Has Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland been sitting on your reading list? Pick up the key ideas in the book with this quick summary. Human beings are rational beings. Since the Enlightenment in eighteenth-century Europe, this simple fact has been a central assumption of scholars and thinkers and continues to be something we are taught from an early age. This book summary will show you what irrationality entails, how we are irrational in many situations and what we can do to become more rational.
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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland. Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland. Why do doctors, generals, civil servants and others consistently make wrong decisions that cause enormous harm to others? Irrational beliefs and behaviours are virtually universal. In this iconoclastic book Stuart Sutherland analyses causes of irrationality and examines why we are irrational, the different kinds of irrationality, the damage it does us and the possible cure Why do doctors, generals, civil servants and others consistently make wrong decisions that cause enormous harm to others?
In this iconoclastic book Stuart Sutherland analyses causes of irrationality and examines why we are irrational, the different kinds of irrationality, the damage it does us and the possible cures. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages.
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Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Irrationality. Jan 01, Sofia rated it it was ok Shelves: non-fiction. Posted on my blog.
Background: I was given this book by a friend on Christmas, and I started reading it soon afterward, but unfortunately had to stop for a couple of months and just recently finished it. This is unfortunate, since I recall a lot of things I thought about the book while I was reading it, but didn't mark any of the pages for quoting. Oh well. Review: This book in a nutshell: humans can be very irrational at times.
The book goes on to try to explore, explain and offer solutions to th Posted on my blog. The book goes on to try to explore, explain and offer solutions to the various forms of human irrationality, always relying on studies to back up the conclusions.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, it just fell short of what it was trying to do. Be warned. This book was written in , and it shows. I noticed right away some very strange factual errors that, at times, by light of new evidence that has since been gathered, completely defeat the points being given by the author.
I noticed this particularly with medical studies - having been in medical school myself I spotted the, at times, glaring mistakes, which didn't impress me at all. I guess I was using one of the irrational thought processes he described - the "halo effect", which when applied to this, means that when I saw that he was completely wrong in some thing he vehemently defended, it made me look at the rest of his book in a negative light. It probably means this review is tainted by irrationality as well.
I wish I had marked the exact quotes to back up what I'm saying. I recall at least that at some point in the book he goes on and on about how doctors were wrong to think that blood cholesterol levels had anything to do with what you eat, because a study had proven they had no correlation.
This reminded me of all the smokers who will quote one study that says that smoking is not bad for you at all and has nothing to do with lung cancer. Let's not ignore the rest of the studies who say otherwise. I also had a problem with the tone of this book. It was too patronizing, and the author seemed to have personal vendettas against some members of society, namely feminists, members of the medical profession, and psychologists who do social experiments.
There were some positive aspects to it, and I found a few pearls of wisdom, but overall, the book was simply not worth it. What's Next: If anything, reading this book made me wish there was a better one on the subject that I could read.
View all 8 comments. This is a catalogue of wrong thinking: inconsistency, misinterpretation, false inferences, distortion, overconfidence, conforming to the general opinion, obeying authoritative figures and making bad bets.
We form instant impressions and then only look for the evidence that will support our view, we suffer from availability error, meaning that we give more weight to the dramatic and memorable, or the most recent, and ignore the less exciting evidence, and after reading the chapter on reward and p This is a catalogue of wrong thinking: inconsistency, misinterpretation, false inferences, distortion, overconfidence, conforming to the general opinion, obeying authoritative figures and making bad bets.
We form instant impressions and then only look for the evidence that will support our view, we suffer from availability error, meaning that we give more weight to the dramatic and memorable, or the most recent, and ignore the less exciting evidence, and after reading the chapter on reward and punishment, you begin to wonder how any kind of education has ever worked at all.
What always fascinates me about books like this is the ingenuity of psychologists in devising experiments that will expose the specific ways how our minds work. The only slight irritation was the 'raised finger' approach that Mr Sutherland takes. But it's just how we function. Unstoppable, like the glaciers. View 1 comment. Mar 24, Orestes rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Anyone who wishes to learn to make better judgements and thus to take better decisions.
Shelves: interesting , non-fiction , economics , psychology. This book shows a number of psychological biases during human assessment of reality which, the author claims, moves us away from taken optimal decisions.
It does so by means of captivating and many times funny examples, mainly drawn from psychological experiments, but also from interesting historical events and common behavior. The author is competent in explaining each type of irrational behavior, but the book lacks a global perspective. The instances of irrational behavior introduced in the boo This book shows a number of psychological biases during human assessment of reality which, the author claims, moves us away from taken optimal decisions.
The instances of irrational behavior introduced in the book could be classified into three categories: psychological biases, sociological base biases and biases due to the lack of knowledge. I think that a book whose main purpose is to inform should be written in a way to help the reader get an overall idea of the main topics explained.
This book lacks such structure. A complementary negative effect of this decision is that when every single instance of irrational behavior is isolated, it is more difficult to explain the causes of the behavior. In the last chapter the author dares to approach this issue, but at that point he can only relate single causes with single instances of behavior, missing the whole picture again.
This book deals with irrationality so the author begins describing what we should understand from that word. I would not apply that word to many instances of behavior in the book.
For example, I find that the behavior based on sociological factors is not irrational. Rather it responds, most of the time unconsciously to social incentives.
It is important to observe how they are affecting us, but I would not say that it is irrational. However, the name we attach to this behavior is not as important as its identification. I myself find important that for all of us the word irrationality to mean the same so that semantic conflicts could be avoided, but it is far more important to identify all these different type of behavior to get conscience about ourselves, whether this is irrational or not.
And nevertheless, I gave it four stars out of five. The issues this book handles are essential for a better individual life and a better social engagement. They show us some biases that make our judgement poorer, and therefore our decisions. And we know so little! I would like these issues to be treated in schools so people could grow up taking better decisions.
If each person recognizes that he or she may be wrong because of some of the reasons outlined throughout the book, it might be that we could live in better harmony with each other. This is not a treatise on human irrationality, but it is an entertaining, funny and very valuable array of examples that everybody should be more conscious of.
May 13, Tim rated it liked it. Just enjoyed, with qualifications, Stuart Sutherland's Irrationality, which I'd had sitting on my Amazon wishlist for ages and irrationally not got around to buying. It's a very enjoyable and robust exhortation to increase the rigour of our thinking, while acknowledging all the many reasons why that's extremely difficult. His enthusiasm for actuarial methods of decisionmaking is inspiring in some cases, but unconvincing in others, particularly the ones where he's forced to admit that in quite a Just enjoyed, with qualifications, Stuart Sutherland's Irrationality, which I'd had sitting on my Amazon wishlist for ages and irrationally not got around to buying.
His enthusiasm for actuarial methods of decisionmaking is inspiring in some cases, but unconvincing in others, particularly the ones where he's forced to admit that in quite a few circumstances the more rigorous methods can't be shown to be more effective than more intuitive ones. A few of his choices of examples perhaps deliberately throw rather sharply into relief why statistical methods of decision might be a bit too heartless to be likely to be used for instance, he thinks it would be great if older pregnant women could use probability calculations to decide whether to abort a foetus with Down's syndrome - which perhaps it would, but I suspect it's kind of hard to think about it in quite that way if you're the woman in question.
All in all, recommended. This is the first pop science book on rationality I ever read, and it made a great impression on me. Of course, this is now more than twenty years old the first edition dates from , and probably nowadays there are many eqivalent books, but this one gives a good overview of many common pitfalls in decision making, illustrating many cognitive biases: from selective evidence, to overconfidence and ignoring or misinterpreting evidence.
Irrationality: The Enemy Within by Stuart Sutherland (1992)
The implicit premise behind this column is that, each week, I say in effect: "Have a look at this, it's well worth reading. First published in , Irrationality proposes, and to any reasonable mind proves, that we are for the most part credulous fools who would do well, in most circumstances, to stop and think before we go and do something stupid; for stupid things are what we often end up doing, however much we congratulate ourselves on being rational animals. The book's conclusions would appear to be just as valid in as they were 15 years ago. Not that it is actually grim or depressing. Idiocy is, after all, funny, and the late Stuart Sutherland, despite or perhaps because of having been professor of psychology at Sussex University, had an eye for the absurdities to which we subject ourselves. There are few books about psychology that can make you laugh out loud; this is one of them. Take one familiar example: "Almost everyone reading these pages will at some time have paid money to see a bad film or a bad play.
Reason to be cheerful
The only way to substantiate a belief is to try to disprove it. Irrationality: The Enemy Within page Sutherland was 65 when he wrote this book, and nearing the end of a prestigious career in psychology research. By the end of the book, Sutherland claims to have defined and demonstrated over distinct cognitive errors humans are prone to p. They reminded me of the lists of weird and wonderful Christian heresies I was familiar with from years of of reading early Christians history. I have witnessed at first hand the utter irrationality of small and medium-sized children; and I have seen so many examples of corporate conformity, the avoidance of embarrassment, unwillingness to speak up, deferral to authority, and general mismanagement in the civil service that, upon rereading the book, hardly any of it came as a surprise.