- 209,00 kr
A TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2021
'Punchy, funny and invigorating ... Pinker is the high priest of rationalism' Sunday Times
'If you've ever considered taking drugs to make yourself smarter, read Rationality instead. It's cheaper, more entertaining, and more effective' Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind
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.
'A terrific book, much-needed for our time' Peter Singer
In this revealing pop take on the mind and society, Harvard psychologist Pinker (The Better Angels of Our Nature) investigates the nature of straight-thinking and the many ways it goes crooked. He lays out the basics of formal logic, probability, and statistics, and dissects common fallacies that violate them. The "argument from authority," for example, takes pronouncements by "experts" as unquestionable gospel, while "availability bias" makes people falsely believe that nuclear accidents that garner huge news coverage are more dangerous than less-covered coal-fired power plants, and the Texas sharpshooter fallacy drawing a bulls-eye around a bullet hole after one shoots at a barn is widespread as a way of passing off random data points as accurate predictions. Pinker skewers all manner of misguided thinking, myths, and "cockamamie conspiracy theories" across the ideological spectrum, from the Stop-the-Steal right to the "left-wing monoculture" that makes universities "laughingstocks for their assaults on common sense." He manages to be scrupulously rigorous yet steadily accessible and entertaining whether probing the rationality of Andrew Yang's presidential platform, Dilbert cartoons, or Yiddish proverbs. The result is both a celebration of humans' ability to make things better with careful thinking and a penetrating rebuke to muddleheadedness.