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Irrationality: the enemy within

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,261 ratings  ·  76 reviews
New, 21st anniversary edition, with a new foreword by Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science and Bad Pharma, and an afterword by James Ball, covering developments in our understanding of irrationality over the last two decades.

Why do doctors, army generals, high-ranking government officials and other people in positions of power make bad decisions that cause harm to others? W
Kindle Edition, 274 pages
Published August 7th 2013 by Pinter & Martin (first published November 1st 1992)
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3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,261 ratings  ·  76 reviews

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Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Caner Ergen
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
İrrasyonelin sözlük anlamı, akıl, mantık ve sağduyudan yoksun demek. Bu kitap da günlük hayatta verdiğimiz kararların büyük çoğunluğunun irrasyonel olduğunu sayısız psikolojik deney ile ortaya koyuyor.
İrrasyonellik yanlış gözlem, uyum gösterme ihtiyacı, yersiz tutarlılık, kanıtları gözardı etmek, hatalı neden sonuç ilişkileri kurmak ya da aşırı özgüven gibi birçok alt başlık altında inceleniyor kitapta. Giriş aşamasında biraz sıkıcı olsa da ileriki sayfalarda nispeten akıcı bir hal alıyor kitap.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Questo libro, opera dello psicologo inglese Stuart Sutherland (1927-1998) venne pubblicato nel 1992, ed è un peccato che sia rimasto senza traduzione in italiano fino al 2010. Si tratta di un'opera divulgativa seria e di livello abbastanza "alto" ma comunque sempre ben leggibile che, come dice il titolo, dimostra con una serie impressionante di esempi (alcuni dei quali divertenti) che l'essere umano è molto più irrazionale di quello che si pensa. E le conseguenze possono essere gravi o addirittu ...more
Dec 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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 ...more
Özlem Güzelharcan
Halbuki heyecanlı başlamıştı, bir şeyler vadeder gibiydi, deneyler, gözlemler fena değildi. Ne gerek vardı o demode, ön yargılı cümlelere sonrasında? Hele ki "sezgilere bağlı yanılgılar" bölümü beni benden aldı.

Kıssadan hisse: Bu kitap 1992 yılında yazılmış ve bu etki okurken hemen hissediliyor. Kitap akmıyor ve yazarın dili oldukça patronize. Hali hazırda psikoloji, sosyoloji, vb. alanlarda kitaplar okuyan, araştırmalar yapan insanlar için yeni bir şey sunmuyor.

Başlardaki ilginç deneyler hatr
Mar 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wishes to learn to make better judgements and thus to take better decisions
Recommended to Orestes by: Su Pezuela
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
May 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 1992), 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. So you wont' get exposure to the latest developments on de ...more
I didn't realize this is a reprint of a work that is 20 years old, but it's still quite relevant. Just a little harder to get ahold of. Like most psychology books written by academics, this reads like a textbook so it's a bit of work to get through. Still, Sutherland injects a lot more wit into his writing than most, such as mentioning students who had ten grandparents with a distressing mortality rate. The material is quite good as a survey of various human tendencies to make irrational decisio ...more
Can Eğridere
İnsanların iş dünyası, maddi konular, insan ilişkileri, eğitim, siyaset ve benzeri konularda verdikleri kararların ne kadar mantık dışı olduğunu bir çok bilimsel deneyden örnekler vererek gösteriyor. Aslında yazıldığı tarihin üzerinden çok zaman geçmiş olmasına rağmen konular halen güncelliğini koruyor.

Benzer konularda kitaplar okuduysanız biraz sıkıcı gelebilir. Ama o çok bilindik deneyleri insan psikolojisi, antropoloji ve mantık açısından değerlendirdiği için ufuk açıcı bir kitap.
Feb 26, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I'm soooooo bored with this.
Reads like a GCSE social psychology text book.

At times like this I really wish I was so OCD that I have to finish every book I start. This one is never ending.

I've abandoned it. Really dated, and really, really boring. It now has the honour of being the first ever book I've started but not finished, and has annoyed me further by making me create a new 'abandoned' shelf on Goodreads, which clutters things up.
May 08, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
agree with one point: don't keep reading not to waste your money, at the end money won't be the only thing wasted.
one more book telling you what to do as if you did't have a brain, irrationality comes from here.
May 29, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is only actually interesting if you think people act rationally more than, say, 5% of the time. Otherwise it is just a book of commonplaces backed up by a lot of studies and anecdotes you've already heard about before.
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: İnceleme
Kişisel gelişim kitapları ile uğraşacağınıza bunu okuyun.
Uwe Tallmeister
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good companion to Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow". While not much new information (for me), it was a good compilation, providing a nice structure and linking items to each other.
Pinar Gungor
Yazar herseyi biliyor, bize ders kitabi yazsaymis daha iyiymis. Bu kadar hoca tavirli ve bu kadar karman corman orneginin oldugu bir kitap bulmak zor.
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
Ancient, published in 1992, but still interesting if not entertaining, even if much of its contents has now been rehashed in later works, though still poignantly relevant for our extensive modern online discourse, where reason is often not the primary concern.

Sutherland spends roughly half the book explaining the different types of irrationality and then uses the remainder to highlight how these work in practice.

