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Don't Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in Life
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Don't Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in Life

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  281 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is as good a data storyteller as I have ever met.” — Steven Levitt, co-author, Freakonomics

Big decisions are hard. We consult friends and family, make sense of confusing “expert” advice online, maybe we read a self-help book to guide us. In the end, we usually just do what feels right, pursuing high stakes self-improvement—such as who we marry, how
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 10th 2022 by Dey Street Books
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Ezra Brand
Entertaining read; interesting ideas; fails as a self help book

I read this book since it was recommended by Pinker and Gilbert. I was reminded that the books I've enjoyed the most are written by academics. This book reads like a series of blogposts, it's breezy and simplistic. Has a Malcolm gladwell vibe to it. Often relies on a single study, not accounting for the importance of multiple studies, which the replication crisis in psychology has shown the importance of.

Chapters 2 to 6 are pretty g
May 29, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Don’t Trust Your Gut : Using Data to Get What You Really Want in Life (2022) by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (SSD) is an interesting book where a data scientist uses the tools of his trade to look at how to improve our own lives. SSD has a PhD in economics and is a former Google data scientist so he’s ideally placed to write the book.

There is a very good podcast interview with SSD by Steven Levitt on Levitt’s podcast ‘People I Mostly Admire’ for anyone pondering if they’d like to read the book or wh
Chris Boutté
May 16, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read over 90 books in 2022, and this book is definitely in my top 5. Maybe even top 3. I absolutely loved Seth’s previous book Everybody Lies and had no clue he was working on a new book, so this was a pleasant surprise. For those who are unfamiliar with Seth’s work, he dives into data to debunk a lot of conventional wisdom and help us see the truth that’s often hidden by our biases and other cognitive shortcuts. His previous book was more about helping us see the world through a clearer le ...more
Colin Thomas
May 27, 2022 rated it really liked it
A very quick read and I’d say overall a very nice follow up to “Everybody Lies.” I particularly enjoy Seth’s self awareness and how he deploys data humorously in service of it (I particularly loved him discussing how he used Amazon Kindle underlining data to deterring which parts of his previous book were actually most popular and using that as the inspiration for this one).

While he claims this book is a self help book, I don’t think any of the advice he offers is offered with enough depth or e
Jun 10, 2022 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 02, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hybrid "data science applied to populations" and "self-help" book; interesting concept, a few decent insights (but most fairly obvious, or reported widely elsewhere). Great if you have zero exposure to behavioral economics or any of that research; entertaining but kind of pointless if you're familiar with the research. (The "interesting" insights are from the research showing humans care about "ending pain" of an experience, and are largely insensitive to duration; that iPhones are a great data ...more
Harshan Ramadass
Jun 05, 2022 rated it really liked it
Nicely written. Finished bulk of the book in single sitting, that good! The guy may have broad forehead and may not kick the football far enough to draft, but he sure can write an entertaining book using clever data. Probably driven enough to show up at lots of places, and in a monopolistic market of book writing to be amongst top 1% or even 0.5% of American earners! Waiting to read his next memoir, followed by a book about how sexed up he is :)
May 26, 2022 rated it really liked it
I read this book thanks to a Goodreads book giveaway, based on the fact that I read a previous book by this author ("Everybody Lies").

The subtitle is "Using Data to get what you really want in life." In this book the author uses "big data" to try to address everyday life decisions which you would normally take using "gut" feeling. The author tries to show that trusting your gut, in many cases, is the wrong approach.

He covers topics such as picking a spouse, deciding where to live, gaining wealth
May 27, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: useful
Good book.
The author states in the beginning that he used data science (i.e. he looked at the available data) to select the contents of this book and to write the title in a way that it is what people are the most likely to want, hopefully so that the book is more likely to sell well. It is not mentioned, but I asked myself several times if he did use data science in other ways in creating the book, e.g. to find the best overall length, the best number of pages per chapter, the best ratio facts-
Morag Murray
Mar 17, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book, going so far as to say it is potentially life changing!!

