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Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things

Overview

A woman planning a dinner party calls a gourmet caterer and learns that "Chateaubriand" can be ordered. To which she responds, "No, thanks. We’re going to take care of the wine ourselves." The dead silence at the end of the phone is her first clue that something is amiss. A CEO attempts to put an end to complaints from employees about the demeaning behavior of certain managers by berating the managers before the staff — thus reinforcing the very behavior he’s trying to correct.

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Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things

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Overview

A woman planning a dinner party calls a gourmet caterer and learns that "Chateaubriand" can be ordered. To which she responds, "No, thanks. We’re going to take care of the wine ourselves." The dead silence at the end of the phone is her first clue that something is amiss. A CEO attempts to put an end to complaints from employees about the demeaning behavior of certain managers by berating the managers before the staff — thus reinforcing the very behavior he’s trying to correct.

We often criticize such incidents with remarks like "How dumb!" or "What was he thinking?" But psychologist Madeleine L. Van Hecke argues that much of what we label stupidity can better be explained as blind spots. Just as the blind spot in the driver’s side mirror can swallow up a passing car, patterns in the way we think can likewise become blind spots, sifting out information and observations that to other people seem obvious. Drawing on research in creativity, cognitive psychology, critical thinking, child development, education, and philosophy, Dr. Van Hecke shows how our assets as thinkers create the very blind spots that become our worst liabilities. She devotes a chapter to each of ten mental blind spots that afflict even the smartest people: not stopping to think, jumping to conclusions, my-side bias, getting trapped by categories, and much more. At the end of each chapter she offers tactics for overcoming that specific blind spot, so we can become more creative and competent thinkers.

Full of funny, poignant stories about human foibles, Blind Spots offers many insights for improving our social and political lives while giving us fresh slants into the minds of people who are poles apart from ourselves.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This delightful romp through the maze of human fallibility should be sent to every CEO of the Fortune 500 companies, along with all of the members of Congress. Van Hecke's engaging writing style, personal anecdotes, and real-world examples of the numerous blind spots that all of us have - including and especially intelligent and educated people - brings to a wide audience decades of scientific research on cognitive fallacies and critical thinking. A fun read!"
MICHAEL SHERMER, Publisher of Skeptic magazine
Monthly columnist for Scientific American
Author of Why People Believe Weird Things

"I have no reservations about wholeheartedly recommending this book. There are many humorous anecdotes that gently nudge us into a deeper understanding of our human fallabilities. Behind each stupid mistake, each wrong-headed viewpoint, is a person every bit as rational as we think ourselves to be. Madeleine's book allows us to see ourselves more clearly, and assess others more tolerantly."

WENDY NORTHCUTT, best-selling author of The Darwin Awards
Creator of www.DarwinAwards.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591025092
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 312,968
  • Product dimensions: 6.03 (w) x 8.97 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Madeleine L. Van Hecke, PhD (Elmhurst, IL), is a licensed clinical psychologist; an adjunct faculty member at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois; and a lecturer and workshop leader for Open Arms Seminars. Visit Dr. Van Hecke and learn more about Blind Spots at: www.overcomeblindspots.com.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2009

    biased and prejudicial

    Hard to believe there's a class in a university and this author teaches it. I've spoken to kids under 10 years old with deeper insights than this."

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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