• Mindware

  • Tools for Smart Thinking
  • By: Richard E. Nisbett
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (503 ratings)

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Mindware  By  cover art

Mindware

By: Richard E. Nisbett
Narrated by: Joe Barrett
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Publisher's Summary

Many scientific and philosophical ideas are so powerful that they can be applied to our lives at home, work, and school to help us think smarter and more effectively about our behavior and the world around us. Surprisingly, many of these ideas remain unknown to most of us. In Mindware, the world-renowned psychologist Richard Nisbett presents these ideas in clear and accessible detail, offering a tool kit for better thinking and wiser decisions.

He has made a distinguished career of studying and teaching such powerful problem-solving concepts as the law of large numbers, statistical regression, cost-benefit analysis, sunk costs and opportunity costs, and causation and correlation, probing how best to teach others to use them effectively in their daily lives. In this groundbreaking book, he shows that a course in a given field - statistics or economics, for example - often doesn't work as well as a few minutes of more practical instruction in analyzing everyday situations.

Mindware shows how to reframe common problems in such a way that these powerful scientific and statistical concepts can be applied to them. The result is an enlightening and practical guide to the most powerful tools of reasoning ever developed - tools that can easily be used to make better professional, business, and personal decisions.

©2015 Richard E. Nisbett (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The most influential thinker, in my life, has been [Nisbett]." (Malcolm Gladwell, New York Times Book Review)

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    5 out of 5 stars

Sound scientific advice on how to live your life

In this excellent and practical book the prominent psychology, Richard Nisbett, translates psychological research into practical advice that will help the reader to better evaluate situations and to make better decisions. The book is in many ways similar to Kahneman’s book “Thinking fast and slow”, in that it explains where our reasoning, deductions and inferences tend to go wrong. However, Nisbett takes the extra step of trying to formulate simple laws that one can follow to avoid the psychological pitfalls that people often fall into. In some cases this merely means being aware that there is such a pitfall, which according to Nisbett actually helps a great deal. For example, if we are aware of our instinctual tendency to rate anecdotal evidence higher than experimental evidence, we can make a conscious effort downplay anecdotal evidence. Similarly, even if no one uses decision theory (listing pros and cons for all alternatives we are faced with) perfectly, knowing the basics will actually help us make slightly better decisions on average.

One of the more notable aspects of modern society is that we are constantly being bombarded with information and commercials. A good chunk of this book is dedicated to deciphering findings reported in the media. For example, we should be very skeptical of correlations, because correlation does not equal causation. If obese children tend to have parents that controls the child’s food intake, that does not mean that controlling your child’s food intake will make them obese. A more likely explanation is that when a child becomes obese, parents will want to control food intake. A huge number of similar findings are reported in the media on a daily basis. Unfortunately, journalists, like the rest of us are also susceptible to think that correlation mean causation, and their reports are written accordingly resulting in a lot of confusion. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of correlation studies will allow the reader to see such reports in a new light.

Overall, this book is an excellent addition to the popular psychology literature, and Nisbett (who I am familiar with from my studies in Psychology), is a stringent scientist who knows the difference between good science and BS. Readers are certain to find some good, hands on, advice, that they can go out and employ in their everyday life.

45 people found this helpful

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A lot of common sense, but really hard to utilize.

As I read many books about the topic before, from this book I only learned about Asian (Chinese really) approach to logic... I hate to rate this book too low simply because the experimental data and its analysis has been published many times over and the thoughts are also very well known ...to me. For such a large book, I would have expected a lot more... What ever I learned, I can not use anyway, but that is the problem of the whole aspect of economical psychology as a science. Once you get to the area where experiments can not be repeated and forecasts can be explained either way the reality goes, it is hard to evaluate the conclusions.

9 people found this helpful

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Great material, wrong format

I read a ton of research based books and this is the first that I would say provided too much information to digest in an audio format. it was good as a means of being exposed to really useful information , but I think this particular book is best in hard copy. none the less, great job by both the author and the narrator

7 people found this helpful

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Some books have hidden political agendas

Some books have hidden political agendas, and this is one of those. Though dry and tedious at times, the author waits til the end to express his personal feelings on global warming, Fox News and other partisan themes. This came after admonitions to base opinions on hard data. The sections on logic and sunk costs were informative, but the ending leaves the reader with a sour taste .

7 people found this helpful

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Well-trod territory

The author competently achieves his purpose. But most of what's in this wide-ranging book will be familiar to anyone even moderately attentive and well-read.