Despite the title, this is NOT a book about microbiomes - it is way more interesting...

The author seems to love data, and uses it wisely to help us understand more about things we are all interested in....what makes us happier, wealthier, achieve better outcomes for our kids, look better, have better relationships, achieve sporting success (this is not an exhaustive list!).

I found this book fascinating, eye opening, and pr
Jun 19, 2022 rated it liked it
As a Big Data Geek, I loved SSD's previous book Everybody Lies and was excited to get my mitts on his follow-up. The introductory explanation of his idea for the book sounded promising - so it was quite a disappointment that (in my opinion at least) the analysis applied to the data and research findings in the subsequent chapters turned out to be rather superficial.

I liked the author's honesty about his own personal journey and drivers, and the humour - sometimes. While the light-hearted asides
Jun 26, 2022 rated it liked it
In Don't Trust Your Gut, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz argues that we should all "moneyball" our lives.

I'm not sure whether I'm a great reader for this book. I loved Moneyball, I like analytics based commentary on sports like Zach Lowe's early work at Grantland, and I like wonky writing like Nate Silver's 538 articles or Matthew Yglesias' substack. I also liked SS-D's previous book, Everybody Lies. But I also loathe the "always be optimizing" ethos that I associate with Justin Timberlake's character
Jun 22, 2022 rated it really liked it
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz's previous book, Everybody Lies, was a very impressive and entertaining exploration of the new avenues of understanding human nature that have opened up in Internet data. After enjoying his first book, I eagerly made sure to read Stephens-Davidowitz's latest title.

"Don't Trust Your Gut" is another quick read that is highly entertaining. Its content is more useful than that of his previous book. It's also a bit less impressive, because unlike Everybody Lies, most of the r
Jun 04, 2022 rated it it was ok
So conflicted about this book. So many interesting case studies and papers woven into this book, but written in an unappealing “tech-bro-come-data-scientist” style.

What I found the most confusing, though, was the fact that as a book about using data, there was a blatant use of assumptions and full-on blanket statements that were clearly NOT data driven. For example, in the relationship chapter, the author writes (and this is word-for-word copied from the book), “Since Asian Men in the United St
Jun 04, 2022 rated it liked it
Like Freakonomics, I think this is a good book to get folks who may not have been inclined towards data science to learn about its potential. It is easy and fun to read. However, I think the author repeats many of the same mistakes as Freakonomics-- extrapolating and overgeneralizing data/results and pronouncing his findings to be profound. Like many data scientists and economists, he leaves out important context and attempts to condense massive fields into study (e.g., happiness and how where y ...more
May 06, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book about a week ago and don't think I've shut up about it since.

If you're into provocative insights into everyday life featuring data in a fun way (think Freakonomics Radio or FiveThirtyEight style storytelling), this is right up your alley. I didn't realize when I requested this ARC that I had another one of the author's books on my TBR shelf, so that title will be moving up on my priority list as well.

Although not everything was applicable to me at the present - like the par
May 19, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this one, although I think his first book held my attention a little better. Could be because I’ve read lots of l works in the same style. Regardless, this book features data he gathered from mountains of studies to help you make better decisions across many facets of life: dating, where to raise children, how you spend your time, entrepreneurship, and building wealth, among others. Some of the findings are counterintuitive, whereas others are counter-counterintuitive (e.g., most success ...more
Miha Rekar
Jul 03, 2022 rated it it was amazing
"The data-driven answer to life is as follows: be with your love, on an 80-degree and sunny day, overlooking a beautiful body of water, having sex."

