Summary of Inevitable Illusions

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Inevitable Illusions book summary


9 Overall

10 Innovation

9 Style


"Let the thinker beware" could be the motto for this excellent and very useful book. Author Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini has done a masterful job of arraying some of the most serious and most commonplace errors of judgment, estimation and deduction. The style is mostly straightforward, if academic, and makes the meat of the book’s message accessible to the general reader. One quibble is that the author’s explanation of certain probability calculations (especially Bayes’ theorem) leaves them less clear than they could be. That aside, gives this book the highest recommendation, especially for those who like to consider how people understand their world. If you are devoted to clear thinking, you could practically use it to conduct a daily scrutiny of your mental processes - an examination of cognition similar to the monastic examination of conscience - to identify and correct any inclinations to serious cognitive sin.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why much of what you think you know is wrong; and
  • What cognitive illusions are and how to avoid them in the way that you think.

About the Author

Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini is a Principal Research Associate of the Center for Cognitive Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Director of the Department of Cognitive Science at the Institute of San Raffaele in Milan, Italy.



Cognitive Illusions
Most people are familiar with optical illusions, but few are aware of cognitive illusions. Cognitive illusions are commonplace errors of judgment and analysis that people habitually and predictably make without being aware of the problem. Like optical illusions, cognitive...

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