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Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average
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Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  7,218 Ratings  ·  296 Reviews
We forget our passwords. We pay too much to go to the gym. We think we'd be happier if we lived in California (we wouldn't), and we think we should stick with our first answer on tests (we shouldn't). Why do we make mistakes? And could we do a little better?

We human beings have design flaws. Our eyes play tricks on us; our stories change in the retelling; and most of us ar
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Kindle Edition
Published (first published 2009)
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Caroline
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever forgotten your pin number?
Have you gone upstairs to find something and forgotten what it was?
Have you been unable to find things in the stationary cupboard?
Do you recognise faces but cannot remember names?
Have you lost your Facebook password?
Are you allergic to instruction manuals or asking directions?

Then this is the book for you!

It's an absolutely fascinating and eye-opening account of what very inadequate creatures we are. Our fallibility and proneness to making mistakes i
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Chrissie
Where to start?! I don’t enjoy self-help books, so I was reluctant to try this. I am very, very glad I did. I want to begin by thanking the two Carolines that both told me how very good the book is. I think everyone should read it. I think you will be surprised by how much it contains, by how valuable its content is.

I am against self-help books because so very often they just do not REALLY help. We continue doing the same things we have always done. It is hard to change patterns. It is hard to c
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Trevor
Jun 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trevor by: Lena Phoenix
I’ve spent the last three days reading parts of this book to whoever will listen or (perhaps more accurately) whoever is in earshot. This really is a wonderful book and I don’t think I can recommend it too highly, but let’s see.

If I read a book, as opposed to listen to an audio book, I tend to turn down the corners of pages that say something interesting – I decided early in this book to try not to over do this, as it became clear early on I would have to turn down virtually every page. This one
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Caroline
***NO SPOILERS***

Why We Make Mistakes is an eye-opening shocker that may leave its most arrogant, self-assured readers a bit...traumatized. Actually, only the humblest of readers will close this book with their reality still intact. Journalist Joseph Hallinan asserts that we’re not nearly as perceptive, observant, unbiased, intelligent, and, well, a whole host of flattering things that we fancy ourselves to be--and he does so very convincingly.

This is one of those “you just have to read it” book
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Trip
Mar 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Persons who wish to become less foolish
A survey of cognitive biases and other limitations of the human brain,
with references and bibliography. The conclusions:

* Take notes on your mistakes, so you can learn from them.

* Get a Devil's Advocate, even if you have to do it yourself.

* No, you aren't that good at multitasking. You really aren't.

* The plural of "anecdote" is not "data". The singular of "anecdote" is "advertising".

* Have someone without your habits check for mistakes.

* Get some sleep, damn it!

* Happy people are smarter.

* Bri
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Books Ring Mah Bell
Science light.

Quick, interesting examples of how we humans manage to goof up on everything from selecting credit cards (one can be swayed by a pretty face to take that high interest rate!) to cutting off the wrong leg in surgery. (Overconfidence is a bitch!)

The author explains mysteries of life, such as, "why did I give that stripper so much more for that lap dance this week?" answer: she's in that fertile cycle, where she appears more lovely (and maybe even smells better too!)

He also explains
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Lena
May 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of the various books I've read on the quirks of human cognition and how they affect our lives, this is one of the most readable. Journalist Joseph Hallinan has a storyteller's ability to take some of the most interesting research on problems with how our brains process information and weave it into a very effective argument for why it's a really, really bad idea to try to text while driving.

Hallinan begins his book with a chapter titled "We Look But We Don't Always See," addressing how limitati
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Arminius
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, nook-book
I really enjoyed how this book highlighted the important points in bold. I will list a lot of these. The first chapter talks about how we see things. For example, when a purse is snatched from a women, men tend to notice the thief other women tend to notice the purse. Right handed people tend to look right and turn right when lost. Left handed people tend to turn left.

Movies make lots of mistakes that people rarely notice. That is because a movie is never shot in order. It is shot over weeks or
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David
Jun 17, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Behavioral Economics for Dummies" would be a suitable subtitle for this book. The author isn’t a researcher or expert on the topic, or even someone with a particular message, just a journalist looking for a book to write and a drawer full of antidotal tidbits related to behavioral economics. As a result, the book is a cursory survey of the field presented by way of somewhat amusing little stories. I felt like I was at the breakfast table listening to a spouse read off newspaper articles… “Here’ ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This easy-to-read book, written by a journalist, summarizes a great many recent psychological studies revealing various deficiencies in people’s perceptions, memory, and judgment. Unfortunately, its analysis is shallow, it offers few suggestions for avoiding mistakes, and its logic is all too often flawed.

The Good:

1) Hallinan is familiar with many studies, which he describes in laymen’s terms and in a readable and concise manner. People need to know that we aren’t perfect: our memories are not r
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Goodreads Librari...: Cover change 4 22 Oct 10, 2014 07:48AM  
Why we Make MIstakes 2 16 Nov 24, 2012 06:41PM  
  • On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not
  • Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking
  • A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives
  • Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind
  • Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things
  • SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable
  • The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us
  • Blunder: Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions
  • The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind
  • How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like
  • Brain Bugs: How the Brain's Flaws Shape Our Lives
  • The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life - The Four  Essential Principles
  • The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn't--and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger
  • Click: The Magic of Instant Connections
  • Everyday Survival: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things
  • Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
  • The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good
  • The Myth of Choice: Personal Responsibility in a World of Limits
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Joe Hallinan is a writer based in Chicago. He has written for many of the world's leading publications, including The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Sunday Times of London. His most recent book is Kidding Ourselves: The Hidden Power of Self-Deception (Crown, 2014).

His previous book, Why We Make Mistakes (Broadway Books, 2009), was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection.
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More about Joseph T. Hallinan...
“As a general principle, people feel more responsible for their actions than they do for their inactions. If we are going to err at something, we would rather err by failing to act.” 8 likes
“Nearly eighty years of research on answer changing shows that most answer changes are from wrong to right, and that most people who change their answers usually improve their test scores. One comprehensive review examined thirty-three studies of answer changing; in not one were test takers hurt, on average, by changing their answers. And yet, even after students are told of these results, they still tend to stick with their first answers. Investors, by the way, show the same tendencies when it comes to stocks. Even after learning that their reason for picking a stock might be wrong, they still tended to stick with their initial choice 70 percent of the time.” 1 likes
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