This sentence both opens and wraps up the book. But the middle parts explain it very well. And not just that, but many other things that are counter-intuitive or counter-counter-intuitive (I know how this sounds, but it will make sense once you're reading the book). Sometimes we shouldn't go with our gut but instead, look at what data suggests us to
May 15, 2022 rated it really liked it
I was a little disappointed by this book. While it still contains valuable and interesting insights, the author relies primarily on conclusions from other experts rather than his own research (unlike his last book, Everybody Lies, which everyone should read). As a result I had already read or at least heard about the studies that he references. It felt like he had synthesized a couple points from better-researched texts like Thinking Fast & Slow and The Genetic Lottery and combined them together ...more
Mixed emotions about this book. Note: it wasn't the published version (found a couple of typos I expect were fixed before being published) but that may be because I won it in a Goodread book giveaway. That aside, it was an enjoyable read - appreciated his humor and his using data science (as he'd stated in the beginning and ending of the his book) across varied topics. He offered some useful insights and references (i.e., websites' links); however, I found much of it focused on a goal of happine ...more
Jun 11, 2022 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the author's first book, "Everbody Lies", and I was looking forward to this sequel. The author continues down the path of finding unexpected or counterintuitive results from large data, but in this book, he ventures beyond the world of Google Search results and looks at many other sources of big data. The writing is clear and concise, with all of the relevant math well explained, and it is all presented with a mix of good humor that makes it all easy to read. The book is quite s ...more
Adam Volk
Apr 04, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If only all self help books were this insightful, funny, entertaining and well written.

As a follow up to his first groundbreaking book “Everybody Lies” (which looked at how search data can answer some of life’s biggest questions), “Don’t Trust Your Gut” uses data to show how we can be happier and more fulfilled in love, life, parenting and careers.

Highly recommended for self help readers, data geeks, Seinfeld fans, sports junkies, middle-aged entrepreneurs and pretty much anyone on the planet
May 13, 2022 rated it really liked it
I work in high tech and work with data, a lot of data. This book is well written and the author challenge the idea that you have to trust your gut.
Data don't lie but they can be wrong or can be read in the wrong way.
I partly agree with the author but I recommend this book as data are becoming a commodity and you must know how to use them.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Stuart Jennings
Jun 21, 2022 rated it it was amazing

Now here's a book that'll actually do you some good! ;)

The author, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is a very accomplished

I read one of his earlier books...'Everybody Lies', and it just
knocked me out of the park!

This author can seriously do his research...and you profit!

If there's one book out there that you oughta check out...
it's this one...

This book will and can help you in soooooo many ways...

Seriously Recommended!
Daniel Frank
Don't Trust Your Gut is probably a worthwhile and interesting read for many people but as an overly online data nerd, nearly all of the book is already familiar.

(Unlike SSD's first book which was based off novel data sets not already known to the public, Don't Trust Your Gut is largely based off findings that have already permeated the blogosphere).
May 13, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-g, giveaways
This was an accessible and quick read but still packed a big punch! Lots of great data and insights delivered with a wonderful mix of humor and thoughtful reflection. Thank you so much to Goodreads, the publisher and author for the giveaway copy.
May 18, 2022 rated it really liked it
As a data/statistics geek I really enjoyed this book. But it's not a boring book that just throws stats at you - it's written in a humorous style that I really enjoyed. Heck, anyone that quotes Counting Crows lyrics and repeatedly talks about Springsteen is OK in my book. Highly recommend it. ...more
Jun 03, 2022 rated it really liked it
Sometimes overly pedantic and has its blind spots when it comes to gender (more to get from it for men than for women), BUT chapters 4-6 are a must read for anyone pursuing a creative career (artists, musicians, writers, poets…)
Mary Ellen
Jun 07, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I love the author's style of writing. Very down-to-earth and conversational. I wish he would have included a woman in his personal case study on studying competence. I am pretty sure that if I put on a beard I would not be voted highly competent, but who knows until you try! ...more
Michael De Winter
Jun 27, 2022 rated it really liked it
A entertaining and funny book about how to live your life properly the data driven way.

It felt more like a meta study about other studies which researched this subject than the author providing his own research.

It also felt a little bit short.
But a good read none the less.
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