A Message to Amazon Readers from Author Tim Harford
Give yourself a pat on the back. You're not as stupid as everyone says you are, and now there's a book that proves it.
When I first conceived of The Logic of Life
, my aim was to show that a world full of smart people--people like you, that is--doesnt necessarily look logical on the surface. We eat too much and worry about being fat; drink too much and cringe when we remember; spend too much at Christmas and worry about the bills in New Year. And thats just the small stuff: what about crime, racial segregation, divorce, big-money politics?
And yet underneath it all there is a hidden logic. It isnt always pretty, but its there if you know how to see it. That is what The Logic of Life
is all about.
But when I'd finished the first draft, my editor told me that he didn't think that people were as logical as I'd said. He wanted me to prove my point.
At first, I thought it was my editor thinks people are illogical because he works in the publishing business. Of course life looks illogical if you do that. (In fact, life looks crazy in most offices: see "Why Your Boss is Overpaid," chapter four.) But then I realised he was right. I'd left the most important step out.
So I went back and made sure that I laid out all the amazing evidence. I looked at single women hitting the dating scene in American cities; I looked at juvenile delinquents across the US; I looked at Mexican prostitutes; I looked at traders at a convention in Disney World; I looked at professional poker players in Las Vegas and professional soccer players in Europe. I looked at violent spouses, alcoholics, and school bullies.
In every case I discovered a story of hidden incentives and unexpected logic. And through the process of writing--and living--the book, I discovered that this crazy world of ours makes more sense than you might think.
From Publishers Weekly
and Slate.com columnist Harford (The Undercover Economist)
provides an entertaining and provocative look at the logic behind the seemingly irrational. Arguing that rational behavior is more widespread than most people expect, Harford uses economic principles to draw forth the rational elements of gambling, the teenage oral sex craze, crime and other supposedly illogical behaviors to illustrate his larger point. Utilizing John von Neumann and Thomas Schelling's conceptions of game theory, Harford applies their approach to a multitude of arenas, including marriage, the workplace and racism. Contrarily, he also shows that individual rational behavior doesn't always lead to socially desired outcomes. Harford concludes with how to apply this thinking on an even bigger scale, showing how rational behavior shapes cities, politics and the entire history of human civilization. Well-written with highly engaging stories and examples, this book will be of great interest to Freakonomics
fans as well as anyone interested in the psychology of human behavior. (Feb.)
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