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The Perils of Perception: Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  324 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Do you eat too much sugar? Is violence in the world increasing or decreasing? What proportion of your country are Muslim? What does it cost to raise a child? How much do we need to save for retirement? How much tax do the rich pay? When we estimate the answers to these fundamental questions that directly affect our lives, we tend to be vastly wrong, irrespective of how ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published September 5th 2019 by Atlantic Books (first published September 6th 2018)
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Brian Clegg
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How we see the world is not the way it really is. There have been several books based on this premise in the last few years, from Hans Rosling's impressive Factfulness to the distinctly fanciful The Case Against Reality by Donald Hoffman. In The Perils of Perception, Bobby Duffy takes an approach that is similar to Rosling's in surveying large numbers of people in different countries (in fact, one chapter of the book specifically references Rosling), but rather than concentrate as Rosling does ...more
Natalie  S
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We are wrong about most things. That may be a bitter pill to swallow but as The Perils of Perception proves, it’s true. This non-fiction book is an intriguing study into just how ignorant our society is. It draws on 100,000 interviews from forty countries. The take home message? We should be afraid. Very afraid.

Bobby Duffy is the managing director of the IPSOS MORI Social Research Institute and works at Kings College in London. Duffy is a man who has quizzed many people on basic facts. These
Ben Cooper
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A careful and readable account of just how poor our intuitions often are, unreliable and biased, and how we need to slow down and check things out properly. And a great discussion of 'fake news' and other kinds of manipulation.
Derek Baldwin
Not bad by any means but any study of fallacious thinking needs to have a far deeper discussion of ideology/discourse and their shaping of common sense to be genuinely credible. The various biases discussed are quite interesting, but the techniques used to arrive at the statistics cited are not examined in enough detail to make them all that convincing. A complete lack of longitudinal data, as far as I could see, means that today's results and the conclusions drawn from them may have no ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Data driven and storytelling

With a great number of data metrics and statistics the author tells a story in his own personal tone: we have bias, we are stubborn, the world is better than before but a long way to fix things, and give the reader some tools to deal with and to dialogue with others. I like that it has a solid argumentation that the bias issue is not new and we are not dealing with a crisis on post truth reality: always we have been there. Balanced because it address up front what’s
Justin Pickett
This book is interesting, and provides a lot of new survey evidence about just how wrong we are on a range of issues. However, the key takeaways and main theoretical insights are available elsewhere, in other books that go into far greater depth, like Thinking, Fast and Slow and Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Best for:
People wondering how on earth everyone else can have such misconstrued ideas (hint: you do too!).

In a nutshell:
Author Duffy explores areas in which people tend to vastly over- or underestimate facts, and why that might be.

Worth quoting:
“Our misperceptions can provide clues to what we’re most worried about - and where we’re not as worries as we should be.”

Why I chose it:
I’ve known that I — and others — will often overestimate how bad things are, or underestimate how good things are, and
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Is the Great Wall of China visible from Outer Space? My answer to this seemingly innocuous question would have been a resounding yes until I happened to read “The Perils of Perception: Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything” (“the book”) by Bobby Duffy. A Managing Director of the Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute and also the Global Director of Ipsos Social Research Institute, Mr. Duffy brings to bear his prodigious statistical expertise and experience in delivery a myth busting work that ...more
Silpa Soni
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Why we're nearly wrong about everything? Are we more ignorant that we used to be?
Loved the way author connected the topics with psychology. The misunderstanding starts when we are wrong about people's perceptions of others' perceptions.

We tend to think it's more common of something we are ashamed of and we think we are higher than others in our positives. This can lead to living in self-denail and not taking proper measures to take better care of ourselves. This wrong social norm is not just a
Sep 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting read on the gaps between reality and people's notions of what their societies are like. I tried to 'play along' as much as I could by guessing about the UK numbers before looking at the graphs, and was somewhat surprised by how well I did, but then relative to the original poll participants I was cheating quite a lot by guessing in the context of a book alerting me to exactly the kinds of biases and misperceptions that might skew my guesses.

