Customer Reviews: The Irrational Economist: Making Decisions in a Dangerous World
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on August 30, 2010
I actually read this book contrary to both the 5 stars and the 1 star previous comments.

First don't be fooled by the two names written on the book, this book is actually a collaborative effort by more than 20 peoples...and that's one of the 2 main problems I have with this book.

Each writer wrote one chapter on the book, and even though there was an obvious planning of all this, it doesn't avoid some duplication of information or a difference in quality between chapters.
I often thought that some studies/conclusions weren't detailled enough while others seemed to repeat previous chapters.
Finally, some of the authors also seem too proud of themselves, always saying "I did this","We did that","I published", etc... which is a very bad way to write, and quite annoying to read.

The second problem I have with this book is that after reading it, I have absolutely no idea what was the main point of it. If I had to explain the organisation I would say they are 3 parts in it :

- The first part is actually the best. It explains some findings in the fields of economics and neurology, trying to find (and sometimes explain) how people react when faced with choices to make. There are some interestings findings, but again the many authors and the organisation of the book makes this a bit too vague and confusing. I would have prefered if one or two authors explained theses studies in details, to get a better organized and richer book

- The second part is a political one, talking exclusively about terrorism (9/11), global warming, or the economic crisis of 2008.
It uses none of the conclusions of part one (which were often very specific/narrow in scope) and only speak about ways to manage theses crisis differently. Moreover, all theses chapters were US-centric exclusively and of little interest to non US people.
The worst example of this part is probably the chapter "are you a republican ?" where the author argues that environnemental issues used to be a non-partisan issue because Roosevelt and Nixon supported them. 100% US-centric, almost no relation to the irrationality of people when making decisions.

- Finally the third part is about scientists and how they could influence politics. This part is very vague, and seems like another way for the authors to speak about themselves which they seem to enjoy a lot.

All in all that's 3 independant parts, with only one midly interesting. This book was really disapointing specially when you see that what i called "the part one" could have been a great book by itself if the authors had worked a bit more on it and dumped "part two" and "part three".
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on February 22, 2010
At this time, there are only two reviews. The one star review is obviously by someone who has not only not read the book, he apparently hasn't looked at it. There is no one "elitist" with one "formula", the book consists of several articles on different aspects of rationality/irrationality in decision making by different authors.
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on February 15, 2010
I must admit I have just skimmed this book in a bookstore. That said, I am compelled to 5 star this book as the only other review was 1 star. I am consistently taken aback by the review process on Amazon. 1 star? Nonsense! So many 5 star Amazon rated books didn't make me write one thing down to think further about and use after I read hundreds of pages. One star is entitled to the opinion and I do remember flinching at a couple of things I saw in The Irrational Economist. However, based on what I took from just a quick peruse, it is worth more than many books I have read cover to cover. This is mostly because I am very interested in making good decisions and perplexed about so many bad ones that I see. A pandemic if I ever saw one.

In just a brief skim of this book I took the time to write out a paraphrase of a decision checklist of sorts. Here is basically what I wrote for my personal notes: Make sure you are working on the right problem, using the right frame, trying the simple answers first, using the right language, and listening to all levels. Sounds simple, right? I have personally seen countless millions wasted inexplicably flying in the face of this simple checklist at various corporations. Don't even get me started on the government. Billions don't even begin to describe it.

In my opinion, regardless of anything else in the book this checklist framework is literally near priceless. And though most would claim this to be a common sense rehash, common sense is a huge oxymoron; something that the many know but few heed.

I will use this elegantly simple checklist framework for decision making and problem solving over and over to help ensure optimal focus. Also, I will try to remember to update this review when I have finished the book. While I surely didn't agree with some of what is in the book, the aforementioned premise is extremely valuable and often overlooked and worth the low price of admission in and of itself.
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on June 16, 2013
Great!! The book structure might be a bit unbalanced, as other reviewers indicate, but this book has many great contents.
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on January 27, 2010
Another elitist publishing a "formula" for decisions that are too complex for the people to make?!? Haven't we had enough of this garbage already?
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on April 4, 2015
I don't know why these authors find the need to write so much to convey so little. If you really want to make change in the field of decision sciences, get to the point quick! I read about 40% of this book and then gave up. I think there are better authors out there on the same topic.
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