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Know your enemy: Outdated mental biases are making modern life more difficult

New book The Biased Mind gives insight into the workings of our brain and provides useful tips on how to steer clear of its pitfalls


What does Dumbledore have in common with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Why is it that Batman, Superman and Spiderman fearlessly defeat evil monsters, but are hopelessly shy when it comes to women? And why is it that we crave sugary and greasy food, even though we know it's not healthy? The answer: our mind is like a smartphone with outdated software, whose different modules engage in constant struggle among themselves.

Comparisons like this as well as other short stories, anecdotes and images are what we find in The Biased Mind by Jérôme Boutang and Michel De Lara. During their "tour of the mind", they try to provide answers to a much-pondered question: What makes people tick?

In an effort to understand people's perceptions and motivations, the authors draw on experience and material from many different research areas such as economics, cognitive science, neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. Supporting the claim that our behavior is largely shaped by our brain's adaptations, which result from environmental pressures, the authors argue that most of these adaptations are outdated and even obstructive in our modern world. Knowing where those adaptations come from is understanding how the mind operates, and will help you overcome its biases and outsmart your own brain.

Both of the authors have a professional interest in those questions. Michel De Lara is a researcher who is concerned with the mathematical and economic aspects of risk. Jérôme Boutang is a communication professional with expertise in environmental threats such as air pollution and climate change. Together with the Paris School of Economics, they started a research project on risk perception which soon developed into the Biased Mind project.

The result is a collection of interesting stories that show our prejudiced brain at work. Apart from an entertaining read, the book offers a compilation of practical tips on how to navigate through the modern world with a Pleistocene brain and, based on this understanding, avoid being manipulated by our own minds.


Jérôme Boutang, Michel De Lara

The Biased Mind

How Evolution Shaped our Psychology, Including Anecdotes and Tips for Making Sound Decisions.

2016, XVI, 184 p. 45 illus. 20 illus. in color

Softcover € 19.00, £ 15.00, $ 19.99

ISBN 978-3-319-16519-6

Also available as an eBook or a printed eBook

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