In recent years, there has been a glut of books like The Decisive Moment hitting the non-fiction market, and many parts of this book felt familiar. Like both Outliers: The Story of Success
The Decisive Moment retells stories of white-knuckle decision-making being made by airline pilots in seriously desperate situations; like Switch
many 'classic' social-psychological studies of human behaviour are poured over to illuminate how human beings make irrational choices.
What makes Lehrer's book interesting is his use of neurobiology to really tease out how different parts of the brain contribute towards the decision making process, and while many Critical Psychologists and/or Philosophers of Mind might cringe at his anthropomorphizing of (say) dopamine-expressing neurons, the author certainly brings something different to the table. Other reviewers have caricatured his linkage of mental states with neurological activity, but I found his writing both sober, informative and quite engrossing (he has none of the swagger of say, Steven Pinker, who has covered similar pop-science ground but with a political agenda). Having a somewhat cursory, patchy knowledge of brain anatomy, I didn't find his brain discussions to be too indulgent, although some simple vector drawings of the brain might have helped orientate the reader at different points of the discussion.
The book does end with a somewhat wishy-washy self help chapter on how people can apply these insights to their lives, although it sort of feels like He Man's moral message at the end of the Masters of the Universe cartoon from the eighties- a bit tacked on to appease a certain demographic. If using this stuff for self help is your bag, then you'd do well to check out Brain Rules
alongside this, although I think that Lehrer writes slightly better.
On a final note, whoever designed the cover (complete with an embossed rubber "don't press" button) deserves recognition- this is brilliant cover design that really makes the book jump of the shelves.