Why We Make Mistakes

Why We Make Mistakes

How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average

Book - 2009
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Random House, Inc.

We forget our passwords. We pay too much to go to the gym. We think we’d be happier if we lived in California (we wouldn’t), and we think we should stick with our first answer on tests (we shouldn’t). Why do we make mistakes? And could we do a little better?

We human beings have design flaws. Our eyes play tricks on us, our stories change in the retelling, and most of us are fairly sure we’re way above average. In Why We Make Mistakes, journalist Joseph T. Hallinan sets out to explore the captivating science of human error—how we think, see, remember, and forget, and how this sets us up for wholly irresistible mistakes.

In his quest to understand our imperfections, Hallinan delves into psychology, neuroscience, and economics, with forays into aviation, consumer behavior, geography, football, stock picking, and more. He discovers that some of the same qualities that make us efficient also make us error prone. We learn to move rapidly through the world, quickly recognizing patterns—but overlooking details. Which is why thirteen-year-old boys discover errors that NASA scientists miss—and why you can’t find the beer in your refrigerator.

Why We Make Mistakes
is enlivened by real-life stories—of weathermen whose predictions are uncannily accurate and a witness who sent an innocent man to jail—and offers valuable advice, such as how to remember where you’ve hidden something important. You’ll learn why multitasking is a bad idea, why men make errors women don’t, and why most people think San Diego is west of Reno (it’s not).

Why We Make Mistakes will open your eyes to the reasons behind your mistakes—and have you vowing to do better the next time.



Baker & Taylor
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist journeys inside the workings of the imperfect human mind to examine the science behind the brain's ability to see, think, remember, and forget, accompanied by real-life anecdotes, visual puzzles, informational sidebars, and simple solutions for overcoming our maddening foibles. 30,000 first printing.

Baker
& Taylor

Hallinan sets out to explore the captivating science of human error, and delves into psychology, neuroscience, and economics to discover why some of the same qualities that make us efficient also make us error-prone.
Surveys the workings of the human mind to examine the science behind the brain's ability to see, think, remember, and forget, accompanied by anecdotes, visual puzzles, informational sidebars, and simple solutions for overcoming imperfections.

Publisher: New York : Broadway Books, c2009
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780767928052
Branch Call Number: 153 Hal
Characteristics: 283 p. ; 22 cm

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WVMLStaffPicks Oct 20, 2014

A fun look at the human condition! Why even when we “know better” we still make the flawed choice. This book is full of real-life examples and scientific explanations of decisions regarding why we don’t see things, remember things, misremember events, forget passwords, buy more than we need, and fall for optical illusions. Hallinan has made this both informative and entertaining.

j
JudithE
Mar 27, 2013

An excellent very readable summary of human mistake-making. I recommend it!

c
ck9aTony
Nov 24, 2009

Fascinating book. Whether one can change the way we think as a result of reading this book is another matter.

k
KarenW
Apr 29, 2009

This highly readable book confirms a lot of ideas but also blows some completely out of the water. While I always knew I could never multitask - I always thought it was a failing of mine - I never knew that it could take 15 minutes to settle down after an interruption. And interruptions are such a large part of our lives! It is also interesting to know that multitasking and driving are always a bad idea. But the best part was hearing that Warren Buffett can make mistakes as well.

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