Fri February 26, 2010
An Award-Winning Journalist on "Why We Make Mistakes"
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On today's program, we speak with Joseph T. Hallinan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was formerly with The Wall Street Journal, and who's also been a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Hallinan is the author of a fascinating-yet-funny new book, just out in paperback, called "Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average." As Publishers Weekly has noted: "A Pulitzer winner for his stories on Indiana's medical malpractice system, Hallinan has made himself an expert on the snafus of human psychology and perception used regularly (by politicians, marketers, and our own subconscious) to confuse, misinform, manipulate, and equivocate. In breezy chapters, Hallinan examines 13 pitfalls that make us vulnerable to mistakes: 'we look but don't always see,' 'we like things tidy,' and 'we don't constrain ourselves' among them. Each chapter takes on a different drawback, packing in an impressive range of intriguing and practical real-world examples; the chapter on overconfidence looks at horse-racing handicappers, Warren Buffet's worst deal, and the secret weapon of credit card companies. He also looks at the serious consequences of multi-tasking and data-overload on what is at best a two- or three-track mind, from deciding the best course of cancer treatment to ignoring the real factors of our unhappiness (often by focusing on minor but more easily understood details). Quizzes and puzzles give readers a sense of their own capacity for self-deception and/or delusion. A lesson in humility as much as human behavior, Hallinan's study should help readers understand their limitations and how to work with them."