From the acclaimed author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist, a fascinating look at the new science of decision-makingand how it can help us make better choices.
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 reasonand the precise mix depends on the situation. When buying a house, for example, it's best to let our unconscious mull over the many variables. But when we're picking a stock, intuition often leads us astray. 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 by Daniel Kahneman, Colin Camerer, and others, 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. Lehrer shows how people are taking advantage of the new science to make better television shows, win more football games, and improve military intelligence. His goal is to answer two questions that are of interest to just about anyone, from CEOs to firefighters: How does the human mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better?
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"Starred Review. Lehrer is a delight to read, and this is a fascinating book (some of which appeared recently, in a slightly different form, in the New Yorker) that will help everyone better understand themselves and their decision making." - Publishers Weekly.
"May not facilitate great improvements in decision-making, but the Cliff Clavins of the world will exult in the factoids and anecdotes." - Kirkus Reviews.
"Over the past two decades, research in neuroscience and behavioral economics has revolutionized our understanding of human decision-making. Jonah Lehrer brings it all together in this insightful and enjoyable book, giving readers the information they need to make the smartest decisions." - Antonio Damasio, author of Descartes' Error and Looking for Spinoza.
"Cash or credit? Punt or go for first down? Deal or no deal? - life is filled with puzzling choices. Reporting from the frontiers of neuroscience, and armed with riveting case studies of how pilots, quarterbacks, and others act under fire, Jonah Lehrer presents a dazzlingly authoritative and accessible account of how we make decisions, what's happening in our heads as we do so, and how we might all become better 'deciders.' Luckily, this one's a no-brainer: Read this book." - Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
"An inviting, high-velocity ride through our most treasured mental act-deciding. This is truly one of the most accessible and richly-informed books on human choice. It's a must read for anyone interested in the human mind and how cutting-edge research changes the way we think about ourselves. A marvelous success." - Read Montague, Brown Foundation Professor of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine,
"The human brain has distinct rational and emotional circuits. When making decisions, we don't always know which one is in control, and we can't always influence the balance. With compelling anecdotes and scientific authority, Jonah Lehrer explains it all eloquently." - Daniel J. Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs).
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Jonah Lehrer is editor at large for Seed magazine. A graduate of Columbia University and a Rhodes scholar, Lehrer has worked in the lab of Nobel Prizewinning neuroscientist Eric Kandel and in the kitchens of Le Cirque 2000 and Le Bernardin. He has written for the Boston Globe, Nature, NPR, and NOVA ScienceNow, and writes a highly regarded blog, The Frontal Cortex.
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