The writing was a little samey and
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a fascinating book, written by Bobby Duffy, Managing Director of the Ipsos MORI, Social Research Institute.
Have you ever had a thought or a view on something - a perception, only to find you were completely wrong and maybe slightly off line, or completely off line ? This book proves that many of us are tricked, misled, bamboozled or just downright deluded about the world we live in and the issues which are important in our lives.
Bobby Duffy provides actual evidence of this throughout this
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you love statistics, consider yourself a curious person, and like to challenge your own beliefs and thoughts, then this is a perfect book for you.

Duffy takes you to many of our societies problems and topics of discussion in the media, and through his own research tells that everything is not that bad as it seems. Not only that, he explains reasonably well the reasons or possible explanations behind the results of his more than a 150.000 interviews across 40 countries.

Even if you do not leave
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bobby Duffy has written an engaging and easy to read book about how human knowledge of a variety of areas including political facts, demographic trends, health and more is consistently inaccurate. Bobby Duffy illustrates how cognitive biases and sociological and political forces create this gap between reality and our perceptions of reality. The book neatly guides the reader through these causal mechanisms without complicating the book at any point.

There are only small problems with the book.
Adrian Bennetts
The book felt somewhat shallow, especially compared to Pinker's Enlightenment now, or even Rosling's Factfulness.

It was fairly light on for information beyond the survey results, which perhaps are at best the source material for a series of articles.

The general premise, and the concept of perception carry the book a little, and the writing is easy to follow.

3 Stars I felt is somewhat generous, but 2 stars would be too harsh. 2.5/5
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Words such as 'important' and 'mandatory' can be over-played, but for once it's true of this book. Everyone should read it if they want to understand some of the deep changes taking place in our society and the drivers behind them. Duffy's style is easily accessible and one never feels over-whelmed with statistics. Read, read, read ...
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A statistically heavy journey through our inherent biases as humans. To me it was yet another piece of evidence for why each one of us is so different---often the biggest reason we fail to correctly assess the world is because we think everyone is the same and this book shows how clearly wrong that viewpoint is.
Dalma Vatai
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Besides being very timely, this book illuminates a range of perceptive mechanisms which I found highly interesting. It repeatedly points out why it's such a big problem that we're deeply wrong about many issues, and contains some practical advice as well. Enjoyed it a lot. ...more
A G Bettesworth
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Important ideas explored with humour by someone obviously in charge of their material

A great book for anyone perplexed by what's happening now. Highly recommended. Very readable and informative. It should be in every school library
Manan Younas
Strong arguments , below average story

Strong arguments made, however, narrative is below average. Could have been much better if there was a balance between statistical numbers and narrative quality.

Dean Millson
I couldn't finish this unfortunately. It was the same idea (humans are awful at predicting reality) just in different contexts. The font and leading choice in my copy made this harder to read than it should have been also.
Richard Laznik
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb book showcasing the way we perceive the realities we are presented with and some research into why. Very interesting discussion of statistics and facts and their effectiveness in changing the minds/opinions of people.
Sridhar Guda
Good book. Being first book, I guess he has done a good job.
Matt Wood
Very repetitive and gets boring
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
‘Mandatory reading. This mind-altering book shows how most of us are badly deluded about the state of the world.’ Steven Pinker
Alex Joyce
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(4.5*) an insightful reflection on human thought processes and a tonic to the “disinformation takeover” doomsday message we’re consistently fed by some aspects of mass media
Lew Brown
Nov 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
The title and premise wrote a cheque the author couldn't cash. I'm sure an interesting and insightful book can be written about this subject - this isn't it.
Alex Beckett
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy to read, informative and very relevant in the modern 'post-truth' era.
Oli Williams
Repetitive but some interesting statistics
Tom Peterken
Interesting stuff, but it could have been half the length to convey the same message.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb - well-informed, interesting, accessible and funny.
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