On Second Thought by Wray Herbert
Outsmarting Your Mind's Hard-Wired Habits

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Synopsis

Our lives are composed of millions of choices, ranging from trivial to life-changing and momentous. Luckily, our brains have evolved a number of mental shortcuts, biases, and tricks that allow us to quickly negotiate this endless array of decisions. We don’t want to rationally deliberate every choice we make, and thanks to these cognitive rules of thumb, we don’t need to. 
 
Yet these hard-wired shortcuts, mental wonders though they may be, can also be perilous.   They can distort our thinking in ways that are often invisible to us, leading us to make poor decisions, to be easy targets for manipulators…and they can even cost us our lives. 
 
The truth is, despite all the buzz about the power of gut-instinct decision-making in recent years, sometimes it’s better to stop and say, “On second thought . . .”  
 
The trick, of course, lies in knowing when to trust that instant response, and when to question it.  In On Second Thought, acclaimed science writer Wray Herbert provides the first guide to achieving that balance.  Drawing on real-world examples and cutting-edge research, he takes us on a fascinating, wide-ranging journey through our innate cognitive traps and tools, exposing the hidden dangers lurking in familiarity and consistency; the obstacles that keep us from accurately evaluating risk and value; the delusions that make it hard for us to accurately predict the future; the perils of the human yearning for order and simplicity; the ways our fears can color our very perceptions . . . and much more. 
 
Along the way, Herbert reveals the often-bizarre cross-connections these shortcuts have secretly ingrained in our brains, answering such questions as why jury decisions may be shaped by our ancient need for cleanliness; what the state of your desk has to do with your political preferences; why loneliness can literally make us shiver; how drawing two dots on a piece of paper can desensitize us to violence… and how the very typeface on this page is affecting your decision about whether or not to buy this book.   
 
Ultimately, On Second Thought is both a captivating exploration of the workings of the mind and an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to learn how to make smarter, better judgments every day. 


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Wray Herbert

See more books from this Author
WRAY HERBERT has been writing about psychology and human behavior for more than 25 years, including regular columns for Newsweek and Scientific American Mind. He has also been science and health editor at US News & World Report, psychology editor for Science News, and editor-in-chief of Psychology Today. He currently serves as director for science communication at the Association for Psychological Science, where he writes a popular blog about the latest in psychological research. He lives in Washington, D.C.
 
Published September 14, 2010 by Crown. 306 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Science & Math, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for On Second Thought

Huffington Post

As a result of this disconnect, people forego opportunities for nature walks -- missing out on the mood uplift and the sense of natural connection.

Aug 17 2011 | Read Full Review of On Second Thought: Outsmartin...

Huffington Post

Most of the online matchmaking services match people up based on the assumption that similarity is important to relationship success, but the existing studies of this theory are mixed in their findings and not easily interpretable.

Feb 14 2012 | Read Full Review of On Second Thought: Outsmartin...

Inside Higher Ed

On Second Thought would have been a better book if Herbert had some questions he wanted to answer, or things he wanted to figure out about himself, and was able to weave the research on decision making into a more compelling narrative.

Jan 16 2011 | Read Full Review of On Second Thought: Outsmartin...

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