The Book Depository Rationality by Steven Pinker

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The Book Depository Rationality by Steven Pinker
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Description: Rationality : Paperback : Penguin Books Ltd : 9780141989860 : : 30 Aug 2022 : In the twenty-first century, humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding - and at the same time appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that discovered vaccines for Covid-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, quack cures and conspiracy theorizing? In Rationality, Pinker rejects the cynical cliché that humans are simply an irrational species - cavemen out of time fatally cursed with biases, fallacies and illusions. After all, we discovered the laws of nature, lengthened and enriched our lives and set the benchmarks for rationality itself. Instead, he explains, we think in ways that suit the low-tech contexts in which we spend most of our lives, but fail to take advantage of the powerful tools of reasoning we have built up over millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, causal inference, and decision-making under uncertainty. These tools are not a standard part of our educational curricula, and have never been presented clearly and entertainingly in a single book - until now. Rationality matters. It leads to better choices in our lives and in the public sphere, and is the ultimate driver of social justice and moral progress. Brimming with insight and humour, Rationality will enlighten, inspire and empower. The Book Depository Rationality by Steven Pinker - shop the best deal online on thebookbug.co.uk

 

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Author: Gazza

Rating: 5

Review: I have enjoyed many of Steven Pinker’s books and Rationality is no exception. Covering various errors people make in reasoning (cognitive bias, logical fallacies, etc), it provides a good, clear introduction to the subject. It’s not particularly that simple, though. Yes, the language may be clear, but working through some of the puzzles, I found myself making many of the errors Pinker points to. Hence the reason for this type of book. Anyway, I’m now a little bit more aware of them than before I read the book. As I say, I always enjoy Pinker’s books and his writing style, so I look forward to the next instalment from this gifted psychologist and communicator. I hope you find my review helpful.

 

Author: Mach3nomore

Rating: 2

Review: I got this book as I found the use of statistics in the news media (UK) and the rationality of the last few years around both the pandemic and the 'culture wars' pretty appalling. This book delivers in spades in terms of explaining the various nefarious or wrong-headed applications of stats that 'prove' either side of the arguments. However... My criticism is 3 fold of the summary chapters (slight spoiler alert); 1st, there's understandable berating of the Trump administration which feels like something SP wanted to get of his chest. I would argue that's fine in itself (no fan boy of Trump to be clear) but if he's going to just attack him and just glibly mention 'universities have become a laughing stock' in addressing the counter 'myside bias' of the Left, he's missing an elephant in the room. The deeply troubling attack on rationality, reason and enlightened thought is very much coming from the other side as well. In short, the feedback cycle from the media/opposition/academics when Trump said or did something stupid was a swift rebuke/debunking of his grip on reality. The root cause of the identity politics irrationality is the concept of 'intersectionality' which isn't even mentioned in this book. This theory is deeply irrational, an attack on liberalism (in the classic UK liberal sense, not US Left sense) and the opposite of Martin Luther King's 'I have a Dream' speech. The media, academics, schools, HR departments and the Left leaning parts of Western governments have either bought into this concept or are unwisely defending it without understanding it, because they view themselves as 'progressive' champions of social justice who want to be 'on the right side of history. It isn't. This concept never gets stress tested in the public domain. I'd guess most people over 35 have no idea what it is but two generations now have been taught this in Humanities degrees as 'fact'. This is WHY universities have become a laughing stock. To not identify the biggest attack on rationality is a mistake of this book. Critics of it tend to get cancelled so it isn't clear whether SP or the publishers avoid its inclusion. I suspect SP has been exposed to this poison as a traveller around the university scene... The second is the motives for why people behave in irrational ways. He misses the key point why some point spread mad conspiracy theories/build an entire industry around grievance and status quo protection (on both sides)... it's not just about the warm feeling of being in the right gang, the leaders are making a shed load of money out of it. Finally, there's little reference to the pandemic beyond rationality follows the science. It misses that many internationally celebrated scientists who questioned various western government responses were often dismissed as mad anti-vaxxers, without consideration of nuance. The word Sweden doesn't get a look in... Johns Hopkins University which has been a respected source throughout published a report a few weeks ago saying lockdowns were a massive mistake, which points to the other big miss in this book; groupthink and the inability of governments/leaders to admit mistakes. All in all, huge elements weren't addressed which was quite a disappointment.

 

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