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Three 2009 Decisions: Good Books

January 8th, 2010 · 10 Comments

There are a number of books that have been published in recent times which focus on how we make decisions. Here are three good ones.

“Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition” by Michael Mauboussin. From the book’s description: “Leaders in all fields-business, medicine, law, government-make crucial decisions every day. The harsh truth is that they mismanage many of those choices, even though they have the right intentions. These blunders take a huge toll on leaders, their organizations, and the people they serve. Why is it so hard to make sound decisions? We fall victim to simplified mental routines that prevent us from coping with the complex realities inherent in important judgment calls. Yet these cognitive errors are preventable. In Think Twice, Michael Mauboussin shows you how to recognize-and avoid-common mental missteps.”

“How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer. From the book’s description: “Since Plato, philosophers have described the decision making process as either rational or emotional: we carefully deliberate or we “blink” and go with our gut. But as scientists break open the mind’s black box with the latest tools of neuroscience, they’re discovering that this is not how the mind works.Our best decisions are a finely tuned blend of both feeling and reason-and the precise mix depends on the situation. The trick is to determine when to lean on which part of the brain, and to do this, we need to think harder (and smarter) about how we think. Jonah Lehrer arms us with the tools we need, drawing on cutting-edge research as well as the real-world experiences of a wide range of “deciders”-from airplane pilots and hedge fund investors to serial killers and poker players.”

“Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average” by Joseph T. Hallinan. From the book’s description: “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.”

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