51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Please don't pass this most fascinating book by - almost the instruction manual to avoiding life's greatest errors.,
This review is from: You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourse (Hardcover)Please ignore the fact that this book's title is suspiciously patronising, and instead try being open to the great wealth of possibilities this book offers as a compelling and most readable guide to the sheer irrationality of much human thinking. As you read each small yet satisfyingly complete chapter you'll find an error of rationality outlined, then the author uses facts and real life examples to show how you, too, are quite possibly not so dissimilar from your fellow humans, in at least some (but hopefully not all!) respects. For instance, in every great disaster, there will be people who appear to be stunned into just sitting in their seats (be it a plane crash, train derailment etc.) while others are screaming and running for the nearest escape route as soon as possible. Meanwhile, those who remain seated while being stunned into calm bewilderment, and yes, most extraordinarily this has happened time and time again in all kinds of major disasters - from the Titanic's sinking, to that fateful post millennial day in September... will invariably not live to tell the tale of what happened. Survivors later recount bizarre tales of how not everyone was panicking, as you might reasonably assume, and trying to escape as fast as possible. Instead, contrary to reason, those who remained in calm bewilderment were not only victims of fate but of what psychologists have come to term 'normalcy bias': The temporary but possibly fateful inability of reasoning whereby one judges extreme and potentially catastrophic situations, as being normal, while one's extreme state of confusion persists.
Some reviewers have criticised the author for not giving enough solutions to counter the errors of reasoning described herein, but that is quite unfair, in that once the error is sufficiently explained and exemplified, surely it's up to you as to how you wish to change yourself so as to avoid the described errors when life presents similar situations to you? Another minor criticism is that some of the ways you've been acting contrary to reason, have been widely presented and expanded upon in other similar texts - such as the 'bystander effect', 'the argument from authority' and 'the halo effect'. Still others - such as 'Apophenia' and the 'Dunning-Kruger' effect - were, I must confess, newly elucidated to me at the time of reading. Nonetheless, this book remains all engrossing and by that I mean it is a compellingly wholesome read. I liked too that the author takes time to describe many lesser related terms when describing a primary deficiency of reasoning. For example, on discussing the irrationality of 'brand loyalty', he mentions the feeling of 'post decisional dissonance' that is, on buying an item and worrying later whether you could have better spent your money. Now how many of us have bought something we longed for only to wonder later whether we were wise at all to do so? At least we've now got a term to comfort ourselves with, in knowing we're not alone in our contained state of madness. LOL
In conclusion, this is quite unquestionably, a five star book, and will appeal to anyone who loves learning and dabbling in the fruits of recent psychological research. Albeit, it is not presented as a psychology manual per se; yet it very much manages to capture the best of recent academic scientific and psychological research in a delightfully succinct manner. So, even if... you're still veering on perfection, on reading this book you'll at least be able to understand why so many others around you are not as rational as you, and moreover, why!
Lastly, if you've not read them already, I must very much recommend at least three other brilliantly inspired books which are similar to this one in subject matter: Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness, secondly Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisionsand also most recently the most excellent Thinking, Fast and Slow.