Judging by the first thing that comes to mind is called the availability error.
Linda Vituma
Nov 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pamata statistikas principus tagad mācīšos. Un pieņemu racionālu lēmumu izkopt raksturu, lai jēdzīgās iezīmes spētu paust spontāni un nepiespiesti (it kā irracionāli). Nav viegli būt spontānam un nepiespiestam, paužot jēdzīgas uzvedības, bet nejēdzīgās pieturēt pie sevis. Nav viegli apiet visus tos irracionalitātes labirintus, pa kuriem ceļo mūsu prāts. Bet ziniet - ir tā vērts. Pasaule ir reāli interesanta vieta, lai to baudīto, praktizējot jēdzīgāko no racionālā un irracionālā. Daudz atsauču u ...more
Darren Goossens
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review from

Penguin, 1994, 357 pages.

Well. This book is replete with summaries of studies that on the whole show that we are creatures of habit, instinct and fear more than thought and reason. We suffer from the illusion of control. We make emotional decisions and then convince ourselves they were carefully reasoned. We avoid data that might prove us wrong, even when being proved wrong is
David Wen
The book summarizes studies done by others in the field in a fairly concise package. Problem is, if you read books by Kahneman, Sunstein, Thaler, Milgram, etc. there's nothing new for you to learn. Probably should be considered an intro to those books and then you can delve further into whichever piques your interest.
Sep 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mind
This book was first published in 1992, but don't let that put you off - the topics are more relevant today than ever before, particularly given the way we appear to be sliding head-first into another age of unreason. One example would be the chapter on stereotypes: very appropriate in this post 9/11 world, showing the development of prejudice towards out-groups and detailing 9 reasons why they occur - and shouldn't.

There are stacks of case studies in the book - well over a hundred, described in
Kitap aslında bir çok sosyoloji -psikoloji deneyinin özetlenmiş derlemesi gibi. Okurken aslında rasyonel gibi görünen ama irrasyonel olan pek çok davranışa tanıklık ediyoruz. Hem çevremizden hem de kendi davranışlarımızdan bolca örnek var. İyi bir okuma yapabilirseniz, insanların ve toplulukların davranışlarını yönetmek ve yönlendirmek için güzel hileler bulabilirsiniz.

Hayata bakışınızı biraz daha berraklaştıracak bir kitap olmasına rağmen çerezlik diyebileceğimiz bir konumda duruyor. Kitaptaki
Jan 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Academic attempts to hit the "trade" market have made for the creation of a capacious graveyard down the years. Everyone recalls the successes without taking into account that they form way less than 1% of the attempts. This is one of the modest triumphs - an at times fascinating exploration of why people behave irrationally.

For most of the book, Sutherland is a master with the juicy anecdote, although the book sags in the middle as he abandons real world examples in favour of that boring, over
Terry Clague
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clearly something of a classic, this book has been described as a "thinking man's self-help guide" by Ben Goldacre. It's interesting to get an expert scholarly (but not heavy) view on the various and many ways in which the human brain has irrational tendencies. Much of what is discussed should be common sense (e.g. people tend to ignore evidence that doesn't fit their beliefes) but it's backed up with discussions of psychology experiments that have been replicated and offer some proof.

Of course,
Aug 07, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A very good book examining the irrational decisions people make. It also provides methods on how best to make a rational decision and not fall into the common traps. Learning statistics and probability theory are a start.

I did find it a little boring to read at times. The writing style is a little bland and technical in nature. Also, one thing the book only touched on was why people are irrational. Is it because of the way the brain works, or is it because of our schooling, society norms or cult
Dec 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Human beings are not nearly as reasonable as we think we are. Intuition, the failure to understand how probabilities work, and the curious phenomenon of "availability" (universalizing the most recent experience we can remember or alternatively the first experience, depending on whether you perceive later information as replacing or augmenting the original) all conspire to help us survive, but not to be reasonable.

Sutherland has written a satisfying little book that opens the door to being slight
Ben Pace
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most readable and well-written popular-level book about the irrationality of humans that I have discovered. I am not a fan of the first chapter, but this is possibly because I've read a lot more of the literature on irrational behaviour and the philosophy of it, and I feel he is a little inaccurate. Furthermore, the morals at the end of each chapter could be a little less whimsical and a little more useful. The entirety of the rest of the book is excellent however, and the discussion especia ...more
Feb 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: project, psychology
This book was a extensive list of the ways in which humans are irrational. Although the advice at the end of each chapter on how to avoid these irrationality were almost simply "don't be irrational", ie if humans tend to over count X in importance the advice would be "don't over count X", the book was helpful.
While the book was written 21 years ago, it was very helpful and insightful and the editor made sure to comment on things that had changed in a footnote (but it was rarely needed).
The boo
Ali Sirri
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Davranışların arkasındaki mantık hatalarını merak ediyorsanız tam size göre. Başları biraz sıkıcı da olsa sonradan merak uyandırıyor.
Göz göre göre yapılmaz denilen hatalar nasıl yapılıyor, düşünce sisteminde mantıklı görünen şeyler fiilen neden uygulanmıyor, hangi davranış modellerini benimsemek daha anlamlı konularında bir çok deney var.
Aslında kitabı deneyler üzerinden hazırlanmış bir rapor ve yazarın bu deneylere kattığı yorumlar diyebiliriz. Bölüm sonlarında kıssadan hisse özetlerinde espril
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British PsychologistNorman Stuart Sutherland (26 March 1927 – 8 November 1998), always known professionally as Stuart Sutherland, was a British psychologist and writer.

Sutherland was educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham, before going to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read Psychology, Philosophy and Physiology. He stayed at Oxford for his DPhil which he took in zoology under the supervi
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“The willingness to change one’s mind in the light of new evidence is a sign of rationality not weakness.” 36 likes
“To establish that a rule is likely to be true, one must try to prove it false.” 7 likes
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