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Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us and How to Know When Not to Trust Them
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Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us and How to Know When Not to Trust Them

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  323 ratings  ·  68 reviews

An eye-opening exploration of why experts are constantly misleading us-and what we can do about it.

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 10th 2010 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  323 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Sep 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this title three stars because, in my opinion, it fulfilled only half of its promise: Why experts keep failing us -- and how to know when not to trust them. It did a great job explaining why experts keep failing us, but when it comes to figuring out when not to trust them...well, the author doesn't have a clue either. The bottom line is, the odds of the "experts" being right are about the same as winning a crap shoot.

This book is worth reading to the extent that most people actually belie
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The one expert who is never wrong

God. His transcendent word is never wrong and His universal moral laws are never wrong. Freedman's book only highlights the importance of having a biblical epistemology. In the beginning was Logos and the Logos was with God and the Logos was/is God. Human foundations for knowledge are inadequate. Freedman ignores the question of WHY scientists should bother with ethics. Certainly, ethics are foundational to science. Ironically, that is a question science cannot a
Ross Blocher
May 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
The title and chapter-length subtitle are enough to give you an idea of what this book is about. It's a treatise on how so-called experts can disagree with one another and give out advise that is less than advisable. David H. Freedman trots out examples of fraud, laziness, greed, pride, funding, poor research, and hasty conclusions to support his point. One is encouraged to be highly suspicious of research papers, television pundits and online reviews alike.

I had mixed feelings while reading thi
Mardel Fehrenbach
Jan 01, 2011 rated it liked it
I picked up Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us and How to Know When not to Trust Them by David Freedman on a whim. The book really offered very little that was new or particularly enlightening; it was more useful as a reminder of how even well-meaning and well-constructed research can go wrong as well the realities of publishing and the ways in which the need for new and compelling materials magnifies the problem. All of this is interesting but not interesting enough to fill an entire book, a bo ...more
Aug 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is an all out assault on "authoritarianism." It encourages you to evaluate alternative sources for persepective in life, & even to conduct your own research/experiments. This books get right at the HEART of what motivates todays scientists/business analysts. Reading this you will see just how far from "exact" the scientific method can be. You will se why you can be told conflicting things about the same foods. You will learn the MANY ways in which scientist can alter data and misinterp ...more
Chris Aylott
Nov 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Disappointing, not because it's a bad book, but because I have always had more faith in Science! than is apparently justified. Freedman makes a strong case for why even meticulous science is frequently dead wrong, never mind all the management fads and junk science that clutter up the media.

