Jérôme Boutang, Michel DeLara

The Biases of the Mind Ways of thinking modeled by evolution

Michel De Lara is a researcher in applied mathematics, a graduate of the École polytechnique and the École nationale des Ponts et chaussées [engineering school], where he currently works.
Jérome Boutang, agricultural engineer and economist, is director of the Centre d’étude de la pollution atmosphérique et du changement climatique [center for the study of atmospheric pollution and climate change].

With the adage “nobody’s perfect,” we absolve ourselves too easily of responsibility for our irrational decisions and our bouts of madness. We are, of course, very far from being Cartesian, but there are… fascinating… reasons for that.

Shaped by evolution and natural selection, we have retained some perfectly archaic behaviors and ways of thinking that, granted, lead to cognitive biases, but which can also be useful: whether one is an Australopithecus or a modern human, it’s better to take a stick for a snake, than the opposite. And if a certain amount of paranoia shouldn’t be discounted, many other biases distort our most serious financial decisions or lead us to attribute to others thoughts they don’t have.

How else can we explain, for example, that restaurant tips are higher when the weather is nice? Or that we’re persuaded that red cars are faster than others? This short book, full of wit and wisdom, a fun introduction to evolutionist psychology, is also an argument in favor of education and an introduction to science – the art of thwarting biases of the mind.