57 books like How We Know What Isn't So

By Thomas Gilovich,

Here are 57 books that How We Know What Isn't So fans have personally recommended if you like How We Know What Isn't So. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The God Delusion

Bruce M. Hood Author Of SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable

From my list on magical thinking and superstition.

Who am I?

When I was a child, I was fascinated by the supernatural and wanted to believe in the paranormal. On reaching university, I discovered there was no reliable evidence for such phenomena but rather there was a much more satisfying explanation based on the weaknesses and wishes of human psychology. Development is critical to human psychology and as I specialized in children’s thinking, I found more reasons to understand the natural origins of the peculiarities of our reasoning. SuperSense was my first popular science book to expound my ideas, but all of my subsequent books apply similar novel ways of explaining human behaviour from surprising perspectives. 

Bruce's book list on magical thinking and superstition

Bruce M. Hood Why did Bruce love this book?

This was the book that impelled me to write my own account of superstition. I could have also recommended his masterpiece, The Selfish Gene, which I read as a teenager and got me into science in the first place but this unforgiving attack on religion spurred me to write a more balanced view that considered religion as a naturally emerging consequence of cognitive development. In fairness, The God Delusion does briefly mention evidence in support of a natural inclination, but this is outweighed by an agenda (that I do not share) to eradicate religion as pernicious indoctrination. Whatever your opinion of Dawkins, he is undeniably one of the most gifted science writers with a clarity of argument combined with a poetic beauty of prose.

By Richard Dawkins,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The God Delusion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The God Delusion caused a sensation when it was published in 2006. Within weeks it became the most hotly debated topic, with Dawkins himself branded as either saint or sinner for presenting his hard-hitting, impassioned rebuttal of religion of all types.

His argument could hardly be more topical. While Europe is becoming increasingly secularized, the rise of religious fundamentalism, whether in the Middle East or Middle America, is dramatically and dangerously dividing opinion around the world. In America, and elsewhere, a vigorous dispute between 'intelligent design' and Darwinism is seriously undermining and restricting the teaching of science. In many countries…


Book cover of The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters

Gary Smith Author Of Distrust: Big Data, Data-Torturing, and the Assault on Science

From my list on science’s eroding reputation.

Who am I?

I am the Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics at Pomona College. I started out as a macroeconomist but, early on, discovered stats and stocks—which have long been fertile fields for data torturing and data mining. My book, Standard Deviations: Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and Other Ways to Lie with Statistics is a compilation of a variety of dubious and misleading statistical practices. More recently, I have written several books on AI, which has a long history of overpromising and underdelivering because it is essentially data mining on steroids. No matter how loudly statisticians shout correlation is not causation, some will not hear.

Gary's book list on science’s eroding reputation

Gary Smith Why did Gary love this book?

A biting quip in the debate about whether computers are on the verge of surpassing (or have already surpassed) human intelligence is, “It is not that computers are getting smarter but that humans are getting dumber.”

In the same spirit, Nichols argues that “These are dangerous times. Never have so many people had access to so much knowledge, and yet been so resistant to learning anything.”

By Tom Nichols,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Death of Expertise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

People are now exposed to more information than ever before, provided both by technology and by increasing access to every level education. These societal gains, however, have also helped fuel a surge in narcissistic and misguided intellectual egalitarianism that has crippled informed debates on any number of issues. Today, everyone knows everything; with only a quick trip through WebMD or Wikipedia, average citizens believe themselves to be on an equal intellectual
footing with doctors and diplomats. All voices, even the most ridiculous, demand to be taken with equal seriousness, and any claim to the contrary is dismissed as undemocratic elitism.…


Book cover of Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

Bryan Farha Author Of Pseudoscience and Deception: The Smoke and Mirrors of Paranormal Claims

From my list on critically analyzing paranormal claims.

Who am I?

As a licensed mental health professional, I once had a client claiming to be demonically possessed, and requested that I get an exorcist to drive the evil spirits out of her body. Instead, I utilized a therapeutic approach to challenge “irrational” beliefs. The problem was gone. I realized that people were prone to strange beliefs and started to read and listen to “experts” who were skeptical in nature. To my surprise, I saw Carl Sagan distinguishing astrology (pseudoscience) from astronomy (science). His talk was clear, convincing, and logical. I was hooked.

