How We Know What isn't So: Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life Paperback – 26 Apr 1993
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About the Author
Thomas Gilovich is a professor of psychology at Cornell University and author of "The Wisest One in the Room, " "How We Know What Isn t So", " Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes", " and Social Psychology". He lives in Ithaca, New York.
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Top Customer Reviews
It basically gives you a much better insight into some of the things you have probably already noticed (for example, people only seem to notice/value information that confirms what they already think). Aside from the fact that it's a genuinely fascinating area, you might also glean some information that actually helps you in the real world. I was struck by the point that partners tend to notice when their other half does (or doesn't do) something, that causes them pain, but not when the reverse. Hence I will notice if the Mrs doesn't stack the dishwasher, because it annoys me, but won't register when she does do it, so I will tend to take from this that she "never" stacks the dishwasher.
Usefully it also takes the insights from wonky reasoning and applies them to "questionable" beliefs - ESP, 'alternative medicine' etc. And you might learn a bit more about how to tell a good story!
Definitely worth a read. The other book recommended alongside this - Inevitable Illusions - is less good, but also worth a look. It gets into the interesting area of probability (and how bad we are at estimating and understanding it).
Although Gilovich's case studies are interesting (belief in ESP, and belief in extreme forms of "alternative" medicine), it's the theoretic part of the book which really stands out as being of benefit to the reader. Anyone who reads a newspaper, watches the television news, votes or invests in the financial markets ought to take the time to read this book.
Part I of the book opens with an important claim. "Human nature abhors a lack of predictability and the absence of meaning." We tend to see order in the "the often messy data of the real world" where there is none. Part II examines why we might want to hold questionable beliefs, and the role society plays in supporting or promoting those beliefs. Part III looks at several areas in which erroneous beliefs flourish, including the fertile ground of alternative medicine. Finally, in case you were beginning to lose all hope in humanity, Part IV shows "how we might improve the way we evaluate the evidence of everyday life".
Evidence of whatever provenance is important for most people, but one of the major themes of the book - indeed of this whole field of research - is to show how evidence cannot always be neatly bagged and labelled like an exhibit in a court case.Read more ›
This book is an excellent guide on how to critically think about everything that you see and hear in your life. I found the authors section on confirmation bias very useful, as it shows how people almost always approach a subject from a biased view and try to GATHER information to SUPPORT that view without even realising they are being biased.
This book is very important for a contemporary culture that has many influential people, of all age ranges, and all levels of intelligence trying to make people believe the most mindboggling nonsense imaginable.
If you here a theory, it doesn't matter who says it, use your own intelligence to critically analyse it. And remember that many people, refuse to believe theories that are quite sound and by trying to sway public opinion, they attack the person saying the theory rather than looking at what they are saying; this is also known as a smear campaign.
This book is a great start for anyone looking for TRUTH in their life rather than clinging onto any belief like a comfort blanket.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A clear presentation of cognitive biases in human mis-reasoning.But no doubt many humans have a cognitive bias to reject the concept of cognitive bias,so these most in need of... Read morePublished on 10 Mar. 2014 by g.balfour
This should be required reading for all the mystics and soothsayers. I lost my copy of this book from universtiy days and decided to replace it.Published on 10 Aug. 2013 by J Williams
This book reveals our hidden prejudices and inherited myths for what they are. Combinations of inherited survival techniques, our genes and early life habits all go to shape our... Read morePublished on 20 April 2013 by Declan Pritchard
How do we end up knowing things that just aren't so?
The brain is hard-wired to detect order in the nature of things. Read more
As an introduction to sources of bias in our thinking, this book is clear, well written and easy to follow, but breaks no new ground (perhaps due to the fact this book was written... Read morePublished on 30 Nov. 2010 by Neil Carmichael
This book falls under the category of popular psychology, but i like to think it as a general "logic guidline". Read morePublished on 7 Dec. 2009 by George Spiros