Since Plato, philosophers have described the decision-making process as either rational or emotional: we carefully deliberate or we 'blink' and go with our gut. But as scientists break open the mind's black box with the latest tools of neuroscience, they're discovering this is not how the mind works. Our best decisions are a finely tuned blend of both feeling and reason - and the precise mix depends on the situation. When buying a house, for example, it's best to let our unconscious mull over the many variables. But when we're picking stocks and shares, intuition often leads us astray. The trick is to determine when to lean on which part of the brain, and to do this, we need to think harder (and smarter) about how we think.
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Jonah Lehrer is editor-at-large for Seed Magazine and a contributing editor at NPR'S Radio Lab. He has written articles for Nature, New Scientist and the MIT Technology Review. He graduated from Columbia University in 2003 with a degree in neuroscience, and spent two years studying 20th Century Literature and Theology at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. Lehrer also writes a highly regarded science blog, The Frontal Cortex - http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/
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