10 books like Rationality for Mortals

By Gerd Gigerenzer,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Rationality for Mortals. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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A Treatise of Human Nature

By David Hume,

Book cover of A Treatise of Human Nature

When I wrote Rationality, I mentioned Hume 32 times. He didn’t think of everything, but he explained an astonishing range of topics related to rationality, including causation versus correlation, is versus ought, and individual versus collective self-interest. His follow-up, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, explained why we shouldn’t believe in miracles. He explored all of these topics with clarity and wit, putting modern academic writing to shame.

A Treatise of Human Nature

By David Hume,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Treatise of Human Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"One of the greatest of all philosophical works, covering knowledge, imagination, emotion, morality, and justice." — Baroness Warnock, The List
Published in the mid-18th century and received with indifference (it "fell dead-born from the press," noted the author), David Hume's comprehensive three-volume A Treatise of Human Nature has withstood the test of time and has had enormous impact on subsequent philosophical thought. Hume — whom Kant famously credited with having "interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave my investigations in the field of speculative philosophy a quite new direction" — intended this work as an observationally grounded study of human nature.…


Rational Choice in an Uncertain World

By Reid Hastie, Robyn M. Dawes,

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

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.

Rational Choice in an Uncertain World

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…


The Constitution of Knowledge

By Jonathan Rauch,

Book cover of The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth

If humans are the rational animal, why does the world seem to be losing its mind? Why the fake news, the conspiracy theories, the post-truth rhetoric? Rauch explains that truth is a precious commodity, which none of us is smart enough to discover on our own. We depend on institutions and norms – like science, with empirical testing, and journalism, with editing and fact-checking, and democracy, with checks and balances, and academia, with peer review and freedom of inquiry – to make us collectively smarter than any of us is individually. This infrastructure of truth is constantly being corroded – today, by social media and authoritarian populism – and must be cherished and fortified.

The Constitution of Knowledge

By Jonathan Rauch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Arming Americans to defend the truth from today's war on facts.

Disinformation. Trolling. Conspiracies. Social media pile-ons. Campus intolerance. On the surface, these recent additions to our daily vocabulary appear to have little in common. But together, they are driving an epistemic crisis: a multi-front challenge to America's ability to distinguish fact from fiction and elevate truth above falsehood.

In 2016 Russian trolls and bots nearly drowned the truth in a flood of fake news and conspiracy theories, and Donald Trump and his troll armies continued to do the same. Social media companies struggled to keep up with a flood…


The Bias That Divides Us

By Keith E. Stanovich,

Book cover of The Bias That Divides Us: The Science and Politics of Myside Thinking

Stanovich is a cognitive psychologist who showed that rationality is related, but not identical, to intelligence. In this timely book he shows that smart people, and everyone else, are victims of a powerful bias to show that our own tribe is virtuous and wise and knowledgeable and the other tribe is evil and stupid and ignorant. Needless to say it explains a lot about our current moment.

The Bias That Divides Us

By Keith E. Stanovich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bias That Divides Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why we don't live in a post-truth society but rather a myside society: what science tells us about the bias that poisons our politics.

In The Bias That Divides Us, psychologist Keith Stanovich argues provocatively that we don't live in a post-truth society, as has been claimed, but rather a myside society. Our problem is not that we are unable to value and respect truth and facts, but that we are unable to agree on commonly accepted truth and facts. We believe that our side knows the truth. Post-truth? That describes the other side. The inevitable result is political polarization.…

How to Think Like Shakespeare

By Scott Newstok,

Book cover of How to Think Like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education

I can’t seem to recommend one book without recommending two but a teacher once told me, Shakespeare never said one thing when he could say two, and never two things when he could say three. I admit I’m a Shakespeare ‘pusher’ because I believe the works instill wisdom, humanity, and critical thinking skills—attributes that are disappearing as much as some of the natural world mentioned above. Having these tools are essential to saving ourselves and the world around us. We seem to forget how to be human in the same way exercise instructors tell us: Don’t forget to breathe. Newstok serves up a rich menu to digest the delicious process of thinking, so that ‘smarting up’ is as easy as breathing. But I also loved How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, by Ken Ludwig for similar reasons (and it works well for adults too!).

How to Think Like Shakespeare

By Scott Newstok,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Think Like Shakespeare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A lively and engaging guide to vital habits of mind that can help you think more deeply, write more effectively, and learn more joyfully

How to Think like Shakespeare is a brilliantly fun exploration of the craft of thought-one that demonstrates what we've lost in education today, and how we might begin to recover it. In fourteen brief chapters that draw from Shakespeare's world and works, and from other writers past and present, Scott Newstok distills enduring practices that can make learning more creative and pleasurable.

