Cass R. Sunstein

discusses

Wiser:
Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter

and

Valuing Life:
Humanizing the Regulatory State

THIS EVENT IS PROCEEDING AS SCHEDULED

This event includes a book signing

Date

Jan
26
Monday
January 26, 2015
8:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Updated: Despite the upcoming the storm, we're pleased to announce this event is proceeding as scheduled.

Harvard Book Store welcomes CASS R. SUNSTEIN, Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard University, for a discussion of his latest books, Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter and Valuing Life: Humanizing the Regulatory State.

On Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter

Since the beginning of human history, people have made decisions in groups—first in families and villages, and now as part of companies, governments, school boards, religious organizations, or any one of countless other groups. And having more than one person to help decide is good because the group benefits from the collective knowledge of all of its members, and this results in better decisions. Right?

Back to reality. We’ve all been involved in group decisions—and they’re hard. And they often turn out badly. Why? Many blame bad decisions on “groupthink” without a clear idea of what that term really means.

Now, Nudge coauthor Cass Sunstein and leading decision-making scholar Reid Hastie shed light on the specifics of why and how group decisions go wrong—and offer tactics and lessons to help leaders avoid the pitfalls and reach better outcomes. In the first part of the book, they explain in clear and fascinating detail the distinct problems groups run into:

• They often amplify, rather than correct, individual errors in judgment
• They fall victim to cascade effects, as members follow what others say or do
• They become polarized, adopting more extreme positions than the ones they began with
• They emphasize what everybody knows instead of focusing on critical information that only a few people know

In the second part of the book, the authors turn to straightforward methods and advice for making groups smarter. These approaches include silencing the leader so that the views of other group members can surface, rethinking rewards and incentives to encourage people to reveal their own knowledge, thoughtfully assigning roles that are aligned with people’s unique strengths, and more.

With examples from a broad range of organizations—from Google to the CIA—and written in an engaging and witty style, Wiser will not only enlighten you; it will help your team and your organization make better decisions—decisions that lead to greater success.

On Valuing Life: Humanizing the Regulatory State

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is the United States’s regulatory overseer. In Valuing Life, Cass R. Sunstein draws on his firsthand experience as the Administrator of OIRA from 2009 to 2012 to argue that we can humanize regulation—and save lives in the process.

As OIRA Administrator, Sunstein helped oversee regulation in a broad variety of areas, including highway safety, health care, homeland security, immigration, energy, environmental protection, and education. This background allows him to describe OIRA and how it works—and how it can work better—from an on-the-ground perspective. Using real-world examples, many of them drawn from today’s headlines, Sunstein makes a compelling case for improving cost-benefit analysis, a longtime cornerstone of regulatory decision-making, and for taking account of variables that are hard to quantify, such as dignity and personal privacy. He also shows how regulatory decisions about health, safety, and life itself can benefit from taking into account behavioral and psychological research, including new findings about what scares us, and what does not. By better accounting for people’s fallibility, Sunstein argues, we can create regulation that is simultaneously more human and more likely to achieve its goals.

In this highly readable synthesis of insights from law, policy, economics, and psychology, Sunstein breaks down the intricacies of the regulatory system and offers a new way of thinking about regulation that incorporates human dignity—and an insistent focus on the consequences of our choices.

Cass R. Sunstein
Cass R. Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein is currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. In 2019, he won the Norwegian government's Holberg Prize, frequently described as the Nobel Prize for law, philosophy, and the humanities. During the Obama Administration, he led the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and so helped oversee environmental, civil rights, labor, and immigration policy. He is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School. Mr. Sunstein has testified before congressional committees on many subjects, and he has been involved in constitution-making and law reform activities in a number of nations. He is the author of many books, including Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (with Richard H. Thaler, 2008), On Freedom (2019), and How Change Happens (2019).

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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