.

I found some key nuggets. For example, info on prenatal levels of testosterone and the effect on our preference for systems or being empathetic seems to fit with how Jung described the two preferences people have for decision proc
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a nice collection of works previously published on Some of the pieces are transcripts from videos, so the writing is a bit clunky at times. In particular, I enjoyed reading:

Smart Huristics (Gerd Gigerenzer)
Essentialism (Bruce Hood)
Testosterone On My Mind and In My Brain (Simon Baron-Cohen)
Insight (Gary Klein)
The Fourth Quadrant: A Map of the Limits of Statistics (Nassim Nicholas Taleb)
The New Science of Morality (Jonathan Haidt, Sam
Jan 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Brockman compiled an excellent introductory reading for those wishing to understand contemporary theories and trends regarding thinking itself. Though some of the chapters may not be particularly accessible or relevant to everyone (such as those focused on forecasting), every single one accomplishes to be enlightening about the subject at hand--and from the words and works of the best people in their respective fields. Ultimately, this is a work tailored to get one thinking differently about thi ...more
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Evolutionary theory, of course, shows the forces of natural selection operated on human beings. Psychoanalytic theory argues that our childhood experiences mold us in certain ways and give us outlooks on the world. Our early relationships with our parents lead to unconscious structures that can be very powerful. But both theories led to a lot of absurd conclusions, and both are very hard to test rigorously… too often, there’s a very loose kind of theorization that goes on, where people just tel ...more
Mar 08, 2014 rated it liked it
A collection of thought provoking essays. Less of a cohesive book of curated essays with a central theme than a compilation of individual authors' works. It could have used HEAVY editing for readability. If the section wasn't an article reprinted as a chapter it was often a transcript of a public speech or a symposium. My heaviest criticism isn't for the content, but instead for (re)presentation. I expected the collection of essays to be making a larger point, but they never "hung together" for ...more
Troy Blackford
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
John Brockman sure loves curating large volumes of interesting content from people I enjoy reading, and this installment is no different. Mostly amazing, it did contain two articles I didn't really agree with, but it was still interesting to hear different views. A large chunk of this has to do with moral psychology, but still largely focused on the decision-making issues mentioned in the title. Kahneman's ending piece alone is worth the price of admission. These are transcribed from talks, whic ...more
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting overviews on the research on a bunch of different people. Naturally lacks unity and the chapters are sometimes superficial. The chapters I enjoyed most were those written by people I've already read, so they were mostly reviews; most of the new stuff consisted of sloppy philosophy, sloppy social science, or sloppy cognitive psychology. That the book includes chapters that are sloppy in such diverse ways points to a central lack of focus. ...more
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
To have Kahneman, Bloom, Pinker, Taleb, Haidt, Green, Harris etc. in the same book is always thrilling. Edge books are a bit like a TED event in that speakers are not always on theme :) but the lessons out of this one were major: the moral taboo around deciding what's right and wrong, how culture is our biological strategy, how morality taints every single decision we make etc. 4 stars because... well it wasn't life changing like Dennet's books ...more
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of speaches by the members of Some are extremely good, but some are so so.

My 5 stars go to:

6. The social Psychological Narrative - or - What is social psychology, anyway? by Timothy D Wilson
7. The adolescent brain by Sarah-Fayne Blackemore
9. Testosterone on my mind and in my brain by Simon Baron-cohen
10. Insight by Gary Klein

I give 5 stars to "3. Smart Heuristics" by Gerd Gigerenzer, too.
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some of the concepts here are popular and maybe foundational concepts today (Thinking Fast, Slow etc,) every chapter is still worth reading, including the ones I've read in depth.

I especially love how opposing ideas are presented after one another. I felt like I had an eureka moment, I got excited about a relevant insight, only to immediately get it shot down (or at least contradicted) by the next essay/ presentation.

Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
another great title from edge. prior to reading it, i expected mostly kahneman et al rationality, but it's actually quite an eclectic collection. it consists of mostly, if not exclusively, transcripts from edge events. everything is pretty good, but the discussion on the new science of morality stands out for me for the number of new insights. ...more
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was ok

I was not impressed at all. The editor provided no introduction or preface to connect the essays, which I learned at the end were actually taken from talks/speeches. Some were a bit rambling or too superficial, while others were too specialized to be easily understood.

Not at all what I expected.
Emily Petroff
Jun 26, 2015 rated it liked it
The short chapter by different psychologists, neuroscientists and philosophers were interesting, but it was basically a re-hashing of most of the popular literature that's out there already. Also considering that the editors chose contributions from 22 experts I was shocked that only 2 chosen contributors were women. Poor show, old white dudes of psychology. ...more
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John Brockman is an American literary agent and author specializing in scientific literature. He established the Edge Foundation, an organization that brings together leading edge thinkers across a broad range of scientific and technical fields.

He is author and editor of several books, including: The Third Culture (1995); The Greatest Inventions of the Past 2000 Years (2000); The Next Fifty Years

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