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Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist Hardcover – August 2, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition (stated) edition (August 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525950257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525950257
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Perhaps mindful that the procession of Freakonomics-inspired pop-economics books is becoming a blur, blogger Cowen aims to not hit the reader over the head with economic principles. Indeed, in his chatty disquisitions, economics often recedes into near invisibility. Few readers will hold it against this charming guide on how to get more of the good stuff in life. An engaging narrator, Cowen offers idiosyncratic strategies for appreciating museum art, for building family trust and cooperation, for writing a personal ad, for reading classic novels that seem boring on first inspection, for surviving torture, for properly practicing self-deception and for most effectively giving to beggars in Calcutta. In the book's most passionate and practical chapter, on food, Cowen explains how, with planning and tactics, we can eat much better meals at home and in restaurants, here and abroad. Throughout the book, the author's advice is less counterintuitive than simply surprising (he argues that the committed foodie should look to regions where some people are very rich and others are very poor). Even if you don't agree with all of Cowen's cheerfully offered opinions, it's a pleasure to accompany him through his various interests and obsessions. At the least, you'll pick up some useful tips for what to order at upscale restaurants. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

The book is fast, furious, and fun, with great examples of how to apply economic thinking to nontraditional subjects... -- Stephen Dubner at Freakonomics.com

Tyler Cowen is a rare bird: an economist who's a wonderfully entertaining writer but also a deeply humane thinker. Discover Your Inner Economist will certainly change the way you think about an array of subjects, ranging from ethnic food to marriage to our never-ending quest for novelty. But even more important, it'll give you a sense of the real possibilities the world has to offer, and show you how thinking better can actually help you live better. -- James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds

Tyler Cowen is an economist, culture vulture, restaurant critic and the best blogger in the world. All roles are on display in Discover Your Inner Economist. It's charming, smart and very, very creative. And it will change your life in the best way: in small steps. -- Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist, columnist and editorial writer for The Financial Times

Tyler Cowen is an economist, culture vulture, restaurant critic and the best blogger in the world. All roles are on display in Discover Your Inner Economist. It's charming, smart and very, very creative. And it will change your life in the best way: in small steps. -- Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

This book is a quick and interesting read.
Kevin Gentry
The author covered a range of topics but presented each one clearly and concisely.
Yi Dong
This book wanders like a stream of consciousness.
M. E. Mccaffrey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Paul Sas on August 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tyler Cowen is an economist, aptly self-described "curious intellectual nerd polymath," and a gifted blogger. His new book is the only one I've ever pre-purchased through Amazon. This in itself is a tribute to Cowen's capacity to mobilize appropriate incentives: He secreted a second blog, and advertised on Marginal Revolution that access was available only to those who wrote to say they'd pre-purchased a copy of DYIC. I spent this afternoon reading the book, and my overall impression is that "Sometimes, a bunch of appetizers does not make a meal." Because Cowen's brain brims with creative ways to approach life from an idiosyncratic angle, his blog has marvelous little jags, lists, apercus gleaned from his vast reading. This book is not quite a blook, but it would have greatly benefited from a co-author whose strength was more inclined to thoroughness. While he admits that his habit is to "stop writing just a bit before I have said everything I want to. I find it better to approach the next writing day 'hungry'..." (123), I was left hungry for more detail or resolution on almost every topic. As a troubling example, he introduces the concept of the "Me factor", and deploys it in several instances, but the only explanation provided was this very skimpy account, that focusing "our attention on ourselves ... is in fact our favorite topic. Me, me, me. ... [T]he 'Me factor', as I will call it." (52-3) There are tons of ideas broached here, and the chapters on Art and Food are particularly stimulating. The defense of self-deception felt self-indulgently sketchy, and the final account of how to deal with torture piffles into "Quite simply, it is hard to show other people, in a convincing manner, that we are telling the truth.Read more ›
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jason Wilcox on September 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book falls into a trap several recent best sellers have (Blink comes to mind): books that are just random collections of interesting ideas or stories. Like Blink, Cowen advertises a thesis that is supposed to run throughout the book. However, after the first couple of chapters the idea of discovering your Inner Economist is basically discarded. Instead, Cowen throws around interesting ideas that are of varying degrees of interest, shallow and short. The Inner Economist continues to make cameos, but only so Cowen can stroke the reader's ego with comments similar to "Of course, you and your Inner Economist already knew this."

The book is still worth reading. But go in understanding it will not change the way you think and is a compilation of observations more than anything else. Also understand it doesn't measure up to the leader in the collection-of-economic-observations genre: Freakonomics.
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31 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on November 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Cowen gives readers three principles for distinguishing good economics from bad:

1)The Postcard Test - It should be possible to take a good economics argument and write it out on the back of a moderate-sized postcard.

2)The Grandma Test - Most economic arguments ought to be intelligible to your grandmother.

3)The Aha Principle - If the basic concepts are presented well, economics should make sense.

Unfortunately, Cowen violates these less than stunning principles. The book rambles, communicates little if anything about economics, has no integrating thread, and is boring. My guess is that he simply decided to get on the "Freakonomics" bandwagon. If so, it's long past time to move onto another fad.
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37 of 48 people found the following review helpful By James Kofalt on November 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I rarely come across a book that inspires me to write a review. This one has that exceptional quality of being so bad that I feel compelled to post my opinion here.

The whole book has the air of the smug, overly talkative guy at the cocktail party who loves to hear himself talk and just won't shut up. Tyler Cowen is like a cross between Cliff Claven and Frasier Crane - the two characters from Cheers. He presents himself as an expert on virtually everything, making sweeping statements that appear to just be random ideas with no basis in fact... and he does so with the pompous air of a "cultured" aristocrat.

Unlike the book's author, I generally DO finish every book that I start, if for no other reason than to give it every possible chance to redeem itself. I kept hoping against hope that this one would have some value, but it never did.

Despite the title, this book says virtually nothing about economics. There are a few pages here and there that mention incentives, but nothing of any substance. A better title would be "Discovering Tyler Cowen's random thoughts about food, art museums, dating, and other topics".

As noted by another reviewer, there is nothing in this book that points to any evidence about any of the author's musings. For example, he spends several pages talking about what kind of strategy you might want to use if you were kidnapped by extremists bent on torturing you. Does he actually mention any case in which anyone was held hostage... what worked, what didn't? Does he mention what the experts have said is the right strategy in such a situation? Has he personally experimented with torture by tying someone to a chair and reading this book to them? Nothing of substance here... just random thoughts with virtually no direction.
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