The author has a self-help, preening tone I found off-putting: Essentially "In this book you'll learn valuable tools that will sharpen your analytic abilities at home, work, and school." The tone is not one of an adult speaking to peers.

5 people found this helpful

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Good content, poor narrator

The content of this book is very interesting. However the narrator rushes through it, with barely a pause between sentences and it's the type of material I would need to ponder, at least for 1 second between sentences. Also, the narrator has a very raspy voice that I find hard to listen to, always wanting to clear my throat, take a breath or get a sip of water FOR him. I would like to re-listen to the book to grab some of the points he rushed through, however unfortunately, I don't think I can tolerate his voice for that many hours again. Sorry :-(

2 people found this helpful

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Great listen

Balanced, practical approach to decision making. Narration was superb for the topic. Well worth the time.

2 people found this helpful

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A well reasoned argument against certainty

Being sure of something makes it more likely that you're wrong about it. Nisbett goes through the fundamentals of reasoning about the world, then proceeds to show how every way to do it is error-prone.

1 person found this helpful

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good and useful tools but needs more than one read

Where does Mindware rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It a solid read that requires some re-reading.. it contains comprehensive set of useful tools for more effective decision-making and for deciphering information we are bombarded with through various scientific sources and mass media... the book is dry at times but there is no other way to present some statistics or methods... but the book is not too dry to make it boring or uninteresting.. It kept my interest and attention up.. I felt that it needs re-reading in order to actually get a hand of the presented methods and to apply them... and don't forget to print the PDF file, it's useful..

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

decent book. but lacks in "wow" factor

it was honestly quit interesting. however, not that captivating and i hope some of the ideas stick. it is just a little bit dry. i don't know what the author did wrong. maybe the subject is just not that exciting.

props for the performance though. what a voice. i want to listen to him more.

1 person found this helpful

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  • LD's
  • 07-22-17

A collection of statistical studies more than "tools for smart thinking"

Definitely not what I was expecting. The book was just a compendium of statistical studies and information rather than 0tools for smart thinking".

I tired to keep attention and interest for 2/3 of the book until I gave up.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Santiago
  • 02-11-19

Good lessons, but some examples are off.

Tools for rational thinking and healthy scepticism, to think about the many claims we hear around us more effectively... the theory is good, unfortunately the author fails to apply it in many of the examples given, that often end with abrupt, unsubstantiated, dubious claims by the author.
Still good, because this book helps you take the book itself with a grain of salt.

Narrator has a nasal voice, a bit annoying, but it didn't bother me much.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Mat Brunt
  • 05-02-18

Enjoyable listen and content

I didn't give this 5 stars because I've just finished a few books that raised the bar for me. This recording was enjoyable to listen to with a good delivery, although the narrator took a little getting used to for me - that is a personal preference however.

The content itself was mostly engaging, a few moments when I had to concentrate not to tune a particular segment of list recitation out, but overall I enjoyed it.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-28-17

Very interesting

Richard puts across a very practical and interesting collection of tools for better interoperating the barrage of information we get in everyday life.

However the book starts to become very in depth and feels like the author's ego is running wild with continuous self promotion and jaunts into partly irrelevant specialisms.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Mark J.
  • 04-18-19

An overall good listen

A good book, but the author at times stretches the truth to fit a politically correct narrative.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mike GMT
  • 02-23-18

I absolutely love this book.

It is a must read and makes so much sense. The performance it is also brilliant.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Nyasha
  • 09-24-16

interesting and thought provoking book.

this should be in everyone's library. thought provoking enlightened me on a few things. give it a try

3 people found this helpful

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  • Georgi Vladkov Petkov
  • 01-15-17

Eyeopener

I'm impressed with the well structured and informative story. The author is using as stepping stones well known theories which he explains in everyday life contexts. Well worth the time to listen to the book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Thomas Richardson
  • 09-13-21

gave up on second chapter

This is a generic book that just repackages the same insights we've heard a million times and tells them in a less engaging, more dry-academic way. The writing suggests this is a book for university students, and is mostly full of intro psych stuff. everyone's already heard about Kahneman and Tversky's stuff. and the author clearly isn't up to date on half this research as the Bargh priming studies have all been thoroughly debunked.

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  • Adrian J. Smith
  • 08-02-21

Excellent introduction to logic and epistemology

Mind ware starts off strong, starts to drag, and really picks up toward the end. The real gems of the book are the insights into Dialectical Reasoning and Formal Logic, plus the scientific revolutions.
The only snag is the narration by Joe Barrett is much less than compelling. His smoky and overly quiet voice creates an almost sleepy feeling in the listener.
However, the book is excellent and has some valuable insights for this listener.