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Inevitable Illusions: How Mistakes of Reason Rule Our Minds

ISBN: 978-0-471-15962-9
256 pages
November 1996
Inevitable Illusions: How Mistakes of Reason Rule Our Minds (047115962X) cover image
"Fascinating and insightful. . . . I cannot recall a book that has made me think more about the nature of thinking." -- Richard C. Lewontin

Harvard University

Everyone knows that optical illusions trick us because of the way we see. Now scientists have discovered that cognitive illusions, a set of biases deeply embedded in the human mind, can actually distort the way we think.

In Inevitable Illusions, distinguished cognitive researcher Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini takes us on a provocative, challenging, and thoroughly entertaining exploration of the games our minds play. He opens the doors onto the newly charted realm of the cognitive unconscious to reveal the full range of illusions, showing how they inhibit our ability to reason--no matter what our educational background or IQ. Inevitable Illusions is stimulating, eye-opening food for thought.
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Cognitive Illusions.

Our Spontaneous Intuitions: Angels or Demons?.

A Brief Speleology of the Mind: An Easy Tunnel.

Probability Illusions.

Calculating the Unknown, or Bayes' Law.

The Fallacy of Near Certainty.

The Seven Deadly Sins.

How to Emerge from the Tunnel of Pessimism.

The Principle of Identity and the Psychology of Typicality.

A (Rationally) Optimistic Conclusion.

A Super-Tunnel.


Tunnel Exits.


Suggested Reading.

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MASSIMO PIATTELLI-PALMARINI, Ph.D., 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. His books The Will to Study and the Italian edition of Inevitable Illusions were international bestsellers.
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