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Wrong: Why experts* keep failing us--and how to know when not to trust them *Scientists, finance wizards, doctors, relationship gurus, celebrity CEOs, ... consultants, health officials and more Hardcover – June 10, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
We are, as Mr. Freedman puts it, living in an age of "punctuated wrongness," usually misled, occasionally enlightened. His goal is a broad account of this phenomenon, how it takes shape through specific problems in measurement, how it spreads through the general idiocy of crowds, and how we might identify and avoid it. Bravo!...[Mr. Freedman] turns to the right kind of experts to articulate general principles-biostatisticians, for example, who can see deeper than the average scientist into the way the data are gathered, analyzed and screwed up...What makes Wrong so right-it being as good as any general account of the fragility of what we take as expert knowledge-is that it raises the right questions."―Trevor Butterworth, Wall Street Journal
"Mind-bending...[A] compelling case that the majority of people frequently recognized as experts...base their findings on flawed information more often than not....readers of Freedman's evidence might mitigate their unwarranted trust in the "experts" who so often offer sound bites on the morning television news-entertainment programs as well as the "experts" promoted by Oprah, Dr. Phil and others of that ilk."―Steve Weinberg, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Forcefully argued, focusing on the point where error shades into deceit...Wrong makes a powerful case for the prevalence of scientific ineptitude."
―Michael Washburn, Washington Post
"This is by far one of the most interesting non-fiction books to have come out in recent times. David H. Freedman reveals why and how a lot-if not all-expert advice is either misleading, manipulated as to mislead, or just plain wrong. Freedman, a journalist by profession, pierces through the shell of intellectual confidence in studies-scientific or otherwise-and exposes 'expert advice', 'studies reveal' and 'survey says' as false catch-phrases designed to fool people into believing that we humans know more about the world around us than we actually do."―Amir Hafizi, The Malay Mail
"A revealing look at the fallibility of "experts," and tips on how to glean facts from the mass of published misinformation...Informative and engaging, if not groundbreaking news to more cynical readers."―Kirkus Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
Where WRONG comes up a bit short is on solutions -- how to tell questionable advice from the trustworthy kind. I wondered why a book that's so good at describing the problem couldn't muster a few more creative answers toward the end.
Freedman might have made a stronger case by weaving in some of the things that experts do "right." The contrast would have better highlighted their true failures while also helping readers know when to trust expert advice and when to question it. And that's critical if you want to use the info he shares to make better choices. Instead, Freedman suggests we can't trust most experts most of the time. That's a bit misleading and not as helpful as it could be in a world where most of us rely pretty heavily on experts for a range of basic services.
The research I've seen suggests the need to be especially wary when experts weigh in on topics outside their comfort zones or where answers to problems are unknown. By contrast, experts do better than non-experts on problems that have known solutions. There are always exceptions but this makes sense in general. For example, plumbers are experts who have seen thousands of drain clogs and know how to treat. Mechanics have a wealth of experience diagnosing common car problems. And ditto for many of the common problems a family doctor encounters or a tax accountant sees. Do these experts make mistakes? Sure.Read more ›
The book is Freedman's investigation and exploration of the reasons behind the why these studies are wrong. The book takes the reader on a systematic investigation of the forces that lead to the publication of inaccurate studies from the need to simplify study finding, the bias of publishing only positive findings, to the social pressures that suppress whistleblowers. Freedman paints a comprehensive picture of the weakeness of the scientific research, including research conducted by Nobel Laureates.
Freedman also takes a look at business research and business books which suffer from these same weaknesses and biases. He points out the structural weakness of the two major basis of business books - that today's `winners' offer immutable lessons for everyone else, or that companies need radical new approaches to address new issues. That discussion, in Chapter 6, should be required reading for every business guru and person offering advice. Readers should also go back to Clayton Christensen's HBR article Why Hard-Nosed Executives Should Care About Management Theory that was published in September 2003 to round out their understanding of business research.
Freedman provides practical advice on characteristics of different types of advice.Read more ›
Freedman certainly has a great deal of evidence to draw from. Consider the 2008 economic collapse and how few predicted it. Consider the confusions in regard to medical treatments such as women's taking 'hormones'at menopause, or men undergoing PSE test as indicator for prostate cancer. Consider the contradictory advice given all the time by various experts on almost every subject.
There is no doubt that there is a lot of wrong prediction and prescription out there.
But what fields are specially prone to it? And where are experts most reliable?
To his credit Freedman saying that he may be wrong at the end of the book gives eleven rules for testing what any given expert says.
There is a great deal one can learn from this book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book that attempts to teach you to break the easily formed habit and desire to unquestionably believe what "credentialed" experts say is true.Published 13 months ago by Anthony Dasilva Jr.
Excellent, captivating reading. A real eye-opener that shows you that not everything is to be trusted blindly. Recommend it.Published 16 months ago by N. A. Ramirez MD
Interesting work, does help decode a lot of very useless " experts" at large.Published 17 months ago by Giovanni Pallavicini
This is a great summation of other literature and other researchers' ideas. Definitely worth reading, but we should keep one thing in mind: Freedman (like all Gladwell-generation... Read morePublished 17 months ago by JJ Charles
The book purports to tackle a complicated and relevant subject only to deliver an amusing but shallow indictment of human vices. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Mark
Freedman's book is an easy-to-read overview of the various reasons many so-called "experts" are often wrong. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Biz Book Reader
A very good book and quite usefull. It explains thoroughly the problem wich every research has and it shows why experts keep fealing us.Published on January 17, 2014 by @StelJoan
This book goes beyond being just enjoyable and informative to read through; it actually causes a change in thinking and perception that is long lasting. Read morePublished on October 30, 2013 by Booky