1st Edition

The Art and Science of Making Up Your Mind

ISBN 9781848726574
Published June 18, 2019 by Routledge
116 Pages

USD $52.95

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Book Description

The Art and Science of Making Up Your Mind presents basic decision-making principles and tools to help the reader respond efficiently and wisely to everyday dilemmas.

Although most decisions are made informally (whether intuitively without deliberate thought, or based on careful reflection), over the centuries people have tried to develop systematic, scientific and structured ways in which to make decisions. Using qualitative counterparts to quantitative models, Rex Brown takes the reader through the basics, like ‘what is a decision’ and then considers a wide variety of real-life decisions, explaining how the best judgments can be made using logical principles. 

Combining multiple evaluations of the same judgment ("hybrid judgment") and exploring innovative analytical concepts (such as "ideal judgment"), this book explores and analyzes the skills needed to master the basics of non-mathematical decision making, and what should be done, using real world illustrations of decision methods.

The book is an ideal companion for students of Thinking, Reasoning and Decision-Making, and also for anyone wanting to understand how to make better judgments in their everyday lives.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Chapter 2 - Decision making

Chapter 3 - Term project: Evaluating a policy proposal

Chapter 4 - Qualitative decision aids

Chapter 5 - Hip surgery case

Chapter 6 - Quantitative ADT modeling

Chapter 7 - Family case study: C-section vs. "natural" child-birth?

Chapter 8 - Using ADT models

Chapter 9 - A civic case: Voting for president

Chapter 10 - Information value case: Life-saving diagnosis

Chapter 11 - Expanded view: Should we teach decision making in school?

Chapter 12 - Epilogue — What next?



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Rex V. Brown’s 50-year career combined research, consulting and teaching on helping people and organizations to make better decisions. He wrote five previous books on decision science and more than 80 papers and articles. Brown was a Distinguished Senior Fellow in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University. He held faculty appointments at Harvard Business School, University College London, London School of Economics and the Universities of Michigan, Carnegie-Mellon, George Mason and Cambridge. He spent 20 years as Chairman of Decision Science Consortium, Inc. in Reston, Virginia, and was a founding Council Member of the Decision Analysis Society.


"This highly readable book aims to teach the reader to obtain a superior second opinion – from herself. A wealth of often provocative examples reveals the wisdom of a master of applied decision theory." - Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize Winner, Author of "Thinking, Fast and Slow," Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University, USA

"A trailblazing pioneer in decision education, Rex Brown has provided us with invaluable examples, tools, evidence and arguments for everyone to invest in their decision skills." - Chris Spetzler, Executive Director, Decision Education Foundation, USA

"Rex Brown spent all his working life thinking about how to make decisions well. This book is the culmination of his thought. He concentrates on the essential ideas, illustrated with many practical examples, and avoiding most of the mathematics that surrounded the subject when originally formed. This excellent text is to be recommended to all who want a readable and straightforward introduction to the analysis of any decision." - Professor Stephen Watson, Life Fellow, Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, UK

"Did you ever think hard about a decision and later feel like it had been a bad mistake? After decades advising others and trying to avoid making more mistakes myself, I urge you to read this book now. No psychology or statistics, just lots of pithy, how-to-do-it, real examples. You'll make better decisions easily, and you'll have fewer regrets."- Andrew Kahr, Founder: First Deposit Corporation, formerly Assoc. Prof. of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, USA

"Rex Brown’s The Art and Science of Making Up Your Mind is a non-technical textbook and guidebook for how to understand and use basic principles and tools of applied decision theory to deal effectively with everyday decisions and difficult dilemmas. Rex Brown is a wise mentor and reliable companion. He guides the reader through basic questions such as 'what is a decision' and 'what is an ideal judgement.' He then draws on personal, family and friends’ decisions in professional life, health, illness, and voting to elucidate how quantitative decision aids and qualitative considerations help clarify problems and lead to sound decisions. An indispensable resource for students and all decision makers." - Professor Leon Mann AO, Professorial Fellow, Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia

"This gem of a book synthesizes the life’s work of one of decision science’s seminal thinkers. Rex Brown’s passion was making the tools and thought processes of applied decision theory accessible to ordinary people. This clear and entertaining how-to manual uses examples from his own life and the lives of his family to help readers grasp how we can realize our potential for better everyday decision-making and, ultimately, greater satisfaction in our lives."- Kathryn Blackmond Laskey, Professor of Systems Engineering and Operations Research, George Mason University, USA