Cover image for Inevitable illusions : how mistakes of reason rule our minds
Inevitable illusions : how mistakes of reason rule our minds
Piattelli-Palmarini, Massimo.
Uniform Title:
Illusione di sapere. English
Publication Information:
New York : Wiley, [1994]

Physical Description:
xiii, 242 pages ; 23 cm
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 -- Mental tunnels : a brief history of discovery -- Why cognitive illusions are here to stay : a reply to recent critiques -- Tunnel exits.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF442 .P5213 1994 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



"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.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Minimally, how many people must there be in a room to allow a better than 50 percent chance that two of them will have the same birthday? Your answer may reveal the presence of a cognitive illusion-a mental tunnel that confounds rational thought. Piattelli-Palmarini, director of the Cognitive Science Institute in Milan and a research associate at MIT, offers fascinating examples of such illusions to show how spontaneous, intuitive judgment can lead us astray. Our failure to grasp basic probability, for example, can lead to catastrophic decisions in law and medicine. The author describes the seven deadly mental sins and suggests ways to overcome bias and "mental sloth." This thoughtful, often disturbing book will challenge even those readers with a firm grounding in probability and statistics. For academic and large public libraries.-Laurie Bartolini, Legislative Research, Springfield, Ill. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

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