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.
"[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)
I enjoy reading books that explore understanding how the human mind works. It was enlightening to hear Hefferman's research and explanations for the apparent scales we often have covering our eyes and clamps shutting our mouths, even when our mind & hearts beg to be free.
I first heard Margaret speak at NTI (National Teaching Institute), a conference for critical care nurses, and was inspired to purchase this audible version of her book. It was extremely enjoyable. I have roughly an hour commute each day and could not wait to get in the car each day.
For the fan of neuroscience and psychology or simply one desiring to understand how people operate and how to lead them, this is a must-read book.
No, but I personally found the pitch of her voice a bit uncomfortable for the volume I wish to hear her at. In the end, it was still worth the listen though.
It's extremely important to recognize our proneness to not really think and if we are truly thinking it's extremely important to be the one speaking out lest everyone's silence encourage worse things to happen. There are many examples of people slowly turning a blind eye like a frog in a pot.
Proofreader, Editor, Writer & Book Lover Extraordinaire!!
I was very glad that I came across this book. As a 'Cassandra' this is the first time I have ever heard the term Willful Blindness explained or examined this way. I really never realized that people were not intentionally turning their back, or that they were not completely ignorant in general. Thank you Margaret for making me feel not so alone and also much more educated. How about a book like "Cassandra: The Survival Guide"
This book contains many organized thoughts explaining the faults of human thought and how one may avoid such faults. Everyone should read this book in order to improve one's understanding of the world around them and what happens in it. I TRY TO SUGGEST THIS BOOK TO EVERYONE I KNOW.
It did have some valuable insight into contemporary failures at a grand level. Like Enron and the mortgage crisis.
No characters in here really.
Unfortunately, her reading sounded just as smug as some of the passages in the book. The book probably would have been better with someone who was objective.
It should have been called "If they had only asked me."
Unfortunately, the author presents a rather confusing story of failures and their causes. She wallows in the usual stereotypes of evil corporate directors and their helpless victims while glossing over root cause analysis of these issues. It is easy and gratifying to impugn the characters no one loves while sanctifying the "victims" but life is much more complicated than that. What about all the "Cassandras" (as she calls them) who were wrong? I'm sure there were many more who were wrong than right. But in the author's world, the cure for blindness is 20/20 hindsight. Not very helpful.
She describes all kinds of issues with biases. And then presumes to believe that she has none. And that the obvious disasters she describes are proof of her theories, despite knowing that the same general processes she faults have also resulted in major advances.
The answer is, of course, that we need a more compelling mix of oversight (hierarchy) while at the same time encouraging local (non-hierarchical) control. Not sure how she reconciles these two incompatible modes in her world. The listener won't learn here either.
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.
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).
No, absolutely not. Probably the single most difficult readers to listen to of anything I've ever bought on Audible.
Nope, not without a more well rounded author.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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