Sunday, April 26, 2009

How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer

For those who have read Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, this book may seem to get off to a bit of a slow start (Lehrer also refers to the same strawberry jam experiments and makes the same points regarding how the brain works). About a fifth to a third of the book sounds familiar from the start. It needs to set up the same frame work for understanding how the mind works on unconcious levels.

However, Jonah eventually starts to venture into new ground when he begins discussing moral decision making.

His highlights the key take aways of his book, the most important being to "think about thinking":
Whenever you make a decision, be aware of the kind of decision you are making and the kind of though process it requires.
  • Simple problems require reason.
  • Complex problems benefit (ironically) emotional decisions.
  • Novel problems require reason - analyze underlying patterns to find solutions.
  • Embrace uncertainty - deliberately contrarian hypotheses to avoid discounting uncomfortable yet material facts.
  • You know more than you know (paradoxically) - emotions may often be hard to analyze, but they can provide a wealth of information if you know how to use them and when to trust them (and what their limitations are).
  • The best decision making requires analysis and emotions and the best decision makers will have a mixed approach, knowing when to use which.

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

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