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Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things


Madeleine L. Van Hecke



9781591025092
Retail Price: $19.98
LS Price: $13.57
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Format: Hardcover, 224pp.
ISBN: 9781591025092
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Pub. Date: April 26, 2007

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

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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Reviews

Clinical psychologist Van Hecke has compiled a list of 10 mental glitches that have infiltrated contemporary society, afflicting even the smartest among us, limiting thought, success and relationships. Van Hecke devotes a chapter to each blind spot, including "Not stopping to think," "Not noticing," "Jumping to conclusions" and "Missing the big picture." Examining each in detail, Van Hecke details the root causes of these unconscious habits ("information overload," "our tendency to habituate") and tactics for overcoming them, using humorous anecdotes and other real-life examples to drive her points; the key is remaining open to new ideas and taking a step back from our busy lives in order to process information, situations and people. Filling in "the big picture" herself, Van Hecke demonstrates how embracing and understanding our weaknesses can not only improve personal and professional relationships, but also entire communities; this self-help is a welcome, highly readable first step.
—From Publishers Weekly, Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"If we don't understand blind spots, we don't understand human nature. Madeleine Van Hecke does a beautiful job of opening our eyes to this fascinating--and troubling--aspect of personality."
—Eric Maisel, PhD, author of Ten Zen Seconds


"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, and author of Why People Believe Weird Things


"I have no reservations about wholeheartedly recommending this book. Behind each stupid mistake, each wrongheaded viewpoint, is a person every bit as rational as we think ourselves to be. This book allows us to see ourselves more clearly, and assess others more tolerantly."
—Wendy Northcutt, best-selling author of the Darwin Awards and creator of www.DarwinAwards.com


 
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About the Author

Madeleine L. Van Hecke, Ph.D. (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.

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