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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

Can reading a book make you more rational? Can it help you understand why there is so much irrationality in the world? These are the goals of Rationality, Steven Pinker's follow-up to Enlightenment Now.

In the 21st 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 developed vaccines for COVID-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, quack cures and conspiracy theorising?

Pinker rejects the cynical cliché that humans are an irrational species - cavemen out of time saddled 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 that we think in ways that are sensible in 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 the millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation and decision-making. 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 also explores its opposite: how the rational pursuit of self-interest, sectarian solidarity and uplifting mythology by individuals can add up to crippling irrationality in a society. Collective rationality depends on norms that are explicitly designed to promote objectivity and truth.

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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Steven Pinker (P)2021 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Rationality

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Splendid!

Everyone should listen to this book. Sadly, the people who need it the most, won't.

6 people found this helpful

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Rationality

Classic Pinker. Illuminating, insightful, refreshing, fun. Brought to life with another brilliant performance by Arthur Morey.

4 people found this helpful

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Woke irrationality

For a book on rationality it had far too much left ideology. The examples given were to try and make you sound irrational for disliking hilary Clinton or the biden asministration among other things which is mental because America is undergoing their most irrational time due to Biden. As soon as I heard the phrase "mansplaining" the third time I had to stop. If you're looking for a book on rationality with no bias try 'the irrational ape'.

3 people found this helpful

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Good book

A good book in general but don't listen to half awake! This book needs some serious concentration and for some of it a PDF to go though a long with the book. Not really one for the car but maybe some quite time and deep thinking. Great book just maybe not quite one 100% for me and my circumstances! Just maybe the voice acting could have been a little more upbeat to help with keeping me engaged but the overall concept, content and layout of the book was extremely good.

1 person found this helpful

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rational!

An excellent book well read that should be understood as best as possible by everyone.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant as usual

First and last two chapters are the most accessible and entertaining. Middle ones will take longer to digest completely. Improves on listening a second time as so much is said here worth listening to well.

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Difficult audio book

An interesting topic approached from angles I hadn't considered before but you might be better off reading this one due to the use of multiple graphs, diagrams and statistics to get points across.

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Not really fit for an audio book

Due to the abundant references to visual materials, I didn't find this excellent book suited to be narrated. It needs to be read.

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worst Pinker's book

i read 3other books of his and enjoyed them but this one is really a no go.
very little original thinking. a lot of repetition of material which has been better explained in other previous divulgative books.
the new ingredient ,not a good one to my taste, was quite some Harvard democrat moral
superiority complex and relative bullshit

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Hard but good

Lots of hard stuff in here which doesn't lend itself to the format. But interesting nonetheless.

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  • Joe Cincotta
  • 16-04-22

An excellent book at a time it is needed

This book should be required reading in every first year undergrad course. For every degree. Actually, it should be bedtime reading for your primary school children if they can penetrate the language. They may even acquire a fondness for Yiddish humour.

This book penetrates some of the most challenging and seemingly unrelated subjects of our time and provides a kind of 'cognitive glue' to make sense of them as symptoms of something much more profound. Spoiler alert: it's rationality and our cognitive pitfalls - individually and at scale.

The book itself is a joy to listen to, the narrator channels Pinker's brilliant way of taking a complex subject and delivering it in a totally accessible way. I think you really need to get the PDF illustrations to make the most of the book, especially in probability discussions, however even without this - challenging concepts are broken up with analogies and humorous yet poignant asides.

overall, a highly recommended read.

1 person found this helpful