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Not born yesterday : the science of who we trust and what we believe

Author: Hugo Mercier
Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, [2020]
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
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,  Read more...
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Hugo Mercier
ISBN: 9780691178707 0691178704
OCLC Number: 1099689542
Description: xix, 364 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Contents: 1. The Case for Gullibility --
2. Vigilance in Communication --
3. Evolving Open-Mindedness --
4. What to Believe? --
5. Who Knows Best? --
6. Who to Trust? --
7. What to Feel? --
8. Demagogues, Prophets, and Preachers --
9. Propagandists, Campaigners, and Advertisers --
10. Titillating Rumors --
11. From Circular Reporting to Supernatural Beliefs --
12. Witches' Confessions and Other Useful Absurdities --
13. Futile Fake News --
14. Shallow Gurus --
15. Angry Pundits and Skillful Con Men --
16. The Case against Gullibility.
Responsibility: Hugo Mercier.

Abstract:

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. 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.

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"[Mercier's argument] is refreshingly optimistic."---Daniel Akst, Strategy+Business "A bracing book that might make you less gullible about gullibility."---Barbara Kiser, Nature "[Not Born Yesterday] Read more...

 
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