Blunder

  • by Zachary Shore
  • Narrated by Zachary Shore, Kevin Pariseau
  • 8 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

We all make bad decisions. It's part of being human. The resulting mistakes can be valuable, the story goes, because we learn from them. But do we? Historian Zachary Shore says no, not always, and he has a long list of examples to prove his point.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 changedDrawing 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. For anyone whose best-laid plans have been foiled by faulty thinking, Blunder shines the penetrating spotlight of history on decision making and the patterns of thought that can lead us all astray.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

helpful extension of the genre

Blunder is a net add to the whole "wisdom of crowds" discussion. What I liked most about this book was how Shore provided a handful of obscure but interesting examples of how decision makers'charateristics impacted their decisions. Intro by the author is solid. Narration is also solid.
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- Andy

Critiquing "Blunder"

There is a section of my (virtual) bookshelf (stored on the Audible/Amazon cloud) that could be titled: "Why You Are an Idiot". When my spouse, kids, boss (or you) asks me how I can be so dumb so often, I can just point to these books.

My most recent addition is, Blunder: Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions by Zachary Shore.

Blunder has its limitations (see below), but is a great addition to the oeuvre books on human failure. My favorite example of this genre is,Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz

Other books of this type that I've read in the past couple of years include:

The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons

Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and

Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average by Joseph T. Hallinan

My next book is,On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind's Hard-Wired Habits by Wray Herbert

Any other "dumb us" books that you can recommend?
In Blunder, Zachary Shore (who has the cool sounding job of professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School), sets out 7 big reasons why we get things wrong.

The theme that runs through Blunder is that expertise and knowledge are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for making good decisions.

The 7 cognitive mistakes include:

Exposure Anxiety: Our predilection to project overconfidence as a response to fear or uncertainty, based mostly on our desire not to appear weak.
Infomania: Our tendency to hoard information for ourselves, or ignore information that we don't want to hear.

Static Cling: Our desire for constancy and stability in a changing world, which leaves us unable to grasp when things have changed.

Causefusion: Our propensity to confuse correlation with causation, and to inappropriately assign a narrative to explain unrelated events.

Flatview: Our inclination to see the world in black and white terms, rather than recognizing shades of gray.

Cure-allism: Our proclivity to try and solve diverse problems with a single solution.

Mirror Imaging: Our penchant to transfer out reactions and beliefs on others, thinking that everyone will react to events the way we would.

Shore is not interested in explaining the psychological, biological, or sociological roots of our blunders,. Rather, he gives examples of when people (in government or business) screw up, then tries to understand these errors through the framework of his 7 cognitive mistakes.

Perhaps we should run through the list of 7 each time we make a big decision, but I'm afraid we might end up not making any decisions or taking any actions at all.
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- Joshua Kim

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-25-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios