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Publisher's Summary

Can reading a book make you more rational? Can it help us understand why there is so much irrationality in the world? Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now (Bill Gates’ "new favorite book of all time”) answers all the questions here.

Today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding - and also 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, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing? 

Pinker rejects the cynical cliché that humans are simply irrational - 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 out the benchmarks for rationality itself. We actually 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’ve discovered over the millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation, and optimal ways to update beliefs and commit to choices individually and with others. These tools are not a standard part of our education, 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 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 Pinker’s customary insight and humor, Rationality will enlighten, inspire, and empower.

This audiobook includes a PDF of charts and graphs.

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 the critics say

“An impassioned and zippy introduction to the tools of rational thought… Punchy, funny and invigorating.” (The Times, London)

“An engaging analysis of the highest of our faculties and perhaps (ironically) the least understood.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“If you’ve ever considered taking drugs to make yourself smarter, read Rationality instead.” (Jonathan Haidt, New York Times best-selling co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind)

What listeners say about Rationality

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  • Trebla
  • 2021-10-02

Kinda disappointed

This should have been an essay based on the last chapter. All of the points of Reason have been explained by Pinker in previous work and many other authors. Big fan, kinda disappointed.

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  • Rurik McKaiser
  • 2021-10-11

Deeply Thought Provoking

Great read! Stimulating, thought provoking, and of course FEELING provoking. Pinker, as usual, at his best!

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  • Nickolas S Rudolph
  • 2021-10-14

Should be required reading

A thoughtful and thorough review of rationality and logic Something we need more of desperately