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Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril | [Margaret Heffernan]

Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril

Margaret Heffernan argues that the biggest threats and dangers we face are the ones we don't see - not because they're secret or invisible, but because we're willfully blind. A distinguished businesswoman and writer, she examines the phenomenon and traces its imprint in our private and working lives, and within governments and organizations, and asks: What makes us prefer ignorance? What are we so afraid of? Why do some people see more than others? And how can we change?
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Publisher's Summary

Margaret Heffernan argues that the biggest threats and dangers we face are the ones we don't see - not because they're secret or invisible, but because we're willfully blind. A distinguished businesswoman and writer, she examines the phenomenon and traces its imprint in our private and working lives, and within governments and organizations, and asks: What makes us prefer ignorance? What are we so afraid of? Why do some people see more than others? And how can we change?

Covering everything from our choice of mates to the SEC, Bernard Madoff's investors, the embers of BP's refinery, the military in Afghanistan, and the dog-eat-dog world of subprime mortgage lenders, this provocative book demonstrates how failing to see - or to admit to ourselves or our colleagues - the issues and problems in plain sight can ruin private lives and bring down corporations.

Heffernan explains how willful blindness develops before exploring ways that institutions and individuals can combat it. In the tradition of Malcolm Gladwell and Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Margaret Heffernan's Willful Blindness is a tour de force on human behavior that will open your eyes.

©2011 Margaret Heffernan (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[Heffernan] gives us an insightful look into the psychology of denial and makes an ethical and pragmatic argument for engagement rather than deflection. Heffernan's cogent, riveting look at how we behave at our worst encourages us to strive for our best." (Publishers Weekly)

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4.2 (145 )
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  •  
    Mark Lakewood, CO, United States 04-07-12
    Mark Lakewood, CO, United States 04-07-12 Member Since 2011

    I spend 90+ minutes a day in my car, Audible makes it enjoyable regardless of what's happening in traffic. My taste varies from endurance fitness to economics and from to combat stories and romance novels.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    65
    ratings
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    101
    34
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    5
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    "Some good chapter, some bad"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    This is a book that I wish I'd borrowed from the library, photocopied the two or three really good chapters and never wasted my time with the rest of it. Some of the book was very well researched and highlighted some really interesting insights, while other was anti-capitalist, liberal blather (and I'm a democrat, so this isn't coming from a social conservative) that I could barely listen to without fast forwarding. The reader is atrocious and so many times you can't tell if it's a first person story she's delivering or citing a quote from a source. Sorry, but without some change in inflection, cadence, or pitch, it's impossible to follow without 100% attention (which I don't do when I'm driving).


    Would you be willing to try another one of Margaret Heffernan’s performances?

    No, absolutely not. Probably the single most difficult readers to listen to of anything I've ever bought on Audible.


    Do you think Willful Blindness needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Nope, not without a more well rounded author.


    Any additional comments?

    While there were several very interesting insights into this book, I'd rather have not wasted my time or money for what I got out of it. The reader is just about the most painful thing I've ever listened to, with no changes in pitch or inflection so I could never tell if she was talking about a story about herself or quoting from a source. For a research-oriented book, that's a fatal flaw and makes it difficult to hold the author as credible.

    The author would be well advised to keep to the research and stop interjecting her AGW, anti-gun, anti-capitalist agenda into a book on a serious subject.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AZ Crazy 02-28-12
    AZ Crazy 02-28-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    0
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    "Unorganized blather"
    This book wasn???t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    An automaton


    Would you ever listen to anything by Margaret Heffernan again?

    No


    Would you be willing to try another one of Margaret Heffernan???s performances?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Not at all what I was expecting...I knew I was wasting my time when the author referenced The Sopranos as a case in point. Turns out that the rest of what I was able to read was fantasy-based, too.
    This is the only Audible book of 800+ that I was unable to finish. Sorry I wasted my time.

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 10-06-11
    Acteon Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 10-06-11 Member Since 2009

    Acteon

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    "A book everyone should read"

    This is an excellent book full of interesting, useful and indeed essential information (e.g. on the unreliability of eye witnesses who are confident and in good faith). I recommend it to all. It is stimulating and significant, and entertaining as well. It is also good in this case to hear the author reading (although this is not always so: some authors' voices don't come across well, e.g. Malcolm Gladwell).

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann 10-01-13
    Ann 10-01-13
    ratings
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    7
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    "Read it With a Healthy Dose of Skepticism"

    While the information Ms. Heffernan presents is certainly informative, she has an uncanny knack for presenting only one side of any given story. And this book is rich in stories of willful blindness that encompass all aspects of life. Unfortunately, each story is also coupled with a tone of righteous indignation that is heavy-handed and sometimes even oppressive. This indignation may not come across in print but she made the unfortunate choice to narrate her own book, so it is unavoidable in the audio version. Perhaps all of that is due her own willful blindness.

    Shortcomings aside, this is still an excellent study of human nature. If you read it with a healthy dose of skepticism, you can receive intriguing insights, along with a desire to get all of the pieces she willfully chose to remove from each story.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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