Why to Err Is HumanBook - 2009
A dazzling new work of popular science and psychology for readers who enjoyed Blink, Stumbling on Happiness, or The Black Swan.
The New York Times called the Kaplans' look at probability in everyday life, Chances Are... , "a dizzying, exhilarating ride." Now they take readers on a new fun-house tour--exploring the burgeoning science of why humans make mistakes.
Our species, it appears, is hardwired to get things wrong in myriad different ways. Why did recipients of a loan offer accept a higher rate of interest when a pretty woman's face was printed on the flyer? Why did one poll on immigration find the most despised aliens were ones from a group that did not exist? What made four of the air force's best pilots fly their planes, in formation, straight into the ground? Why does giving someone power make him more likely to chew with his mouth open and pick his nose? And why is your sister going out with that biker dude?
In fact, our cognitive, logical, and romantic failures may be a fair price for our extraordinary success as a species--they are the necessary cost of our adaptability. Michael and Ellen Kaplan swoop effortlessly across neurochemistry, behavioral economics, and evolutionary biology, among other disciplines, to answer, with both clarity and wit, the questions above--and larger ones about what it means to be human.
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We judge the strangers from whom we require purely abstract services (political candidates, business leaders) as they were our friends and troop mates, using criteria a baboon would find appropriate: hair thickness, waist-to-hip ratio, monogamy - none of which is necessarily relevant.
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