Tools for Smart Thinking

Mindware by Richard Nisbett is a wide-reaching guidebook to decision-making, combining critical thinking with topics from social psychology and behavioural economics to statistical models and the philosophy of science.

Richard Nisbett starts with the basics of how the brain works, and the importance of knowing the difference between your own perceptions and inferences and the reality of the world outside (read more here). He goes on to talk about the power of the situation in shaping our behaviour and how different ways of thinking often reflect different cultural realities.

Over subsequent chapters, the author gradually deconstructs the illusion that we know why we think what we think and understand our own behaviours, let alone those of other people. He explains the impact of endowment and sunk cost effects, how loss aversion distorts our decision-making, and why we are bad at judging the difference between correlation and causation.

He finishes with discussions of logic, philosophy, and the differences between Western analytical logic and Eastern holistic thinking which embraces change and contradiction. This is a great read for anyone interested in critical thinking and cultural differences.

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