Don't Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in Life (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

For those of you who loved Everybody Lies, the always entertaining Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has written a self-help book that uses not psychological theory, not meditation, nor endless arbitrary stories, but data to help you get what you want. Whether you want to pick the best partner, get the most fulfilling job, raise the best children (including pushing them into sports with the best scholarship payback), Don’t Trust Your Gut is the book for you. If you’re dating, it turns out you might look better in glasses. Check the data! My only beef? In rating which activities make you the happiest, reading does very poorly, but I noticed that the data does not distinguish between reading for work or school and reading for pleasure. Ridiculous! But I believe everything else.

— Daniel Goldin

Gigantic databases and analytical techniques that didn’t exist 10+ years ago (internet usage data, iPhone-based research, artificial intelligence algorithms) are now providing surprising, non-intuitive conclusions about ourselves. Subjects include online dating success, marital satisfaction, nature vs nurture in parenting, athletic success, drivers of wealth, and what makes us happy. A must-read for online daters, couples on the verge of marriage, and folks thinking of opening a business. And strongly recommended for everyone else!

— Kay Wosewick


"Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is more than a data scientist. He is a prophet for how to use the data revolution to reimagine your life. Don’t Trust Your Gut is a tour de force—an intoxicating blend of analysis, humor, and humanity.” — Daniel H. Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author of When, Drive, and To Sell Is Human

Big decisions are hard. We consult friends and family, make sense of confusing “expert” advice online, maybe we read a self-help book to guide us. In the end, we usually just do what feels right, pursuing high stakes self-improvement—such as who we marry, how to date, where to live, what makes us happy—based solely on what our gut instinct tells us. But what if our gut is wrong? Biased, unpredictable, and misinformed, our gut, it turns out, is not all that reliable. And data can prove this.

In Don’t Trust Your Gut, economist, former Google data scientist, and New York Times bestselling author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz reveals just how wrong we really are when it comes to improving our own lives. In the past decade, scholars have mined enormous datasets to find remarkable new approaches to life’s biggest self-help puzzles. Data from hundreds of thousands of dating profiles have revealed surprising successful strategies to get a date; data from hundreds of millions of tax records have uncovered the best places to raise children; data from millions of career trajectories have found previously unknown reasons why some rise to the top.

Telling fascinating, unexpected stories with these numbers and the latest big data research, Stephens-Davidowitz exposes that, while we often think we know how to better ourselves, the numbers disagree. Hard facts and figures consistently contradict our instincts and demonstrate self-help that actually works—whether it involves the best time in life to start a business or how happy it actually makes us to skip a friend’s birthday party for a night of Netflix on the couch. From the boring careers that produce the most wealth, to the old-school, data-backed relationship advice so well-worn it’s become a literal joke, he unearths the startling conclusions that the right data can teach us about who we are and what will make our lives better.

Lively, engrossing, and provocative, the end result opens up a new world of self-improvement made possible with massive troves of data. Packed with fresh, entertaining insights, Don’t Trust Your Gut redefines how to tackle our most consequential choices, one that hacks the market inefficiencies of life and leads us to make smarter decisions about how to improve our lives. Because in the end, the numbers don’t lie.

About the Author

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is a contributing op-ed writer for the New York Times, a lecturer at The Wharton School, and a former Google data scientist. He received a BA from Stanford and a PhD from Harvard. His research has appeared in the Journal of Public Economics and other prestigious publications. He lives in New York City.

Praise For…

"Stephens-Davidowitz maintains a breezy, conversational style that lends a lighthearted touch to all the wonkery. Whether confirming or debunking conventional wisdom, the smooth presentation and quantitative detail bring a welcome analytical rigor to the self-help genre." — Publishers Weekly

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is more than a data scientist. He is a prophet for how to use the data revolution to reimagine your life. Don’t Trust Your Gut is a tour de force—an intoxicating blend of analysis, humor, and humanity. — Daniel H. Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author of When, Drive, and To Sell Is Human

"This must-read book is packed with helpful discoveries you can use to improve your life, and each is grounded in data. It’s also a page-turner—Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is a smart, witty writer with an extraordinary ability to make charts and statistics engrossing." — Katherine Milkman, author of How to Change

"There are two ways to look at big data: as a threat to your intuition or as a resource to test your intuition. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is an expert on data-driven thinking, and this engaging book is full of surprising, useful insights for using the information at your fingertips to make better decisions." — Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and host of the TED podcast WorkLife  

"How can you look your best? Who should you marry? What makes a good parent? Are you too old to start a business? How can you get rich? What would make you happy? Would you read a book that helps you answer even one of these questions? Seth Stephens-Davidowitz delivers: a cross between Freakonomics and How to Win Friends and Influence People, Don’t Trust Your Gut is your guide for reliable data-driven hacks to get an edge in life." — Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group

"Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s book is a brilliant and clever look into the critical importance of making data-informed decisions for a data-first organization. His truly game-changing approach provided a pivotal moment for me as a leader and his insightful yet humorous writing style is sure to do the same for many others." — Mindy Grossman, CEO of Weight Watchers

I love the way Seth Stephens-Davidowitz explains how we can better live our lives by exploiting the small advantages in life. On the basketball court, I made a career out of finding these types of minor advantages, and I’ve found that most successful individuals in life value the accumulation of small advantages. In the end, they add up to significant life benefits. — Shane Battier, two-time NBA Champion basketball player for the Miami Heat

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062880925
ISBN-10: 0062880926
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Publication Date: May 9th, 2023
Pages: 320
Language: English