Synopses & Reviews
We forget our passwords. We pay too much to go to the gym. We think wed be happier if we lived in California (we wouldnt), and we think we should stick with our first answer on tests (we shouldnt). 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 are fairly sure were way above average. In Why We Make Mistakes, journalist Joseph T. Hallinan sets out to explore the captivating science of human errorhow we think, see, remember, and forget, and how this sets us up for wholly irresistible mistakes.
In his quest to understand our imperfections, Hallinan delves into psychology, neuroscience, and economics, with forays into aviation, consumer behavior, geography, football, stock picking, and more. He discovers that some of the same qualities that make us efficient also make us error prone. We learn to move rapidly through the world, quickly recognizing patternsbut overlooking details. Which is why thirteen-year-old boys discover errors that NASA scientists missand why you cant find the beer in your refrigerator.
Why We Make Mistakes is enlivened by real-life storiesof weathermen whose predictions are uncannily accurate and a witness who sent an innocent man to jailand offers valuable advice, such as how to remember where youve hidden something important. Youll learn why multitasking is a bad idea, why men make errors women dont, and why most people think San Diego is west of Reno (its not).
Why We Make Mistakes will open your eyes to the reasons behind your mistakesand have you vowing to do better the next time.
"A Pulitzer winner for his stories on Indiana's medical malpractice system, Hallinan has made himself an expert on the snafus of human psychology and perception used regularly (by politicians, marketers, and our own subconscious) to confuse, misinform, manipulate and equivocate. In breezy chapters, Hallinan examines 13 pitfalls that make us vulnerable to mistakes: 'we look but don't always see,' 'we like things tidy' and 'we don't constrain ourselves' among them. Each chapter takes on a different drawback, packing in an impressive range of intriguing and practical real-world examples; the chapter on overconfidence looks at horse-racing handicappers, Warren Buffet's worst deal and the secret weapon of credit card companies. He also looks at the serious consequences of multitasking and data overload on what is at best a two- or three-track mind, from deciding the best course of cancer treatment to ignoring the real factors of our unhappiness (often by focusing on minor but more easily understood details). Quizzes and puzzles give readers a sense of their own capacity for self-deception and/or delusion. A lesson in humility as much as human behavior, Hallinan's study should help readers understand their limitations and how to work with them." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Did you know that the number of syllables in an item’s price determines how likely you are to remember that price? And that there’s a reason you can never manage to choose a cell phone plan with the right number of minutes? The human mind is a strange and imperfect thing. We stick with hunches when we shouldn't, our stories change when we retell them, we forget things within seconds, and we have an astonishing ability to overlook important details in our daily lives.
Why We Make Mistakes is a fascinating investigation of the science behind our imperfections, enlivened by real-life stories of anesthesiologists’ fatal mistakes, weathermen whose predictions are uncannily accurate, and witnesses who have sent innocent men to jail. Full of visual puzzles, interesting sidebars, fun facts, and simple solutions for our most maddening foibles (like how to pick a password and a hiding place you won’t forget), here is a book that will have you laughing in recognition—and vowing to get it right the next time.
A fascinating investigation of the science behind human imperfections, enlivened by real-life stories of anesthesiologists' fatal mistakes, weathermen whose predictions are uncannily accurate, and witnesses who have sent innocent men to jail.
About the Author
Joseph T. Hallinan, a former writer for the Wall Street Journal, is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He lives with his wife and children in Chicago.