This is a monumental, gripping book. It is also bracing. If you start reading as a sceptic, you will finish as a happy super-sceptic. Scarcely an expert, company or institution is left unscathed.
A follow-up of sorts to Thinking, Fast and Slow, it is a further step down the road towards a more complex and realistic grasp of human affairs that is replacing the crude simplifications of the recent past. It’s a hard road, but if you get tired you can always retreat to the sweet, noisy delusions in the Valley of the Normal.
The book is a satisfying journey through a big but not, the authors suggest, unsolvable problem, with plenty of fascinating case studies along the way.
Like noise the topic, Noise the book is less charismatic than some books on bias, including those by the authors. Ironically it is also less consistent and sometimes you can see the joins between different writers. One or two chapters are quite technical. And it is longer than it needs to be; sometimes I had grasped a point before it was elaborated over several pages.
Yet although these are flaws, they aren’t ones that should put decision-makers off reading this book. There’s lots to surprise and entertain. And, as you’d expect from its authors, it is a rigorous approach to an important topic. Anyone who has found the literature on cognitive biases important will find this a valuable addition to their knowledge.