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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative and appealing
Mood Matters is great fun to read as Casti's writing throughout is smooth, intelligent and humorous. The message of the book - that the mood of a society dictates what will happen rather than the reverse - is counterintuitive at first sight, but supported by many quite surprising and convincing examples. Using various indicators, in particular stock-market prices, to...
Published on June 21, 2010 by Wigner's Girlfriend

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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kritters Ramblings
An interesting read with a short review. I started this book thinking it was a little non fiction with some great pop culture influence behind the theory. I was definitely wrong. It was a lot of theory with a little pop culture.

To be honest, I would think this book would be best read by economics majors for a project. Being a business major myself, I enjoyed...
Published on July 1, 2011 by Kristin Jones


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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative and appealing, June 21, 2010
This review is from: Mood Matters: From Rising Skirt Lengths to the Collapse of World Powers (Hardcover)
Mood Matters is great fun to read as Casti's writing throughout is smooth, intelligent and humorous. The message of the book - that the mood of a society dictates what will happen rather than the reverse - is counterintuitive at first sight, but supported by many quite surprising and convincing examples. Using various indicators, in particular stock-market prices, to measure the mood of a society, Casti explores the correlation between the "mood of the crowd" and a range of other trends (skirtlengths, car colour - sounds bizarre but is actually remarkable!) and events, including the fall of nations and the outbreak of war. It is a hugely interesting and wide-ranging study. As someone with only a moderate interest in economics, I read this book for stimulation and entertainment. For those involved in assessing trends and in predicting future events, whether social, political or economic, this book might just change the whole way they ply their trade.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lessons in Socionomics, August 17, 2010
By 
John M. Lowe (Knoxville, Tennessee) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mood Matters: From Rising Skirt Lengths to the Collapse of World Powers (Hardcover)
The following review is based on an advance copy of Mood Matters (2010) by John L. Casti that I received from participation in the Library Thing Early reviewers program.

So what exactly is socionomics? After all, that's what this book is about. I could only find two online resources with English definitions that include the word socionomics: Wikipedia and Investopedia. In the Wikipedia article, I learned that the word socionomics was coined by Robert R. Prechter, Jr. who postulated in 1979 that "social mood drives financial, macroeconomic, and political behavior, in contrast to the conventional notion that such events drive social mood." In the Investopedia article, I learned that socionomics was "the study of social mood and its effects of social behavior." To illustrate, Investopedia observes that "where the traditional view would be that recessions cause businesses to become cautious, the socionomic view says that businesses become cautious and cause recessions." That's the way Casti thinks and writes -- upside down and backwards.

Prepare yourself. Casti's book is not an easy read. For instance, I extracted a randomly selected sample of Casti's prose, ran it through Gunning's Fog Index Calculator, and got a measure of 21.7, which places the text somewhere north of high school level. Thankfully, the book concludes with a very helpful annotated bibliography, greatly smoothing the pathway to our understanding of socionomics.

Before reading Casti's book, let me hasten to say that the more you know about the following topics before reading what Casti has to say about them, the easier it will be to understand Casti. For example, it would be beneficial for readers of Mood Matters if they were already acquainted with such topics as the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH), the Elliott Wave Principle (EWP), Fibonacci Numbers, Herding Instinct, Ideavirus (Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin is claimed to be the most downloaded eBook of all time -- betcha didn't know that!), Kondratiev Cycles (K-waves: improvement, prosperity, recession, depression), Memetics, the Random Walk Theory (RWT), and the Socionomics Central Hypothesis.

Casti's book needs to be read in the light of two books by Robert R. Prechter, Jr.: Socionomics: The Science of History and Social Prediction (2003) and The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior and the New Science of Socionomics (2002). Prechter's socionomic hypothesis postulates that internally regulated, not externally controlled, social mood is the primary driver of social action. Jargonauts like to restate Prechter's socionomic hypothesis in academic-speak by saying that, "in contexts of uncertainty, endogenous processes, not exogenous causes, create patterns of social behavior."

Perhaps a third book, namely, The (mis)Behavior of Markets (2004) by Benoit Mandelbrot, should also be required reading before attempting to comprehend Casti's Mood Matters. I bring this to the reader's attention because Elliott Waves are fractal in nature, and Mandelbrot presents "a fractal view of financial turbulence," as he makes his case against the Efficient Market Hypothesis.

It would also help to read Appendix A, Elliott Wave Analysis, in Mood Matters before wading into the core of the book. There you will learn about Elliott waves and Fibonacci retracements, triangles and zigzags, regular cycles and supercycles.

The Socionomics Central Hypothesis can be diagrammed hierarchically as follows:

"Herding Instincts + Interaction"

leads to

"Social Mood (Beliefs and Feelings)"

which leads to

"Social Behaviors and Collective Events"

Flow through the chart is one-way, from top to bottom. There is no movement in the opposite direction, from events to mood, and from mood to herding instincts, i.e., from bottom to top.

If this book is about culture, social mood, and behaviors, why the focus on financial charts? What does the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) have to do with rising skirt lengths and the collapse of world powers? Casti explains that he searched for years for a "Mood Meter." What kind of sociometer could he employ to measure the "temperature" of a population's mood? He considered several possibilities, including assessments of people's beliefs and feelings about the future, Internet data mining of search trends (like Google Trends), public opinion surveys and questionnaires, birth rates, and semantic textual analysis. Casti finally landed on financial market indexes, such as the DJIA, to measure the extremes of pessimism and optimism in society. Quoting journalist Kenneth Chang, Casti concluded that "A market is the combined behavior of thousands of people responding to information, misinformation and whim." Quoting Robert Prechter, Casti observed that charts of the DJIA and similar stock market indexes are literally drawings "of how the scales of mood are tipping. A decline indicates an increasing 'negative' mood on balance, and an advance indicates an increasing 'positive' mood on balance." It's as simple as that. For example, it is popularly believed that a bull market makes investors optimistic. On the contrary, socionomics says that optimistic investors create a bull market.

Does Casti make a good case for the "Science of Socionomics?" Yes. Sorta, kinda. Am I convinced? No. There are simply too many variables to be explained for one index to explain them all. Picking and choosing seems to be the name of Casti's game. Meanwhile, if the reader has been won over by the validity of the Socionomics Central Hypothesis, I have a hot tip for you. Buy stocks when hemlines are low and sell stocks when hemlines are high.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Matters, Too, July 22, 2010
This review is from: Mood Matters: From Rising Skirt Lengths to the Collapse of World Powers (Hardcover)
The latest book from John Casti, polymath and popularizer, is Mood Matters: From Rising Skirt Lengths to the Collapse of World Powers, a presentation and extension of Robert Prechter's work on socionomics. Mood Matters can and should change the world; for its readers, it will surely do so.

Over the past decade or two belief in a "rational" actor who makes decisions in his own best interest has given way to a more nuanced view that each of us has "ruts" in our thinking that we perceive as "grooves": bad cognitive habits that are maladaptations for modern man. Whether such theories are called evolutionary psychology or behavioral economics, nudges or predictable irrationality, mirror neurons or framing, what they have in common is an emphasis on the thought processes of individuals. At the least controversial level socionomics instead focuses on the reasoning of a society as a whole. Just as Durkheim insisted, there is also a collective "social mood" that can only be formed at the group level, and subject to the same kinds of weaknesses and flaws as individual psyches. Think of "herding instincts" or of all the reasons why Popular Madness and the Delusions of Crowds will never be out-of-date. If thinking is hard, read any newspaper. If reading is hard, listen to talk radio.

The central hypothesis of socionomics, however, is a much less obvious statement; that is, it flies in the face of common sense, let alone the received wisdom: Everything You Know is Wrong. Socionomics believes that social mood affects later events, while events do not affect later social mood. (I use a weak term like "affect" because the causal chain is not that specific; Casti uses words like "bias" or "slant", i.e., the influence is in terms of shifting probabilities.)

What do we usually believe? That if upbeat songs are popular during one era, this will cheer people up, not that happy people are what make upbeat songs popular. That a failing economy will cause the population to be depressed, not that social depression causes the economy to fail. How could such obvious conclusions be doubted? Casti has only two things to support his insane theories: a clear, engaging writing style, and--all the evidence.

For example, the behavior of financial markets is a good measure of social mood; every investment is a bet on the future. If events cause moods and not the other way around, then tragic events such as 9/11, or the Kennedy assassination (the first one, anyway), or Pearl Harbor must have crushed the markets. Perhaps they did in our memories, but in actuality they did not. Casti provides example after example to shake us from our comfortable, erroneous beliefs.

