Customer Review

124 of 131 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading - Changes your way of thinking, 24 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Irrationality (Paperback)
On reading this book you are a presented with everyday problems and the simply irrational way we make decisions- from leaving the cinema to international travel. This non-technical tale provokes thinking in a way that does not confuse the reader, but keeps them enthralled throughout- always wanting to read the next section.

To give you an idea- here is one of the simple irrationalities presented to us- You've paid to go and see a film, but don't like it- do you leave early? Whilst most people would say no, this book tempts us to say yes and shows us that this the logical way to do things. Essentially do we waste our time and money (and stay in the cinema) or just our money? Surely we should cut our losses and leave, but irrationality shows that in fact we don't we stick around in a way that shows our poor decision making.

Overall, irrationality presents solid arguments in a way thats easy to understand. A fantastic book.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Aug 2008 13:12:00 BDT
L.B. says:
I haven't read this book yet, but the argument that one should ditch the film halfway through doesn't hold much water with me, because there is always the CHANCE that

1) it may improve by the end, or
2) something which disgusted you may be proven to be a satire or a pretence

For example, I read John Buchan's THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS recently, and was dismayed to find an argument in the first chapter that "the Jew" was behind World War One. According to one character, this was the "true" cause of the global conflict.

I *could* have ditched the book at that point, under the "at least I save my time" argument, and gone through my life thinking that Buchan was a horrible anti-Semite. Instead, I read on, and found out later that when the character blamed "the Jew" for WWI, he was clearly lying. The character was using a scapegoat to conceal his real intentions.

So Buchan certainly did NOT endorse blaming "the Jew" for WWI... But I'd never have discovered that, had I not read the book all the way through.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Nov 2008 18:01:39 GMT
Austenite says:
Sometimes you just know right away that something is not right for you and there is no point in hanging around - not just with a film but with anything. If, despite the argument in the 39 steps which you disliked, you kept reading then there was something else that interested you and kept you involved. I went to see what I thought was a thriller/detective movie with some friends and realised that I had made a mistake as it was a 'horror' (which I hate) - I stayed till the end and wasted my time - not to mention the sleepless night!

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Mar 2009 10:51:29 GMT
 says:
I agree entirely with ThreeOranges! I read a review of An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears a few minutes ago where the reviewer stopped reading it because it appeared to be telling the same story four times over. It is an absolutely brilliant book, and you don't appreciate how brilliant it is until you have read part four!

So many people these days are prepared to give up if they don't get instant gratification! Should nobody read Shakespeare because they don't understand the third word in the first speech? Are the (real) sciences not rewarding only after you have put in a lot of effort? I totally repudiate the argument of this example!

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Sep 2009 22:35:34 BDT
Last edited by the author on 28 Sep 2009 23:07:18 BDT
I couldn't help noticing a small flaw in ThreeOranges' thinking here. In highlighting it, I risk the accusation of pedantry as it is a little beside the point you're making but I think it is relevant to the overall theme of irrationality. You seem to be assuming that a novelist shares the same opinions as that of their characters ('I could have ditched the book at that point...thinking that Buchan was a horrible anti-Semite"). However, a novel is, by definition, a work of imagination, and imagination allows us to entertain alternative points of view without necessarily agreeing with them. While I accept that a character's opinion might cause the reader offence, the reader should be aware that what that character believes is not necessarily the same as what their author believes, no matter how sympathetically they might be portrayed.
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