How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

Like many other books before it (e.g. Nudge, Predictably Irrational, Sway), How We Decide tackles why and how we make decisions. It has the best opening story of the lot, about landing an airplane with an engine on fire and quotes many airplane and non-airplane stories later in the book, some familiar from other books and some fresh ones. The most interesting angle for me is how the emotional brain crosses the rational brain, sometimes to questionable outcomes. The author does not hesitate to point out that rats (who are, it seems, less emotional than humans) do better on certain tasks because they can stick to rational thought; how a certain family member who would want to walk around with bags of coins, as in the Middle Ages, may be on to something when it comes to keeping spending under control (credit card spending is too abstract to really comprehend the expense); how house buyers wrongly analyze that they want more bedrooms rather than a shorter commute to work; and how using MRIs can make physicians more stupid because they have too much information, and too much confirming information at that (no one really knows what the MRI of a non-back sufferer really looks like.)

The main conclusion is that to make better decisions it’s essential to analyze the bad ones. I have plenty to do on this count 🙂

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Filed under Non fiction

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