How we Decide: Understanding our Minds

Cover of How we Decide by Jonah Lehrer. The book was inspired on they day the author was having trouble on deciding between different types of cereal.

Cover of How we Decide by Jonah Lehrer. The book was inspired on they day the author was having trouble on deciding between different types of cereal.

Juan Felipe Gaviria, Discoverer Staff Writer

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Have you ever wondered how we make decisions? How can we make up our minds against the immense amount of possibilities the modern times offer? Here is where “How we Decide” comes in, a book to help you take a look inside your brain and you’re decision and helping you take the first step towards good decisions, taking conscience.

“How we Decide”, written by Jonah Lehrer and published in 2009, is a self-improvement book that summarizes all of our mental process when making a decision. From telling us how quarterbacks are able to do their job, to analyzing how fatal plane crashes are avoided by experienced pilots and even explaining the connection between parkinson’s disease and gambling, the book has plenty of examples to go with the scientific evidence, helping to keep the reader engaged and providing him with a good source of food for thought.

If curiosity is by your side, this is a book you must read. If you’ve ever wondered about the nature of our free will and how truly “free” it is, this book will give you more than a couple of answers. Also, if you’re just plainly looking to make better decisions this book can be your first step, helping you acquire conscience over everything you do, which can in the end help you with your decision making. With a modest amount of pages it is a fun read for all people into trying to understand themselves and their decisions a little better.

Each chapter breaks down into two main parts, the explanation of the issue in hand (from dopamine reactions, to the effects of constant practice) which is then backed up with an specific example or a couple of general ones. It handles ordinary storytelling through narration to tell us examples but also uses direct quotes from the individuals involved to emphasize their feelings on certain situations. Similar to “Hoy es Siempre Todavía” by Alejandro Gaviria, the book deals with issues first from a general perspective and then dives in to specific, one to one scenarios that the reader can put the fresh information to use. The book handles the way it delivers information gracefully, never halting to a stop, always making you want to pick it up again.

The tone of the book remains neutral throughout, it tries to give the reader tips but never is inclined to any sort of bias. It has a total of six chapters but covers a total of three topics. For each topic two chapters are dedicated to explain its pros and cons. Contrast this to “The Art of Choosing” by Sheena Iyengar which is focused on just when things go wrong on similar topics. It doesn’t feel good to feel the author is imposing his opinion upon you, so instead, Lehrer makes you feel like he’s giving you information, and leaving them to do with it what is better for them.

What sticks most with you after the book are the unbelievable, real-life examples that show the brain at work. Their variety and capability of surprise are constant throughout the book, exciting you as a reader as you never know what you’ll learn about in the next chapter (other than how the brain works). They are comparable to the ones given in an equally amazing book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman which is also an expert on filling our minds with stories to surprise our pals later. Definitely the best part of the book, where even without all of the psychological teachings would make and amazing one to read.

“How we Decide” is an amazing read for all people, it promises not only entertainment but also a ton of useful information about ourselves we never knew we needed.