Blunder Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions


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Bloomsbury USA


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1596916435

9781596916432

272 Pages

$15.00

Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
As humans, we all make bad decisions. The resulting mistakes can be valuable, the story goes, because we learn from them. However, historian Zachary Shore doubts that we actually do, enumerating various cases and examples to prove it.

From colonialism to globalization, from gender wars to civil wars, or any circumstance for which our best solutions backfire, Shore demonstrates how rigid thinking can subtly lead us to undermine ourselves. In the process, he identifies seven "cognition traps" to avoid. These insidious yet unavoidable mind-sets include:

     -Exposure Anxiety: fear of being seen as weak

     -Causefusion: confusing the causes of complex events

     -Flat View: seeing the world in one dimension

     -Cure-Allism: thinking that one-size solutions can solve all problems

     -Infomania: an obsessive relationship to information

     -Mirror Imaging: thinking the other side thinks like you do

     -Static Cling: the refusal to accept that circumstances have changed

Drawing on examples from history, politics, business and economics, health care, even folk tales and popular culture, Shore illustrates the profound impact blunders can have. But he also emphasizes how understanding these seven simple cognition traps can help us all make wiser judgments in our daily lives. Blunder shines the penetrating spotlight of history on decision making and the patterns of thought that can lead us all astray.

REVIEWS

Praise for Blunder

Blunder is a shrewd, smart book, full of entertaining stories and wise insights. Drawing his examples from history, literature, and current events, Zachary Shore shows how smart, well-meaning people are often trapped into making the wrong decisions. Every policy-maker should have a copy of Blunder near at hand.”James Sheehan, Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Stanford University, and author of Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?

"Blunder is highly recommended reading as we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and try not to commit the same blunders again."—BusinessWeek.com

“Engaging . . . [Shore] teases out the cause and effect of seven [cognition] traps (from ‘infomania’ to ‘exposure anxiety’) with witty stories of famous blunders . . . Beyond shining a light on our propensity to apply an old solution to a new situation, Shore’s goal is to teach the basis of good judgment. Like all good historians he’s hoping we can avoid making the same mistake twice.”—O, The Oprah Magazine

"With a historian's approach, Shore takes the adage about learning from past mistakes and turns it on its head."—Newsweek

"Zachary Shore explains why smart people Blunder into bad decisions."—Vanity Fair

“Blunder is a book that will make you think about how you think. With the deft touch of a master storyteller, Zachary Shore ranges across the centuries and around the world in this eye-opening account of how our minds so often fall into cognition traps. Think Malcom Gladwell meets David McCullough. NOT reading this book would be a blunder of historic proportions.”—Eric Weiner, author of New York Times-bestseller, The Geography of Bliss

"Though most of us often make irrational choices, Zachary Shore shows that history can teach us much about our judgment.  Blunder is a clever, engaging, and thought-provoking book that can help us better understand irrationality and wisdom."Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational

“Well-chosen case studies, all of which lead to a resounding climax . . . Eye-opening.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Shore explains why smart people do dumb things in [Blunder] . . . clever wordplay, neat categories and accessible examples.”—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

Zachary Shore is a professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and a senior fellow at Berkeley’s Institute of European Studies. The author of What Hitler Knew and Breeding Bin Ladens, he lives in Berkeley, California.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


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  • Zachary Shore is a professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School and a senior fellow at Berkeley’s Institute of European Studies. He has served on the policy planning staff at the U.S. Department of State through support from the Council on Foreign Relations. He has also worked as a national security fellow at Harvard’s Olin Institute for Strategic Studies. Shore earned his doctorate in history from Oxford and has won numerous academic honors. The author of What Hitler Knew and Breeding Bin Ladens, he lives in Berkeley, California.

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