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Riverhead (2017-03-14)


Why We Never Think Alone

by Fernbach, PhilipSloman, Steven

The key to human intelligence lies in the fascinating ways we think together.

Humans have built hugely complex societies and technologies, but most of us don’t even know how a pen works. So how have we achieved so much despite understanding so little? Cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach argue that we survive and thrive despite our mental shortcomings because we live in a rich community of knowledge. We’re constantly drawing on information and expertise stored outside our heads: in our bodies, our environment, our possessions, and the people with whom we interact—and usually we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

The human mind is both brilliant and pathetic. We have mastered fire, created democratic institutions, stood on the moon, and developed genetically modified tomatoes. And yet each of us is error prone, sometimes irrational, and often ignorant. The fundamentally communal nature of intelligence and knowledge explains why we often assume we know more than we really do, why political opinions and false beliefs are so hard to change, and why individually oriented approaches to education and management frequently fail. But our collaborative minds also enable us to do amazing things. This book contends that true genius can be found in the ways we create intelligence using the world around us.

Steven Sloman is a Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences at Brown University where he has worked since 1992. His work concerns higher-order aspects of cognition, including causal reasoning, judgment and decision making, and categorization. He is currently Editor-in-Chief of the journal Cognition.

Phil Fernbach is a cognitive scientist and professor of marketing at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He focusses on how cognitive science can shed light on issues of critical importance to society, such as political polarization, acceptance of cutting edge technologies like genetic engineering, and consumer financial decision making. He has written for publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and BBC World News.

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authors had an interview with German Psycology Today

Quote: Psychologie Heute

TIME magazine features the book in their newest issue, on-stands last week, noting the “Essential Power of the Hive Mind”.

Review: Time

“Cognitive science attempts to understand the workings of the individual mind. In this brilliant book, Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach show us that what cognitive science has learned is how much the individual mind depends on the minds of others. No matter how smart we are, as individuals we know (almost) nothing. Reading this book will inspire you to cultivate your own expertise, but even more, it will inspire you to seek out and appreciate the expertise of others. This book is a blueprint for an enlightened society.”

Quote: Barry Schwartz, Author

NEW YORK MAGAZINE featured THE KNOWLEDGE ILLUSION as one of the top science “Books That Will Nurture Your Nerdier Side in 2017,” observing how the cognitive scientists’ argument will “challenge the way you think you about the things you ‘know’.”

Quote: New York Magazine

Interesting insights, especially for team building.

Review: Kirkus

A compelling and entertaining examination of the gap between knowledge one thinks one has and the amount for knowledge actually held in the brain . . . revelatory scholarly insights . . . in an increasingly polarized culture where certainty reigns supreme, a book advocating intellectual humility and recognition of the limits of understanding feels both revolutionary and necessary. The fact that it’s a fun and engaging page-turner is a bonus benefit for the reader.

Review: Publishers Weekly

“We radically overestimate how much we know. In this fascinating book,Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach examine the origin and consequences of this knowledge illusion, exploring both the extent of our ignorance andthe clever ways in which we overcome it. This is an exceptionally clear and well-reasoned book, and it has some important and radical things to say about everything from the allure of stories to how iPhones make us smarter to the pros and cons of democracy. This is psychology at its best.”

Quote: Paul Bloom, Yale University

THE KNOWLEDGE ILLUSION is featured in this week’s issue of THE NEW YORKER in a piece titled “That’s What You Think: Why Reason & Evidence Won’t Change Our Minds.” In the piece, the writer applies the concept of the “Knowledge Illusion” to our current political climate and how it’s at work in the Trump administration.

Quote: The New Yorker

We all know less than we think we do, including how much we know about how much we know. There’s no cure for this condition, but there is a treatment: this fascinating book. School of Thought is filled with insights on how we should deal with our individual ignorance and collective wisdom.

Quote: Steven Pinker, Author

Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs Would've Failed Without This The most successful entrepreneurs overcome error, self-doubt, and irrational thoughts by drawing on the collective knowledge of their team.

Quote: Inc.

Why we pretend to know things, explained by a cognitive scientist

Quote: Vox

UK: Macmillan ; China (simplified): Citic ; Greece: Psichogios ; Italy: Cortina ; Japan: Hayakawa ; Korea: Sejong Books ; Romania: Publica ; Russia: Azbooka-Atticus ; Taiwan: Prhophet Press , Turkey: Pegasus Yayinlari ; Ukraine: Oksana Forostyna Publishing House

Quote: Riverhead

BLOOMBERG cited author Steve Sloman in a piece about fake news, in which he applies the phenomenon of “the knowledge illusion” to show how so many of us end up believing fake news.

Quote: Bloomberg

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