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The Thing Which Has No Name

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  847 ratings  ·  112 reviews
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published March 14th 2019 by Virgin Digital (first published 2019)
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Average rating 4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  847 ratings  ·  112 reviews

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K.J. Charles
The premise of this book by an ad man is that sometimes you have to use non-obvious or seemingly irrational ways to sell things to people because we don't all behave with strict rationality. ('Ideas' in the title refers almost exclusively to making and selling products, and occasionally to selling behaviour changes.) This is potentially very interesting and does have some very good insights about framing choices and changing minds, if you sift through the chaff.

Unfortunately there is a lot of
Phil Deutsch
A whirlwind of hot air

Rory Sutherland really wants you to know how smart he is. Not only that, but he also wants you to know how stupid everyone else is. Consultants, accountants, economists, stock market analysts: all idiots. According to Mr. Sutherland, only creative people like him who don't succumb to blindly following reason, logic and science will be successful.

The book reminds me of that friend who keeps bragging about their fantastic stock market picks - always neglecting to mention when
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
A well written and witty book that explores the utility of the less rational side of Human nature. The author drives home the point on the limits of living a life out of a logic textbook or any one method of decision making. Life is messy most of the decisions often require not using rationality but heuristics, satisficing, the subconscious. The author says in the text that people do not tell you what they think and in addition often what they consciously think is not their true motivation but ...more
Susan (aka Just My Op)
I was given an advance readers copy of this book.

While ostensibly a book for advertisers and marketers, I wanted to read this because I wondered why Red Bull is so popular, why some of the ads that seem so awful to me are nevertheless successful. But mostly, I wanted another glimpse into how our minds work. This book did not disappoint.

It was both insightful and humorous. “The advertisements which bees find useful are flowers – and if you think about it, a flower is simply a weed with an
Piinhuann Chew
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To be honest my rating is 4.5 stars but the Goodreads' system doesn't allow rating "1/2 star".

This book first flipped my brain upside down, then it mashed my brain vigorously and I found that my brain became very pulpy and mushy after finished reading this book.

The author successfully proved that conventional logic and wisdom fails more than what people think through many real life examples in the book. The central message of the book is that "No one knows anything!". Even Physicists who are
Rishabh Srivastava
Delightful read. Breezy and irreverent. The author talks about scenarios where a purely "logical" approach can lead to worse outcomes for business.

Had some thought-provoking points. But wasn't particularly well structured.

My key takeaways were:
1. Economic theory is an insufficient way to identify value proposition - both in B2B and B2C scenarios. Loss avoidance and personal status gains are a much stronger motivators than prospects for economic gains

2. The way a question is phrased can influence
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you need to improve public transport service, the rational option is to invest in new roads, tracks, vehicles, stations -and this will set you back tens/hundreds of millions. The alternative is to invest a couple of hundred grand into better displays that tell you exactly when the next train/bus is due. Less anxiety > increased perception of quality for a fraction of cost.

Rory Sutherland calls this lateral problem solving "alchemy", and the book is full of related anecdotes and examples.
Warwick Cairns
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really thought-provoking book that makes a powerful case for why we should realise that the emotional and psychological aspects of why we do the things we do should be treated with as much seriousness as the logical aspects.

Some reviewers have jumped to unwarranted conclusions about Sutherland's case. I've seen it said that he rejects logic and science, that he's anti-truth or post-truth. So I thought I'd finish with a quote from the book itself, to make things perfectly clear:

"I’m not asking
jasmine sun
3x longer than it needs to be, and nothing new if you’ve read any pop/business psychology before (or have a humanistic background).

the tips are better for life hackers and marketers than attempts to improve the world, so i’d disregard his comments on social/governance issues, which he comes off as pretty ignorant about.