Why should you, must you read this book? For the excitement of seeing a new field born before your eyes. For the challenge explicitly posed by the detailed research agenda Casti proposes to further explore these ideas. And, as in any Casti book, for the pleasures of his annotated bibliography, worth the price of admission all on its own. Do I have any quibbles? Well, this is the rare book I wished were longer, but I understand the author cut some topics short to make the treatment here more widely accessible. And Casti is more optimistic than I am about the utility and meaningfulness of Elliott waves. But this is the very first item to be nailed down in his research agenda. (I note that they arise here not as part of some numerological mumbo-jumbo but as a categorization of the simple feedback systems that inform cycles brought on by non-instantaneous cause and effect.)

Be sure to click the "I'd like to read this on Kindle" button!
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An indispensible insight into society's future, September 13, 2010
By 
Alan Hoshor (Discovery Bay, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Mood Matters: From Rising Skirt Lengths to the Collapse of World Powers (Hardcover)
John Casti's new book deserves to be read by any person that cares about humanity's future. We live in a time of change. 'Mood Matters' gives us a metric with which we may guide ourselves; and as a counter point to popular manias. Back in 1841 Charles Mackay wrote 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds' to debunk manias of the previous centuries. Mackay's accounts of societal feedback loops document human crowd behavior on a grand scale. What this book does is to explain why these crowds deluded themselves.

'Mood Matters' is open and readable. John Casti writes in a layman accessible style with both humor and insight. John leads his reader down a logical path developing his premise about the predictability of human endeavors. At the end of the book, the reader is convinced that social mood is a measurable attribute. We also become convinced that world society is headed for a change in mood from our relatively buoyant last 60 years.

'Guns, Germs, and Steel', Jared Diamond's 1998 book won the Pulitzer Prize for its comparative method applied to the differing rates of buildup of human societies. In 2005 Diamond wrote 'Collapse'. Together Diamond's two books document how resources availability influences a society's stability. What John Casti has done is provide a forecast that explains how the madness of crowds will lead to common delusions about how to invest limited resources for common survival. John has given us the barometer to measure the weather of social mood. At the same time he explains the conundrum in Diamond's historical accounts. Why did those societies choose to fail?

My main disappoint with this book is that its theory of "socionomics" is in its infancy. While it provides a light down the tunnel of the future, it by no means shows us which path to take when the tunnel forks. I think my metaphor of a weather report is a good one. Most people depend on weather forecasts for their daily choices of attire and weekly planning for outdoor events. 'Mood Matters' gives us a similar tool for human events.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable and provocative, October 24, 2010
By 
This review is from: Mood Matters: From Rising Skirt Lengths to the Collapse of World Powers (Hardcover)
Readable, exhaustively researched, and completely iconoclastic, this book was a pleasure for me on many levels. I am always eager to hear about new ways to view this old world, and Casti has a very new way to view world events. His thesis is that the mood of the people isn't MADE by events, but rather MAKES events.

That's all, really. The mood of the country created the depression, not the depression made us moody.

The exhaustive research I mentioned is all documented in his appendices. I am not a professional socionomicist (from socionomics, the name given to this new way to slice and dice and analyze the tidal wave of data we're submerged under), so I won't even fake an explanation of what the science says. I will make the simple, defensible statement that your average reader won't like this book at all because every time "common sense" says x, this book says banana. Or hog-bristle.

Chapter 4, "Why Wars, Political Crises, and Economic Cycles Happen," is a giant and fascinating eye-opener for someone like me, who wondered whyinahell Americans RE-elected that goofball Bush. I suspect someone on Bush's team was a client of this man's. Everything made much more sense to me after reading this book.

Now, your common or garden economist, political scientist, statistician, and sociologist, not to mention historian!, will be inclined to herd together in muttering mobs, torches and pitchforks and pre-fashioned nooses at the ready, after reading this book. And that's a GOOD THING, because anything that makes the established truth's votaries mad, anxious, or just uneasy means leaps forward are about to happen. It doesn't much matter if Casti's analyses are right or wrong, on that level; he's made them public, and some of the establishment will be forced to address his work. They'll disprove it, or they'll co-opt it, but the quality of the conversation about why stuff happens and what we can do to shape the future has been improved.

