Listen free for 30 days

Pick 1 audiobook a month from our unmatched collection - including bestsellers and new releases.
Listen all you want to thousands of included audiobooks, Originals, celeb exclusives, and podcasts.
Access exclusive sales and deals.
£7.99/month after 30 days. Renews automatically. See here for eligibility.
The Irrational Ape cover art

The Irrational Ape

By: David Robert Grimes
Narrated by: David Robert Grimes
Try for £0.00

£7.99/month after 30 days. Renews automatically. See here for eligibility.

Buy Now for £12.99

Buy Now for £12.99

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Listeners also enjoyed...

Money cover art
24 Assets cover art
Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue cover art
Prediction Machines cover art
The Secret Anarchy of Science: Free Radicals cover art
Naked Money cover art
Reality Check cover art
Insanely Gifted cover art
SPEECH! How Language Made Us Human cover art
Home Front: The Complete BBC Radio Collection, Volume 1 cover art
The Trouble with Trauma cover art
Expired cover art
Why Trust Science? cover art
The Critical Thinker's Dictionary cover art
Anti-Vaxxers cover art
The Misinformation Age cover art

Summary

The Irish Times Top-Five Best Seller. 

Why did revolutionary China consider the sparrow an 'animal of capitalism' - and what happened when they tried to wipe them out? With a cast of murderous popes, snake-oil salesmen and superstitious pigeons, find out why flawed logic puts us all at risk and how critical thinking can save the world.

It may seem a big claim, but knowing how to think clearly and critically has literally helped save the world. In September 1983, at the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union's early warning system showed five US missiles heading towards the country. Stanislaw Petrov knew his duty: he was to inform Moscow that nuclear war had begun, so that they could launch an immediate and devastating response. Instead, he made a call to say the system was faulty. He'd assessed the situation and reasoned that an error was more likely than such a limited attack. 

We may not have to save the planet from nuclear annihilation, of course, but our ability to think critically has never been more important. In a world where fake news, mistrust of experts, prejudice and ignorance all too often hold sway, we can all too easily be misled over issues such as vaccinations, climate change or conspiracy theories. We live in an era where access to all the knowledge in the world is at our fingertips, yet that also means misinformation and falsehoods can spread further and faster than ever before. 

In The Irrational Ape, David Robert Grimes shows how we can be lured into making critical mistakes or drawing false conclusions and how to avoid such errors. Given the power of modern science and the way that movements can unite to protest a cause via social media, we are in dangerous times. But fortunately, we can learn from our mistakes, and by critical thinking and scientific method, we can discover how to apply these techniques to everything from deciding what insurance to buy to averting global disaster. 

This book, packed with fascinating case studies and examples, helps ensure we are ready for the modern world. 

©2019 David Robert Grimes (P)2019 Simon & Schuster UK

Critic reviews

 "...If our leaders were forced to read this book, the world would be a safer place." (Richard Dawkins)

"A beautifully reasoned book about our own unreasonableness." (Robin Ince)

More from the same

What listeners say about The Irrational Ape

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    137
  • 4 Stars
    25
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    8
  • 1 Stars
    4
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    116
  • 4 Stars
    27
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    4
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    111
  • 4 Stars
    25
  • 3 Stars
    8
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    6

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

At best a pedestrian summary of cognitive biases.

The first few chapters were a reasonably workmanlike re-heating of descriptions of well known cognitive biases. However Ralph Dobelli has done that in a much more polished and entertaining way in his "The art of thinking clearly".

As soon as the author started to equate political choices like voting for Trump or Brexit with anti-vaxxers, it became a naked political polemic, and I could no longer take it seriously.

A waste of an audible credit.

Avoid.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A good book but...

I liked it really but there were a few sections where the author’s bias came through loud and clear. I would have thought that an author of a book about rational thought would try to eliminate as much emotive context as possible.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Should form part of the school curriculum

Essential reading required for everybody. Everybody should be made to question their beliefs and thoughts.
This book is excellently well put together and thought out.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jw
  • 15-12-20

Superb!

Fabulous book. In a world of faith and illogical thinking this is essential reading, if for nothing more than a glimpse into what you dont know and how smart you are not. Well writern, well read. Wellworth the time and money.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Thought provoking

An astute and compelling argument. This spells out the importance of keeping your mind open to the world around you. Thank you.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Thought provoking and needed.

While this book may never be read by those who most need to read it, those that are so wound up in their ideological beliefs that they define their sense of self by those ideologies, it is an invaluable exploration of why we think the way we do and how to counter the flaws in our thinking. It, and other books that promote reason and critical thinking, should be prescribed reading in schools but, unfortunately, the book burners amongst us would happily add it to their bonfires at the first available opportunity for promoting rational thought that questions their ideologies, and prevent these books from appearing on school curricula.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

The author needs a bit more self-awareness!

The author goes to great lengths to explain various biases and then proceeds to display them all voicing his opinions on vaccines and Trump voters (all Trump voters are white supremacists and all vaccine hesitancy is bad).
Having agreed with his initial explanation, to then be presented with this biased portrayal with a complete lack of nuance was a bit galling.
The authors lack of self-awareness of his own unconscious biases meant that I could not even force myself to continue listening to his clearly one-sided politically biased view point.
I agree with the author, Critical thinking can save the world. Just don't expect any critical thinking from him!

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Quickly dissolves into preachy political piece.

This starts as a decent explaination of philosophy of arguments.

Becomes annoying, sounding like a leftist university professor brainwashing kids. Misses most of the hypocrisy in the premise of his own arguments, speaking about climate change, Trump or Brexit author holds a one-sided, heavily biased argument.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Best thing I have read/listened to this year (2021

such an important read at a crazy time in modern history when disinformation and conspiracy theories abound. I had lost my way a little in terms of not know true from false or misleading and David's book reignited my passion for science and the verifiable whilst also allowing me to forgive myself for going down a rabbit whole or two. David makes a huge subject matter fairly easily digestible. A very worthwhile read indeed.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Essential reading.

Even better than expected. very well researched across a wide range of areas. Brilliant.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Michalis Petrou
  • Michalis Petrou
  • 14-11-22

Why people believe stupid things

With the recent meteoric rise of conspiracy theories and alternative truths, this book is well positioned to explain why this is so. The author is excellent in explaining the different types of ways people get fooled into believing things that do not make much sense.
If you are like me and you are struggling to understand why people believe things that are clearly, in your experience, not true, then this book will help you get a better understanding of the situation through many recent controversies, learnings from history as well as the author's many experiences.
I highly recommend this book and it was 14 hours well spent!

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for George Falco De Mats
  • George Falco De Mats
  • 07-08-22

Why it matters...

The book is an excellent explanation of why we react superstitiously and emotionally, why we tend to ignore or select evidence to please our views. It debunks a lot of myths, skewed perceptions and beliefs.
But it is the elegant, simple and yet clear-cut way the author arguments that is the best. Few people can explain so eloquently why truth matters and how dangerous it is to ignore it. Unfortunately, this excellent book is likely to only convince the already convinced: Belief is deaf to argument - because it KNOWS...

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!