Thomas Gilovich is a professor of psychology at Cornell University and author of The Wisest One in the Room (with Lee Ross), How We Know What Isn't So, Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes, and Social Psychology. He lives in Ithaca, New York.
Sports fans who think that basketball players shoot in ``hot streaks,'' and maternity nurses who maintain that more babies are born when the moon is full adhere to erroneous beliefs, according to Gilovich, associate professor of psychology at Cornell. With examples ranging from the spread of AIDS to the weight of Scholastic Aptitude Test scores, he skewers popular but mistaken assumptions. Faulty reasoning from incomplete or ambiguous data, a tendency to seek out ``hypothesis-confirming evidence'' and the habit of self-serving belief are among the factors Gilovich pinpoints in his sophisticated anaylsis. However, in the book's second half, his debunking of holistic medicine, ESP and paranormal phenomena is superficial and one-sided, marred by some of the very tendencies he effectively exposes in the ``true believers.'' (June)