Bozo Sapiens

  • by Michael Kaplan, Ellen Kaplan
  • Narrated by Victor Bevine
  • 9 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Our species, it appears, is hardwired to get things wrong in myriad different ways. Why did recipients of a loan offer accept a higher rate of interest when a pretty woman's face was printed on the flyer? Why did one poll on immigration find the most despised aliens were ones from a group that did not exist? What made four of the Air Force's best pilots fly their planes, in formation, straight into the ground? Why does giving someone power make him more likely to chew with his mouth open and pick his nose? And why is your sister going out with that biker dude?
In fact, our cognitive, logical, and romantic failures may be a fair price for our extraordinary success as a species - they are the necessary cost of our adaptability. Michael and Ellen Kaplan swoop effortlessly across neurochemistry, behavioral economics, and evolutionary biology, among other disciplines, to answer, with both clarity and wit, the questions above and larger ones about what it means to be human.
NOTE: Some changes to the original text have been made with the authors' approval.

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What the Critics Say

"The mother-son co-authors...turn their considerable authorial skills and wit to human behavior, from our isolated cave-dwelling ancestors to today's globalized, interconnected world... Gourmet reading - rich in ideas, global references and amusing and provocative examples, served with great style." (Kirkus Reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A tour de force

I've recently read/listened-to half a dozen good books about human cognitive bias, including Ariely's "Predictably Irrational", Tavris & Aronson's "Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)", and Chabris & Simons' "The Invisible Gorilla". However, this book is my favorite. It's concise, comprehensive, and it kept me entertained from start to finish. Perceptual, memory and reasoning biases are discussed. The authors even touch on philosophy.

To me, the only weakness of the book is that, while each chapter is takes a particular cognitive phenomenon as a theme, there's not a strong structure across the entire book. This made it a little more difficult for me to recall everything that was discussed. On the other hand, if you're like me, you'll want to listen to this book all over again.
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- Ivan

One of those rare books.....

Would you consider the audio edition of Bozo Sapiens to be better than the print version?

I have not read the print version yet, although I did purchase a print copy to read and annotate after listening to the audio version.


Who was your favorite character and why?

Listening to this book and the authors' explanations of why we humans behave the way we do (often badly!) explained so much about what I have seen in the school yard, in the halls of political power, and in the work place. This book gave me the words to understand and overcome some of the pervasive unpleasantness that surrounds so many social interactions. And a road map to personally make those necessarily unpleasant interactions more pleasant.


Which scene was your favorite?

Far from feeling like being human is a runaway freight train of bad choices, somehow genetically programmed and inevitably irresponsible on both a small scale and a grand scale, this book gave me great hope. I think the pivotal idea for me was distinguishing between biological evolution and social evolution. The latter, of course, more rapid and plastic than the former.


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This book gave me great hope for the future of human kind and our essential 'humanity'. And I mean that, humanity, in a good way!


Any additional comments?

I wish I could get my college age children to read this book. It would be an antidote to cynicism and formulaic approaches to relationships both personal and professional.

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- Kristine A. Ellor

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-01-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios