Why We Make Mistakes (Broadway Books, 2009) by Joseph T. Hallinan and reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D., August 2011.
I make mistakes…all the time. And, I thought it was just me! But, Joseph Hallinan has given me a lot of cover and relief in his book, Why We Make Mistakes. Truth is we ALL make mistakes—ALL the time. Some quick examples:
• We tend to miss editorial errors in something we’ve seen over and over. When we show it to a friend they seem to be able to pluck out the errors effortlessly. How could we have missed them?
• Most of us turn right when we enter a building, especially if we’re right handed. Same in traffic.
• We tend to choose “blue” as our default color.
• We rarely change our initial answer on a test, even when the research advises the opposite.
• We’re also biased. When we’re told one person is a dancer and another a truck driver, we tend to assume that the dancer will weigh less than the truck driver.
• We tend not to speak the truth about what we really think and accept authority; as a result we make huge errors.
• And when we’re tired we not only make bad decisions, we make “reckless” ones that could have a huge impact on us.
All in all, this book can both scare the pants off you and at the same time help you avoid annoying and sometimes dangerous decision making. Finally, this book has the best pull-quotes I’ve ever seen. In fact, there’s a great education to be had in just reading them if you’re short on time and if you trust the author, which I do.