Think for Yourself

Restoring Common Sense in an Age of Experts and Artificial Intelligence

Vikram Mansharamani

Harvard Business Review Press, June 2020

We’ve outsourced too much of our thinking. How do we get it back?

At the height of the 2014 Ebola epidemic, a man who had recently returned from West Africa with a fever and severe abdominal pain entered a hospital in Dallas–and was sent home. Even after healthcare workers learned their patient had come from Liberia, ground zero of the Ebola hot zone, not one of those treating him considered the deadly virus as a possible cause of his condition. Shortly after the man died, one of the nurses who had treated him sought clearance from the Centers for Disease Control to board a commercial flight. She reported a fever of 99.5 degrees, but because the protocol restricted travel at 100.4 degrees or higher, she was cleared. She was later confirmed to be infected with Ebola. A public health disaster akin to the one depicted in the movie Contagion was averted, but only by sheer luck.

How could this happen? As Harvard lecturer and global trend watcher Vikram Mansharamani shows in this eye-opening and perspective-shifting book, our complex, data-flooded world has made us ever more reliant on experts, protocols, and technology. We’ve stopped thinking for ourselves. (Have you ever followed your GPS device to a deserted parking lot?) With stark and compelling examples drawn from business, sports, and everyday life, the author illustrates how in a very real sense we have outsourced too much of our thinking, relinquishing our autonomy.

Of course, experts, protocols, and computer-based systems are essential to helping us make informed decisions. What we need is a new approach for integrating these information sources more effectively, harnessing the value they provide without undermining our own autonomy. The author provides principles and techniques for doing just that, empowering readers with a more critical and nuanced approach to making decisions.

Think for Yourself is an indispensable guide for those looking to restore self-reliant thinking in a data-driven and technology-dependent yet overwhelmingly uncertain world.

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About the Author

Dr. Vikram Mansharamani is a global trend-watcher who shows people how to anticipate the future, manage risk, and spot opportunities. He first gained widespread attention with the release of his first book, Boombustology, which provided a framework for spotting bubbles BEFORE they burst. Since then, he has been a frequent commentator on issues driving disruption in the global business environment. His ideas and writings have also appeared in Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, The New York Times and a long list of other publications. The 500 million member Linkedin network listed him as the #1 Top Voice for Money, Finance and Economics for both 2015 and 2016 and Worth Magazine profiled him as one of the 100 most powerful people in global finance. Millions of readers have enjoyed his unique multi-lens approach to connecting seemingly irrelevant dots. He also regularly advises sovereign wealth funds, endowments, foundations, and family offices on how to manage their allocations in the face of overwhelming uncertainty.

Vikram is currently a lecturer at Harvard University, where he teaches a course on systems thinking and how it can be applied to the world’s toughest problems. Previously, he was a Lecturer at Yale University. In addition to teaching, he also advises several Fortune 500 CEOs to help them navigate the radical uncertainty in today’s business and regulatory environment. He has a PhD and two Masters degrees from MIT and a Bachelors degree from Yale University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.