Bryan's book list on critically analyzing paranormal claims

Bryan Farha Why did Bryan love this book?

Michael Shermer systematically addresses why humans believe weird and extraordinary things. He even makes a case that we are hard-wired for it. Further—and this should make most of us feel better about our strange thinking—he shows how even highly intelligent people sometimes believe in pseudoscience and other extraordinary claims. 

By Michael Shermer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Why People Believe Weird Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work presents a down-to-earth and sometimes funny survey of a range of contemporary irrationalisms, and explains their empirical and logical flaws. It tackles a variety of topics including creationism, Holocaust denial, race and IQ, cults and alien abductions, and the author looks at the research behind the claims and discredits the pseudoscience involved.


Book cover of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition

Bruce M. Hood Author Of SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable

From my list on magical thinking and superstition.

Who am I?

When I was a child, I was fascinated by the supernatural and wanted to believe in the paranormal. On reaching university, I discovered there was no reliable evidence for such phenomena but rather there was a much more satisfying explanation based on the weaknesses and wishes of human psychology. Development is critical to human psychology and as I specialized in children’s thinking, I found more reasons to understand the natural origins of the peculiarities of our reasoning. SuperSense was my first popular science book to expound my ideas, but all of my subsequent books apply similar novel ways of explaining human behaviour from surprising perspectives. 

Bruce's book list on magical thinking and superstition

Bruce M. Hood Why did Bruce love this book?

This book examines the psychology of superstition from the perspective of cognitive science and fallibility of human reasoning. Rather than dismissing superstitious behaviour, Vyse provides a comprehensive explanation of why we continue to hold such beliefs as a function of the way our minds work. This was the book that really inspired me to examine the developmental origins of magical thinking.

By Stuart A. Vyse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Believing in Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

While we live in a technologically and scientifically advanced age, superstition is as widespread as ever. Not limited to just athletes and actors, superstitious beliefs are common among people of all occupations, educational backgrounds, and income levels.

In this fully updated edition of Believing in Magic, renowned superstition expert Stuart Vyse investigates our tendency towards these irrational beliefs. Superstitions, he writes, are the natural result of several psychological processes, including our human sensitivity to coincidence, a penchant for developing rituals to fill time (to battle nerves, impatience, or both), our efforts to cope with uncertainty, the need for control, and…


Book cover of White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts: Suppression, Obsession, and the Psychology of Mental Control

Bruce M. Hood Author Of SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable

From my list on magical thinking and superstition.

Who am I?

When I was a child, I was fascinated by the supernatural and wanted to believe in the paranormal. On reaching university, I discovered there was no reliable evidence for such phenomena but rather there was a much more satisfying explanation based on the weaknesses and wishes of human psychology. Development is critical to human psychology and as I specialized in children’s thinking, I found more reasons to understand the natural origins of the peculiarities of our reasoning. SuperSense was my first popular science book to expound my ideas, but all of my subsequent books apply similar novel ways of explaining human behaviour from surprising perspectives. 

Bruce's book list on magical thinking and superstition

Bruce M. Hood Why did Bruce love this book?

This is an easily accessible book based on Wegner's brilliant work on consciousness and mental control. I have always found Wegner’s work utterly fascinating as it provides such a convincing picture of a mind constantly in a struggle to think coherently – something that I easily recognise in my own conscious awareness. The findings on intrusive implicit thoughts were particularly influential in my own writing about the conflict between dormant thoughts and conscious appraisal that may be factors in why magical thinking surfaces in the rational mind.

By Daniel M. Wegner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a series of groundbreaking experiments, Daniel M. Wegner told subjects not to think about white bears. Of course, they found it impossible to avoid thinking of the bears--just as it often seems impossible to stop thinking about forbidden foods, a painful memory, or everyday fears and worries. Synthesizing a wealth of scientific knowledge in an accessible, engaging style, this book reveals that the more we attempt to push away or avoid unwanted thoughts, the deeper they take hold. Wegner offers compelling insights into how unpleasant or obsessive thoughts get out of control--and what we can do to break free…


Book cover of Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth

Gary Smith Author Of Distrust: Big Data, Data-Torturing, and the Assault on Science

From my list on science’s eroding reputation.

