Why We Make Mistakes

  • by Joseph T. Hallinan
  • Narrated by Marc Cashman
  • 7 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

We forget our passwords. We pay too much to go to the gym. We think we'd be happier if we lived in California (we wouldn't), and we think we should stick with our first answer on tests (we shouldn't). Why do we make mistakes? And could we do a little better?We human beings have design flaws. Our eyes play tricks on us, our stories change in the retelling, and most of us are fairly sure we're way above average. In Why We Make Mistakes, journalist Joseph T. Hallinan sets out to explore the captivating science of human error: how we think, see, remember, and forget, and how this sets us up for wholly irresistible mistakes.In his quest to understand our imperfections, Hallinan delves into psychology, neuroscience, and economics, with forays into aviation, consumer behavior, geography, football, stock picking, and more. He discovers that some of the same qualities that make us efficient also make us error prone. We learn to move rapidly through the world, quickly recognizing patterns but overlooking details. Which is why 13-year-old boys discover errors that NASA scientists miss and why you can't find the beer in your refrigerator.Why We Make Mistakes is enlivened by real-life stories of weathermen whose predictions are uncannily accurate and a witness who sent an innocent man to jail; and offers valuable advice, such as how to remember where you've hidden something important. You'll learn why multitasking is a bad idea, why men make errors women don't, and why most people think San Diego is west of Reno (it's not).Why We Make Mistakes will open your eyes to the reasons behind your mistakes and have you vowing to do better the next time.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Not very informative

Not a fabulous book. While it did list many examples of mistakes, only a handful of explanations for mistakes were supplied. The emphasis was clearly on displaying "here's another example of a mistake". When an explanation was offered it was obvious information, easily inferred by listening to the mistake description. On the few occasions a recommended solution was suggested it was very weak. The book seemed to be over stuffed with examples, many very obvious, burying the few good nuggets.
Overall, this title seems to only have enough information for a magazine article but was stretched to reach book length.
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- Paul

Boring. Nothing new here.

What disappointed you about Why We Make Mistakes?

I was hoping to learn more than "Why", I was actually expecting to learn what can be done to mitigate the numerous ways we misunderstand, incorrectly perceive, and distort the information our senses bring to us. I admit I did not finish the entire book, but after about 3 hours of listening to "revelations" about human behavior (most of which I have heard before), with no mention or promise of anything coming later to help address those behaviors, I gave up.


What do you think your next listen will be?

The Toyota Way to Leadership


Which scene was your favorite?

The story that a famous actor told about punching a guy off his bar stool before noticing he didn't have legs.


You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Maybe for some people who have never heard about the behavior studies, they might find it interesting.


Any additional comments?

If there are solutions or suggestions offered at the end, they should really start earlier in the book letting the reader/listener know that there is a reason to continue.

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- Andrea

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-17-2009
  • Publisher: Random House Audio