Monday, March 7, 2016

Black Box Thinking

Why do some people learn from their mistakes while others don't? Matthew Syed tells us in his book Black Box Thinking.

In some ways, the concepts within the book (e.g. confirmation and other biases) will be familiar stuff to anyone who has read the works of behavioural economists like Kahneman, Thaler, Ariely etc. I've reviewed many of these books on this site.

However, this book goes way beyond the lab experiments that demonstrate the cognitive biases we now know we all have. Syed demonstrates how certain fields/professions systematically adjust for cognitive dissonance, while others don't and therefore have high failure rates. It is the most "applied" book of human biases that I've read, and as such it makes for very interesting reading.

I think Syed has done a remarkable job surveying the path forward for productivity growth (in lives saved, efficiency etc.) in a lot of professions that haven't done a good job learning from mistakes. I highly recommend this book to all professionals.

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