Who am I?

I am the Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics at Pomona College. I started out as a macroeconomist but, early on, discovered stats and stocks—which have long been fertile fields for data torturing and data mining. My book, Standard Deviations: Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and Other Ways to Lie with Statistics is a compilation of a variety of dubious and misleading statistical practices. More recently, I have written several books on AI, which has a long history of overpromising and underdelivering because it is essentially data mining on steroids. No matter how loudly statisticians shout correlation is not causation, some will not hear.

Gary's book list on science’s eroding reputation

Gary Smith Why did Gary love this book?

Ritchie was part of a team that attempted to replicate a famous study led by a prominent psychologist, Daryl Bem, claiming that people did better on a word memorization test if they studied the words after taking the test.

Ritchie and his co-authors attempted to replicate this study and found no evidence supporting Bem’s claim. This is but one example of a scientific crisis in that attempts to replicate influential studies published in top peer-reviewed journals fail nearly half the time. Ritchie explains and illustrates the reasons for the current replication crisis in science.

By Stuart Ritchie,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Science Fictions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An insider’s view of science reveals why many scientific results cannot be relied upon – and how the system can be reformed.

Science is how we understand the world. Yet failures in peer review and mistakes in statistics have rendered a shocking number of scientific studies useless – or, worse, badly misleading. Such errors have distorted our knowledge in fields as wide-ranging as medicine, physics, nutrition, education, genetics, economics, and the search for extraterrestrial life. As Science Fictions makes clear, the current system of research funding and publication not only fails to safeguard us from blunders but actively encourages bad…


Book cover of Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World

Gary Smith Author Of Distrust: Big Data, Data-Torturing, and the Assault on Science

From my list on science’s eroding reputation.

Who am I?

I am the Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics at Pomona College. I started out as a macroeconomist but, early on, discovered stats and stocks—which have long been fertile fields for data torturing and data mining. My book, Standard Deviations: Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and Other Ways to Lie with Statistics is a compilation of a variety of dubious and misleading statistical practices. More recently, I have written several books on AI, which has a long history of overpromising and underdelivering because it is essentially data mining on steroids. No matter how loudly statisticians shout correlation is not causation, some will not hear.

Gary's book list on science’s eroding reputation

Gary Smith Why did Gary love this book?

The title is provocative but justified because so much of the “evidence” that we are bombarded with daily is bullshit. This is a wonderful compilation of statistical mistakes and misuses that are intended to persuade readers to be skeptical and to show them how to recognize bullshit when they see it.

By Carl T. Bergstrom, Jevin D. West,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Calling Bullshit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bullshit isn’t what it used to be. Now, two science professors give us the tools to dismantle misinformation and think clearly in a world of fake news and bad data.
 
“A modern classic . . . a straight-talking survival guide to the mean streets of a dying democracy and a global pandemic.”—Wired

Misinformation, disinformation, and fake news abound and it’s increasingly difficult to know what’s true. Our media environment has become hyperpartisan. Science is conducted by press release. Startup culture elevates bullshit to high art. We are fairly well equipped to spot the sort of old-school bullshit that is based…


Book cover of The War on Science: Who's Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do about It

Gary Smith Author Of Distrust: Big Data, Data-Torturing, and the Assault on Science

From my list on science’s eroding reputation.

Who am I?

I am the Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics at Pomona College. I started out as a macroeconomist but, early on, discovered stats and stocks—which have long been fertile fields for data torturing and data mining. My book, Standard Deviations: Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and Other Ways to Lie with Statistics is a compilation of a variety of dubious and misleading statistical practices. More recently, I have written several books on AI, which has a long history of overpromising and underdelivering because it is essentially data mining on steroids. No matter how loudly statisticians shout correlation is not causation, some will not hear.

Gary's book list on science’s eroding reputation

Gary Smith Why did Gary love this book?

A potentially enormous benefit of the scientific revolution is that government policies can be based on empirical evidence rather than hunches, guesses, and biases.

