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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Some of the best decisions I’ve ever made would have seemed irrational at the time they were taken – unintended consequences abound. A few of his choices of examples perhaps deliberately throw rather sharply into relief why statistical methods of decision might be a bit too heartless to be likely to be used for instance, he thinks it would be great if older pregnant women could use probability calculations to decide whether to abort a foetus with Down’s syndrome – which perhaps it would, but I suspect it’s kind of hard to think about it in quite that way if you’re the woman in question.

And it’s useful to know when it doesn’t really matter and you can just please your inner reptile, and when you really do need to sit down and analyse things properly.

Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland

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Any decision a person makes is clouded by all these things. The dutherland This book was a extensive list of the ways in which humans are irrational.

As humans, we consider ourselves to be distinguished from other animals by our capacity for rational thought. Sign up to your secret to success: Doctors who rely on hunches and do not understand how to use statistics; companies that hire graphologists to vet potential employees; prime ministers who don’t listen to cabinet ministers – all these get a pasting, and he has banks of facts and figures to back up his arguments.

Liberals, in a group, tend to become more liberal, conservatives more conservative. His language is elegant and understated. It probably means this review is tainted by irrationality as well.

Never volunteer to become a subject in the Psychological Laboratory at Yale. What always fascinates me about books like this is the ingenuity of psychologists dutherland devising experiments that will expose the specific ways how our minds work.


But these are just fairly minor niggles. This is unfortunate, since I recall a lot of things I thought about the book while I was reading it, but didn’t mark any of the pages for quoting. The material is quite good as a survey of various human tendencies to make irrational decisions.

Nov 22, Linda Vituma rated it really liked it. Good companion to Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. I’ll give it three stars because irrationxlity, this leads to some overly individualist conclusions – Popperian falsification is evoked and the UK public sector comes in for a major bashing – Sutherland mentions only fleetingly that irrationality is rife in private companies too.

It’s not a book delivered in a modern street-smart colloquial but in a highly literate, cultured voice: In this iconoclastic book Stuart Sutherland analyses causes of irrationality and examines why we are irrational, the different kinds of irrationality, the damage it does us and the possible cures.


Problem is, if you read books by Kahneman, Sunstein, Thaler, Milgram, etc. Already have an account? Lists with This Book. Norman Stuart Sutherland Snippet view – Okay, we don’t always elect great leaders or do the right thing by our neighbours, family, friends. The instances of irrational behavior introduced in the book could be classified into three categories: Nevertheless very readable and informative.

When a particular belief is involved, we tend to go to extreme lengths to look for supporting evidence while refusing to believe contrary evidence.

Nicholas Lezard’s paperback choice: Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland | Books | The Guardian

If each person recognizes that he or she may be wrong because of some of the reasons outlined throughout the book, it might be that we could live in better harmony with each other.

Some irratiinality the case studies of how really really really important ‘decisions’ were made are a little worrisome, especially because of course human suterland has not really changed in the meantime. As a consequence, a carrot for promoting good behavior does not facilitate institutional change. I guess I was using one of the irrational thought processes he described – the “halo effect”, which when applied to this, means that when I saw that he was completely wrong in some thing he vehemently defended, it made me look at the rest of his book in a negative light.


The civil service comes in for some gleefully pointed criticism – he quotes one civil servant who once said: So you wont’ get exposure to the latest developments on de This is the first pop science book on rationality I ever read, and it made a great impression on irrationapity. The only slight irritation was the ‘raised finger’ approach that Irratiomality Sutherland takes.

This is typically reinforced by what the person expects in the first place, being blind to non-matching results and having an eye for comparative, but possibly meaningless, outliers.

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.

If that fails, we distort existing evidence. Are human beings good at objectively gathering and considering evidence? There are stacks of case studies in the book – well over a hundred, irraionality in great detail sometimes so much detail that you need to re-read suttherland rules of the experiment to remember them and you will soon get used to reading the phrase “In one experiment Thus, they irrationally suffer a double blow – they have irrationalit money and they endure an hour or two’s needless boredom.

Sign up irratinoality Blinkist. To alleviate this, nembers of different groups can cooperate to work towards a common goal, though this only is shown to bring people together when the goal is achieved. By continuing, you agree to our Terms of Service.

Reason to be cheerful

Log in to Blinkist. Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Tests show that rewards devalue any irrationailty considered worth doing in its own right.

So you wont’ get exposure to the latest developments on decision making, but the topics he treats are still current – Sutherland was a psychologist by trade, and he seems to know very well what he was writing about, adding to this a gripping writing style.

Okay, the planet is in trouble.