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Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
by Kathryn Schulz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.80
68 used & new from $4.07

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If Being Wrong Feels This Good, I Don't Want To Be Right, December 9, 2010
A little liberty from a Rod Stewart song but seems appropriate for Kathryn Schulz's fine book on being wrong. In this cognitive psychology genre, this is indeed a very fine addition. Some have reviewed it as a little wordy, which reminds me of the great book `Dune'. Upon the initial reading, the first two chapters were difficult and almost lost me, but once past the background, the book opened to a wonderful and fulfilling experience. `Being Wrong' is very similar in this case as the first two chapters are a little tough plowing as many references and quotes are brought to the readers attention. Once past this, this book will also open to a wonderful and fulfilling experience.

Unlike Descartes where he claims that we weigh the likelihood of new information, Baruch Spinoza claimed that we automatically accept new information as true and only determine any falsehood in a second and more delayed process. This is becoming the more likelihood as research is closing in on its conclusion that we are only partially rational beings. Taken as mostly true, then this reading will either reconfirm it for you, or a least make you think a little harder about your own errors and others. Error not in the sense to ridicule or be embarrassed, but to rejoice at finding the true, truth.

All in, this is a worthy contribution to cognitive psychology genre and an enjoyable read. That is if you are inclined to such things. If you are, then a few of may other favorites on the subject include:

The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making (McGraw-Hill Series in Social Psychology) by Scott Plous
How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life by Thomas Gilovich
Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition by Michael J. Mauboussin
The Little Book of Behavioral Investing: How not to be your own worst enemy by James Montier
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
Mean Markets and Lizard Brains: How to Profit from the New Science of Irrationality by Terry Burnham


On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind's Hard-Wired Habits
On Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind's Hard-Wired Habits
by Wray Herbert
Edition: Hardcover
48 used & new from $0.01

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Breaking New Ground - No, Very Good Book - Yes, November 23, 2010
Though much of the book does not break new ground on our basic cognitive blind spots, it is nevertheless a very good book. The author does provide more than a few unique insights in different ways on the subject then other authors to date that more than makes for the lack of breaking new ground. If you have not been introduced to some of our hardwired tendencies previously, then this book is as good as any place to start and worthy of the purchase. I enjoyed the author's writing style for this genre and it was an enjoyable read.

If you are interested in this genre of cognitive psychology, then a few of may other favorites on the subject include:

Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition by Michael J. Mauboussin
The Little Book of Behavioral Investing: How not to be your own worst enemy by James Montier
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life by Thomas Gilovich
Mean Markets and Lizard Brains: How to Profit from the New Science of Irrationality by Terry Burnham
The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making (McGraw-Hill Series in Social Psychology) by Scott Plous


Reckoning with Risk: Learning to Live with Uncertainty
Reckoning with Risk: Learning to Live with Uncertainty
by Gerd Gigerenzer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.82
41 used & new from $5.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Hippocrates - First, Do Not Harm, November 11, 2010
To abstain from doing harm, or more colloquial as in - `First, do not harm' which is believed to have been written by the famous Greek physician Hippocrates is the basis of `Reckoning With Risk'. When dealing with medical risk, doctors, nurses, counselors all run with the crowd of the illusion of certainty with recommendations of pre-screening tests.

For example, though a mammogram is believed to be prudent in women over 40, rarely does the advising medical practitioner take into account the costs of screening. This is not just monetary costs, but costs associated with mental and physical costs due to a potential false positive due to the screening. It is very infrequent that a medical practitioner will advise the patient of the potential of a false positive due to their own incentives for testing, and innumeracy of the practitioner.

We all tend to live in a world, or want a world, with a degree of certainty. However, it is surely prudent on the patient's part to truly seek 'informed consent' of the risks prior to proceeding with a particular treatment. Reckoning With Risk goes into detail of how one can inform oneself of the natural frequency of pre-screening tests (vs. relative frequency) and the potential benefits of a screening or taking of a therapeutic drug. Unfortunately, we do not live in a world of certainty, so this book will educate you to live a little better with the uncertainty.


The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World
The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World
by Niall Ferguson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.99
247 used & new from $1.00

4.0 out of 5 stars George Santayana - Repeating the Financial Past, November 9, 2010
Much like George Santayana and to paraphrase, "Those who cannot remember the (financial) past are condemned to repeat it." Indeed, a cursory US centric review of the financial histories of the early 20th century or of the late `20s would have protected the average investor and financial institution from much despair. However, we seem to let our ambitious fever overtake us every other decade or so. One just has to remember the late '70s with the elevated commodities fever.

All in, a very enjoyable read. Some selected books that I am fond of on the financial history side of things are included below:

Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises by Charles P. Kindleberger
Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre
Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk by Peter L. Bernstein


The Social Atom: Why the Rich Get Richer, Cheaters Get Caught, and Your Neighbor Usually Looks Like You
The Social Atom: Why the Rich Get Richer, Cheaters Get Caught, and Your Neighbor Usually Looks Like You
by Mark Buchanan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.66
88 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Power Laws and the Social Sciences Effect, October 13, 2010
Much like the 80/20 rule that came from Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto which was created to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country, the Social Atom expands this to the social sciences on broader terms. The book is a very quick read from both a Psychology and Social Science perspective, but also on the hidden patterns and explanations of why things appear as they do.

