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How We Make the Decisions that Matter the Most
Plenty of books offer useful advice on how to get better at making quick-thinking, intuitive choices. But what about more consequential decisions, the ones that affect our lives for years, or centuries, to come? Our most powerful stories revolve around these kinds of decisions: where to live, whom to marry, what to believe, whether to start a company, how to end a war.
Full of the beautifully crafted storytelling and novel insights that Steven Johnson's fans know to expect, Farsighted draws lessons from cognitive science, social psychology, military strategy, environmental planning, and great works of literature. Everyone thinks we are living in an age of short attention spans, but we've actually learned a lot about making long-term decisions over the past few decades. Johnson makes a compelling case for a smarter and more deliberative decision-making approach. He argues that we choose better when we break out of the myopia of single-scale thinking and develop methods for considering all the factors involved.
There's no one-size-fits-all model for the important decisions that can alter the course of a life, an organization, or a civilization. But Farsighted explains how we can approach these choices more effectively, and how we can appreciate the subtle intelligence of choices that shaped our broader social history.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
Insightful but eccentric book . . . Farsighted is intelligent . . . impressively erudite * SUNDAY BUSINESS POST * A fascinating history of how people made decisions with lasting impacts over recent centuries, exploring ways to plan wisely for now and for future generations. Johnson's book rightly devotes ample space to climate change, and shows how we can learn from past mistakes in warfare, banking and other realms * NEW SCIENTIST * An infectiously exciting writer... Steven Johnson is that rarest of commodities among twenty-first-century public intellectuals... His is a questing intelligence, eager to consider opposing arguments, explore opposing arguments, explore new terrain, and notice underlying patterns he hasn't seen before. * SALON.COM * Steven Johnson's mind works in wondrous ways * SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER * Steven Johnson is a great science writer * BILL CLINTON * Johnson is explicitly focused on real-life decisions that (ideally) involve serious deliberation... [He] reminds us that, fundamentally, choices concern competing narratives, and we're likely to make better choices if we have richer stories, with more fleshed-out characters, a more nuanced understanding of motives, and a deeper appreciation of how decisions are likely to reverberate and resound. * WALL STREET JOURNAL * Precision planning or gut instinct? Well-placed to dig into the dilemmas of decision making, Steven Johnson gracefully serves up examples ranging from 17th-century urban planning to contemporary artificial intelligence... Now we all have to learn from their example. * FINANCIAL TIMES * Riveting... As a deep thinker and gifted storyteller, Johnson is the right author to tackle the topic. He's at his best when analyzing impossibly complex decisions... One of Johnson's thought-provoking points is that [people who excel at long-term thinking] read novels, which are ideal exercises in mental time travel and empathy. I think he's right * NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW *