Review of Farsighted

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  • Analytical
  • Scientific
  • Applicable


Bestselling author – of Where Good Ideas Come From – and podcaster Steven Johnson offers insight into the cumulative consequences of your decisions – where to live, how to manage your career and whom to marry, among other choices. He understands that you live with the outcomes of countless decisions politicians, bureaucrats, doctors and bosses make on your behalf. Johnson explores new decision-making tools and processes, including public hearings, diverse expert consultations, data analyses, scenario planning, simulations and artificial intelligence. Given these resources, he says, environmental, scientific, military and political leaders today make better decisions than their counterparts made in the past. He suggests ways you can use variations of these techniques to improve how you tackle your most important decisions. Johnson offers wisdom to help you avoid bad decisions and prepare for the unintended consequences of your choices. 

About the Author

Steven Johnson’s MA in English literature gave him an appreciation of how empathy with fictional characters helps readers make better decisions. When he faced deciding whether to move from Brooklyn to California, he reflected on George Eliot’s classic, Middlemarch.


New Tools, Better Decisions

In 1802, New York politicians decided to fill in a pond for luxury development rather than convert it to a park. The homes that builders constructed above the old pond sank, the wealthy residents fled and the location became the notorious Five Points slum. Today, such public works decisions undergo multifaceted scrutiny that includes impact assessments and public debate. Similarly, Johnson points out, governments, organizations and individuals now use decision science to bring discipline and rigor to their decision making.

When you face an important decision, you probably create lists of pros and cons, and weigh each list. You might talk to people you respect and to anyone else related to the decision. This slows you down and forces you to consider both sides of a choice. Johnson believes you can and should do more reflecting, depending on the gravity of your decision.

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