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The first book to use the unexpected discoveries of neuroscience to help us make the best decisionsSince 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. When buying a house, for example, it's best to let our unconscious mull over the many variables. But when we're picking a stock, intuition often leads us astray. The trick is to determine when to use the different parts 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 that are of interest to just about anyone, from CEOs to firefighters: How does the human mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better?
In this technology-driven age, it's tempting to believe that science can solve every mystery. After all, science has cured countless diseases and even sent humans into space. But as Jonah Lehrer argues in this sparkling debut, science is not the only path to knowledge. In fact, when it comes to understanding the brain, art got there first.Taking a group of artists -- a painter, a poet, a chef, a composer, and a handful of novelists -- Lehrer shows how each one discovered an essential truth about the mind that science is only now rediscovering. We learn, for example, how Proust first revealed the fallibility of memory; how George Eliot discovered the brain's malleability; how the French chef Escoffier discovered umami (the fifth taste); how Cézanne worked out the subtleties of vision; and how Gertrude Stein exposed the deep structure of language -- a full half-century before the work of Noam Chomsky and other linguists. It's the ultimate tale of art trumping science.More broadly, Lehrer shows that there's a cost to reducing everything to atoms and acronyms and genes. Measurement is not the same as understanding, and art knows this better than science does. An ingenious blend of biography, criticism, and first-rate science writing, Proust Was a Neuroscientist urges science and art to listen more closely to each other, for willing minds can combine the best of both, to brilliant effect.
A leading behavioral economist shows how businesses can improve consumer thinking and decision-making on screens.The typical American office worker now spends the majority of his or her waking hours staring at a screen. In the 21st century, every business is a digital business, which is why it's so critical to understand how we think and behave online.Acclaimed behavioral economist Shlomo Benartzi reveals a toolkit of interventions for the digital age. Using provocative case-studies and engaging reader exercises, Benartzi shows how businesses can update their nudges to help consumers make better decisions on screens.Consider these solutions:The tournament model used for Wimbledon and March Madness may help consumers identify what they want more easily. While most websites attempt to display as many options as possible, if people can select options from manageable rounds they tend to make better choices.People are more willing to tell a gadget the truth about their risky health behaviors than an actual doctor. When dealing with sensitive subjects, the absence of human feedback - an absence made easy in an age of screens and machines - can be a great advantage.The precise location of an option on a screen can have a massive impact on consumer choice. (In some instances, screen location matters more than personal preference.) The same logic also applies to information, as certain layouts can dramatically influence our levels of attention.Although most websites are designed to make the act of reading as easy as possible, Benartzi explains why this can be a big mistake. Sometimes, the careful use of ugly fonts and other forms of "visual disfluency" are an important way to boost reading comprehension and retention.This book will help you transform the challenges of the digital world into powerful new opportunities that will drive your success in an age of screens.