Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How We Decide

I just finished the book How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer.  You might know him from the book Proust Was a Neuroscientist, which I absolutely LOVED.  This book was along those lines, but not quite as in depth as I would have liked.

How We Decide turns our attention to what are brains are doing when we are making a decision.  How when we go with our gut, our brains seamlessly provide the excuses for our decision, and how often times our emotions know the answer to a tough problem before our brains have picked up on the reasoning.

Things I learned:
  •  In the long run, randomly selected stock portfolios will beat experts and computer models and the best strategy is to pick a low-cost index fund and wait.  Do nothing.
  • Don't think about the technical aspects of doing what you already know how to do (think playing the piano or playing golf)
  • Too much information in many situations hampers decision making.  Our attention cannot focus on what is important to us and may make decisions on things that SOUND important.
  • Watch out for back surgery.  Most patients get better on their own.
  • Neurons mirror the movements of other people.  If you see someone else smile, then your mirror neurons will light up s if you were smiling.  Isn't that nice?
  • Just looking at a fancy or expensive item without the intent to buy, makes you primed to buy something less expensive.  Window shopping is DANGEROUS.
  • Political pundits are more often wrong than those that don't claim to be experts. (thank goodness!)
While the book really started to get interesting just as I reached the end (and it was hard to tell on my kindle with the footnotes and acknowledgements), I did enjoy it and look forward to reading more about the same subject as well as more by this author.

Things I am going to keep in mind:  I'm going to try to think LESS about the decisions that are very important to me, since my emotions can handle those and I'm going to think MORE [rationally] about the small decisions that don't mean as much to me.  We have to make decisions without all the information and Lehrer advises to always remind ourselves of what we don't know.  I'll let you know how it goes.

(My new favorite quote is now, "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on my dopamine neurons."  Hee hee!  You see.... it's FUNNY.)


new outlook said...
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Anonymous said...

Buen post, saludos :)

apartahotel said...

Que post tan interesante! tiene muy buenos temas , continua asi :)

sbdgbd said...
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jennifer anderson said...


Aaron Surrain said...

Reminded me of Freud... "When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves. In the important decisions of personal life, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature." (