Mindware Book Summary - Mindware Book explained in key points
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Mindware summary

Richard E. Nisbett

Tools for Smart Thinking

3.8 (122 ratings)
12 mins

Brief summary

Mindware by Richard E. Nisbett reveals the tricks and techniques that help you think logically and make intelligent decisions. It combines psychology and philosophy to teach you new approaches and thought processes that will help you improve your daily life.

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    Key idea 1 of 5

    Correlation is not causation.

    Have you ever heard that countries with a higher average IQ also enjoy higher average wealth? It’s true, but does that mean that being a smarter country makes you a richer one?

    Actually, it’s easy to falsely assume that one thing causes another just because those two things occur at the same time, especially if it confirms something we already believe. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s define some basic statistical terms. For instance, correlation: if A and B occur simultaneously, then A positively correlates to B. But if A only occurs without B and B only without A, then the relationship is a negative correlation.

    This is important because we tend to assume that A caused B, or vice versa, simply because they are correlated. For example, take the following scientifically proven correlation: on average, people who go to church are less likely to suffer premature death than those who don’t.

    Given this information, if you believe in God, you might assume that believing in God increases a person’s lifespan. And there you have it: you’ve transformed a correlation into a causation. However, just because both events correlate to each other doesn’t mean that one causes the other.

    In fact, assuming causation between events that are simply correlated can lead to major errors. For example, during the summers throughout the 1950s, there was a clear correlation between cases of polio and ice cream consumption; lots of people were eating ice cream and lots of people were contracting polio. But would banning ice cream have helped combat the polio epidemic? Definitely not.

    That’s because ice cream obviously doesn’t cause polio. However, polio germs are transmitted by swimming in pool water and, just like ice cream, swimming pools are popular during the summertime.

    Now that you know correlation isn't the same as causation, let's take another look at our first example:

    Instead of assuming that intelligent citizens are what make countries wealthy, it'd be wiser to look at it from another angle: wealthy countries usually have superior health-care and education systems, and that produces people with higher IQs.

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    What is Mindware about?

    Mindware (2015) is a guide to reason. These blinks explain why we make irrational assumptions while presenting the cognitive tools that statisticians, logicians and philosophers use to approach everyday problems with objectivity.

    Mindware Review

    Mindware (2015) by Richard E. Nisbett is a thought-provoking exploration of how our thinking shapes our lives, and it's definitely a book worth reading. Here's why:

    • With fascinating psychological experiments and compelling case studies, the book offers a fresh perspective on decision-making and problem-solving.
    • It provides practical tools that can help us make better judgments and navigate through the complexity of the modern world with clarity and confidence.
    • Delving into cognitive biases and logical fallacies, the book challenges our preconceptions and invites us to become more aware of our own thinking patterns.

    Best quote from Mindware

    Want to make your employees more creative? Expose them to the Apple logo. And avoid exposing them to the IBM logo.

    —Richard E. Nisbett
    example alt text

    Who should read Mindware?

    • Anyone interested in psychology, statistics or economics
    • Anyone who wants to make better professional, business and personal decisions
    • Teachers and coaches who want to teach the art of logical decision making

    About the Author

    Richard E. Nisbett is one of the world’s most respected psychologists. He received the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions as well as many other national and international awards.

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    Mindware FAQs 

    What is the main message of Mindware?

    The main message of Mindware is that our thinking can be improved and optimized to make better decisions.

    How long does it take to read Mindware?

    The reading time for Mindware varies depending on the reader's pace. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Mindware a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Mindware is worth reading because it provides valuable insights and practical tools to enhance our thinking skills.

    Who is the author of Mindware?

    The author of Mindware is Richard E. Nisbett.

    What to read after Mindware?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Mindware, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Great Mental Models Volume 3 by Rhiannon Beaubien and Rosie Leizrowice
    • The Art of Logic by Eugenia Cheng
    • The Great Mental Models Volume 2 by Shane Parrish and Rhiannon Beaubien
    • The Art of Statistics by David Spiegelhalter
    • Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos
    • Numbers Rule Your World by Kaiser Fung
    • Read People Like a Book by Patrick King
    • The Optimist's Telescope by Bina Venkataraman
    • Learned Excellence by Eric Potterat & Alan Eagle
    • Atomic Habits by James Clear