November 27, 2009

How we know what isn’t so, by Thomas Gilovich

Posted in Behaviour at 07:27 by graham

By Thomas Gilovich, social psychologist and CSI Fellow, this well written book explains some of the reasoning and deduction errors we make when trying to understand the world, and ways to avoid making those errors.

This is an easy and engaging read, and offers several straightforward techniques to avoid making common reasoning errors. I recommend you look up How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life in your local library, or get it second-hand from Amazon for less than a posh cup of coffee.

These are my notes / summary of the book.


I. Cognitive determinants of belief

2. Something out of nothing: The mis-perception and misinterpretation of random data

We are predisposed to see order, pattern, and meaning in the world, and we find randomness, chaos, and meaninglessness unsatisfying. As a consequence we tend to ‘see’ order where there is none, and we spot meaningful patterns where only the vagrancies of chance are operating.

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