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Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behaviour

Page history last edited by Martin Poulter 14 years, 5 months ago

Notes on Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman (2008) Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behaviour. Doubleday, British edition published 2009 by Virgin, ISBN 9780753516829


What the authors call a "Sway" is what is more generally called a cognitive bias. This is a well-written, quite short, rush through the subject, mainly focusing on real-world examples. It tells decision-makers that things can go badly wrong due to natural human biases from confirmation bias to conformity, and gives lots of interesting examples. There are 42 endnotes pointing to relevant scientific research. However, where it falls down is that I don't feel that it teaches the reader how to think systematically about the subject: identifying biases, seeing clearly why a particular bias is the explanation for the behaviour they are talking about. This is partly made up for by the Epilogue which collects some tips for how to prevent yourself from being swayed. This is a competitive area: I'd recommend this book far less than some others, but for someone who wants a quick non-technical introduction, it might be ideal.

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