Synopses & 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 are fairly sure we're way above average. In Why We Make Mistakes, journalist Joseph T. Hallinan sets out to explore the captivating science of human error, how 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 patterns but overlooking details. Which is why thirteen-year-old boys discover errors that NASA scientists miss and why you can't find the beer in your refrigerator.
Why We Make Mistakes is enlivened by real-life stories of weathermen whose predictions are uncannily accurate and a witness who sent an innocent man to jail and offers valuable advice, such as how to remember where you've hidden something important. You'll learn why multitasking is a bad idea, why men make errors women don't, and why most people think San Diego is west of Reno (it's not).
Why We Make Mistakes will open your eyes to the reasons behind your mistakes and have you vowing to do better the next time.
"What an eye-opener! If you're someone who has trouble remembering the names of people (or common objects), if you seem to forget things almost immediately after you learn them, if your memory of past events frequently turns out to be drastically at odds with the facts, relax: you're not alone. It's a truism that we all make mistakes, but Hallinan is more interested in why we make them, in what quirks of our mental makeup allow and even frequently encourage us to misremember important events, forget passwords, mistake strangers for friends, buy more groceries than we actually need, fall for optical illusions, and so on. Turns out these aren't sign of illness. Just the opposite: our minds behave this way because our brains are wired this way. Hallinan cites numerous studies and experts (there is a lengthy bibliography), but he keeps the book from becoming a stodgy recitations of facts and statistics through the frequent use of illustrative examples and snappy prose. He also throws in a few big surprises, such as the revelation that multitasking is a myth (we don't do several things at once we switch between various tasks without really focusing on any of them). A vastly informative, and for some readers vastly reassuring, exploration of the way our minds work." Booklist
Journalist Hallinan sets out to explore the captivating science of human error, and offers this fascinating investigation of the science behind human imperfections.
Renowned social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson take a compelling look into how the brain is wired for self-justification. When we make mistakes, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so we create fictions that absolve us of responsibility, restoring our belief that we are smart, moral, and right—a belief that often keeps us on a course that is dumb, immoral, and wrong.
“Entertaining, illuminating and—when you recognize yourself in the stories it tells—mortifying.” —Wall Street Journal
“Every page sparkles with sharp insight and keen observation. Mistakes were made—but not in this book!” —Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness
Why do people dodge responsibility when things fall apart? Why the parade of public figures unable to own up when they screw up? Why the endless marital quarrels over who is right? Why can we see hypocrisy in others but not in ourselves? Are we all liars? Or do we really believe the stories we tell?Renowned social psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson take a compelling look into how the brain is wired for self-justification. When we make mistakes, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. And so we create fictions that absolve us of responsibility, restoring our belief that we are smart, moral, and right—a belief that often keeps us on a course that is dumb, immoral, and wrong.Backed by years of research and delivered in lively, energetic prose, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) offers a fascinating explanation of self-deception—how it works, the harm it can cause, and how we can overcome it.
About the Author
CAROL TAVRIS is a social psychologist, lecturer, and writer whose books include Anger and The Mismeasure of Woman. She has written on psychological topics for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Scientific American, and many other publications. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science, and a member of the editorial board of Psychological Science in the Public Interest. She lives in Los Angeles.ELLIOT ARONSON is one of the most distinguished social psychologists in the world. His books include The Social Animal and The Jigsaw Classroom. Chosen by his peers as one of the 100 most influential psychologists of the twentieth century, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is the only psychologist to have won all three of the American Psychological Association’s top awards—for writing, teaching, and research. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.