Tag Archives: the Halo Effect

A psychologist, a geneticist and a neurologist walk into a bookshop

Irrationality - Stuart Sutherland

I am currently reading “Irrationality” – an excellent book in which Stuart Sutherland describes the mechanisms by which we leap to conclusions, confuse and deceive ourselves.

I am deeply amused by the publisher’s cynical use of the techniques that Sutherland describes to promote the book.  Sutherland discusses the halo effect (when we assume a person’s good or bad characteristics apply more widely than they do), and they way we give more credence to authority figures than perhaps we should.  It’s a book about cognitivie processes, right?  So you’d have to be a psychologist to give authorative recommendations, right?  Now, Richard Dawkins is a hero in his own field and Oliver Sacks is another, but how come a geneticist and a neurologist suddenly have expertise in psychology?  It can only be the halo effect and that pesky deference to authority.

These ironies aside, it’s an excellent book and if you think, evaluate evidence or make recommendations for a living then it will keep you awake at night.

In a good way.