Serious subject junkies only, please, no tourists, as the ride doesn't go through the more scenic dells and majestic passes on the way to Certainty.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kritters Ramblings, July 1, 2011
This review is from: Mood Matters: From Rising Skirt Lengths to the Collapse of World Powers (Hardcover)
An interesting read with a short review. I started this book thinking it was a little non fiction with some great pop culture influence behind the theory. I was definitely wrong. It was a lot of theory with a little pop culture.

To be honest, I would think this book would be best read by economics majors for a project. Being a business major myself, I enjoyed the book, but I think I would have found more use of it if I was still in school and needing a read that would motivate me with some pop culture references.
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11 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mood Matters, June 10, 2010
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This review is from: Mood Matters: From Rising Skirt Lengths to the Collapse of World Powers (Hardcover)
This book is not only very interesting, but also very insightful and engaging. I give it a hearty thumbs up.
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10 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A shill for the Elliott Wave Theory of stock-picking masquerading as an intellectual romp in the realm of "social mood".Tsk tsk!, July 16, 2010
By 
This review is from: Mood Matters: From Rising Skirt Lengths to the Collapse of World Powers (Hardcover)
John V. Karavitis When I came across this book, I was intrigued. Flipping through it, I caught a glimpse of what appeared to be charts of numerous historical trends that were tied to sharp changes in the value of the world's stock markets. Unfortunately, what promised to be an informative and eye-opening look into a new take on "how the world works" (Casti calls it "Socionomics" - and don't confuse it with "Socioeconomics", which is a real academic discipline) instead turned into a 200-plus page advertisement for the Elliott Wave Theory of technical analysis for stock-picking.

Specifically, I John V. Karavitis have the following issues with this book:
(1) Casti dispenses with causality, that is, as he claims, "social mood" (the result of humanity's "herding instinct") causes events, and that events in the world have no impact on "social mood" - huh?;

(2) Casti contradicts himself when, in claiming (1), nevertheless proposes that more research needs to be done in order to put "his" theory on a more scientific footing - again, if "social mood" erupts out of nowhere, with no feedback loop to world events, or other people, how does "social mood" come into being, and how could you ever discover any causality or feedback loops?;

(3) How can the stock market be a true barometer of "social mood", given that most people do not directly own stocks or trade them, rather, at best, own mutual funds and simply participate in pension plans? A very small percentage of people relative to the world population actually initiate stock market trades. And, don't sudden, unexpected changes in the stock market affect "social mood"? According to Casti, "social mood" can only be revealed by the barometer of the stock market (causality issue again);

(4) Casti's claims explicitly reject the "efficient market hypothesis", where changes in stock prices are essentially a random walk - if Casti & Robert Prechtel have discovered that there really is an underlying mechanism behind stock price changes, shouldn't they be heading for Stockholm to pick up their Nobel Prize? (But quick, because, once everyone figures it out, their discovery will be discounted away.);

(5) Casti cherry-picks world events/situations and stock markets around the world and within countries, e.g., at times using the DJIA, at others the S&P 500; a handful of "hits" does not a theory make;

(6) Casti's curious use of one example that seeks to prove that birth rates (not the stock market) were falling in the early 1920s because of "social mood" falls apart if one looks at the rest of the 1920s - it reminded me of Al Gore's infamous chart that "proved" that rising CO2 levels cause rising global temps (it's actually the other way around, with a lag time of 800 years). Weren't the 1920s a decade of relative prosperity (the "Roaring Twenties") due to a tax cut in 1920? Also, the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, which gave women the right to vote. Couldn't these two factors have significantly affected birth rates in the United States in the early 1920s?;

(7) Casti's attempt at explaining a fundamental concept in microeconomics regarding supply and demand equilibrium had me shaking my head in disbelief, it was that nonsensical;

(8) Casti ignores the possibility that future discoveries in science and technology could cause sharp, sudden changes in world events and stock markets, irrespective of "social mood" (causality issue again);

(9) Casti's writing appeared to me to be full of "doom and gloom" preaching, that is, if ONLY humanity would listen to him, the world would be a much better place to live in - but don't bother, the world is headed for many decades of bad times, and there's nothing you or anyone else can do about it - except I thought that "social mood" affects world events and the stock market. Couldn't we all just agree to always be in a good mood?

Well, you get the picture. If you don't believe that this book is a shill for the Elliott Wave Theory of technical analysis for stock-picking, I suggest you look at both the last chapter and at "Appendix A: Elliott Wave Analysis". Please, give it a shot, check it out, and see for yourself. John V. Karavitis
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