Summer read: 'Not Born Yesterday: The Science of Who We Trust and What We Believe' by Hugo Mercier - GulfToday

Summer read: 'Not Born Yesterday: The Science of Who We Trust and What We Believe' by Hugo Mercier

Not Born Yesterday

Cover of the book by Hugo Mercier.

Aisha Hamad AlMidfa

Not Born Yesterday falls under the genres of psychology, political science, philosophy, and nonfiction. The book came out early this year in January.

The author, Hugo Mercier, is a cognitive scientist working in Lyon. Most of his work is focused on the function and workings of reasoning as it works well as an argumentative tool to ignite purpose.

The book is supposed to address the idea that humanity is not as gullible as we think—and why is that? Mercier argues that humans are good at deciding who to trust and what to believe.

Mercier credits the findings from political science and other fields, including history and anthropology. He argues that widespread gullibility, whereby the public is easily misled is wrong or a hoax.

Fundamentally, Mercier does not believe in mass persuasion and argues that it is difficult to establish. 


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Mercier uses the latest findings from experimental psychology to highlight how humans are endowed with cognitive mechanisms of open vigilance.

“These [open vigilance] mechanisms allow us to accept most beneficial messages—to be open—while rejecting most harmful messages—to be vigilant.” Mercier notes.

As humans we have the ability to filter the flow of information that we consume consciously or unconsciously, Mercier argues that we do this process well, but we can still do it better.

“In the age of fake news, Mercier's stimulating, and challenging book shows that the common idea that people are just gullible is fake wisdom. An eye-opener!” said Gloria Origgi, CNRS senior researcher at the Jean Nicod Institute and author of “Reputation: What it is and why it matters.”

Not Born Yesterday will be of interest to anyone who wonders how to trust what people say and do, especially in the digital, free-for-all age of unfettered, often suspect, information. The breadth and depth of research studies presented by Mercier will be especially appealing to science aficionados.” said Karen Koenig, New York Journal of Books.

Aisha is an intern with Gulf Today. She covers the Emirati community, culture, and food. 




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