Deciding How to Decide

by Greg Boustead in Seed

"It all started with Cheerios. Jonah Lehrer was once again standing in a supermarket aisle, crippled by the thought of which variety of whole-oat goodness to buy: honey nut or apple cinnamon. “It was an embarrassing waste of time,” he says, “and yet it happened to me all the time.” Lehrer decided that he had to figure out what was going on inside his brain when he contemplated such issues. And his curiosity transcended breakfast. How did the brain process picking a house? Choosing stocks? Split-second, life-or-death decisions? These questions led the author on a path from the epistemological roots of rational versus emotionally driven thinking to leveraging the tools of modern-day neuroscience to look inside the brain and see how it actually thinks. The result is his second book, How We Decide, a real-world exploration of the brain’s capacity for decision making. With it, Lehrer shows how different decisions require different mental tools; that rational thought isn’t always the answer; and that understanding how our brain processes information can improve the thousands of choices, big and small, we make every day..."

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