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Free Market Madness: Why Human Nature is at Odds with Economics--and Why it Matters Hardcover – December 16, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Popularizers are always good, but again we have to compare any behavioral-economics popularizer to Nudge; it's plenty popular, written with great energy, and moreover written by one of the great fathers of the field. One would be hard-pressed to find anyone more qualified to write such a book than Thaler.
Peter Ubel's Free-Market Madness wants to go beyond the Nudge fellows, and I think that's where it goes astray. The Nudge guys, you may remember, describe themselves as `libertarian paternalists': they believe in the power of markets, but at the same time they realize that policymakers have to make choices about other people's lives. I mean `policymaker' broadly: when the HR administrator at your company decides whether to automatically enroll employees in the company's 401(k), she's making policy. Defaults matter very much. Almost none of Nudge is controversial, inasmuch as it just recommends flipping some defaults, but always allowing people the option of flipping back.
Professor Ubel is more controversial in Free-Market Madness. When people might systematically make bad choices about their own lives, he sees no problem in more-forcibly trying to sway them to the right side.Read more ›
The factors that lead to such illogically logical (or logically illogical?) decisions are the focus of Peter Ubel's accessible, lively and very important discussion of the emerging field of behavioral economics. While there are numerous other books out there on the topic, this serves as a much-needed primer for readers who aren't ever going to read the scholarly works on the subject and who prefer a solid introduction to the topic itself before delving into policy issues that flow from it. The `what to do' element is the weakest portion of the book, but the rest is a fascinating introduction to the nature of the conundrums that policymakers face.Read more ›
The problem with this book is that its arguments are based on the fallacy of false comparisons. Udel claims that markets work only under conditions of strict rationality. Then after holding markets to an impossible standard, he assumes too easily that government can do better. The author thinks that government must regulate our actions to counter our irrational tendencies. The problem with this claim is that government officials are just other people who are at best no more rational than the rest of us. We do not suddenly become more rational when we enter public life. We do not become more rational when we become public officials. We do not become more rational when we enter voting booths.
Some of the author's complaints are based more on opinion than fact. Most people do like things that are unhealthy. This is not evidence of irrationality on the part of the public. This is evidence of arrogance and intolerance on the part of Udel. Most people simply enjoy some things that are unhealthy or dangerous. But according to Udel not enough people want to live according to his standards for health, so we must be coerced into conforming to his norms through taxation and regulation! Personally I find his arrogance revolting.
Free markets do not require 100% rationality or high intelligence. On the contrary, free markets are good because they make good use of our limited rationality and intelligence.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Goes into details of how free market concept's success is a disaster to health, at least in some ways.Published 17 months ago by dr rohit baslas
Muito esclarecedor sobre como as pessoas tomam decisões e sobre o quanto a cultura de consumo americana é influenciada pela publicidade sem restrições.Published 17 months ago by Luciano Pires
Like many other reviewers, I found this book to be very well-written, entertaining and enjoyable to read. Many interesting examples and insights. Read morePublished on June 14, 2013 by Lawrence Ruane
I am curious about the emerging field of behavioral economics. I have suspected that applying the behavioral sciences to economics might put "science" into the scientism that is... Read morePublished on February 26, 2013 by Milton L. Erhardt
Read this book for class. This book generated tons of great discussion and inspired some very interesting projects! Would definitely recommend.Published on November 21, 2012 by Student
This book is a total waste of time to read. This guy is a Nanny State--Big Government guy, although he denies it. Read more
Markets need to be restrained because unconscious behaviors often cause people to act against their own best interests. Read morePublished on December 29, 2010 by Loyd Eskildson
Despite the rather goofy title, this book is a great review of the history and study of behavioral economics. Read morePublished on December 4, 2010 by Remy Gross
Free Market Madness
The book the "Free Market Madness" is an interesting read that highlights many of the human flaws when it comes to making rational decisions. Read more