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Wired for Survival: The Rational (and Irrational) Choices We Make, from the Gas Pump to Terrorism [NOOK Book]

Overview

Lessons from the Cutting-Edge of Neuroscience: “Remapping” to Thrive in the New Global Economy!

“Do you ever wonder how you think? If you do, this book will fascinate and inform you. If you don’t, you will after reading this book. Either way, you’ll enjoy learning how we don’t usually do it as we think we do, how we may do it better for that very reason, and how we may do it still better once we understand.”

–Thomas C. Schelling, 2005 Nobel ...

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Wired for Survival: The Rational (and Irrational) Choices We Make, from the Gas Pump to Terrorism

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Overview

Lessons from the Cutting-Edge of Neuroscience: “Remapping” to Thrive in the New Global Economy!

“Do you ever wonder how you think? If you do, this book will fascinate and inform you. If you don’t, you will after reading this book. Either way, you’ll enjoy learning how we don’t usually do it as we think we do, how we may do it better for that very reason, and how we may do it still better once we understand.”

–Thomas C. Schelling, 2005 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics, Distinguished University Professor, Emeritus, University of Maryland

Drawing on cutting-edge research in the neurosciences, Wired for Survival illuminates the surprising security implications of rapid change in the emerging economies and develops practical, technically sound ways to face the challenges of global change.

Researcher and consultant Margaret M. Polski begins by uncovering the remarkable neurobiological underpinnings of policy. Polski reveals why the most effective political and economic policies are codified not in law, treaty, or culture, but in the networks embedded in our bodies and brains...and how protecting our prosperity requires us to adapt those networks to radically new realities.

Next, Polski applies these fresh insights to three critical security issues: how best to defend our national interests; to take offensive action to protect our interests; and to strengthen our financial system. Finally, she provides “rules for the road” that can be applied to a world of problems: how best to compete in global markets; to build stronger, more secure communities; to manage energy and other key resources; to invest in and secure critical infrastructure; to address the structural impacts of trade; and to manage tomorrow’s catastrophes, both natural and man-made.

As a political economist, executive, government advisor, and consultant, Polski has spent more than two decades devising strategies for surviving change in the global political economy. Now, drawing on the breakthrough research in social neuroscience, she offers insights that will help you thrive, not just survive!

“First, kill all the pundits and policy wonks...”
Why you’ll make better decisions by thinking for yourself—and how to do it

Thinking in the wild

Uncovering the intuitive interactions between our minds, bodies, and 21st century environment

Overcoming our biases, our histories, and our vulnerability to groupthink
Mastering the deep motivations that traditional economics doesn’t understand

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

A longtime political economist at the forefront of the interdisciplinary field of neuroeconomics, Polski's iconoclastic treatment of orthodox economic models (which treat people like "hyper-rational Vulcan brainiac Dr. Spock") combined with her witty observational style ("our brains are like jazz musicians in search of a good groove") opens up this important but complex survey of modern decision-making and its pitfalls in the face of the world's thorniest problems: highly competitive global markets, terrorist attacks, and environmental threat. Beginning with a dry but brief overview of world markets and the human nervous system, Polski goes on to illustrate, fascinatingly, how "sustainable growth and change involves changing the way we think and choose," moving away from a system of intuitive thinking ("unconscious spontaneous activity" developed to avoid falling rocks) and toward a new map of transparent, logic- and community-based thinking (and the end of "fruitless control strategies such as fiat, proselytizing, finger-wagging, sanctions, side-payments, and force"). Polski carefully delineates the characteristics of intuitive and logical thinking, the way that minds learn and interact with each other, and the real-world possibilities opened up by her peculiarly outsider economic perspective.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780138140595
  • Publisher: Pearson Education
  • Publication date: 9/23/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 176
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Margaret M. Polski is a political economist with research interests in growth, innovation, regulation, and security. She has more than 25 years’ experience developing and implementing transformation initiatives in business, government, and civic affairs. Dr. Polski has a Ph.D. from Indiana University, an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a B.E.S. from the University of Minnesota. She is a Research Affiliate at the Center for the Study of Neuroeconomics at George Mason University and a Research Fellow at the Institute for Development Strategies at the School for Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

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Read an Excerpt

ForewordForeword

When Margaret Polski and I were colleagues in the consulting business I came to regard very highly her extraordinarily informed, creative, and indeed frequently iconoclastic, approach toward understanding how decisions are really made. If you think human beings generally weigh important choices carefully and logically, that we can approximate the key elements of our decisions by using economic models or game theory, that we are basically "dispassionate optimization machines with stable preferences and an objective knowledge base" be prepared for a shock.

