Do you watch The Mentalist? That’s my favorite television drama (and not just because Simon Baker is adorable). It’s about a guy who can solve cases by noticing things that others don’t, and by appearing to read people’s minds because he is so adept at understanding how people think. Because of his talents, he is often mistaken for a psychic, although he insists that he is not. I guess you could say that this book teaches how to be just a little bit like the Mentalist, in that it makes us more aware of how and why we make the choices we make so that we can make better choices (and possibly anticipate the choices of others).
The final chapter in the book starts with a discussion of poker – the most talented players must use both reason and emotion in order to consistently excel at the game. Obviously, luck is involved, but there are also a wide array of information available to the poker player that can help improve the chances of winning. Are any of the opponents nervous? If so, could this mean that they are bluffing, or that they have a lousy hand? Are we taking foolish risks because we have lost a few hands and are trying to recoup our losses without regard to the consequences of our choices?
I am possibly the worst poker player ever. Once, during a friendly game with the family, I got both one pair and three of a kind – I tried to make my face look as though I didn’t have any good cards, and then casually asked, “not that I think I have one, but what is a full house (a term I had learned from playing Yahtzee)?” Needless to say, everyone folded. I guess, in my case, I need to learn the rules of the game before I can concentrate on practicing which part of my brain should be in charge of deciding what and when to bet in poker. For some of you, though, this chapter might help improve your game.
The final chapter and the accompanying conclusion also give advice on making shopping and other decisions – when we think we should use reason, we probably should use emotion, and vice versa. Over all, we should try to pay attention to our internal dialogue as we make decisions, and then assess the outcome of our decisions after we make them so we can get better at it.
I finished the book – and I highly recommend it. The review is coming soon.
Scroll down for other posts about How We Decide:
Post 1: Quarterbacks have to take IQ Tests
Post 2: Emotions Control our Brains
Post 3: One Marshmallow or Two?
Post 4: The Cheap Stuff Tastes Better
Post 5: Moral Instincts Are Emotional, Not Rational
Post 6: Political Pundits vs. Dart-Throwing Chimps
Post 7: Want to be a Psychic Poker Player?