Self-promotion alert! If you’re allergic to self-aggrandizing blog posts, then you’ll probably want to stop reading now. But just a quick note to remind interested people that I’ll be in the Bay Area this week, talking about decision-making, before returning to the East Coast and holding events in NYC and Boston next week. Also, there have been some nice reviews of How We Decide in recent days. In the San Francisco Chronicle, Robert Burton (author of the excellent “On Being Certain) says:
Lehrer offers real substance by going short on agenda and overreaching simplifications and being long on scholarship; his book presents an excellent synthesis of how many leading mind scientists view decision making. Lehrer is blessed with a rare combination of intelligence. He is a Rhodes scholar who has worked in the lab of Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel; he has an insatiable curiosity as to how the mind works as well as a readily apparent aversion for pat answers. He has won my approval with his closing advice: “Embrace uncertainty. Hard problems rarely have easy solutions.”
Humans are supposed to be rational creatures. But while we strive to base our decisions on thoughtful deliberation and analysis, the occasional fit of passion has been known to creep in. Jonah Lehrer explores these warring impulses, revealing the mind to be a series of competing catalysts, a tangled network of reason and emotion. Using a raft of anecdotes and scientific studies, Lehrer answers some seemingly simple – and highly entertaining – questions. Does expensive wine really taste better than the cheap stuff, or are we biased by the price? Why do we spend more with a credit card than we do when paying with cash? While we can’t always control (or understand, for that matter) what our brain tells us, Lehrer writes, we can learn when to rely on reason and when to listen to our emotions. Sometimes, a little piece of chocolate cake can be good for you.
The Daily Mail:
Why do we do the things we do? For a long time, the answers to questions like that were anyone’s guess. But as Jonah Lehrer’s engrossing book tells us, that’s in the process of changing.