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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 reason—and the precise mix depends on the situation. 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 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: How does the human mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better?
Jonah Lehrer is editor at large for Seed magazine and the author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist. A graduate of Columbia University and a Rhodes scholar, Lehrer has written for The New Yorker, the Washington Post, and the Boston Globe. He edits the Mind Matters blog for Scientific American and writes his own highly regarded blog, The Frontal Cortex.
Table of Contents
|The Quarterback in the Pocket||p. 1|
|The Predictions of Dopamine||p. 28|
|Fooled by a Feeling||p. 57|
|The Uses of Reason||p. 93|
|Choking on Thought||p. 133|
|The Moral Mind||p. 167|
|The Brain Is an Argument||p. 196|
|The Poker Hand||p. 219|
|Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.|
These passing decisions happen so fast they don’t even seem like decisions. We are used to seeing football on television, captured by the cameras far above the grassy stage. From this distant perspective, the players appear to be moving in some sort of violent ballet; the sport looks exquisitely choreographed. You can see the receivers spread the zone and watch the pocket slowly disintegrate. It’s easy to detect the weak spots of the defense and find the target with man-on-man coverage. You can tell which linebackers bought the play-action fake and see the cornerback racing in on the blitz. When you watch the game from this omniscient angle — coaches call it "the eye in the sky" — it appears as if the quarterback is simply following orders, as if he knows where he is going to throw the ball before the play begins.
Excerpted from How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
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