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Not Born Yesterday: The Science of Who We Trust and What We Believe

Not Born Yesterday: The Science of Who We Trust and What We Believe

by Hugo Mercier

NOOK Book(eBook)

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Overview

Why people are not as gullible as we think

Not Born Yesterday explains how we decide who we can trust and what we should believe—and argues that we're pretty good at making these decisions. In this lively and provocative book, Hugo Mercier demonstrates how virtually all attempts at mass persuasion—whether by religious leaders, politicians, or advertisers—fail miserably. Drawing on recent findings from political science and other fields ranging from history to anthropology, Mercier shows that the narrative of widespread gullibility, in which a credulous public is easily misled by demagogues and charlatans, is simply wrong.

Why is mass persuasion so difficult? Mercier uses the latest findings from experimental psychology to show how each of us is endowed with sophisticated cognitive mechanisms of open vigilance. Computing a variety of cues, these mechanisms enable us to be on guard against harmful beliefs, while being open enough to change our minds when presented with the right evidence. Even failures—when we accept false confessions, spread wild rumors, or fall for quack medicine—are better explained as bugs in otherwise well-functioning cognitive mechanisms than as symptoms of general gullibility.

Not Born Yesterday shows how we filter the flow of information that surrounds us, argues that we do it well, and explains how we can do it better still.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691198842
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 01/28/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,029,316
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Hugo Mercier is a cognitive scientist at the Jean Nicod Institute in Paris and the coauthor of The Enigma of Reason. He lives in Nantes, France. Twitter @hugoreasoning

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Too many scientists, journalists, and everyday readers have concluded that human beings are irredeemably irrational and gullible (except them, of course). Hugo Mercier, one of the world's experts on human rationality, shows that this harsh judgment on our species is premature and exaggerated. Not Born Yesterday is a fascinating and important book for our time."—Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress