Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bozo Sapiens: Why to Err is Human” as Want to Read:
Bozo Sapiens: Why to Err is Human
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bozo Sapiens: Why to Err is Human

3.3 of 5 stars 3.30  ·  rating details  ·  181 ratings  ·  63 reviews
A dazzling new work of popular science and psychology for readers who enjoyed Blink, Stumbling on Happiness, or The Black Swan.

The New York Times called the Kaplans’ look at probability in everyday life, Chances Are..., “a dizzying, exhilarating ride.” Now they take readers on a new fun-house tour—exploring the burgeoning science of why humans make mistakes.
Our species, i
...more
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Bloomsbury Press
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bozo Sapiens, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bozo Sapiens

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 585)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Cheryl
Done. Read it very carefully and slowly; tried hard to make sure I was understanding the authors' arguments closely. Again, it boils down to "look at all the ways humans can err, but hey, sometimes it's a good thing we do because of stuff like serendipity, and besides we might make bad errors and good decisions more frequently if we realize that there are no absolutes or guarantees and we remain flexible & ready to own up to errors."

But the book is a mess, despite the chapter introductions,
...more
Trevor
The book: "Hey, people do illogical stuff sometimes. I'm not going to say why or make a point, but people sure do dumb stuff. Isn't that neat?"

No point to the book. Could have been saved if it had at least been funny, but it wasn't. Just scientific study after study about being illogical without ever really making a point about why, or what it means, or how the studies are related.
Jeff Williams
I love this topic and I've read and I own a dozen books on this topic. I read 20-30 nonfiction science books a year. Cognitive Bias is an amazing topic. Too bad the author simply can't write.

This is the second book I've started and been unable to read by the Kaplans. Dry, disorganized, pretentious. They take 5 sentences when one would do fine. There is no organization of topics, the prose is awful. If you're going to rehash all of the research that's been done on this topic, at least do it coher
...more
Rod Hilton
Bozo Sapiens bills itself as a book that is about the science behind the many ways that humans make mistakes. Unfortunately, what it turns out to actually be is a random collection of somewhat interesting stories and studies about human beings and the brain.

None of the chapters in the book are particularly BAD - no claims are made that aren't backed up by some studies. It's not that it is scientifically weak, it is that it is thematically disjoint. The authors jump from random topic to random t
...more
John

Wonderful, wonderful title (in a recent interview I was asked if I'd ever buy a book on the basis of title alone, and I said no, of course not, but I'd forgotten about this one); a shame about the actual book, really. What the Kaplans set out to do is explain the science behind why, individually and as a species, we're capable of such godawful stupidity: in the largest and wealthiest democracy in the world, there are people who in a few weeks' time will vote for someone who thinks scientists are
...more
Dave
May 14, 2010 Dave rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in why we make mistakes
Shelves: non-fiction-read
Another interesting book on human error and groupness with evolutionary explanations. This book reminds me of Laurence Gonzales' "Everyday Survival: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things", covering similar territory from a slightly different perspective using some of the same and some different anecdotes. The book raises some more interesting issues related to learning and friendship that endures despite disparate opinions and worldviews. Bozo Sapiens also shares concepts and anecdotes with Joseph H ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
I suppose this book would be considered loosely sociological in nature. It was just terrible. Not only did they openly bash my poor LDS parents (well the whole church in general) but the logic behind the organization of the work was ill formed. There was no real "backbone" to the book. It just meandered around basic complaints about the nature of our own humanity. The anecdotes were ones that any student has heard a thousand times in their sociology or psychology classes. I just didn't see the p ...more
Rebecca
I was so excited when I got this book because it looked so interesting, according to the description. I ended up only being able to read 50 pages of this book. The whole thing was way over my head and was written like abunch of small case histories. None of them flowed together leaving the reader to guess what the author was getting at. I am not going to finish the book. It felt like reading a book for college and not casual reading.
Virginia
I received Bozo Sapiens through Good Reads giveaways. The title of the book made the book appear interesting. Unfortunately, that is where the interesting part left off. The book itself was a dry, if not chaotic, collection of studies on the human brain and illustrations to prove the authors point. I did not finish reading this one, as I just couldn't force myself to do it.
J. Ewbank
Certainly not religious, but this book by mother and son is interesting anyway. The title made me pick it up from the store and got me started. The book looked like it would be a quick, easy read from the title and the banana peel on the cover, but it was not a quick read because there was a lot of scientific studies packed within. It was an informative read and now when I make a mistake I can say, "I am wired in my brain to make that mistake, it's not me."