Using examples as down-home as deciding whether to help a neighbor by shoveling snow off his sidewalk and as consequential as designing a strategy for counter-insurgency, Polski takes us on a witty and informative trip through the ideas of a number of innovative thinkers about how we make decisions: mind-body interaction, polycentric sensory systems, and strengthening and weakening of synaptic connections. It is quite a ride. My particular favorite (in the context of the author both admiring and critiquing a Monty Python sketch) is her suggestion that neuroscience research is leading us toward a view that our thoughts are "playing around in our brains like jazz musicians in search of a good groove: They may synchronize around a line that is right-on, venture off on some disconnected tangents, or they may just plain get it wrong."

This small book will discomfit more sacred cows and their herdsmen in the field of decision-making than any work written for the general reader in many years.

Brava.

Jim Woolsey
Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency; Venture Partner,Vantage Point, Silicon Valley; Senior Executive Advisor, Booz Allen Hamilton

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Table of Contents


Foreword xiii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1: Under the Twinkle of a Fading Star 7

Life Is Very Long 17

We Grope Together 20

Headpieces Filled with Straw 24

Here We Go Round the Prickly Pear 27

Chapter 2: Bits and Pieces 31

Brains and Russian Dolls 32

Mission Control 37

The Brain and Survival 42

Beyond Bits and Pieces 47

Chapter 3: Mind Matter 49

Thinking About Thinking and Choosing 51

The Mind-Body Problem Redux 58

Chapter 4: Thinking in the Wild 63

An Alternative Framework: Intuitive Choice 65

Moving On 76

Chapter 5: Feeling Our Way 79

Learning Machines 82

Knowledge Production 85

Reasoning 87

Flying Circus on Steroids 91

Chapter 6: Mind to Mind 95

Motivating 99

Mind Reading 100

Changing Minds 107

Chapter 7: Brightening the Twinkle of Our Fading Star 111

Rethinking Difficult Questions 114

How Shall We Govern Ourselves in the Years Ahead? 126

References 131

Endnotes 143

Index 149

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Preface

Foreword

When Margaret Polski and I were colleagues in the consulting business I came to regard very highly her extraordinarily informed, creative, and indeed frequently iconoclastic, approach toward understanding how decisions are really made. If you think human beings generally weigh important choices carefully and logically, that we can approximate the key elements of our decisions by using economic models or game theory, that we are basically "dispassionate optimization machines with stable preferences and an objective knowledge base" be prepared for a shock.

Using examples as down-home as deciding whether to help a neighbor by shoveling snow off his sidewalk and as consequential as designing a strategy for counter-insurgency, Polski takes us on a witty and informative trip through the ideas of a number of innovative thinkers about how we make decisions: mind-body interaction, polycentric sensory systems, and strengthening and weakening of synaptic connections. It is quite a ride. My particular favorite (in the context of the author both admiring and critiquing a Monty Python sketch) is her suggestion that neuroscience research is leading us toward a view that our thoughts are "playing around in our brains like jazz musicians in search of a good groove: They may synchronize around a line that is right-on, venture off on some disconnected tangents, or they may just plain get it wrong."

This small book will discomfit more sacred cows and their herdsmen in the field of decision-making than any work written for the general reader in many years.

Brava.

Jim Woolsey
Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency; Venture Partner, Vantage Point, Silicon Valley; Senior Executive Advisor, Booz Allen Hamilton

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Read More Show Less

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Intriguing look at contemporary neuroscience's view of thought

    This book's short length is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, neuroscientist Margaret M. Polski's brevity and clarity make the book an accessible overview of how contemporary cognitive science views thinking and decision making. On the other hand, it is so brief that Polski leapfrogs through a great deal of material very quickly. Some readers may seek a more fully developed explanation of how economic events - like the power struggles between energy producers and energy consumers - relate to research in neuroscience. Issues such as how rationality affects cultural systems like liberal democracy deserve more attention. This lack of connective tissue makes this slender volume pretty episodic, but it also is rich with illustrations drawn from sources ranging from contemporary politics to the classic comedy of Monty Python. The result is enjoyable and useful, if a bit disjointed. getAbstract recommends Polski's book to strategists who are planning for times ahead, to leaders who seek to understand their organizations, and to people who want to understand themselves.

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