Monday, March 16, 2009

Oops, we did it again - Why we make mistakes

Book review in The Independent on 18 March 2009 by Sophie Morris

The book is Why We Make Mistakes by Joseph T Hallinan, an American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

The book has attracted winning reviews, with one critic predicting that it would change the face of mainstream behavioural science. Subtitled "How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average", Hallinan's book is, according to its author, "a field guide to human error. People can look at it and see the mistakes they make, and find some of the reasons behind those mistakes."

The book says that error is a not personality or intelligence issue, and simply something to do with the way humans are designed. The very way we think, see and remember sets us up for mistakes. We are subconsciously biased, quick to judge by appearances and overconfident of our own abilities. Most of us believe we are above average at everything – a statistical impossibility that leads to slip-ups.

Until I read the book I can't tell whether there is anything new here.

Andy Brazier

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