• Rationality

  • What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters
  • By: Steven Pinker
  • Narrated by: Arthur Morey
  • Length: 11 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (33 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

Can reading a book make you more rational? Can it help you understand why there is so much irrationality in the world? These are the goals of Rationality, Steven Pinker's follow-up to Enlightenment Now.

In the 21st century, humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding - and, at the same time, appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for COVID-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, quack cures and conspiracy theorising?

Pinker rejects the cynical cliché that humans are an irrational species - cavemen out of time saddled with biases, fallacies and illusions. After all, we discovered the laws of nature, lengthened and enriched our lives and set the benchmarks for rationality itself. Instead, he explains that we think in ways that are sensible in the low-tech contexts in which we spend most of our lives, but fail to take advantage of the powerful tools of reasoning we have built up over the millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation and decision-making. These tools are not a standard part of our educational curricula and have never been presented clearly and entertainingly in a single book - until now.

Rationality also explores its opposite: how the rational pursuit of self-interest, sectarian solidarity and uplifting mythology by individuals can add up to crippling irrationality in a society. Collective rationality depends on norms that are explicitly designed to promote objectivity and truth.

Rationality matters. It leads to better choices in our lives and in the public sphere, and is the ultimate driver of social justice and moral progress. Brimming with insight and humour, Rationality will enlighten, inspire and empower.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Steven Pinker (P)2021 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Rationality

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An excellent book at a time it is needed

This book should be required reading in every first year undergrad course. For every degree. Actually, it should be bedtime reading for your primary school children if they can penetrate the language. They may even acquire a fondness for Yiddish humour.

This book penetrates some of the most challenging and seemingly unrelated subjects of our time and provides a kind of 'cognitive glue' to make sense of them as symptoms of something much more profound. Spoiler alert: it's rationality and our cognitive pitfalls - individually and at scale.

The book itself is a joy to listen to, the narrator channels Pinker's brilliant way of taking a complex subject and delivering it in a totally accessible way. I think you really need to get the PDF illustrations to make the most of the book, especially in probability discussions, however even without this - challenging concepts are broken up with analogies and humorous yet poignant asides.

overall, a highly recommended read.

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I recommend it

This is a crash course on statistics. I didn't realise this when I started reading this book and as a statistician, I did not learn much, but I think the general audience would benefit greatly from this book. My only criticism is that it might not be particularly easy to follow this audiobook because it comes with supplementary visual explanations.

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  • Beelzebub
  • 10-17-21

Splendid!

Everyone should listen to this book. Sadly, the people who need it the most, won't.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Zak
  • 01-11-22

Woke irrationality

For a book on rationality it had far too much left ideology. The examples given were to try and make you sound irrational for disliking hilary Clinton or the biden asministration among other things which is mental because America is undergoing their most irrational time due to Biden. As soon as I heard the phrase "mansplaining" the third time I had to stop. If you're looking for a book on rationality with no bias try 'the irrational ape'.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-11-21

Rationality

Classic Pinker. Illuminating, insightful, refreshing, fun. Brought to life with another brilliant performance by Arthur Morey.

4 people found this helpful

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  • DJ Ricks
  • 12-14-21

Good book

A good book in general but don't listen to half awake! This book needs some serious concentration and for some of it a PDF to go though a long with the book. Not really one for the car but maybe some quite time and deep thinking. Great book just maybe not quite one 100% for me and my circumstances! Just maybe the voice acting could have been a little more upbeat to help with keeping me engaged but the overall concept, content and layout of the book was extremely good.

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  • Paul La Femina
  • 12-07-21

rational!

An excellent book well read that should be understood as best as possible by everyone.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Frank
  • 08-27-22

Good but maybe better read than heard.

Not Pinker's most engaging work but valuable stuff. Too complex I think for audio book.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-11-22

Brilliant as usual

First and last two chapters are the most accessible and entertaining. Middle ones will take longer to digest completely. Improves on listening a second time as so much is said here worth listening to well.

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  • Nandu Pillai
  • 04-23-22

Difficult audio book

An interesting topic approached from angles I hadn't considered before but you might be better off reading this one due to the use of multiple graphs, diagrams and statistics to get points across.

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  • Pablo Gomez
  • 04-18-22

Not really fit for an audio book

Due to the abundant references to visual materials, I didn't find this excellent book suited to be narrated. It needs to be read.

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  • Sergio Fontana
  • 04-08-22

worst Pinker's book

i read 3other books of his and enjoyed them but this one is really a no go.
very little original thinking. a lot of repetition of material which has been better explained in other previous divulgative books.
the new ingredient ,not a good one to my taste, was quite some Harvard democrat moral
superiority complex and relative bullshit

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-04-21

essential

Just like any other work from Pinker, a very good book, essential for critical thinking skills. Highly recommend it

3 people found this helpful

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  • Stefan Mackay
  • 09-10-22

this book is probably better read

Reading would give you more time to absorb the concepts.
listening to it, the pace is too fast for your mind to absorb one concept before the next is upon you.
I'm going to get the paper version.

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  • Louis Cohalan
  • 06-09-22

Good but not his best

Good defense of our rational faculties from the assault from pop psychology but it quotes so much from Kahneman, you may as well read Thinking Fast and Slow before this. For a dose of Pinker’s brilliance I recommend Better Angels… and The Blank Slate before this one.

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  • norah
  • 05-21-22

Amazing

One of the best book I’ve ever read. Cannot recommend enough, if one wants to grow, learn more and excel in whatever field one is an expert of. This book is applicable to any intellectual part of your life.

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  • Anon7747998
  • 04-19-22

So repetitive and annoying...

I like Steven Pinker's ideas and I understand he wanted to give examples, but he completely lost track here. I've tried very hard, tried to skip some of the repetitive sessions, just to end up in another repetitive session, and another... Then I gave up. Literally, numerically, statistically a waste of time.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-25-22

Not as good as some of SPs other work

Too basic (though I do have an advanced Sci background) and not enough new/interesting content.

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  • W. Lang
  • 02-19-22

Better read than listened to given the underlying

complexity and wide ranging terminology, would benefit from a laymans version for helping the reader make the case to their friends

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  • Anthony Gill
  • 01-19-22

Important summary of why rationality matters

A book to put in the hands of anyone who is interested in critical thinking, problem solving and reasoned argument. A cool and lucid analysis of human knowledge and how we acquired it, related with astonishing clarity and not a little humour. Pinker’s majestic synthetic sweeps of intellectual history are very much the fruit of a team effort, which one can find acknowledgement of in the preface, nonetheless, the manner in which he has relentlessly corralled the most pertinent and important arguments for each question he considers is awe inspiring. An antidote to alienation for the thinking individual, I would and will recommend this to anyone.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-16-22

A candle into the darkness

Clear, concise and illuminating. The fruit of a great mind read by a great voice. Read it. Tell someone to read it too.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-05-22

So disappointing

Great topic and he makes plenty of good points. The whole thing wreaks of the authors putrid agenda, often using ridicule to try to make a point?