J. Robert Ewbank author "John Wesley, N
...more
Tom
KCPL: due 2009.1219

"The statistician William Cochran complained that scientists always came to him saying, 'I want to do an experiment to show that...' -- a phrase that would have made Bacon shudder. It's like saying, 'We'll have a trial to prove him guilty." Just as the ideal judge presumes innocence (because there are so many more ways to be innocent than guilty), the ideal sceintist should presume that any given explanation is likely to be false -- because there are so many more ways for rand
...more
Michael T.
I expected this to be a bit of a Darwin Awards style diversion. Just a bit of fun, & a chance to make fun of stupid people. Turns out it was much more deep and insightful in terms of how we, as humans (Homo Sapiens Sapiens), perceive, and more to the point, mis-perceive the world around us. How the human brain, in order to function effectively, actually limits our perceptions in order to make the most probable guesses as to which course of action will result in survival, or at least benefits ...more
Kevin Schmidt
I received "Bozo Sapiens: Why to Err is Human" from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway, and though I haven't finished the book yet I wanted to acknowledge this fact. This is my first win, and I was convinced to enter giveaways by my girlfriend who won an advance copy of China Mieville's novel "Kraken". Thanks again, First Reads, and my review will follow soon!
--------------
Having finally finished "Bozo Sapiens", I can now say that I found the book to be informative, entertaining, and insightful. C
...more
Richard Thompson
From the inside of the book jacket: “ Our species, it appears is hardwired to get things wrong in a myriad of different ways. Why did recipients of a loan offer accept a higher interest rate when a pretty woman’s face was printed on the flyer? Why did one poll on immigration find that the most despised foreigners were ones from a group that did not exist? What made four ace fighter pilots frly their planes, in formation, straight into the ground? Why does giving someone power make him more likel ...more
Alice
This was an interesting read, and gave a lot of insight into how the mind worked, and how instinct works against us in many ways. It was a quick read because of the interesting subject matter.

Two complaints: first, some of the examples in the book were to illustrate the principles they were discussing. They asked questions people commonly get "wrong," or at least choose the least logical response. While examples are useful when speaking of something so hazy as how thought works, it got frustrati
...more
Dionisia
Dec 17, 2009 Dionisia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dionisia by: Bloomsbury
I received this book for free via the Goodreads First Reads program.

Bozo Sapiens was surprisingly dense, but don't let that discourage you! I found it both interesting and engaging. The authors included so many fascinating studies of human behavior and brain function. Our brain is "wired" in such a way that errors are inevitable. So don't beat yourself up so much when you make a mistake or two. It's natural! Two things I found especially interesting were bonnet syndrome and sine-wave speech (I w
...more
Hilary
Bozo Sapiens was very fun. With "Why to Err is Human" in the title I expected something a little more technical and negative toward humanity. It wasn't like that at all. Instead of giving technical explanations about how the brain works, the book gave me lots of everyday scenarios about why we do the things we do. I especially enjoyed a section early on in the book that talked about how seeing and hearing are believing; I am going to butcher the delivery, but it cited a study in which a subject ...more
Sara
I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.

Bozo Sapiens was an interesting book that couldn’t decide how deeply to delve into its subject matter. I felt like the first few chapters were more densely informational, while later chapters gave their focus a superficial treatment. I came away from this with a lot of sound bites and factoids, but I feel a deeper understanding of the human brain has escaped me. I am curious to do further reading on this subject, although
...more
Terence
Sep 06, 2010 Terence rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: Won in a GR giveaway
___________________________________
I won this in a GR giveaway, huzzah, huzzah!

Part of the "price" is that they'd like me to review it when I'm done. Since I've tried to review every book I read since joining GR that's a small price to pay.

It'll have to wait, however, until I'm done with Empires and Barbarians.
____________________________________

Bozo Sapiens isn’t bad but it isn’t very interesting. That’s not because the topics aren’t interesting, and it’s not because there aren’t factoids of in
...more
Cindy
First of all - nice title. I probably wouldn't have picked it up if not for the title.

As the subtitle suggests, this is an attempt to explain human behavior, especially DUMB human behavior. Why do we take so many risks? Why do we procrastinate? Overeat? Cheat on spouses? Fall for get-rich-quick schemes? Succumb to mob mentality? There are a lot of reasons, but most of them have to do with the brain.

I enjoyed this book. The part about economics was interesting, in light of the current recession a
...more
Dan
Dry read that goes through the typical errors every person makes, both from a cognitive and a sensory perspective. It explains why those errors occur and sometimes makes a case that it is necessary to err.

Doesn't offer any input on how to detect or prevent these errors from happening.
The book is just information without purpose. Couldn't tell what the point, if any, the authors were trying to make other than to state the obvious: "People make mistakes."
Neil
This book was not the light read I was expecting. That isn't to say that I didn't enjoy it - I did and I learned a great deal - but I was expecting the Daily Show and instead got tuned into CNN. Once I got used to the tone it turned out to be very interesting.

One of the main things I took away from the book was that the way humans interpret the world depends a great deal on the way they expect the world to behave. From the way we parse visual information to the way we find meaning in the most ra
...more
Helen
This book is not the easy layman's romp through evolutionary and social psychology that its cover promises it to be- Bozo Sapiens is cluttered with obscure references to philosophy, history, and literature, which only tangentially enrich the arguments they are intended to support. I think the Kaplans tried to cover too many topics using too many examples- I personally would have preferred a book that investigated these issues in a more vertical than horizontal manner.


That being said..... Bozo Sa
...more
Dan
Aug 08, 2010 Dan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Dan by: Amy L. Campbell
Shelves: first-reads
This is a must-read.

I knew this book was going to be a must-read not even halfway through the second chapter; it's that good. The writing is engaging, with lots of humor. The topics are fascinating and the angles they approach them from novel and interesting. There wasn't a single sentence in this book that I didn't like, and I learned quite a bit.

The reading level may be a bit high for a general audience, unfortunately, but if you can parse the various scientific names for parts of the brain as
...more
Doug Lambeth
"Bozo Sapiens" (which I won on a Goodreads giveaway) is one of those books that makes you smack yourself on the forehead and say to yourself, "So that's why I'm such an idiot!" I found it wonderfully reassuring to learn that many of our weird actions and mistake-prone knucklehead moments are a function of hard-wired behavioral (and survival) instincts rather than just personal Bozo-osity. This book is very witty--along with its meaty scientific content it's incredibly funny and droll, which is a ...more
Ryan Mac
I won this book on a Goodreads giveaway (thank you Goodreads!). This book was interesting but could have been put together better. In certain parts of the book, especially the first couple of chapters, the authors seemed to jump around quite a bit. They covered a lot of ground but it had some flow issues.

On the plus side, I did learn several interesting facts about how the brain works and how humans interact with each other. The authors did a very good job with giving examples and boiling down t
...more
Jesse Winslow
It took me a long time to pick through this book, but it was well worth it. Maybe, since I've recently read a couple books on a similar subject, I did not find this book to be too revealing. I did absolutely love the chapter On of Us. What a timely bit of writing! This chapter alone should be read by everyone in the world. It summarizes something I've been thinking for a long time, that anyone can put differences aside, no matter how great, for the common good. Not an earth-shattering concept, ...more
Diane Pollock
The science of stupidity!
There is much in this book that can be applied to everyday life to make yourself less prone to error, but much also that shows that error is inevitable. I loved the chapters exploring our nature through comparisons with other primates and sociological studies. The first few chapters that dealt more with philosophical issues and logical fallicies were more difficult to slog through, but well worth it for the treaures to come! I would recommend leading off with a more acc
...more
Eve
The beginning was a tad dry, but the further I read, the more I became interested. The author makes a lot of good points, and I often caught myself nodding in agreement. Though I'm not one for non-fiction, usually, I am interested in the sociological aspects of humanity. To have an explanation as to why women feel guilt more than men, or why we value versatility in everyone except those officials we're trying to elect, is somewhat comforting. It's a nice, steady read, and I'd recommend it to any ...more
Jlhuyser
great title! Unfortunately, the wit of the title didn't carry through the book. Plodded through it because I was hoping for something useful, but never got it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 19 20 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Impulse Factor: Why Some of Us Play It Safe and Others Risk It All
  • Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us and How to Know When Not to Trust Them
  • The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Reborn
  • The Last Leaf: Voices of History's Last-Known Survivors
  • From Old Notebooks
  • Butterfly Economics A New General Theory Of Social And Economic Behavior
  • The Doctors' Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignac Semmelweis
  • Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Foods
  • The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations
  • Flipnosis: The Art of Split-Second Persuasion
  • Precious
  • Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail - and Why We Believe Them Anyway
  • Golden Gate: The Life and Times of America's Greatest Bridge‎
  • Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk
  • Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850
  • The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind
  • Hunger: An Unnatural History
  • The Art of War for Spiritual Battle: Essential Tactics and Strategies for Spiritual Warfare
Michael Kaplan is a writer and filmmaker. He holds an undergraduate and Master's degrees in History from Harvard University. He finished graduate studies at the University of Oxford.

He is the co-author alongside his mother, Ellen Kaplan, of the Bozo Sapiens Why to Err Is Human and Chances Are... Adventures in Probability.
He is currenlt a managing partner of Prospero, (a communications company wi
...more
More about Michael Kaplan...
Chances Are . . .: Adventures in Probability Aces and Kings: Inside Stories and Million-Dollar Strategies from Poker's Greatest Players Tattoo World The Best Time to Do Everything Buried Mistakes

Share This Book

“If you fret that the world grows short of genuine wonders, consider this: the most complex lump of matter in the universe. It works in ways we can only guess at. THrough generations of intense study, scientists have at last come to understand some of its local mechanism, but the connection between local and general remains for them, as for the rest of us, a matter of arm-waving speculation--we know less about what's going on inside of it than we do about the functional structure of the most distant galaxies. It weighs a little over three pounds and is the consistency of toothpaste; you're carrying it between your ears.” 1 likes
“Hearing may make shorter intuitive leaps than sight, but it too is subject to illusions. The most pleasant of these are 'mondegreens,' named by the author Sylvia Wright from her youthful mishearing of the Scottish ballad that actually says, 'They hae slain the Earl o' Moray / and they layd him on the green'--not, alas, 'the Lady Mondegreen.' Children, with their relaxed expectations for logic, are a rich source of these (pledging allegiance to 'one Asian in the vestibule, with little tea and just rice for all'), but everyone has the talent to infer the ridiculous from the inaudible--and, what's more, to believe in it. Here, at least, we do behave like computers, in that our voice-recognition software has little regard for probability but boldly assumes we live in a world of surrealist poets. We are certain that Mick Jagger will never leave our pizza burning and that the Shadow knows what evil lurks in the hot cement.” 1 likes
More quotes…