Unfortunately, the eroding credibility of science and scientists undermines the persuasiveness of scientific evidence supporting or refuting the likely consequences of government policies. Otto explains how and why evidence-based policy-making is under attack from identity politics, political ideology, and businesses.

By Shawn Otto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The War on Science as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the MN Book Award for Nonfiction. "Wherever the people are well informed," Thomas Jefferson wrote, "they can be trusted with their own government." But what happens when they are not? In every issue of modern society--from climate change to vaccinations, transportation to technology, health care to defense--we are in the midst of an unprecedented expansion of scientific progress and a simultaneous expansion of danger. At the very time we need them most, scientists and the idea of objective knowledge are being bombarded by a vast, well-funded, three-part war on science: the identity politics war on science, the ideological…


Book cover of The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

Aparna Pande Author Of From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India's Foreign Policy

From my list on history and foreign policy.

Who am I?

Foreign policy has been my passion since I was a child. My father was a civil servant and growing up in India, I always wanted to follow in his footsteps but instead of working on domestic issues, I wanted to work on international affairs. History was another passion of mine and I wanted to combine the two of them in such a way that I studied the past in order to explain the present and help the future. This passion led me to enroll in a PhD program in the United States and then work at a think tank. I have written three books, two of which focus exclusively on foreign policy. I hope you enjoy reading the books I have listed and read my book.  

Aparna's book list on history and foreign policy

Aparna Pande Why did Aparna love this book?

This classic, from the 1980s, is a must-read for history buffs and those interested in international affairs. The author cites examples from ancient Greece to the 1970s, to demonstrate how empires and nations often make decisions that are detrimental to their long-term interests. I love this book for its writing style which is captivating, for the breath of its examples which range from ancient times to modern-day and for the recommendations this book gives not just for political leaders but those in business and other walks of life.

By Barbara W. Tuchman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The March of Folly as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Barbara W. Tuchman, author of the World War I masterpiece The Guns of August, grapples with her boldest subject: the pervasive presence, through the ages, of failure, mismanagement, and delusion in government.
 
Drawing on a comprehensive array of examples, from Montezuma’s senseless surrender of his empire in 1520 to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Barbara W. Tuchman defines folly as the pursuit by government of policies contrary to their own interests, despite the availability of feasible alternatives. In brilliant detail, Tuchman illuminates four decisive turning points in history that illustrate the very heights of folly: the Trojan…


Book cover of Rational Choice in an Uncertain World: The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making

Steven Pinker Author Of Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters

From my list on rationality and why it matters.

Who am I?

I’m a Harvard professor of psychology and a cognitive scientist who’s interested in all aspects of language, mind, and human nature. I grew up in Montreal, but have lived most of my adult life in the Boston area, bouncing back and forth between Harvard and MIT except for stints in California as a professor at Stanford and sabbatical visitor in Santa Barbara and now, Berkeley. I alternate between books on language (how it works, what it reveals about human nature, what makes for clear and stylish writing) and books on the human mind and human condition (how the mind works, why violence has declined, how progress can take place).

Steven's book list on rationality and why it matters

Steven Pinker Why did Steven love this book?

This is technically a textbook and isn’t marketed as a book you bring to the beach. But sometimes, it’s more satisfying to have the big ideas on a topic patiently explained to you in an orderly fashion than to try to pick them up from stories and arguments.

This paperback, coauthored by one of my graduate school teachers (Hastie), explains the famous discoveries by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman on biases in human reasoning, which Kahneman presented in his bestseller Thinking, Fast and Slow (too obvious for me to include on my list). It also explains lesser-known but still fascinating discoveries and has helpful appendices for those of us who forget some of the basics of probability theory.

By Reid Hastie, Robyn M. Dawes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rational Choice in an Uncertain World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the Second Edition of Rational Choice in an Uncertain World the authors compare the basic principles of rationality with actual behaviour in making decisions. They describe theories and research findings from the field of judgment and decision making in a non-technical manner, using anecdotes as a teaching device. Intended as an introductory textbook for advanced undergraduate and graduate students, the material not only is of scholarly interest but is practical as well.

The Second Edition includes:

- more coverage on the role of emotions, happiness, and general well-being in decisions

- a summary of the new research on the…


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