Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril
By Margaret Heffernan
(Walker & Company, Hardcover, 9780802719980, 294pp.)
Publication Date: March 1, 2011
List Price: $26.00*
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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 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.
"A call to arms to any whistle-blowers who see what lies ahead and have the courage to speak up."—Kirkus"A thoughtful and entertaining treatise on the seductiveness—and consequences—of ignoring what’s right in front of our eyes … Heffernan’s cogent, riveting look at how we behave at our worst encourages us to strive for our best."—Publishers Weekly "Willful Blindness is an engaging read, packed with cautionary tales ripped from today’s headlines as well as a trove of research on why we often stick our head in the sand. With deft prose and page after page of keen insights, Heffernan shows why we close our eyes to facts that threaten our families, our livelihood, and our self-image—and, even better, she points the way out of the darkness."—Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind "An intelligent and eye-opening look at the pervasiveness of willful blindness across society. Margaret Heffernan presents overwhelming evidence of the need for mindfulness as part of the cure."—Ellen J. Langer, author of Mindfulness and Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility "Willful Blindness combines compelling anecdotes, insightful interviews, and convincing scientific evidence to confront the mental distortions that conspire to blind us. Heffernan skillfully shows that by questioning the reasons for our actions and beliefs, we can take positive steps to avoid deluding ourselves."—Daniel Simons, coauthor of The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us "Margaret Heffernan is an unblinking observer of what makes us tick in work and life. This is a book that everyone should read with eyes—and minds—wide open!"—Alan M. Webber, author of Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Your Self "Heffernan speaks with a relentlessly constructive voice, brave curiosity, a passion for truth, and the practical mindset of someone who has built and led successful organizations herself. She motivates us to resist our own tendency to ignore the truths around us, and provides the insights and tools for us to empower others to do the same."—Mary C. Gentile, Ph.D., author of Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What’s Right