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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why we make mistakes by Joseph T. Hallinan

Why We Make Mistakes: How we look without seeing, forget things in seconds, and are all pretty sure we are way above average.

by Joseph T. Hallinan

Pulitzer prize winner and former writer for Wall Street Journal, Hallinan, has presented an interesting account of the short-comings of the human mind in Why We Make Mistakes through several real-life examples that run the gamut from mundane to worrisome to horrifying.

This book falls in the same genre as Blink by Gladwell, where the author shows us how our brain function has evolved to help us abstract well enough to function efficiently in daily life, yet, the same process leaves us blind to some all-important details that can become critical and even life-threatening in special circumstances. He draws from the fields of psychology and neuroscience to help understand the flawed design of human mind when it comes to information processing - how our superb pattern-recognition skills that help us move through this world easily also makes us error-prone simply because we have learnt to overlook details.

I chuckled when I read:
...Men, as a rule, tend to be more overconfident than women are, and this difference explains much about the kinds of mistakes men and women make.

Men tend to overestimate their intelligence - and attractiveness.


However, while the topic is fascinating and the author has extensive research and anecdotes to make this an interesting read, I did not find it exceptionally noteworthy in any way. This is probably not a reflection on the author, but just based on the way the ideas were organized and presented in the book... nothing profound or really eye-opening, but, certainly something to note and be aware of.

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