Published on Sat 28 Feb Modern popular neuroscience often holds out the same promise: armed with the knowledge of what scientists have learned from magnetic imaging of the brain, the reader will end up master of his own mind. If you know how that muscle inside your head works, you can exploit it better. He begins confidently: "In this book, you will learn how those three pounds of flesh inside the skull determine all of your decisions, from the most mundane choices in the supermarket to the weightiest of moral dilemmas. An increasing amount is known about what sort of patterns of neuron firing generally precede and accompany various kinds of decision - but exactly how they translate into what we experience as decisions is a much trickier proposition.
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Shelves: behavioural-economics , psychology For the first half of this book I was rather annoyed. The problem was that I had heard most of the stories before and I was thinking that what I should do is write a how to write a popular book on decision making style review.
As with anyone who has found themselves on Good Reads for a while, I now cant read a book without thinking, at the same time, how Im going to review it.
You know, in this type of book it seems there has to be an American Football story, a plane crash or two or maybe even For the first half of this book I was rather annoyed.
There are also a list of psychological tests that need to be discussed — emotionally depraved monkeys with their wire mothers to be compared with Romanian orphans and psychopaths , the endless bowl of soup test always rates a mention, as does the lost movie ticket dilemma as to whether you would pay for another one.
My annoyance, then, was around the fact that I felt I had heard every single example in this book at least once before. I thought my review would say that this book is not a bad summary of the field, but any one of a number of other books is probably just as good. I stopped worrying about what I would say in my review about half way through and that is why this book has been given five stars rather than the three I was thinking of giving it. Look — I have an irrational annoyance that seems to develop when I read too many case studies.
I think it is because the case study is the favourite ploy of the self-help book. What these case studies gain in dramatic effect they tend to lose in, well, relevance. Stating his premise quite so boldly might make the problem with Blink stand out. How can you tell when to trust your gut and when to trust your head? When this book gets into its stride it runs through the sorts of cognitive errors that we are likely to make when we make decisions. One of the stand out causes of errors we make is loss aversion, that is, we are likely to make bad decisions if we feel we have already made a loss part of the reason gamblers might bet more after losing a bet — double or nothing anyone?
This is made clear by the fact that some social monkeys, one can assume they have not met Jesus, also act in accordance with the Golden Rule.
Clearly, some Christians are going to find certain parts of this book challenging, but then, it is seeking to explain why we make mistakes on the basis of our biological evolution, so I guess certain Christians are always going to have problems with that. There are things I really liked about this book. Those are summed up in the last couple of chapters which are worth reading all on their own the next time you are in a book shop in fact, I think, if I had written this book, I would have started at the end.
Essentially this book says that there are good and bad times to use your rational brain to make decisions and that there are times when the best decisions you can make are those you will make by relying on your emotions.
He says, perhaps counter-intuitively, that the decisions best left to your emotional brain are the ones that are complex and multifaceted — that is, the ones we generally try to solve with our rational brains. Problems like that have too many variables — not just which colour looks best, but also should I get side air bags and ABS brakes or what about fuel efficiency and service history, and It might be easier to follow this advice by looking at when you should make decisions based on reason.
Essentially, if the problem can be broken down into numbers the odds are six to one that… then reason needs to play a role in your decisions.
If the problem is sufficiently novel — that is, you are in a situation in which you have never been before, you need to avoid relying on your emotions and you need to try to think. But you should rely on your emotional or perhaps automatic is a better word brain for things you do all of the time. Sometimes thinking is the last thing you need to do.
Having said that, there are also times when your automatic brain will have trapped you into patterns of behaviour which are self-defeating. This book is not trying to tell you that there are times when you should not think at all — it is telling you that you should always think about the decisions you are making and how you are making those decisions, but to also understand that we are human and we ALL tend to rationalise our behaviour a wonderful book on this subject is Mistakes Were Made But Not by Me Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts and that if you can possibly do it, seeing when you were wrong and trying to learn from those times is as close to being godlike as we humans get.
There is a fascinating discussion in this book about some guy testing the accuracy of political pundits. My understanding of what happened is that a psychologist asked a series of both right and left wing commentators what they believed was likely to happen next — the alternatives were phrased so as to give three possible outcomes things will get worse, things will get better, things will stay the same.
The result was that virtually all of the social commentators did worse than chance in their guesses. That is, you would have done better by asking a monkey to pick the answer out of a hat. The more certain, the more wrong. The more open you are to the possibility you may be wrong the more likely you are to be right. The more prepared you are to listen to others, the less likely you are to stuff up.
The more consciously people set up ways in which their views will be challenged the more likely they are not to be fooled by their own bullshit. It is The Wisdom of Crowds again.
The Decisive Moment : How The Brain Makes Up Its Mind
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The Decisive Moment: How The Brain Makes Up Its Mind