Book Summary: How We Know What Isn’t So

Book: How We Know What Isn’t So

Author: Thomas Gilovich

A great book on logic, and more importantly, bad logic.

Things to remember when estimating things in future:

  • People tend to be insufficiently conservative or “regressive” when making predictions.
  • Exposure to a mixed body of evidence makes both sides even more convinced of the fundamental soundness of their original beliefs.
  • Favorable information is seized upon and well-remembered: unfavorable information is ignored and forgotten.

Some choice points made in the book:

  • Bad beliefs are a product, not of irrationality, but of flawed rationality (this is why it is so hard to catch ourselves when we make bad decisions).
  • On hot hands, they do exist, in a manner of speaking, BUT the length and frequency of such streaks do not exceed the law of chance and thus do not warrant an explanation involving factors like confidence and relaxation that compare the mythical concept of hot hand.

Some choice quotes from the book:

  • “Nature abhors a vacuum” – Francis Bacon. (same goes for human nature)
  • “What ails the truth is that it is mainly uncomfortable, and often dull. The human mind seeks something more amusing, and more caressing.” – H. L. Mencken (our appetite for entertainment is enormous, and it has tremendous impact on the tales we tell and the stories we want to hear; it is a huge source of distortion/exaggeration in everyday communication)

 

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