It's Raining Books Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Original Essays | September 17, 2014

Merritt Tierce: IMG Has My Husband Read It?



My first novel, Love Me Back, was published on September 16. Writing the book took seven years, and along the way three chapters were published in... Continue »
  1. $16.77 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Love Me Back

    Merritt Tierce 9780385538077

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$11.95
Used Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Burnside Psychology- General

How We Decide

by

How We Decide Cover

ISBN13: 9780618620111
ISBN10: 0618620117
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

Only 1 left in stock at $11.95!

 

 

Author Q & A

Q: Why did you want to write a book about decision-making?

A: It all began with Cheerios. I'm an incredibly indecisive person.  Here I was, aimlessly wandering the cereal aisle of the supermarket, trying to choose between the apple-cinnamon and honey-nut varieties. It was an embarrassing waste of time and yet it happened to me all the time. Eventually, I decided that enough was enough: I needed to understand what was happening inside my brain as I contemplated my breakfast options. I soon realized, of course, that this new science of decision-making had implications far grander than Cheerios.

Q: What are some of those implications?

A: Life is ultimately just a series of decisions, from the mundane (what should I eat for breakfast?) to the profound (what should I do with my life?). Until recently, though, we had no idea how our brain actually made these decisions. As a result, we relied on untested assumptions, such as the assumption that people were rational creatures. (This assumption goes all the way back to Plato and the ancient Greeks.) But now, for the first time in human history, we can look inside our mind and see how we actually think. It turns out that we weren't designed to be rational or logical or even particularly deliberate. Instead, our mind holds a messy network of different areas, many of which are involved with the production of emotion. Whenever we make a decision, the brain is awash in feeling, driven by its inexplicable passions. Even when we try to be reasonable and restrained, these emotional impulses secretly influence our judgment. Of course, by understanding how the human mind makes decisions — and by learning about the decision-making mistakes that we're all vulnerable to — we can learn to make better decisions.

Q: Can neuroscience really teach us how to make better decisions?

A: My answer is a qualified yes. Despite the claims of many self-help books, there is no secret recipe for decision-making, no single strategy that can work in every situation. The real world is just too complex.  The thought process that excels in the supermarket won't pass muster in the Oval Office. Therefore natural selection endowed us with a brain that is enthusiastically pluralist. Sometimes we need to reason through our options and carefully analyze the possibilities. And sometimes we need to listen to our emotions and gut instinct. The secret, of course, is knowing when to use different styles of thought — when to trust feelings and when to exercise reason. In my book, I devoted a chapter to looking at the world through the prism of the game of poker and found that, in poker as in life, two broad categories of decisions exist: math problems and mysteries. The first step to making the right decision, then, is accurately diagnosing the problem and figuring out which brain system to rely on. Should we trust our intuition or calculate the probabilities? We always need to be thinking about how we think.

Q: Are you a good poker player?

A: When I was in Vegas, hanging out with some of best poker players in the world, I convinced myself that I'd absorbed the tricks of the trade, that I could use their advice to win some money. So I went to a low-stakes table at the Rio, put $300 on the line, and waited for the chips to accumulate. Instead, I lost all my money in less than an hour. It was an expensive but valuable lesson: there's a big difference between understanding how experts think and being able to think like an expert.

Q: Why write this book now?

A: Neuroscience can seem abstract, a science preoccupied with questions about the cellular details of perception and the memory of fruit flies. In recent years, however, the field has been invaded by some practical thinkers. These scientists want to use the nifty experimental tools of modern neuroscience to explore some of the mysteries of everyday life. How should we choose a cereal? What areas of the brain are triggered in the shopping mall? Why do smart people accumulate credit card debt and take out subprime mortgages? How can you use the brain to explain financial bubbles? For the first time, these incredibly relevant questions have rigorously scientific answers. It all goes back to that classical Greek aphorism: Know thyself. I'd argue that the discoveries of modern neuroscience allow us to know ourselves (and our decisions!) in an entirely new way.

Q: How We Decide draws from the latest research in neuroscience yet also analyzes some crucial moments in the lives of a variety of "deciders," from the football star Tom Brady to a soap opera director. Why did you take this approach?

