MINDSTUCK

MASTERING THE ART OF CHANGING MINDS

An engaging, paradigm-shifting look at the science of decision-making.

McQueen presents a series of strategies for shifting positions and adopting new ways of thinking in this nonfiction guide.

“Our perceptions of value may be unconscious,” writes the author, a corporate conference circuit veteran, “but they are extraordinarily powerful.” Once we have an established notion of something, he observes, we tend to color subsequent impressions with that idea, and changing this perspective can be seemingly impossible. McQueen has spent two decades researching trends and technology, and he’s consistently returned to the same question: What stops people from changing, even when they know they should? In these pages, he examines the many ways in which people develop preferences and make decisions. In his view, these processes are governed by the “Instinctive Mind,” which is intuitive and emotional, and the “Inquiring Mind,” which is logical and evaluative. The Instinctive Mind, he writes, is fond of labels and can be untrustworthy, but he stresses that it’s nevertheless sometimes better at making decisions. The key to clear decision-making, the author asserts, is to strike an effective balance between these two minds, and the best strategy for changing fixed positions—your own or somebody else’s—is to figure out which of these is ascendant, and how it can be influenced. McQueen references a satisfying variety of sources to buttress his points, although, like many of those sources, he often lapses into vague, motivational bumper-sticker platitudes, exemplified by this quote from self-help icon Wayne Dyer: “When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.” The author’s saving grace is his forthright tone; he’s always a clear-eyed, bracing guide to changing old thinking habits. His sharp insights are compelling: “It’s important to clarify that delusion is not a function of ignorance—the undiscerning are not necessarily unintelligent.” Even set-in-their-ways readers will find much of this material invigorating.

An engaging, paradigm-shifting look at the science of decision-making.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9781637557396

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Amplify Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2023

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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GREENLIGHTS

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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