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Tools for Smart Thinking

Richard E. Nisbett

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Mindware Download image

ISBN10: 0374536244
ISBN13: 9780374536244

Trade Paperback

336 Pages


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Scientific and philosophical concepts can change the way we solve problems by helping us to think more effectively about our behavior and our world. Surprisingly, despite their utility, many of these tools remain unknown to most of us.

In Mindware, the world-renowned psychologist Richard E. Nisbett presents these ideas in clear and accessible detail, offering a tool kit for better thinking and wiser decisions. He has made a distinguished career of studying and teaching such powerful problem-solving concepts as the law of large numbers, statistical regression, cost-benefit analysis, sunk costs and opportunity costs, and causation and correlation, probing how best to teach others to use them effectively in their daily lives. In this groundbreaking book, he shows that a course in a given field—statistics or economics, for example—often doesn't work as well as a few minutes of more practical instruction in analyzing everyday situations. Mindware shows how to reframe common problems in such a way that these powerful scientific and statistical concepts can be applied to them. The result is an enlightening and practical guide to the most powerful tools of reasoning ever developed—tools that can easily be used to make better professional, business, and personal decisions.


Praise for Mindware

Mindware should offer us all an opportunity to understand and react more intelligently to the confusing world around us.”—Leonard Mlodinow, The New York Times Book Review

“[Mindware] is friendly and practical and aimed squarely at the lay reader. [Nisbett] sees his book as rather like a crash course in making better decisions and learning what scientifically proven theory to apply to which problem, enabling the reader to ‘perceive the world more accurately and behave more sensibly’. To this end, he offers insights from social and behavioural psychology, neuroscience and philosophy, he explains what constitutes bad, flawed and good science, when to trust statistics, how to think about economics and carry out a cost-benefit analysis, when to follow instinct and when this can lead you astray.”—Emma Smith, The Sunday Times (UK)

“Compelling . . . With clear explanations of relevant principles from statistics, formal logic, economics, and psychology, Nisbett does indeed assemble a powerful toolkit for examining the validity of claims made by marketers, politicians, and scientists. Just as important, he encourages us to turn these tools inward and test the legitimacy of our own easily swayed opinions and beliefs.”—Nick Romeo, The Boston Globe

“The bad news is that our intuitive ways of thinking about the world are wrong. The good news is that it isn't hard to set them right. Nobody knows more about these things than the eminent psychologist Richard E. Nisbett, who has dedicated his life to understanding the shortcomings of the human mind and to finding ways to fix them. This book should be required reading at every university.”—Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness

“Anyone who wants to think better, make better decisions, and be happier should read this brilliant book by the world's most eminent living social psychologist. In other words, everyone should read this book, and the sooner the better!”—Timothy D. Wilson, Author of Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By

“All the wisdom of twentieth- and twenty-first-century psychological research has been distilled into one superb book—for your everlasting benefit! You will take a giant step on the path to better decisions in your life.”—Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Mindware will make you a better thinker, investor, parent, consumer, and leader. There are surprises and delights on each page. Every country should scrap a year or two of math education and require all citizens to read this book instead.”—Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

“Nisbett . . . immerses his readers in a great depth of knowledge but with such clear teaching and precise examples that they will enjoy the exercise and the result . . . A joy to own and mark up, a great gift of enlightenment from an expert and exemplary teacher. The section on Logic and Dialectical Reasoning, comparing cultures East and West, rewards readers who can accept uncertainty as the cost of deeper insight.”—E. James Lieberman, Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt

1. Everything's an Inference

Without a profound simplification the world around us would be an infinite, undefined tangle that would defy our ability to orient ourselves and decide upon our actions ... We are compelled to...

About the author

Richard E. Nisbett

Richard E. Nisbett is a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and one of the world's most respected psychologists. He has been awarded the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychology Association, the William James Fellow Award for Distinguished Scientific Achievements, and the Donald T. Campbell Award for Distinguished Research in Social Psychology, among others. His books The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently . . . and Why and Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count have won multiple awards and been translated into more than ten languages.

Richard E. Nisbett

Richard E. Nisbett's faculty page