Left Brain, Right Stuff

Left Brain, Right Stuff (2014) by Phil Rosenzweig looks at how people make decisions, how psychological tests are not like the real world and how we predictions about things we can influence and can’t influence are completely different.

A lot of people would be familiar with the Dunning-Kruger effect and surveys that show that a huge majority of people think they are a better than average driver. It’s little remarked that for other questions such as are you good at drawing a majority of people will answer no. When it comes to asking people how good they are at complex tasks they don’t often perform a majority of people state that they are worse than average.

The book also looks at how confidence in your own judgement and the determination to see things through rather than looking at overconfidence as always evil is important. Rosenzweig looks at how the team that brought the Apollo 13 astronauts home worked. It was about doing things as well as possible and there was no realistic assessment of the odds involved.

The book isn’t bad. It makes the point well that what Psychologists test in a lab is very different to the way people make decisions in the real world and how some views that are in a lot of popular fiction don’t lead to great decisions.

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