A: Herbert Simon, the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist, famously compared our mind to a pair of scissors. One blade, he said, represented the brain. The other blade was the specific environment in which our brain was operating. If you want to understand the function of scissors, Simon said, then you have to look at both blades simultaneously. What I wanted to do in How We Decide was venture out of the lab and into the real world so that I could see the scissors at work. I discuss some ingenious experiments in this book, but let's face it: the science lab is a startlingly artificial place. And so, wherever possible, I tried to explore these scientific theories in the context of everyday life. Instead of just writing about hyperbolic discounting and the feebleness of the prefrontal cortex, I spent time with a debt counselor in the Bronx. When I became interested in the anatomy of insight — where do our good ideas come from? — I interviewed a pilot whose epiphany in the cockpit saved hundreds of lives. That's when you really begin to appreciate the power of this new science — when you can use its ideas to explain all sorts of important phenomena, such as the risky behavior of teenagers, the amorality of psychopaths, and the tendency of some athletes to choke under pressure.

Q: What do you do in the cereal aisle now?

A: I was about halfway through writing the book when I got some great advice from a scientist. I was telling him about my Cheerios dilemma when he abruptly interrupted me: "The secret to happiness," he said, "is not wasting time on irrelevant decisions." Of course, this sage advice didn't help me figure out what kind of cereal I actually wanted to eat for breakfast. So I did the only logical thing: I bought my three favorite Cheerios varieties and combined them all in my cereal bowl. Problem solved.

© Nina Subin 2008

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Marie Godfrey, February 11, 2009 (view all comments by Marie Godfrey)
I sure hope this book is better than Blink. I read that one and kept hoping--unfulfilled--for some real ideas on how to make decisions. Lots of anecdotes and no substance.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(7 of 22 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780618620111
Author:
Lehrer, Jonah
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Subject:
Decision-making
Subject:
General
Subject:
Decision Making & Problem Solving
Subject:
Motivational & Inspirational
Subject:
Cognitive Psychology
Subject:
Physiological Psychology
Subject:
General science
Subject:
Psychology-Cognitive Science
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20100114
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8 x 5.31 in 0.65 lb

Other books you might like

  1. Proust Was a Neuroscientist
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  2. Outliers: The Story of Success
    Used Trade Paper $8.50
  3. The Well-Dressed Ape: A Natural... Used Hardcover $8.50
  4. The Invention of Air: A Study of...
    Used Hardcover $6.50
  5. The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness...
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  6. Larry's Kidney: Being the Story of...
    Used Hardcover $7.95

Related Subjects

Business » Strategy
Education » General
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Anatomy and Physiology
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Cognitive Science
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Mind and Consciousness
History and Social Science » Economics » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Neurobiology
Science and Mathematics » Featured Titles in Tech » General

How We Decide Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$11.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Houghton Mifflin Company - English 9780618620111 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "What is going on in the brain of a pilot deciding how to handle an emergency or a man trying to escape a wildfire? Does reason or emotion rule our decision making? Seed magazine editor-at-large Lehrer (Proust Was a Neuroscientist) brings recent research in neurobiology to life as he shows that the view, dating back to Plato, of the decision-making brain as a charioteer (reason) trying to control wild horses (emotions) comes up short. As Lehrer describes in fluid prose, the brain's reasoning centers are easily fooled, often making judgments based on nonrational factors like presentation (a sales pitch or packaging). And Lehrer cites a study of investors given varying amounts of financial data to show that our inner charioteer also can be confused by too much information. Even more surprisingly, research shows that 'gut instinct' often does make better decisions than long, drawn-out reasoning, and people with impaired emotional responses have trouble coping with the decisions required in everyday life. Lehrer is a delight to read, and this is a fascinating book (some of which appeared recently, in a slightly different form, in the New Yorker) that will help everyone better understand themselves and their decision making." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Should we go with instinct or analysis? The answer, Lehrer explains, in this smart and delightfully readable book, is that it depends on the situation. Knowing which method works best in which case is not just useful but fascinating. Lehrer proves once again that hes a master storyteller and one of the best guides to the practical lessons from new neuroscience."
"Review" by , "Cash or credit? Punt or go for first down? Deal or no deal? Life is filled with puzzling choices. Reporting from the frontiers of neuroscience and armed with riveting case studies of how pilots, quarterbacks, and others act under fire, Jonah Lehrer presents a dazzlingly authoritative and accessible account of how we make decisions, what's happening in our heads as we do so, and how we might all become better deciders. Luckily, this one's a no-brainer: Read this book."
"Review" by , "Over the past two decades, research in neuroscience and behavioral economics has revolutionized our understanding of human decision making. Jonah Lehrer brings it all together in this insightful and enjoyable book, giving readers the information they need to make the smartest decisions."
"Review" by , "Jonah Lehrer ingeniously weaves neuroscience, sports, war, psychology, and politics into a fascinating tale of human decision making. In the process, he makes us much wiser."
"Synopsis" by , From the acclaimed author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist comes a fascinating look at the new science of decision-making. Lehrer explores two questions: How does the human mind make decisions? and How can those decisions be made better?
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.