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Farsighted

Length: 6 hrs and 22 mins
4 out of 5 stars (201 ratings)

Regular price: $28.00

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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking book about making once-in-a-lifetime decisions, from the best-selling author of How We Got to Now and Where Good Ideas Come From 

Plenty of books offer useful advice on how to get better at making quick-thinking, intuitive choices. But what about more consequential decisions, the ones that affect our lives for years or centuries to come? Our most powerful stories revolve around these kinds of decisions: where to live, whom to marry, what to believe, whether to start a company, how to end a war.

Full of the beautifully crafted storytelling and novel insights that Steven Johnson's fans know to expect, Farsighted draws lessons from cognitive science, social psychology, military strategy, environmental planning, and great works of literature. Everyone thinks we are living in an age of short attention spans, but we've actually learned a lot about making long-term decisions over the past few decades. Johnson makes a compelling case for a smarter and more deliberative decision-making approach. He argues that we choose better when we break out of the myopia of single-scale thinking and develop methods for considering all the factors involved.

There's no one-size-fits-all model for the important decisions that can alter the course of a life, an organization, or a civilization. But Farsighted explains how we can approach these choices more effectively and how we can appreciate the subtle intelligence of choices that shaped our broader social history.

©2018 Steven Johnson (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Riveting.... As a deep thinker and gifted storyteller, Johnson is the right author to tackle the topic. He’s at his best when analyzing impossibly complex decisions.... One of Johnson’s thought-provoking points is that [people who excel at long-term thinking] read novels, which are ideal exercises in mental time travel and empathy. I think he’s right.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“Johnson is explicitly focused on real-life decisions that (ideally) involve serious deliberation.... [He]reminds us that, fundamentally, choices concern competing narratives, and we’re likely to make better choices if we have richer stories, with more fleshed-out characters, a more nuanced understanding of motives, and a deeper appreciation of how decisions are likely to reverberate and resound.” (The Wall Street Journal

“Johnson is well-placed to dig into these dilemmas of decision-making, as he gracefully serves up examples ranging from 17th-century urban planning to contemporary artificial intelligence.” (Financial Times

What members say

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Enjoyed it - Not what I was expecting

I did enjoy this book. It wasn't what I thought. I thought it was going to be more "leadership" style narrative. i did really enjoy the use of the military references to show a point.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Best of Johnson

I wish I had read this book years ago. Steven stimulates the brain. Personal stories are a welcome extra.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Powerful Book for Business and Personal Decisions

This was an excellent book on how to make decisions. I’m taking away parts to influence my business life, others to influence my personal life and another part to help an 8yr old get ready faster in the morning.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Decisions are hard.

Farsighted is an interesting book, but it seems to mainly illustrate just how very complex decision-making can be. These are not the single-variable, binary, yes or no type of decisions, but instead the complex and complicated type where changing types of variables are considered. Many of these decisions that matter the most are group or societal ones; I had hoped for more focus on individual decisions.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The Complexity of Making A Decision

The somewhat dry yet informative narrative in the first half of the book dealing with methodology and examples kindly reconciles in the later half with more broad views while continuing on already considered examples. It is scholarly and entertaining to the curious mind.

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extremely interesting and thought provoking

the discussion around decision making at a variety of levels makes for an excellent follow on to Daniel K's book

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Farsightedness!

Wow, I've never thought of decision making as this book explains. Its profound and thorough explanation of being able to think farsighted gives a whole new perspective on the repercussions of your decisions. Great Book overall!

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Very Good

A very good resource, the Author covered a lot of concepts about how Futurists think and what it takes for us to build decisions on the future.

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30% Liberal Ideals 60% Droning 10% Actual Planning

I heard an interview with the author on the Art of Manliness Podcast and decided to buy the book to find out more based on the interview. DON'T BOTHER! Just listen to that interview, it sums the entire book up and leaves out much of the nonsense.

First off, there is so little in this book of what you actually purchased this for. So much of this is constant rehashing of the same four scenarios: Osama Bin Laden's raid (seriously, just watch Zero Dark Thirty, or read the book. That movie is half of this guy's overall research), George Washington's failure to secure Brooklyn, the pollution and decision to fill a lake in New York instead of turning it into a park, and Darwin's personal pros and cons list of getting married. That is the entire book, except with so little insight it's mind numbing.

Second, the author projects so much of how HE makes decisions onto Obama. Obama was infamously one of the most insecure and indecisive presidents ever. He would almost ALWAYS choose not to make a decision so that every decision made would be made by his staff. He was a terrible negotiator, and when talks broke down he would either cave to demands (Iran) or throw a fit and use Execitive Orders to do what he wants. Even lazy Congress gave more power to the Executive Branch's different departments during his presidency, and not the President himself. And it's also very clear that almost everything he says about Obama is conjecture. He offers no supporting information, but the only way such key information could be known that no one else knows about, had to come from personal sources. The guy spends most of the time talking about the amazing work the Federal Agencies did in figuring all of this amazing information out and planning and deciding every detail of unknown, and then concludes that it was Obama's decision making prowess that was the source of it all!

The aithor makes the bold statement along the lines that the Paris Climate Accord was one of the most ambitious and long term strategy agreements in human history. Really, that's all you need to know about this.

Lastly, there's so little about how to implement advanced long-term decision making into your life. Here's the answer: weighted scales of desired and undesired outcomes, and simulate the possibilities. There. Don't waste your time or money on this overblown propaganda.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful