Loy Machedo's Reviews > How We Decide

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
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Sep 16, 2012

it was amazing

Loy Machedo’s Book Review – How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer.

My journey into the world of the Grey Matter started with Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink and then moved into Freewill by Sam Harris, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Predictably Irrational by Dan Airely, Quiet by Susan Cain, Incognito by David Eagleman and Emotional Intelligence by Travis Bradberry. And when I thought I knew a little bit, in comes 27 year old Author - Jonah Lehrer with his Mind-Boggling Contribution to the world of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behavioral Science titled How We Decide.

In this truly engaging Masterpiece, Lehrer goes right into the mysterious inner workings of the brain. You will get introduced to many terminologies & parts of the Brain like the Nucleus Accumbens, Spindle Cells, The Prefrontal Cortex, Anterior Cingulate Cortex, Thalamus, Amygdala and the functions of hormones like oxytocin and dopamine.

Now at first this may sound scary and confusing. But the manner in which Jonah explains it, makes it all the way more intriguing and fascinating to study and learn more.

The examples provided in the book to support each and every theory of his is also pretty baffling. He uses anecdotes like:
1. Tom Brady’s memorable pass in the 2002 Super Bowl;
2. How Michael Binger , a Stanford particle physicist nearly won the World Series of Poker;
3. Captain Al Haynes of United Air Lines, who made a unbelievable crash landing of a jetliner whose hydraulic system had failed entirely;
4. How in the most mysterious & unexplainable manner Lt. Cmdr. Michael Riley used his intuition and saved thousands of lives by giving the orders to shoot down an enemy missile - even though no one could identify it – even on the radar.
5. Stanford Psych Research Carol Dweck famous tests on 10 year olds and what difference they showed in their performance simply by using words like “being smart” versus “trying hard”.
6. How Ann Klinestiver had a total personality change from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde simply because of strong doses of Requip – a Dopamine Agonist.

Lehrer also, though the use of technology & fMRI scans also proves various thought-provoking facts like:
1. Why overly emotional decision will likely lead us into trouble
2. Why are some people addicted to gambling.
3. Why working in Wall-Street it totally irrational
4. How Credit Cards make you spend more
5. Purpose of Meta-Cognition and its importance
6. Why we shouldn’t think too much
7. What does Introspection have to do with the Placebo Effect
8. The fact that too much information is a bad thing
9. Why we make the wrong decisions if we explain what we do

Throughout the book you get faint glimpses of the past, present and future. Philosophers like Plato, Descartes who promulgated that pure reason was the best form to decide everything And then scholars like Soren Kierkegaard who later on acknowledged the presence & importance of the cognitive dimension to emotion; To finally in the presence of Jonah Lehrer who goes a step further into the unfathomable depths of the thinking, feeling and decision making process. You begin to realize that may be there is still a lot more to be discovered – and a lot to more to be surprised with.

Finally, towards the end of the book, Lehrer fuses his findings with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – which is the process of interrogating your emotional response and how emotions influence reason.

So what is my Overall Verdict
This is not a book you can read just once. The wealth of knowledge and information in it is without a doubt unimaginable. Once you complete reading it, you begin to wonder, if this young author of 27 years of age knows so much but claims there is yet so much more to learn – where does it ever end? Can we limit our understanding of life by just one single book? Or single discipline? Or single group thinking?

Let me warn you - This is seriously a book that will either impress you or scare you away. In either case, it is a book that will leaves its impact.

In my case, I have become ardent fan of Jonah Lehrer work. And will earnestly seek ways and means to read and educate myself with everything he has to offer.

This book is without a doubt a Thought-Provoking Landmark Masterpiece.

Overall Score
And a Book that scores a Perfect 10 out of 10.

Loy Machedo
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