August 21st, 2007

_Gut Feelings_, Gerd Gigerenzer

Malcolm Gladwell's second book, _Blink_, was better than his first, IMO. In part, it was based on the work of Gigerenzer. I get the feeling Gigerenzer figured that (a) he could make a buck or two writing a popular press book about his own work and (b) he'd get the word out more accurately. Hopefully, he made a buck or two; he definitely got the word out more accurately.

Gigerenzer is mildly repetitive applying a powerful but simple idea to a variety of areas: people actually don't think much, so if you think people are, you've misunderstood. If you could figure out what they _are_ doing to avoid thinking much, you could effect good change more easily. Needless to say, this is exactly the kind of thing I'm always on the lookout for.

Good coverage of the gaze heuristic; better coverage of morality. Excellent coverage of fast and frugal rules/trees. Nice explanation of the allocating patients to limited cardiac ward beds anomalies. Truly awesome coverage of why more medical care is not better. The story Gigerenzer tells of trying to convince his friend not to have a "routine" colonoscopy does a tremendous job of illustrating how hard it is to convey these ideas to other people.

Get it from the library and read it. Or buy it and reread it every few years. This one is deceptive; it's easy to feel like you've digested it entirely, and still miss crucial applications. Which is probably what happened to Gladwell.