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Not Born Yesterday: The Science of Who We Trust and What We Believe

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  166 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Why people are not as gullible as we think

Not Born Yesterday explains how we decide who we can trust and what we should believe--and argues that we're pretty good at making these decisions. In this lively and provocative book, Hugo Mercier demonstrates how virtually all attempts at mass persuasion--whether by religious leaders, politicians, or advertisers--fail miserably.
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 28th 2020 by Princeton University Press
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Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nice book, well-reasoned, denying that people are generally gullible - especially about things that are important to their daily life and decision-making. For every person that falls for a scam, thousands of others ignore it or laugh at it. When mobs of people seem to be inspired by a demagogue to do awful things, it may be that these people have their own longstanding motives for their behavior and the leaders have simply jumped in front of an already existing proto-mob.

Mercier’s justification
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This has become my book of the year! Despite my being a psychologist, and a cognitive neuroscientist in particular, I learned a lot of new things from this book, both minutiae and a broader paradigm shift in how I view the "gullibility" of individuals and how humans process information. What you get out of this book is a deeper, more useful, understanding on how mass persuasion (doesn't) work, why fake news is so viral but at the same time inherently superficial, how individuals decide who and w ...more
Malek Atia
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the second book I read to hugo and its as great as the first one The enigma of reason, also they are the same at disproving an intuitive idea with solid argumentation.
Thore Husfeldt
Dec 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like a glass of cool water. Clear and refreshing.

This is an excellent, readable, concise, and clarifying little summary of how people trust information. Because the public debate about these issues is drowning in bullshit about viral misinformation, fake news, the allure of populism, and algorithmically curated echo chambers – bullshit perpetuated, to my eternal shame, also by myself – this book is also incredibly relevant and timely.

The main message is that people aren’t particularly gullible.
Mar 08, 2020 added it
This is a helpful corrective to panic about the effects of "fake news" and propaganda on democracy. Mercier's view is that meaningful, "intuitive" beliefs that bear on action are very difficult to change. That's both reassuring (because people aren't just swayed back and forth by political propaganda) and challenging (since it means it's hard to make substantial progress in changing your opponents' underlying beliefs). That makes the Spinozan view of belief formation behind some recent work in p ...more
Maher Razouk
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have just started to read it , but I already think that it deserves the 5 stars
Chris Boutté
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book. I’ve been looking for one that explains why we trust people in so many different situations, and this book did a phenomenal job.
Yanick Punter
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-psych
Certainly interesting. I learned a few things.
Now I wonder how this fits into the ideas put forward in Sex, Power, and Partisanship: How Evolutionary Science Makes Sense of Our Political Divide, Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us, Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences and to a much lesser extent Ages of Discord.

Must admit that I've skimmed over a few parts I didn't find interesting. That's my reading strategy. I'm giving t
Bastiaan K
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ik heb dit boek onder andere gelezen voor mijn scriptie dat gaat over pseudowetenschapen. Hugo Mercier is een cognitief psycholoog die met veel voorbeelden vanuit de praktijk en actualiteit laat zien hoe wij denken en hoe we bepalen wat we geloven. Uiteraard een erg actueel onderwerp in tijdens van fake news.

De hoofdonderwerpen zijn geloofwaardigheid, goedgelovigheid en de invloed van individuele levensovertuigingen op individuen. Dit boek stelde me soms gerust, maar er is zeker ruimte voor ver
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
The premise of the book is timely and interesting. The author knows what he's talking about. However, I just wished I was more engaged by his prose ...more
Andrew Clough
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
I'm sort of conflicted about this one. On the one had there's a lot of interesting science in the book and a fairly good framework for putting stuff together. On the other hand, I didn't run into much that was new and the one sided framing of this in terms of how good humans are at choosing what to believe was sort of offputting.

For example, most people involved in the pizzagate conspiracy theory only believed in the conspiracy in a performative way but didn't act like they believed that so the
Patrick Hurley
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
I would probably give this a 3.5 star if I could. I like the concept and sort of taking commonly accepted views and turning them on their head. That’s essentially the recipe for this book: 1) take a commonly accepted view of persuasion/gullibility/etc. (e.g., Nazi’s propaganda was an interesting one in the book), 2) turn that view on its head by narrating and weaving in actual scientific or expert accounts to suggest ineffectiveness or alternative explanations for the original view, 3) rinse and ...more
David Viner
Feb 21, 2021 rated it liked it
This is a really interesting read. Although, to be honest, I don't fully agree with his argument. I like the idea of "open vigilance" - meaning we should be open to new ideas and test them out. But, I disagree that open vigilance is essentially an evolutionary adaptation which proves people aren't as gullible as you'd think. Some of his arguments felt a bit circular to me, and I don't think the logic fully holds. But I like the concept as a personal approach. ...more
Gabriele Bernardo
Oct 19, 2020 rated it liked it
It was a rough start but in some point I start to enjoy the book.

The point of the book is that we aren't gullible because we have an open-vigilance mechanism to perceive if something is true or not. That mechanism makes us more resistant to new ideas. To believe something we need right cues to accept it as true.

I think the author went round and round sometimes which make me lost the track of the narrative.
Oct 19, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 A promising start quickly becomes dry and at times meanders into a tangent corn maze before coming back around to the matter at hand. Overall some excellent research and application of theory to hold up the truths and dispel the old wives tales. Given better writing and structure, perhaps a bit more editing, this could pull out a 5.
W.B. Habsburg
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read this due to Razib Khan starting his bookclub around it. Makes for a very interesting read, builds a well-argued case that the public who voted for Brexit/Trump did so not because they are brainwashed but because the elite have given them cause to not believe a word they say anymore.
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Useful contribution to the literature of trust and credibility based on comprehensive research and thoughtful analysis. Excellent read for general public, journalists, and all those who influence, or attempt to influence, public opinion. Especially for those who think the public is gullible.
Dardan Bekteshi
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Interesting perspective.
Roy Kenagy
Jun 24, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: read0
Sep 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-read
Interesting take on people's ability to trust and believe. Dispels some old beliefs such as that crowds easily panic. ...more
Bernard Nauta
rated it it was ok
Apr 18, 2021
Simon Mcleish
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Aug 31, 2020
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Manzoor Elahi
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Mar 12, 2020
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May 24, 2020
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