Freedman doesn't have a solution for the problem, just an approach for living with it. The best defense against experts turns out to be common sense and critical thinking skills, and a little healthy skeptici
Jan 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2015
I like this book because it sums up my position on many of the "science findings" that come out regularly in the media: be skeptical. Be very, very skeptical. That said, I found the book suffered from some flaws, such as using dubious studies to back up points that the author wanted to make, although he did mention that it's highly probable that his entire book could be flawed due to that very type of thing. Definitely worth a read if you're not used to thinking critically, or if you'd like some ...more
Jun 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
There is so much information in this book that make you really start to think about what "experts" say. I have always been leery about the information I receive from doctors and other professionals. Like so many things in life, there is never a clear cut answer. It all depends on interpretation. I liked having my thoughts reinforced with David's book.
Cat Noe
Nov 18, 2019 is currently reading it
The library wanted it back, and with some background in data analysis, I was struggling a bit. The urge to separate and sort the data into usable, questionable, anecdotal, columns was slowing up progress. It's good information. Just a bit jumbled.
Also, preaching to the choir, so to speak. I already know how much nonsense gets tossed out for consumption. I don't need it demonstrated. It was fun for a bit, but I have other reading to do.
I might borrow it back. I might not. Wrote down the page numb
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
I read this book only because a neighbor thrust it upon me. She's a tea party fan so I was immediately suspect about the book. But I tried to be fair-minded as I read/skimmed/flipped. The best I can say is that this book might be useful to someone who believes headlines he/she sees in the grocery store line -- tabloids I mean. Or even those who believe that the latest scientific finding about xyz is the final word on xyz. The author says too often that scientists deliberately mislead the public ...more
Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I think this was a terrific book for me to read. I definitely will try not to feed into a media sensation breakthrough as I probably have in the past, just because I wanted something to be true if it fit into my logical pattern of thinking and my own biases. Critical thinking basics for me to remember - analyze assumptions and biases (both my own and the other party) - avoid emotional reasoning - tolerate uncertainty. There is more to critical thinking than this, but these are some traps. One of ...more
Mar 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, meridian
My oldest son, Will, was born a month early (surprise!), and though small, was judged healthy enough to come home after only two days in the hospital. A few days later, he turned blue in my arms – twice – prompting a frantic 9-1-1 call and rush back to the hospital. It was a scary, emotional, and disorienting time. He outgrew the issue, a result of his prematurity, and is healthy today, but what I remember as some of the most frustrating moments during our additional time in the hospital, were d ...more
Nov 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps the biggest “wrong” about this book is that someone already filled to the gunwales with cynicism such as myself would pick it up. With the cover image of a dunce cap bedecked guy I just knew Freedman’s text would prepare me for my next early morning tirade directed towards Today show “experts” that I used to be exposed to (before my wife finally realized that I’m really…really not a morning person). Two things I didn’t originally notice in my typically cursory glance at the cover: the du ...more
Steve Brady
Feb 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Rarely have I struggled so much over whether or not to recommend a book. Typicall I view this section as not just a book “review” but a place to only review books I strongly recommend our members read. This book is one of the tough ones. I highly recommend the message the author is conveying, and yet, at times, the message seems lost in the words.

Wrong has as its basic premise that the experts we have come to respect, and the studies reported to us as “earthshattering” and “paradigm shifting” of
Aug 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books
This is an average book about an important topic.

The issue is that the experts whom we trust to know better then us are often wrong. It seems that the problem is especially widespread in medical fraternity. This book explores why is it so, who can we trust and how can we identify better advice, one more likely to be correct, from the large amount we encounter in media and online.

Author examines various aspects of it. Are formal experts like trained scientists better than informal experts like li
Nov 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is an important book that helps explain why so much expert advice turns out to be wrong or unhelpful. Freedman goes into the many ways that experts both intentionally and unintentionally mislead us; the forces that cause the media to distort evidence when reporting it; and other ways in which people who seem to know what they are talking about are less than trustworthy.

If experts are wrong so frequently, it is easy to fall into a kind of despair and paralysis: if any given advice is highly
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent overview of the persistent problems inherent in relying on experts, regardless of their status. Although scientists are the most reliable experts, as careful study of the outcomes of expert advice, even from scientists, has shown, experts are often wrong. It's a jungle out there when it comes to knowing what advice is truly trustworthy, from diet and health advice to economic and political advice. The author concludes, that although there is no simple, straight-forward way to determine ...more
Jerry Smith
Nov 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Interesting approach to the value of expert advice and how, generally, it is to be treated with caution. Thoughtful and self-aware analysis. Freedman is not unaware of the irony: he is talking about expert advice from the stance of being an expert himself. He devotes an entire chapter to this apparent paradox without ever quite overcoming it (I guess that is the nature of paradoxes!)

It's common sense stuff and he throws a good deal of light on the potential pressures on "experts" to publish, be
Jan 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look at how most expert opinions are wrong in the short term. The author contends that most reportage of 'study' findings is misleading, at best.The whole system is predictably tilted to favor flashy, earth-shattering, most-likely erroneous conclusions of academic and medical studies over boring, negative or more careful ones. In the upper echelons of academic journals, more than half of conclusions prove wrong, and most of the rest are simply untested.