i will say that the anecdotes and short chapters make it easy and enjoyable to read. and if you haven’t read similar books, it might introduce new information on why
Jaak Ennuste
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are things that make sense and work, and things that don't make sense and work. Life largely revolves around the former, rarely around the latter. Nonetheless the category of things which do not make rational sense, yet work (Alchemy, in other words), can produce great results. The difficulty is not getting fired or not looking extremely dumb when trying out stuff that is hard to justify rationally. We should be more open minded about asking very basic questions and digging deep into ...more
Niklas Laninge
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book provides an interesting new narrative to the application of behavioral economics and psychology. It really shows that this is the compilation of a long career and the book could easily be spilt into two book. It loses its stringency in the end but the fun an Nobel rifting makes up for that. Recommend!
Fabian Il.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is much in line with the work of Nassim Taleb who brought be to this book in fact and I am glad he did because it’s fantastic!
Jim Razinha
I had a difficult time getting into this book, an uncorrected proof received for review from the publisher through LibraryThing. Barely forty pages over a miss and miss (as opposed to hit or miss) month and a half. As the illogic would have it, 3.5 hours spent waiting for the chance to be told the documents I brought to renew my driver license were insufficient (grrr) gave me an extended window to dig in, and dig in I did. Lots of margin notes and sticky note flags. Sifting them for review ...more
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating discussion of human decision making and how the mind does not run on logic. Sunderland wittily argues for the intermittent abandon of logic and to question the assumption that because it is reliable in the physical sciences, it is applicable everywhere else. If we were logical in our thinking and decision making then economists would be able to reliably predict our behaviour and yet they cannot. It seems counter intuitive to us that if we give employees more vacation time that they ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An insightful and very surprising book about marketing and how not everything can be solved with logic. Rory gets his points across with an abundance of real life examples that makes things easy to grasp and then he backs it up with scientific studies. He also adds a healthy dose of humor, which certainly doesn't hurt. I think everybody should read this book, one doesn't have to be in a marketing profession to get something out of it.
Trung Nguyen Dang
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is a witty and easy read by an expert in the world of advertising. It is full of anecdotes and examples of human's irrationality in the ad world. While I would prefer the scientific rigors of the books on irrationality by the psychology professors (eg Dan Ariely, Robert Caldini), many of the anecdotes attributed success to some of the irrational design but there may be other factors at work which we do not know about as there is no control group in real life.
Angela Magic Art
The beginning of this book, probably the first third, 5 stars! Super thought provoking and interesting. Will probably reread the beginning again at some point! The other two thirds, kind of redundant, and a little dull. The very end was mostly just politics, which I didn’t find that helpful. As with a lot of business/self help books. I think it was too long.
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Super good. Will read a second time for sure.
Brew Schmuck
An average book that could’ve been so much more had Sutherland been more patient and his editor willing to work with it. It suffers horribly from the “Nassim Taleb syndrome” of repeating the same sentence over and over hoping no one will say anything. Well I’ll say something. It’s okay if the total amount of material you got amounts to like 50 printed pages. You don’t need to play with giant empty white spaces and repetitions to get it to 300.

In short the book starts off well and I honestly
Inspite of being a fan of rory for a good decade now, his ideas still seem seems fresh to me because they are counter intuitive and more importantly it works in real life. Highly recommend this book.
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the examples and stories in this book on how to solve problems in the world by looking at them from an entirely different angle. The principles in this book can be applied to many things in life.

The 80% of people who have written reviews hating on this book are the ones who just don’t get it. They’re exactly the type of people who refuse to see things differently and without whom this book would not have needed to be written.

I highly recommend the Audible version which I really enjoyed.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I got paid to read this at work. It's an unfocused, repetitive book that could have been at least 200 pages shorter.
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sutherland gives a shallow but enjoyable look into the way humans "defy" logic—or more accurately, the way they operate with a different sort of logic than the kind you'll get from most economists. The book is chock full of interesting examples from the business world, and somewhat repetitively exhorts the reader to take chances, experiment, and make mistakes, rather than trying to logic your way to a solution. If simple logic could solve a problem, after all, someone would've already come ...more
Sean Goh
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psych, biz
Should be required reading for all the technocrats weaned at the altar of Logos. Question assumptions, ask silly questions, and remember that people (mostly) aren't Homo Econominus.
The economy is not a machine. It is a highly complex system. Machines don't allow for magic, complex systems do.
Engineering does not allow for magic. Psychology does.

If we allow the world to be run by logical people, we will only discover logical things. But in real life, most things aren't logical - they are
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book with quotes that I will remember:
‘Logic kills Magic’.
‘The opposite of a good idea can be another good idea’
‘Well it works in practice, but does it work in theory?’
‘A purely objective person will be quickly dead’

Sutherland posited that what behavioural scientists found irrational is only irrational because they do not understand the real reason behind those decisions. Sometimes, even the person doing it does not know why he does something. From the neurological point of view,
Rolands Ozoliņš
Must read for people in marketing, sales and corporate propaganda
Peter Brooks
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
An entertaining and informative look at the power of irrationality

I enjoy the light, chatty, but informative style of the book very much - it's a delight to read. Reading it feels like enjoying a dinner party chat with a witty, well-informed, and creative friend.

We're certainly too wedded to the notion that we're rational, and this book explores many of the interesting ways in which our irrationality works - and how this can be used to useful ends. Not just for branding and advertising, but to
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enthralling read for anyone having a creative bent of mind or curious about human behaviour and have a good laugh about our anomalies (read uniqueness)

Although a little verbose, bite sized chapters with witty humour make it that much more readable.
Akhil Jain
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reco by
My fav quotes (not a review):
Economy is not a machine – it is a highly complex system. Machines don’t allow for magic, but complex systems do. Engineering doesn’t allow for magic. Psychology does.
Being slightly bonkers can be a good negotiating strategy: being rational means you are predictable, and being predictable makes you weak. Hillary thinks like an economist, while Donald is a game theorist, and is able to achieve with one tweet what would take
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this absent-mindedly on audio while on a trip to Reunion. Most of it was packed away on the flight there while waiting in line for the toilet as something about the air above the Indian Ocean makes everyone want to pee at the very same time. I picked this book up after listening to his really nice episode on the Russ Roberts podcast, and I was slightly disappointed. While speaking he comes across as this razor-sharp, witty English aristocrat with an anecdote for everything and a ...more
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