[Book] Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking

Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking
By Richard E. Nisbett
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
August 2015


Scientific and philosophical concepts can change the way we solve problems by helping us to think more effectively about our behavior and our world. Surprisingly, despite their utility, many of these tools remain unknown to most of us.

In Mindware, the world-renowned psychologist Richard E. Nisbett presents these ideas in clear and accessible detail. Nisbett 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 the best methods for teaching others how to use them effectively in their daily lives.

In this groundbreaking book, Nisbett shows us how to frame common problems in such a way that these scientific and statistical principles can be applied to them. The result is an enlightening and practical guide to the most essential tools of reasoning ever developed-tools that can easily be used to make better professional, business, and personal decisions.

The author

Richard E. Nisbett is a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and one of the world’s most respected psychologists.


By Leonard Mlodinow in the New York Times Sunday Book Review:

The six sections of “Mindware” offer a variety of perspectives on how we think: the role of the unconscious in our judgments and decisions; the lessons of behavioral economics; the principles of probability and statistics; recommendations for how to test your ideas; and two sections on reasoning and the nature of knowledge.

My verdict is mixed. If you are looking for a survey of the topics covered in the book’s six sections, this is a good one. You’ll learn about our overzealousness to see patterns, our hindsight bias, our loss aversion, the illusions of randomness and the importance of the scientific method, all in under 300 pages of text. But there isn’t much in “Mindware” that is new, and if you’ve read some of the many recent books on the unconscious, randomness, decision making and pop economics, then the material covered here will be familiar to you.