Why We Make Mistakes is about the kinds of mistakes we commonly make and the reasons behind them. With a broad focus encompassing neuroscience, psychology, and economics, the book provides convincing explanations for our often fallible perception, inability to recall simple data, and the many biases that direct our decision-making without us being aware.
About the author:
Joseph Hallinan is a journalist and writer who wrote for the Wall Street Journal and won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. Besides Why We Make Mistakes, Hallinan has also written the award-winning Going Up the River: Travels in Prison Nation and, most recently, Kidding Ourselves: The Hidden Powers of Self-Deception.
Humans are extremely egoistic, self-centered, critical, and biased beings that they become unaware of their restrictions and flaws:
These characteristics are obvious reasons why people make mistakes, regardless of the consequences and outcomes that may face them.
number of mistakes have spread through humanity due to the fact that people are
unaware of the faults they make. The fact of you being unknowledgeable of your
own mistakes will render you incapable of learning from them.
well-comprehended descriptions and many authentic examples, Hallinan was able
to focus on the reasons behind people making mistakes, when and how they do
them, and how to avoid their occurrence. If you are interested in the back
story of the mistakes you and everyone make, this is definitely the book for
To be one
step ahead in steering clear of making mistakes, you should know why people
tends to make a mistake will most likely blame it on the fact that we all are
humans and it’s very common. Well, it is true. People are vulnerable and
exposed to a lot of mistakes.
For the most part mistakes are the results of the universe achieving a certain pattern? Besides these patterns, expectations also contribute to these actions.
For example, if someone tells you that the wine you are drinking is from France it will seem better tasting to your mind without you realizing it even if it’s not actually from France. The problem with these automatic biases is that usually, people have no idea that they have them.
live for the drama; they like blaming and accusing and pointing fingers
whenever something goes wrong and tend to misdirect the situation.
keep making the same mistakes. Because mistakes follow a certain pattern of
repetition. Learning from your mistakes is dependent on your capability of
knowing these patterns.
assumptions design the way we see the world and the way we act in it too:
An easy way to describe is when you see an argument between a couple: and you assume that the women are being assaulted when the man starts teasing her. Without thinking you go forward and punch him in the face, but maybe he happens to be retarded and you realize that you did a mistake. The truth is we don’t know the whole picture, and we can’t judge by what we see and expect.
judgmental assumptions we make are very common problems that scholars gave them
a name: the “looked-but-didn’t-see” mistakes.
We can’t examine any case the way experts do, so we shouldn’t. We fail to see anything that refutes our subconsciousness.
to remember random info like names in comparison to faces:
If you meet
someone you knew 20 years ago you will most likely recognize his face but not
his name. That’s because names, faces and all kinds of information related to
your senses are stored in your brain in bits and pieces and it’s easier for
your brain to recollect a picture since it is not random.
If you don’t
want to lose a memory of something, make sure to attach it to some kind of
emotional detail so that it will not be as random.
give immediate conclusions about others based on irrelevant cues that affect
their decisions in every way possible:
simplest way to describe it is by “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but people
do that all the time even when they think they are giving natural and
it though, we are beings driven by emotions, desires, biases and a huge amount
of social pressure. We prefer to make mistakes than stand doing nothing and
account these mistakes responsible for not taking the required actions
Most people are not programmed the way they think they are:
to polish their past actions and decisions to appear to their selves in a
better, more favorable ways. To an extent that they recall their memories in events
that didn’t even happen.
behavioral issue makes people unaware of the mistakes they are doing and end up
living in their own built fantasy.
A group of researchers
once asked some students about their grades at school. More than 75% of them
said higher grades that they actually got and chose unintentionally the answer
they longed to.
only see what you look for; your sight can only spot what’s right in front of
you. The image you’ll be seeing is what you already expect to see:
are heavily trained and equipped with everything a plane needs, plane crashes
still happen regularly.
Robert Loft was flying to Miami he lost focus due to the failure of an
indicator light. All flight engineer, an aircraft mechanic, the officer, and
captain Loft were so focused on fixing the indicator light that they forgot
about flying the plane itself.
crashed and 99 people were killed in the process.
to keep going back and forth with no idea what were they doing before. They
make mistakes in the process because they are just not able to multitask and
find rational solutions to what they are facing under pressure.
decisions are affected by 4 major ways: framing, timing, anchoring and
confirmed that if you are at a restaurant you order the wine corresponding to
the music you hear. If you hear Italian music, you’ll order Italian wine. If
you hear French music, you’ll order French wine and so on. This picture reveals
the definite power of our surroundings on our decision. Four major factors
affecting our decisions are:
Once an article of a great deal appeared on the front page of “The New York Times”. Investors duly responded and contacted the source to make a business deal. However, it appeared to be that another magazine published the same article a few months earlier on page A28 but no one responded. This explains how people are only influenced by what seems more important and authentic to be displayed on the front pages.
When asked what movie people wanted to watch the next week, most of them chose intellectual movies. While when asked what would they watch right now, they chose popular movies. This demonstrates that as long as the outcomes aren’t near, people are willing to take risks.
of anchoring is: a deal of 400$ purchase with 100$ shipping fee is not as
attractive to customers compared to a 500$ purchase of the same object with
free shipping. Both cases cost the same amount, but the fact that the prices
have been anchored makes the real difference to people.
We tend to buy a box of pens for example without examining it if we are already familiar with these kinds of pens. Usually, people overlook the errors in a book because they concentrate mostly on the beginning of the words than complete the rest of the words in their heads.
ignore the fact that you’ve been biased, you’ll not be able to banish these
biases and learn from your mistakes:
biased mistakes because they naturally incline towards things that seem nicer
or neater. The type of person you are affects your image and information
and overconfidence play a big role in the reasons people make mistakes:
are much more confident in their abilities than women. They tend to be
overconfident in taking decisions.
In male represented fields, there are assumptions that the productivity and performance level will be high. Women, unlike men, do not take rash risks and decisions because they make mistakes more seriously than men do.
There are definite limits to the number of things people do at one instant. The more they do the more there is a chance of making mistakes:
“Almost everyone is overconfident – except for people who are depressed, and they tend to be realists.”
-Stefano Della Vigna
can’t see their limits, so they end up building ambitions and dreams that are
beyond their abilities.
For you to see the real improvement you should:
Think small. Uncomplicated measures can be much more effective than complicated ones.
Calibrate. Calibration mistakes cause huge harm. That’s why recalibration regularly is a must for you to keep rating your steps.
Thinking negatively. Although it is advised to stay optimistic, it is also essential to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. If you thought negatively, don’t let it overpower your mind. Find ways to be ready for the worst-case-scenarios.
Let your partner proofread. It is impossible for you to cover everything with minimal damage on your own. Let your partner help you avoid some faults and accept criticism from someone you trust.
Relax and rest. Get some sleep, you workaholic! Your body and mind function best when you are relaxed and well-rested. Most of your worst decisions are made under pressure and stress.
Stay happy. It is proven that your productivity level is much higher when your body is secreting endorphins and dopamine. Thus reduce your chance of making mistakes.
step for correcting mistakes is knowing that you actually made one. Step down a
bit from your self-centered mindset and think ahead before you make any serious
decisions. Mistakes are part of our daily routine but a big part of them can be
your happiness and stay in contact with what gives you joy. Trust that in
persistence and healthy souls you can achieve anything.
People live in a cycle of fantasy and imagination ,rather than accepting their reality and building to improve it. Instead of looking at what the other person has and desiring it as if its yours ,concentrate on what you really have and take it forward from there.