Buy Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland (ISBN: ) from Amazon’s Book Store. Everyday low prices and free delivery on eligible orders. Irrational beliefs and behaviours are virtually universal. In this iconoclastic book Stuart Sutherland analyses causes of irrationality and examines why we are. Stuart Sutherland’s hilarious dissection of everyday reasoning, Irrationality, should be in bedside cabinets the world over, says Nicholas Lezard.

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It was too patronizing, and the author seemed to have personal vendettas against some members of society, namely feminists, members of the medical profession, and psychologists who do social experiments. He basically says that only by understanding statistics and by essentially falling back on some means of scoring the alternatives and then picking the one with the best score can we really make rational decisions.

Irrationality: The Enemy Within – Stuart Sutherland – Google Books

The weakest chapter is undoubtedly the one dealing with irrationalities in organisations: For most of the book, Sutherland is a master with the juicy anecdote, although the book sags in the middle as he abandons real world examples in favour of that boring, over familiar, Person A, Person B, Person C scenario.

Of similar difficulty is the ability to identify cause and effect. One example would be the chapter on stereotypes: Why do essentially good people agree to apply highly painful electric shocks to others? We tend to feel there’s an increased likelihood of something implausible happening when that is paired with something very plausible, even though that should decrease the chances of it happening. The cover of Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland. Otherwise we rely on impressions, feelings and hunches, none of which are actually reliable.

Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland

Unfortunately, in my opinion, it just fell short of what it was trying to do. Otherwise it is just a book of commonplaces backed up by a lot of studies and anecdotes you’ve already heard about before. Related are the halo and devil effect, if a person has one salient good, or bad, trait, it overshadows, coloring the person’s other properties.


Other common causes of ignorance and mistakes – the availability error, the primacy error, the halo effect, the anchoring effect, and plenty more are all discussed at great length.

Log in Log in. Idiocy is, after all, funny, and the late Stuart Sutherland, despite or perhaps because of having been professor of psychology at Sussex University, had an eye for the absurdities to which we subject ourselves. I suspect many would not: Feb 16, Uwe Tallmeister rated it it was amazing. Is the war really worthwhile? Log in to Blinkist.

Reason to be cheerful

A complementary negative effect of this decision is that when every single instance of irrational behavior is isolated, it is more difficult to explain the causes of the behavior. Much of what is discussed should be common sense e.

Norman Stuart Sutherland Snippet view – It’s a very enjoyable and robust suhherland to increase the rigour of our thinking, while acknowledging all the many reasons why that’s extremely difficult.

The book covers, roughly, two groups of interrelated phenomena: Irrationality is a guide to illogical decisions, unreasonable actions and irrational behavior as a whole. Let’s not ignore the rest of the studies who say otherwise.

It is an extraordinary exercise in large-scale clarification. He revisits Stanley Milgram’s disturbing tests on obedience conducted at Yale, and goes on to draw some further useful conclusions about how human behaviour is affected by the presence of others, using the notorious example of the murder of Kitty Genovese in New York 38 people saw her killed; not one called the police – they all thought someone else would.

Will the building fall down? There are stacks of case studies in the book – well over a hundred, described in This book was first published inbut don’t let that put you off – the topics are more relevant today than ever before, particularly given the way we appear to be sliding head-first into another age of unreason.

I also had a problem with the tone of this book. Jan 01, Sofia rated it it was ok Shelves: In this book, a psychologist examines the many varieties of irrationality to which we are prone, and the complex human interactions between logic, rationality, self-deception and emotion.


In fact, to be fair, the author does discuss some of this at the end of the book. Among a wider public, Sutherland is most famous for his autobiography Breakdown, detailing his struggles with manic depression. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

The book was engaging, interesting, and at points humorous. We suffer from the illusion of control. For me, people are not purely rational machines that make Mr. Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland. Not that it is actually grim or depressing. They evolved, and evolution is stuherland rather messy process: Although first published inIrrationality still provides a wide if by no means comprehensive account of relevant research.

If you already believe that we’re basically animals in clothes, this will not disabuse you. And statistics, though essential for, for example, diagnosis, is a bitch. Xutherland he finds evidence that people who should use actuarial methods, rather than intuition, to determine probabilities don’t do so. We form instant impressions and then only look for the evidence that will support our view, we suffer from availability error, meaning that we give more weight to the dramatic and memorable, or the most recent, and ignore the less exciting evidence, and after reading the chapter on reward and p This is a catalogue of wrong thinking: Just enjoyed, with qualifications, Stuart Sutherland’s Irrationality, which I’d orrationality sitting on my Amazon wishlist for ages and irrationally not got around to buying.

And yet there is plentiful and growing evidence of irrationality in human thinking and behaviour. Stuart Sutherland died from a heart attack in November