Sunday, April 26, 2009


There is something very compelling about pop-psychology books (which probably explains why there are so many of them published each year). We are all self-absorbed enough to want to understand the underlying reasons for why we act, think, feel and look the way we do. Our newest book has the added bonus of providing scientific basis for self-excuses.
Why We Make Mistakes: how we look without seeing, forget things in seconds, and are all pretty sure we are way above average is written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Joseph T. Hallinan. He explains why multiple witnesses of the same crime never tell the same story. He looks at why error rates are so much higher among doctors than among pilots. He gives examples of how innate bias affects our decision-making and why multi-tasking is a seriously bad habit.
This is one of those books where you can pretty much open to any chapter and dive in, and the information will suck you into reading the entire book. You will probably recognize yourself somewhere in these pages (and might even find yourself saying "Oh no, I would never do that"). Chock-full of factoids and interesting anecdotes, Why We Make Mistakes is just begging to be read out loud to other people.
Fortunately for everyone, Hallinan polishes off the book with a 'how do I use all this information to help reduce mistakes in my life' chapter. Play devil's advocate when making important decisions. Get others to proofread. Don't multitask. Get enough sleep. Adapt to what you've got, and you'll be happier. Don't forget to turn your library books in on time (oops, that last suggestion was mine).
And where to find this book? On the New Book Shelves, under "153 HALLINA". Just look for the book with the crooked cover (nice touch, Mr. Publisher).

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