Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why We Make Mistakes, 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 AverageThere are all kinds of mistakes. There's real estate you should have bought and people you shouldn't have married. There's the stock that tanked, and the job that didn't work out, and that misguided attempt to save yourself a few bucks by giving yourself a haircut. 

"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."

Although there were some interesting aspects to this book, I ultimately did not finish it, mainly because of the writing style, which wasn't very accessible. It also was quite confusing at times. I did learn a fair amount from the approximately one hundred pages that I read, but there were parts that I couldn't make much sense of, mainly where the procedures in an experiment weren't described well. That was really the main reason I didn't finish this one. The writing also didn't draw me, either in phrasing or with humor, and I really didn't feel like continuing to read. A book like this could have been fascinating; instead it was rather uninteresting and I felt no inclination to pick it up again. A disappointment, although there were some interesting facts.

221 pages.


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