Summary of Wired for Survival

The Rational (and Irrational) Choices We Make, from the Gas Pump to Terrorism

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Wired for Survival book summary
Why do you do the things you do? It’s not for the reasons you think.


6 Overall

7 Importance

7 Innovation

5 Style


This book’s short length is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, neuroscientist Margaret M. Polski’s brevity and clarity make the book an accessible overview of how contemporary cognitive science views thinking and decision making. On the other hand, it is so brief that Polski leapfrogs through a great deal of material very quickly. Some readers may seek a more fully developed explanation of how economic events – like the power struggles between energy producers and energy consumers – relate to research in neuroscience. Issues such as how rationality affects cultural systems like liberal democracy deserve more attention. This lack of connective tissue makes this slender volume pretty episodic, but it also is rich with illustrations drawn from sources ranging from contemporary politics to the classic comedy of Monty Python. The result is enjoyable and useful, if a bit disjointed. getAbstract recommends Polski’s book to strategists who are planning for times ahead, to leaders who seek to understand their organizations, and to people who want to understand themselves.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How people think
  • How these thought patterns affect everything from world events to family life
  • How to improve the way you think
  • Why that matters


Can We Hope?
After World War I, many thinkers despaired of deriving meaning from the world. Poets such as T.S. Eliot saw the world as a “senseless” wasteland and viewed humanity as “hollow.” Society now faces a similar crisis of confidence. The globe can seem like a terrible place in light...
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About the Author

Margaret M. Polski, PhD, is an Affiliate Fellow at George Mason University’s Center for Neuroeconomics.

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