I didn't think the writing
Oct 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
He makes an important point--science is often "wrong"--but I'm not sure he completely appreciates how day-to-day science works. Scientists are trained to be skeptical. I think most scientists understand that even their own work may be "wrong," at least in the sense that it's not exactly right, but that's why we continue to work on research questions. I believe most scientists realize that very rarely is a single study definitive. We do multiple studies on important questions and accumulate evide ...more
Jun 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading in every high school. It is ostensibly about how flawed, misleading and outright wrong expert opinion can be, be it from business or health gurus or the latest study. Freedman clearly delineates the many ways information so often goes astray as it’s being gathered and relayed, but, more importantly this book is about how our own fear of complexity drives us to accept the easy answers and the pat solutions over more difficult and usually less interesting truth ...more
Richard Thompson
An interesting book.

There are a disturbing number of ways that experts (credentialed experts, informal experts and the rest of us) can go wrong in finding the "right" answer. Poor data, fudged data, biases, blind spots, pressure from peers...

In the end, the author seems to be saying that you can't really trust anyone (including him) to give you a silver bullet answer to any complex question. You have to listen to lots of "experts", use common sense, be aware of some of the pitfalls involved and
D.M. Dutcher
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, science
It's good at showing how expert opinion, even scientific opinion, can be untrustworthy. The problem though is that if you use a point that talks about how numbers often make people more likely to accept bad studies, you are going to have a problem when you need to use these same numbers to prove a point. Or how you can trust an expert who uses statistical analysis after providing example after example that statistics can be misreported, cooked, etc.

It's a good skeptical book, but it doesn't make
Dec 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
Here is a book written by an expert on why experts are wrong. I wonder if the man believes anything / anyone. Following the advice in the book puts one into a position of a person with two watches - never sure what time it is. While some (ok, a lot) of caution is healthy, doubting everything is not going to help anyone have a gratifying and happy life. Doubting everything one believes in and distrusting all information sources will lead to paranoia, anxiety, and excessive pride, rather than an e ...more
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this. Freedman's discussions are well balanced with more than a touch of self criticism and doubt.

If you are in any way unfamiliar with philosophy of science or social constructivism this book will be a real eye-opener.

One quote really stood out: "Scientists are not out to find the truth but rather trying to prove their theory is true." That is just a fantastic summary of the jist of Freedman's book and why we should always remain skeptical of expert opinion. We should not disr
Stacy Jensen
Jun 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
I think everyone will enjoy reading this book. Great food for thought and a little bit scary. Gives very persuasive arguments on why most studies are flawed and then how they are used/abused (sometimes on purpose, sometimes not). On a positive note: If we read something about a study that makes us feel guilty or like we're not doing a good job we can think, "Oh well, I'll just disregard it. I'm sure the study was probably wrong." And then go blissfully about our business, unencumbered by all tha ...more
Beth Kleinman
Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
Interesting background on why we should view scientific and other expertise with skepticism - and some tools for deciphering good vs. bad information. But a little slow-going at times and a repetitive writing style (e.g., but surely peer review places checks on poor methodology...actually, the truth is...; but surely we can trust science journals...actually, the truth is...). Starts out strong, but I found myself slogging through at about the halfway point. Still, I do recommend this book - a us ...more
Adam Carheden
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Completely awesome book. I think we all intuitively know that what's spewed forth from everyone from our doctors to the news to supposedly hard science must obviously be junk by the fact that it doesn't translate into solutions. But this book details the myriad ways that so much of what we hear deviates from reality. Turns out the answer to most questions is simply "we don't know".

I only gave it 4 stars because it seemed to jump around a bit and I got lost in the organization of lack thereof. Ov
Sep 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
I was a little concerned about a book that questions the usefulness of experts, especially given that emotion tends to hijack most of our conversations these days. However, it turns out that was an appropriate amount of skepticism. The author wants us to question the results of experts, particularly scientists, when a number of factors are involved (e.g., filtered through mass media, study author has something to gain from results, etc.).
Oct 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Freedman tries to make the point that many of the "expert" studies which we read about end up being badly flawed. Of course, that raises the question that, if Freedman is an expert on studies such as these, is he necessarily wrong as well? The best lesson to be learned is the importance of critical thinking, and to be careful about jumping to conclusions based on just release headline news about new studies.
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