10 books like The Constitution of Knowledge

By Jonathan Rauch,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Constitution of Knowledge. 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…


Rationality for Mortals

By Gerd Gigerenzer,

Book cover of Rationality for Mortals: How People Cope with Uncertainty

Gigerenzer is in some ways the un-Tversky-and-Kahneman, emphasizing the ways in which humans are more rational than they seem, and the ways that difficult problems can be made intuitive. This lively collection explains the surprisingly deep and perplexing question of what “probability” even means, and presents many puzzles form everyday reckoning of risk, including: What does the weathercaster mean when she says “There’s a 30 percent chance of rain”?

Rationality for Mortals

By Gerd Gigerenzer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rationality for Mortals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gerd Gigerenzer's influential work examines the rationality of individuals not from the perspective of logic or probability, but from the point of view of adaptation to the real world of human behavior and interaction with the environment. Seen from this perspective, human behavior is more rational than it might otherwise appear. This work is extremely influential and has spawned an entire research program. This volume collects recent articles, looking at how
people use "fast and frugal heuristics" to calculate probability and risk and make decisions. It includes the revised articles and newly written introduction that were first published in the…

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.…

Our Front Pages

By The Onion,

Book cover of Our Front Pages: 21 Years of Greatness, Virtue, and Moral Rectitude from America's Finest News Source

I discovered The Onion late in life as well, and also through their website. Which, yes, I have bookmarked as well—I love most just their headlines. And discovered, again, they'd actually published a book of headlines! 'Nuff said.

Our Front Pages

By The Onion,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Front Pages as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


From The Birth Of A Nation To The Death Of Journalism

Since its founding by a bloodthirsty tyrant in 1756, The Onion has not merely changed the way we think about the news -- it has changed whether we think about the news at all. As the first decade of this new millennium draws to a close, Our Front Pages shows us the first thing that presidents, kings, prime ministers, and popes saw when they opened their eyes each morning for the last 21 years. Now you, the common reader and citizen, can see what they saw and be as…

Everything Is Bullshit

By Priceonomics, Alex Mayyasi, Rohin Dhar, Zachary Crockett, Dan Abramson (illustrator), David Raether (contributor)

Book cover of Everything Is Bullshit: The greatest scams on Earth revealed

I found Everything is Bullshit to be so interesting that I wasn’t able to put it down once discovered in a random, one-off, used bookstore. This book is a sleeping beauty. It opened my eyes to all the scams that big companies use and how they have the money and power to keep getting away with them. The explanations for why many of our society’s most cherished traditions are actually based on bullshit reasoning are well-researched and compelling. The book helped me understand why diamond engagement rings are so expensive, why wine is so expensive, how art becomes “art”, why non-profit organizations ask us to donate our cars to them, why college costs so much, and why so many pets die in animal shelters.

Everything Is Bullshit

By Priceonomics, Alex Mayyasi, Rohin Dhar, Zachary Crockett, Dan Abramson (illustrator), David Raether (contributor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everything Is Bullshit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Many of our society’s most cherished traditions are actually based on historical accident, the profit motives of a few companies, or the agenda of someone who died long ago. A lot of what we believe and do is bullshit, yet we walk around thinking our way of doing things is inherently correct. Why do we exchange diamond engagement rings? Why is wine so expensive? How does art become “art”? Why do so many non-profits want us to donate cars to them? Why does college cost so much? Why do so many pets die in animal shelters? Why is the world…

Fantasyland

By Kurt Andersen,

Book cover of Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History

The co-creator of SPY magazine, Kurt Andersen was my hero in high school. He’s been an NPR radio host, a novelist, a magazine editor, and a co-author with Alec Baldwin on their Trump book. But this book feels like all the thinking he’s done in those places put in one place. It’s a textbook of American history from the Puritans until today, through the lens of our special predilection for conspiracy, con artists, and fabulists, both on the left and the right, and how it all culminates in the 1960s. So smart, so funny, so jealous.

Fantasyland

By Kurt Andersen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


You're entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts

Fantasy is the USA's primary product. From the Pilgrim Fathers onward America has been a place where renegades and freaks came in search of freedom to create their own realities with little objectively regulated truth standing in their way. The freedom to invent and believe whatever the hell you like is, in some ways, an unwritten constitutional right. But, this do-your-own-thing freedom also is the driving credo of America's current transformation where the difference between opinion and fact is rapidly crumbling.

So how did we get to this weird…


Why People Believe Weird Things

By Michael Shermer,

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

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. 

Why People Believe Weird Things

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.

A Fool's Errand

By Albion W. Tourgee,

Book cover of A Fool's Errand: A Novel of the South During Reconstruction

I used to teach this book in Civil War classes. Although billed as fiction, the book is a thinly veiled account of Albion Tourgée’s actual experiences with terrorism. Tourgée refers to the protagonist as “The Fool,” a dig at himself in the third person. An Ohioan, he relocated to North Carolina after the Civil War, became involved in Radical politics (advocating African American voting), and was elected a superior court judge. Tourgée battled the Ku Klux Klan. He faced death threats and provided accounts of lynchings of prominent Republican leaders—acts of political violence. The “Fool” started out as an idealist who tried to encourage equality under the law and then found himself, along with others, ground down by the violence around him, causing him to return to the North. The book allows readers to feel the problems of Reconstruction through the eyes of someone who lived through them.

A Fool's Errand

By Albion W. Tourgee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Fool's Errand as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“We tried to superimpose the civilization, the idea of the North, upon the South at a moment’s warning … It was a Fool’s Errand.”

The year is 1865 and the war between the states of North and South has ended.

Comfort Servosse, a Union officer, has decided to make his life in the South.

But is he only a fool for doing so?

Drawing upon his own experiences Albion Tourgee constructed a novel which vividly brings to life the world of the South during the Reconstruction.

“The native Southron, the 'poor white,' the carpet-bagger, the old Unioner, the freedman, the…

The War Against the BBC

By Patrick Barwise, Peter York,

Book cover of The War Against the BBC: How an Unprecedented Combination of Hostile Forces Is Destroying Britain’s Greatest Cultural Institution... And Why You Should Care

The pairing of a kosher London Business School professor with a rock-solid broadcasting analysis track record and a style commentator with none. Nearly half the book is made up of footnotes and references. They build a powerful case against the right-wing (and not so right-wing) rag, tag, and bobtail who expend their intellectual effort on undermining the BBC, trying to destroy it or worse ‘defund it’. The trouble is that post-Brexit rational discussion in the UK is stilted and limited. The BBC has acquired an army of unexpected enemies. The usual suspects of friends are proving somewhat muted on this front in the Culture Wars. A hard but good read.

Much of the writing on the BBC is ill-formed opinion. Few facts. This book is partial but very solid academically. It should, but will not, put some arguments to bed. Will it ‘save’ the BBC. Watch this space.

The War Against the BBC

By Patrick Barwise, Peter York,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There's a war on against the BBC. It is under threat as never before. And if we lose it, we won't get it back.

The BBC is our most important cultural institution, our best-value entertainment provider, and the global face of Britain. It's our most trusted news source in a world of divisive disinformation. But it is facing relentless attacks by powerful commercial and political enemies, including deep funding cuts - much deeper than most people realise - with imminent further cuts threatened. This book busts the myths about the BBC and shows us how we can save it, before…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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