Inevitable Illusions: How Mistakes of Reason Rule Our Minds

Piattelli-Palmarini, Massimo

"Fascinating and insightful. . . . I cannot recall a book that has made me think more about the nature of thinking." -- Richard C. Lewontin Harvard University Everyone knows that optical illusions trick us because of the way we see. Now scientists have discovered that cognitive illusions, a set of biases deeply embedded in the human mind, can actually distort the way we think. In Inevitable Illusions, distinguished cognitive researcher Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini takes us on a provocative, challenging, and thoroughly entertaining exploration of the games our minds play. He opens the doors onto the newly charted realm of the cognitive unconscious to reveal the full range of illusions, showing how they inhibit our ability to reason--no matter what our educational background or IQ. Inevitable Illusions is stimulating, eye-opening food for thought. Scientists have recently made the alarming discovery that the human mind is apparently "hard wired" to make mistakes in judgement--cognitive illusions--thatfunction like mental blinders, including "juror's fallacy, " "predictability in hindsight, " and the "seven deadly mental sins." Editorial Reviews Library Journal Minimally, how many people must there be in a room to allow a better than 50 percent chance that two of them will have the same birthday? Your answer may reveal the presence of a cognitive illusion-a mental tunnel that confounds rational thought. Piattelli-Palmarini, director of the Cognitive Science Institute in Milan and a research associate at MIT, offers fascinating examples of such illusions to show how spontaneous, intuitive judgment can lead us astray. Our failure to grasp basic probability, for example, can lead to catastrophic decisions in law and medicine. The author describes the seven deadly mental sins and suggests ways to overcome bias and "mental sloth." This thoughtful, often disturbing book will challenge even those readers with a firm grounding in probability and statistics. For academic and large public libraries.-Laurie Bartolini, Legislative Research, Springfield, Ill.

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