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Synopsis

Why do doctors, army generals, high-ranking government officials, and other people in positions of power make bad decisions that cause harm to others? On the other hand, why do people insist on sitting through an awful play or film just because the tickets were expensive?

Irrational beliefs and behaviour are virtually universal. It is not only gamblers and parapsychologists that fall into simple statistical traps to do with sample sizes or simple assumptions, but experts of all types, selection committees, and everyday people. "Irrationality" is an iconoclastic volume that draws on a mass of intriguing research to examine why we are irrational, the different types of irrationality, the damage it does us, and the possible cures. It also argues that we could significantly reduce irrationality and its effects - but only if we first recognize just how irrational we really are.

'The implicit premise behind this column is that, each week, I say in effect: Have a look at this, it's well worth reading. Today, I go further: explicitly, I now say: You must buy this book, for every home should have it." Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

'Superb! The thinking man's self help book; it left me infinitely wiser, but I know it won't change my behaviour one tiny bit.' Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science

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