Want to know how you really make decisions? Check out Johah Lehrer’s stimulating take on this. Traditionally, reason and emotion are pitted against one another when we ponder how we make decisions. But Lehrer paints a much more complicated picture. In How We Decide, he dismisses the ideal of the fully rational decision, pointing out that the brain is a “messy” thing, “awash in feeling, driven by its inexplicable passions.” There are times when gut feeling produces better results than deliberate consideration. The key, Lehrer argues, is to adapt the right style of thought to the right situation. Know Thy Brain, he insists.
In addition to sharing the latest insights from neuroscience, the author grounds his investigation in everyday life experience, examining the decision-making required of an NFL quarterback, a director of soap operas, and a poker player. Especially gripping is the story of a pilot whose cool thinking in crisis saved the life of his crew and passengers. The mind is a sophisticated Swiss army knife, Lehrer tells us, and his book is a step toward creating a user’s manual.