Challenging a host of today's questionable notions about education, Newstok shows how mental play…


Small Teaching

By James M. Lang,

Book cover of Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning

Perhaps an unusual pick for product managers but this book breaks down how to teach successfully in a world of constant distractions. Think of it as “lean startup for classes.” Product managers are teachers, evangelists, and most of all communicators. Knowing how to break down ideas into pieces your teams and colleagues can digest is critical to your success.

Small Teaching

By James M. Lang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Small Teaching as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Employ cognitive theory in the classroom every day Research into how we learn has opened the door for utilizing cognitive theory to facilitate better student learning. But that's easier said than done. Many books about cognitive theory introduce radical but impractical theories, failing to make the connection to the classroom. In Small Teaching, James Lang presents a strategy for improving student learning with a series of modest but powerful changes that make a big difference many of which can be put into practice in a single class period. These strategies are designed to bridge the chasm between primary research and…

Six Thinking Hats

By Edward de Bono,

Book cover of Six Thinking Hats

Officially “Six Hats” is a framework for group decision-making, marking out the major types of consideration (what are the facts? the dangers? how do we feel about this?...) into six roles denoted by differently colored hats. But the classroom impresario will immediately recognize it as a ready-made method for staging those hoary (and problematic) old “class discussions” in far more energetic and widely participatory forms. The genius is to give each participant a pre-made place to speak from, and to make it visible and compelling. Bring on the hats! as my students would say.

Six Thinking Hats

By Edward de Bono,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Six Thinking Hats as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Used successfully by thousands of business managers, educators, and government leaders around the world, Six Thinking Hats offers a practical and uniquely positive approach to making decisions and exploring new ideas.

Your success in business depends on how you think. "The main difficulty of thinking is confusion," writes Edward de Bono, long recognized as the foremost international authority on conceptual thinking and on the teaching of thinking as a skill. "We try to do too much at once. Emotions, information, logic, hope, and creativity all crowd in on us. It is like juggling with too many balls." The solution? De…

Magic of Thinking Big

By David M. Schwartz,

Book cover of Magic of Thinking Big

Being a creative person is a journey, that’s for sure, and not an easy one. It’s tough and it takes courage, but you can get there. Along the way, how do you prevent yourself from getting discouraged, especially when you’re focused on bringing a big idea to life? Reading this timeless book on the importance of mindset never fails to motivate me. Follow its advice, and you will be able to climb the highest of mountains and pick yourself back up when you get knocked down. A must-read for inventors, entrepreneurs, and anyone with an idea.

Magic of Thinking Big

By David M. Schwartz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

More than 6 million readers around the world have improved their lives by reading The Magic of Thinking Big.

First published in 1959, David J Schwartz's classic teachings are as powerful today as they were then. Practical, empowering and hugely engaging, this book will not only inspire you, it will give you the tools to change your life for the better - starting from now. His step-by-step approach will show you how to:

- Defeat disbelief and the negative power it creates
- Make your mind produce positive thoughts
- Plan a concrete success-building programme
- Do more and do…


Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future

By John Brockman,

Book cover of Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future

John Brockman has composed 150 short essays on the dominant question of our time, how is the Internet changing the way you think? This sparked the basis of my book. 

From pessimistic to optimistic views, the experts bring together different perspectives in different fields.

Too early to tell? Is our thinking becoming more shallow? Some say the web is a work of genius and the greatest achievement of the human race.

Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future

By John Brockman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, Chris Anderson, Nassim Taleb, and nearly 150 other intellectual rock stars reveal how the internet is changing our minds, culture, and future, in John Brockman’s latest compendium from Harper Perennial and Edge.org.

Metaphor and Thought

By Andrew Ortony (editor),

Book cover of Metaphor and Thought

This collection contains articles by many of the leading writers on metaphor and provides an excellent overview of its psychological and philosophical ramifications. Metaphor is discussed in relation to language, thought, meaning, society, science, and education. For example, metaphor contributes to science through fertile new concepts like natural selection, and to education through ways of connecting new concepts with old ones. 

Metaphor and Thought

By Andrew Ortony (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Metaphor and Thought as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Metaphor and Thought, first published in 1979, reflects the surge of interest in and research into the nature and function of metaphor in language and thought. In this revised and expanded second edition, the editor has invited the contributors to update their original essays to reflect any changes in their thinking. Reorganised to accommodate the shifts in central theoretical issues, the volume also includes six new chapters that present important and influential fresh ideas about metaphor that have appeared in such fields as the philosophy of language and the philosophy of science, linguistics, cognitive and clinical psychology, education and artificial…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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