Bozo Sapiens Why to Err is Human

Ellen Kaplan Michael Kaplan

Bloomsbury Press




304 Pages



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Our species, it appears, is hardwired to get things wrong in a staggering variety of ways. Why did recipients of a loan offer accept a higher interest rate when a pretty woman's face was printed on the flyer? Why did one poll on immigration find that the most despised foreigners were from a group that did not exist? Why does giving someone power make them more likely to chew with their mouth open and pick their 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 to pay for our extraordinary success as a species—they are the necessary cost of our adaptability. Bozo Sapiens swoops effortlessly across neurochemistry, behavioral economics, and evolutionary biology (among other disciplines) to answer with clarity and wit the questions above—and larger ones about what it means to be human.


Praise for Bozo Sapiens

"Delightful, graceful, and packed with allusions, switching easily between hilarity and tragedy."—New Scientist
"A beautifully written book; a heartfelt and powerful summary of decades of research into human reasoning quirks—the bizarre heuristic and biases which make up the vast majority of our everyday practical 'reasoning.'"Metapsychology

"Obvious logical errors are always the ones other people make. Michael and Ellen Kaplan put this self-serving idea to rest, brilliantly and wittily exploring the sources of the fallacies that infect the thinking of us all. Bozo Sapiens is a book rich not only in examples, but in wisdom. Every one of its readers will learn from it."—Denis Dutton, author of The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution
"The mother-son co-authors of Chances Are . . . : Adventures in Probability 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

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Ellen Kaplan Michael Kaplan

  • Ellen Kaplan and Michael Kaplan are mother and son, and co-authors of the bestseller Chances Are…: Adventures in Probability.

    Michael Kaplan is an award-winning writer and filmmaker for corporations, governments, museums, and charities, and lives near Edinburgh, Scotland with his wife and son.

    Ellen Kaplan is an archaeologist and math teacher.