Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things

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Prometheus Books, 2007 - Psychology - 256 pages
2 Reviews
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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Review: Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things

User Review  - Vanessa - Goodreads

An excellent book for any one who wants to be more self aware... Enlightens a lot about modern and societal issues with linkages to development of an individual, and practical everyday life issues. Read full review

unpleasant reading

User Review  - havira - Borders

Hard to believe there's a class in a university and this author teaches it. I've spoken to kids under 10 years old with deeper insights than this. Read full review


Fools Rush In
Often Wrong but Never in Doubt?

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About the author (2007)

Madeleine L. Van Hecke, PhD (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. Visit Dr. Van Hecke and learn more about Blind Spots at:

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