Streetlights and Shadows- Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making

Written by Greg Ellifritz

Topics: Book Reviews

  • SumoMe

Written by Greg Ellifritz




The book Streetlights and Shadows highlights author Gary Klein’s research on decision making.  This research is especially important for police officers or citizens who carry concealed firearms.  Those groups of people are forced to make life-altering decisions under the most intense stress possible.  Every bit of guidance is useful in this context.


Klein discusses which decision-making scenarios require logical analysis and which are more geared toward using intuition.  He provides dozens of examples of each from his research and consulting practice.


He also attempts to provide guidelines about which decision-making guideline work for each group.  He does this by covering 10 different decision making myths…common beliefs about the decision making process that research has dispelled.  The 10 myths (paraphrased) are:


1) Teaching people procedures helps them perform better

2) Biases distort our thinking

3) The best decision making process involves listing all possible options and choosing the best one

4) We can reduce uncertainty by gathering more information

5) It’s bad to jump to conclusions

6) People need feedback to learn

7) Drawing inferences from data helps us make sense of the problem

8) The best starting point for any decision is generating a clear description of the goal

9) We will make better decisions if we identify big risks and eliminate them

10) Leaders can create common ground by setting up ground rules and defining roles before decisions are made.


Klein wrote a chapter about each myth, detailing why research has proven the assumption wrong.  If you believe any of the above statements are universally true, you need to read this book!


Even if you already know about all of the myths I listed above, the book will still improve your knowledge of the decision making process and help you to identify some of the logical errors in your own thought processes.  It’s a very easy read that combines scientific research with real world problems in such a way that the reader is drawn in…not left in the realm of abject boredom like many other research books.


Pick it up.  I think you’ll find it valuable.



Streetlights and Shadows is available at



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