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Rationality

What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters

Steven Pinker

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Allen Lane
04 October 2021
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A user's guide to rationality acts as a follow-up to the bestselling Enlightenment Now Humans today are often portrayed as cavemen out of time, poised to react to a lion in the grass with a suite of biases, blind spots, and illusions. But cognitive scientist and rational optimist Steven Pinker argues that this cannot be the whole picture. A list of the ways in which we are stupid cannot explain how we're so smart- how we discovered the laws of nature, transformed the planet, and lengthened and enriched our lives. Indeed, if humans were fundamentally irrational, how did they discover the benchmarks for rationality against which humans fall short?

The topic could not be more timely. 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 sequenced the genome and detected the Big Bang produce so much fake news, conspiracy theories, and 'post-truth' rhetoric? Rationality explains the key tools for rational thinking, guiding the reader through the basics of logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation, and helping us to make rational choices alone and with others.

Rationality matters. As the world reels from foolish choices made in the past and dreads a future that may be shaped by senseless choices in the present, rationality may be the most important asset that citizens and influencers command. Steven Pinker, the great defender of human progress, having documented how the world is not falling apart, now shows how we can enhance rationality in our lives and in the public sphere. Rationality is the perfect toolkit to seize our own fates.
By:   Steven Pinker
Imprint:   Allen Lane
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 31mm
Weight:   519g
ISBN:   9780241380284
ISBN 10:   0241380286
Pages:   416
Publication Date:   04 October 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Steven Pinker is an experimental cognitive scientist. Currently Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has won many prizes for his research, teaching, and his eleven books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and The Sense of Style. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, a recipient of nine honorary doctorates, one of Foreign Policy's 'World's Top 100 Public Intellectuals' and Time's '100 Most Influential People in the World Today'.

Reviews for Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters

Steven Pinker is among the best science writers in history, and with Rationality he applies his talents to one of the most important and misunderstood human abilities - tracking reality with a brain that was designed to do so under some circumstances but not others. If you've ever considered taking drugs to make yourself smarter, read Rationality instead. It's cheaper, more entertaining, and more effective. -- Jonathan Haidt, NYU-Stern School of Business and author of The Righteous Mind Rationality is a terrific book, much-needed for our time. In addition to drawing together the tools for overcoming obstacles to rational thinking, Pinker breaks new ground with the evidence he provides linking rationality and moral progress. -- Peter Singer A reader-friendly primer in better thinking through the cultivation of that rarest of rarities: a sound argument. * Kirkus *


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