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Publisher's 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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  • Beelzebub
  • 17-10-21

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-10-21

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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  • Zak
  • 11-01-22

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'.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-12-21

Hard but good

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

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  • DJ Ricks
  • 14-12-21

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.

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  • Paul La Femina
  • 07-12-21

rational!

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

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  • F D Vernor
  • 18-11-21

Nothing new, unbalanced and mediocre

I love some of Pinker's work, but this book was a dissapointment. it may be that I've just heard much of the topics covered before, either by Pinker himself, or by others (Kahneman / Tetlock / Gigerenzer) or it may be that I just felt it didn't explore the counter argument well enough to validate his central thesis. There's nothing wrong with unbalanced books, but they work much better when they provide the contrarian view and swim against the tide. This does neither, even just to sharpen its own argument. I much preferred books on this subject by the other authors mentioned, or the excellent "Radical Uncertainty" by Mervyn King, which really provides the arguments against which a book like this by Pinker should be looking to tackle. I also felt the book was a little smug, and slightly tribal. He played to his political base and came off sounding condescending at times. I guess living in North America does that to a person these days. Don't get me wrong, it was still a solid 3 stars and well worth a read. I've just come to expect a whole lot more from Pinker.

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  • Robert
  • 17-11-21

Falls short but still a good book

Some of his arguments are quite weak, especially when he ventured into the topic of morality. I think he’s quite soft on the religious argument and gives religion too much credit that it doesn’t deserve.

However he does provide some good explanation of more common reasoning errors.

He also makes the point about the left/right being in a battle for moral superiority and ignoring reason placing ideology first.

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  • Mr. H
  • 14-11-21

Reasonably good but disappointing

Pinker gives an excellent presentation of basic logic thinking and common fallacies and how to guard against them.
Where he fails a bit is in assessing the different values of Conservatism and Liberalism. He is clearly familiar with the latter, both in its classical version and the more left-wing version, and he gives a fair presentation of them in light of rational thinking.
But Conservatism appears to be written out of Dr. Pinker's script, or caricatured as Trumpist populism (which is a million miles away from traditional Conservatism).

I suspect Pinker doesn't know much about Burkean Conservatism, and as such it would perhaps have been better to have stayed or of politics altogether.

Great narrator, and all in all an enjoyable audio book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-10-21

essential

Just like any other work from Pinker, a very good book, essential for critical thinking skills. Highly recommend it

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  • Anthony Gill
  • 19-01-22

Important summary of why rationality matters

A book to put in the hands of anyone who is interested in critical thinking, problem solving and reasoned argument. A cool and lucid analysis of human knowledge and how we acquired it, related with astonishing clarity and not a little humour. Pinker’s majestic synthetic sweeps of intellectual history are very much the fruit of a team effort, which one can find acknowledgement of in the preface, nonetheless, the manner in which he has relentlessly corralled the most pertinent and important arguments for each question he considers is awe inspiring. An antidote to alienation for the thinking individual, I would and will recommend this to anyone.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-01-22

A candle into the darkness

Clear, concise and illuminating. The fruit of a great mind read by a great voice. Read it. Tell someone to read it too.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-01-22

So disappointing

Great topic and he makes plenty of good points. The whole thing wreaks of the authors putrid agenda, often using ridicule to try to make a point?

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  • Philip
  • 06-12-21

interesting enough but poorly written

while it contains some interesting information there are far better sources on the topic.