The Science of Irrationality: How to Think Better

The Science of Irrationality: How to Think Better

Audio Sample:

This wide-ranging course reveals the method to our madness in everything from finances to fateful Fridays. An expert on irrational behavior, Stuart Vyse, Ph.D., discusses what it means to be rational before delving into the many reasoning errors and psychological challenges that lead us astray.

In 15 lectures, you will learn to identify the logical fallacies and quirks of our psychology that tempt us to make unwise decisions. Drawing on the research behind his two popular books, Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition and

Audio Sample:

This wide-ranging course reveals the method to our madness in everything from finances to fateful Fridays. An expert on irrational behavior, Stuart Vyse, Ph.D., discusses what it means to be rational before delving into the many reasoning errors and psychological challenges that lead us astray.

In 15 lectures, you will learn to identify the logical fallacies and quirks of our psychology that tempt us to make unwise decisions. Drawing on the research behind his two popular books, Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition and Going Broke: Why Americans (Still) Can’t Hold on to Their Money, Vyse highlights the ways that irrational thinking might plague you in your daily life. The course is based in theory, but as you will see it’s also teeming with practical advice.

You’ll also examine several popular conspiracy theories before exploring the remarkable staying power of common superstitions:

  • the number 13,
  • black cats,
  • walking under ladders, and
  • the Evil Eye.

How did these superstitions come to be? Is it always bad to be irrational? At what point do our beliefs veer into the territory of wishful thinking or willful ignorance?

Packed with fun examples and everyday pointers, this course leaves you thinking long and hard about how you think. Let Vyse teach you how to avoid common pitfalls and make better decisions.

Learn about downloadable programs.

$139.95

  • Introduction to Irrationality
  • Rational Choice Theory and Logic
  • Logical Fallacies and Baloney Detection
  • Conspiracy Theories and Odd Beliefs
  • Irrational Judgments, Heuristics, and Biases
  • Value, Utility, and Uncertainty in Decision-Making
  • Irrational Decisions: Anchoring, Framing, and Loss Aversion
  • Two Brains: Dual Process Theory
  • Delayed Discounting and Self-Control
  • Practical Implications of Irrationality
  • What Is a Superstition and Who Is Superstitious?
  • Acquiring and Maintaining Superstitions
  • Magical Thinking in Childhood and Abnormal Behavior
  • Origins of Superstitions
  • Inner Conflict and Possible Benefits of Irrationality

Stuart Vyse is a psychologist, author, and teacher. His book, Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition, won the William James Book Award of the American Psychological Association and has been translated into Japanese, German, and Romanian. His book Going Broke: Why Americans (Still) Can’t Hold On To Their Money has been translated into Chinese and was released in a new edition in 2018. He has written or co-authored over forty professional articles and book chapters and is a contributing editor to Skeptical Inquirer magazine, for which he writes the “Behavior & Belief” column. As an expert on superstition and irrational behavior, he has been quoted in many news outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He has also appeared on CBS News Sunday Morning, CNN International, the PBS NewsHour, NPR’s Science Friday, and the Vox/Netflix series Explained. His teaching career spanned Providence College, the University of Rhode Island, and Connecticut College, where was a professor for 28 years.

Praise for Stuart Vyse

“No scientist working today knows more about irrationality and how to overcome it than Stuart Vyse, whose research has peered into the mind to find out how thinking goes wrong.” – Michael Shermer, author of Why People Believe Weird Things, The Moral Arc, and Heavens on Earth

“Vyse is truly an expert in the application of rational thought to everyday life. All people are subject to irrational thinking about their own lives; therefore, anyone, whatever their background, will benefit greatly from this course.” – Howard Rachlin, Professor of Psychology, Stonybrook University

“Dr. Stuart Vyse has spent a significant part of his career as a scientist and a scholar explaining why people behave superstitiously, why they believe in pseudoscience, and, generally, why they behave irrationally. Now he brings the sciences of behavioral economics and self-control to bear on the topic of irrationality in what is sure to be an eye-opening program. What could be more important in the current environment of anti-science beliefs and attitudes than explaining why people behave irrationally? And who better to explain it in an understandable fashion than Dr. Vyse?” – Dr. Henry D. Schlinger, Jr., Professor of Psychology, California State University Los Angeles

“An award-winning teacher, respected researcher, and skeptic, Stuart Vyse is rational about irrationality—our own, our society’s, and our culture’s. Based on the latest research in the behavioral sciences, Dr. Vyse seeks to make us independent thinkers about all the instantiations of irrationalism in our irrational times—or in any time. He provides not only an education, but immunization.” – Edward K. Morris, Professor of Applied Behavioral Science, University of Kansas

“If there’s one course everyone in the world should take, it’s The Science of Irrationality by Dr. Vyse. The future of education will be focused on learning how to sift through multitudes of information, separating the silliness from the science.” – Stephen Hupp, Ph.D., Editor of the book, Pseudoscience in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy: A Skeptical Field Guide

“A fascinating exploration of the function and dysfunction of irrational beliefs by the leading expert in the area. I highly recommend this course for anyone who wants insight into their own behaviors.​” – Lauren G. Block, Ph.D., Lippert Professor of Marketing, Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College

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