Dolena (Garland TX)
Who knew emotions can be our best guide in decision making?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. With a myriad of examples drawn from all walks of life (the quarterack, the credit counselor, the guy protecting a submarine), author Lehrer challenges our common belief that the best decisions are made devoid of emotion. The author, through real examples applied to extensive scientific research and studies, challenges that notion. By example after example, he counters the belief we can make decisions without our emotions, which he defines in terms of specific portions of the brain and their functions. Again, by example, he cautions that while some of our brain functions, which are tied to our emotions, are our best friends in decision-making, other functions of the brain betray us, leading us to disastrous decisions and judgments. I found his examples relating to why we continuously spend more than we have, individually and collectively, fascinating. Who knew that the human brain played a role in the "sub-prime mortgage crisis!"
This is a book to linger over and ponder. The author has rendered what could have been just "cold" science into an intriguing journey through the human mind and its direct role in all human decisions, good and bad.
Barbara (Riverside CA)
Making Decisions - heart or mind?
Emotion or rational thought? This book presents an enthralling explanation of the processes that the brain uses to decide what decisions it will make. Full of stories and anecdotes, it kept this readers interest throughout. The chapter on psychopaths and why they are so dangerous is chilling. The book is very current and includes information regarding the 2008 presidential election and how emotion and rational thought played out in the selection of candidates. Even the acknowledgments at the end are fun--the book was written because the author couldn't decide which type of Cheerios to buy!
BethD (Apple Valley MN)
Decide to check out How We Decide!
I loved this book! While getting ready to host a holiday party, in my mad scramble to stow away odds and ends, I misplaced this book. It took me forever to find where I stashed it. To make matters worse, I thought about it all the time in the interim - the ideas and information really stayed with me. I say "to make matters worse", but really, isn't that the hallmark of a good book?
I'm a big fiction reader, not so much of a non-fiction reader, but I requested this book because I have an interest in the brain and its functioning. I've taken a couple of "just for fun" non-credit college classes about the brain, so I was inclined to like the book from the beginning, but I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would. I don't think readers need to have any particular prior knowledge about the brain, though, because the author does a fantastic job of communicating how the brain processes information in layman's terms. I've always thought of the brain as the last frontier in medicine, but this book really offers an excellent glimpse into something that is still somewhat of a black box.
Two of the most interesting parts of the book occur early on, first when the author discusses how children respond differently depending on whether they're told they're smart or whether they're told they worked hard and second, when the author discusses gambling and Parkinson's medication.
As much as I liked this book, it did take me a while to get through it once I found it again.
Nicole (New York NY)
How We Decide is wonderful...
An engaging and simply written accounting of what happens in our brains when we make decisions. I am not a science buff by any means but I was able to understand and easily follow along with the the way Lehrer broke it down for the reader. Interesting cases studies and anecdotes render an interesting and compelling read.
Carol (Isle MN)
The science behind decision making
A must read, because we all make decisions. Jonah Lehrer's book "How we Decide" is a very readable book filled with the science behind how we make decisions. I found the book fascinating in the scientific knowledge that has been gained using MRI as people are put through a variety of studies. Mr. Lehrer has a gift in distilling the results of scientific studies to their essence and then 'translating' them to be understood by the lay person.
"How we Decide" takes us through what has previously been believed about decision making, the role emotions play in decision making and assumption most people hold regarding decision making. Then Mr. Lehrer presents the new research on the brain and what is being learned about decision making. He provides the reader with some very concrete and readable examples of everyday decision making. He also goes on to give recommendations on how to improve our decision making.
Very interesting and useful read; highly recommend it.
Jane (San Diego CA)
How do you know?
What goes into a decision? When should you analyze things carefully and when should you let your subconscious work on it? This book strives to give you the knowledge you need to analyze the type of decision you are making and what kind of thought process it requires.
Lehrer explains how the different parts of the brain work in decision-making through actual examples of decisions made in a wide range of fields including sports, shopping, medicine, the military, aviation, firefighting, political campaigns, and financial investment, to name a few. Some are life and death decisions, while others have no serious consequences.
The ideas and concepts are fascinating, and while this is complex and technical information, Lehrer makes it understandable to the lay person.
Linda Kapusta, Belvidere North H. S. Librarian (Belvidere IL)
How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer
We hear that, Not to Decide is to Decide. Thus, it would appear that we are always making decisions one way or another.
But exactly what is involved in making decisions? What happens internally, in our bodies and our brains? And when we make a decision, is it because we have rationally considered all possibilities? Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide, is a neuroscientist with a talent for explaining the scientific side of human decision making in a way that non-scientific minds can understand and enjoy.
This book is highly readable, informative, and enjoyable, if you are fascinated by how the human mind works.