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On Second Thought by Wray Herbert - Excerpt

On Second Thought by Wray Herbert - Excerpt

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3.44

(8)
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Our lives are composed of millions of choices, ranging from trivial to life-changing and momentous. Luckily, our brains have evolved a number of mental shortcuts, biases, and tricks that allow us to quickly negotiate this endless array of decisions. We don’t want to rationally deliberate every choice we make, and thanks to these cognitive rules of thumb, we don’t need to.

Yet these hard-wired shortcuts, mental wonders though they may be, can also be perilous. They can distort our thinking in ways that are often invisible to us, leading us to make poor decisions, to be easy targets for manipulators…and they can even cost us our lives.

The truth is, despite all the buzz about the power of gut-instinct decision-making in recent years, sometimes it’s better to stop and say, “On second thought . . .”

The trick, of course, lies in knowing when to trust that instant response, and when to question it. In On Second Thought, acclaimed science writer Wray Herbert provides the first guide to achieving that balance. Drawing on real-world examples and cutting-edge research, he takes us on a fascinating, wide-ranging journey through our innate cognitive traps and tools, exposing the hidden dangers lurking in familiarity and consistency; the obstacles that keep us from accurately evaluating risk and value; the delusions that make it hard for us to accurately predict the future; the perils of the human yearning for order and simplicity; the ways our fears can color our very perceptions . . . and much more.

Along the way, Herbert reveals the often-bizarre cross-connections these shortcuts have secretly ingrained in our brains, answering such questions as why jury decisions may be shaped by our ancient need for cleanliness; what the state of your desk has to do with your political preferences; why loneliness can literally make us shiver; how drawing two dots on a piece of paper can desensitize us to violence… and how the very typeface on this page is affecting your decision about whether or not to buy this book.

Ultimately, On Second Thought is both a captivating exploration of the workings of the mind and an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to learn how to make smarter, better judgments every day.

To read more about Wray Herbert or On Second Thought please visit Crown Publishing Group at www.crownpublishing.com.
Our lives are composed of millions of choices, ranging from trivial to life-changing and momentous. Luckily, our brains have evolved a number of mental shortcuts, biases, and tricks that allow us to quickly negotiate this endless array of decisions. We don’t want to rationally deliberate every choice we make, and thanks to these cognitive rules of thumb, we don’t need to.

Yet these hard-wired shortcuts, mental wonders though they may be, can also be perilous. They can distort our thinking in ways that are often invisible to us, leading us to make poor decisions, to be easy targets for manipulators…and they can even cost us our lives.

The truth is, despite all the buzz about the power of gut-instinct decision-making in recent years, sometimes it’s better to stop and say, “On second thought . . .”

The trick, of course, lies in knowing when to trust that instant response, and when to question it. In On Second Thought, acclaimed science writer Wray Herbert provides the first guide to achieving that balance. Drawing on real-world examples and cutting-edge research, he takes us on a fascinating, wide-ranging journey through our innate cognitive traps and tools, exposing the hidden dangers lurking in familiarity and consistency; the obstacles that keep us from accurately evaluating risk and value; the delusions that make it hard for us to accurately predict the future; the perils of the human yearning for order and simplicity; the ways our fears can color our very perceptions . . . and much more.

Along the way, Herbert reveals the often-bizarre cross-connections these shortcuts have secretly ingrained in our brains, answering such questions as why jury decisions may be shaped by our ancient need for cleanliness; what the state of your desk has to do with your political preferences; why loneliness can literally make us shiver; how drawing two dots on a piece of paper can desensitize us to violence… and how the very typeface on this page is affecting your decision about whether or not to buy this book.

Ultimately, On Second Thought is both a captivating exploration of the workings of the mind and an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to learn how to make smarter, better judgments every day.

To read more about Wray Herbert or On Second Thought please visit Crown Publishing Group at www.crownpublishing.com.

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Publish date: Sep 14, 2010
Added to Scribd: Sep 20, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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08/21/2013

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switchknitter reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I was a little annoyed by this book. It had some great information in it. There were a number of things I knew already from previous readings and classes, but there was stuff I'd never heard about and was glad to learn.The thing that drove me nuts was this. Each chapter was on a cognitive heuristic. And half the time I'd finish reading a chapter and still not know what the heuristic was. Oh, sure, I knew the topic it was related to -- self-esteem, or judgment, or bias -- but I didn't know what the actual heuristic's definition was. So annoying. But other than that it was a good book. It would seem from the title that it contains tips for "outsmarting your mind's hard-wired habits," but it doesn't. Which amused me. But it was a pretty good read overall, anyway.
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