Each chapter essentially builds on itself to get the reader to the point where the author can then discuss the "critical state" of things. One example is you can randomly place yellow, brown, black, and white objects in an environment with very simple rules and the objects will, over time, tend to join each other of similar color. Now replace the objects with people and you get the same clustering in most every major city which has nothing to do with racism.

As most ecologists now know, if you destroy one pest in farming, you may introduce another more menacing pest going forward or the unintended consequences of a good idea. The Social Atom helps the reader understand that small steps/changes can cause a phase change, like ice to water. These phase changes indicate that things are indeed in the critical state and subsequently obey the results of power laws like Vilfredo Pareto's wealth distribution which again is applicable to almost every nation whether democratic or otherwise of a different ideology.

The point is that many hidden patterns and systems inherently evolve to the critical state and if you look closely enough they are present everywhere (i.e. Ubiquity), but we just never noticed before. See Ubiquity: Why Catastrophes Happen


The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves
by Matt Ridley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.35
126 used & new from $1.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Genome Meets Trade and Trust, October 2, 2010
The author of the fine book `Genome' takes on the highbrow economic establishment and documents that capital creation and capitalism works to improve all normal lives in the system. The debate of trade as a zero-sum game should surely be debunked by now, if not, then a sturdy nail is now in place with the publication of `The Rational Optimist - How Prosperity Evolves'. Even though you will read in the media daily that the world is worse off or getting worse, it is most defiantly not the case but is getting better and at a faster pace as I write.

Even on the environment front, it is very fashionable these days to talk and protest about such dire predictions about fossil fuel doom, but again, the environment is probable in the best shape it has been in a century or more. Why you may ask, mainly do to urbanization (also another false ghost) with the relief it has provided to the countryside via reduced carrying capacity of arable land.

Humans have the unique capability within the animal kingdom to have a collective cumulative human knowledge. (True ants do too, but they have their own social structure as they are mostly sisters) Thus thru the eyes and in evolutionary terms, once capita l, trade, and trust are added - a somewhat auto-catalysis evolves to make life better and to construct/build more things folks want. Will prosperity continue to evolve? It appears so as the world becomes more globally interconnected and more specialized thru division of labor.

Other fine books with similar theme:
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor by David S. Landes
The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else by Hernando de Soto


The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else
The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else
by Hernando de Soto
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.85
171 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Property Rights - Facing Up To Marx's Ghost, August 31, 2010
Hernando de Soto (and team), very convincingly make the case that capital, and the freedom of the poor, is merely to establishing the systems necessary for true property rights. Of course, this is easier said than done as the author thoroughly outlines what proper steps that are necessary and required to accomplish.

One of the true insights to the text, and which most of us misunderstand, is the concept and the meaning of `capital' in its true sense and how it is actually created in a non-western economy. Karl Marx, the philosopher and political economist knew probably better than Adam Smith, to paraphrase, that capital - "in themselves, money and commodities are no more capital than are the means of production - they want transformation into capital."

This conversion of commodities, or property, made to interact in markets, is the key to `capital' as they could express value that otherwise may not have representation. Marx knew that property was vital as it represented much more than just physical attributes. On the other hand, this has given the anti-capitalists a loud and powerful drum to beat of why private property will be placed in the hands of the rich at the expense of the poor.

While there is usually an ounce of truth in any long standing philosophy, it is time the population and social governments stand up to Marx's ghost and promote property rights for the poor.


Benjamin Graham, Building a Profession: The Early Writings of the Father of Security Analysis
Benjamin Graham, Building a Profession: The Early Writings of the Father of Security Analysis
by Benjamin Graham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.26
48 used & new from $4.03

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First, Do Not Lose (Harm) - As In The Hippocratic Oath, August 18, 2010
To abstain from doing harm, or more colloquial as in - `First, do not harm' which is believed to have been written by the famous Greek physician Hippocrates is the basis of Benjamin Graham's writings and teachings in his theme of `margin of safety'. In connection with the release of the sixth edition to Security Analysis, which I would comment is very good, this companion reader of that release is a collection of shorter writings by Graham. The compilation covers the time frame of '32-'77.

In the book you will be introduced to some items that main street is not that aware of in that Graham was not strictly a cigar-butt or a net-net investor only. One learns that his investment style was more nuanced than simply a statistically cheap asset, as he was not shy about arbitrage or good quality growth stocks. From `Toward a Science of Security Analysis', - "A case can be made for putting all your growth eggs in the one best or a relatively few best baskets."

However, one will no less get a heavy dose of the first do no harm aspect of investing. To stress this point with more gravitas, Warren Buffett loves quoting the following rules on investing which is "Rule #1: Don't Lose Money, and Rule #2: Don't Forget Rule #1". So, if wisdom comes either from Hippocrates of Kos, or by Warren Buffett of Omaha, this book will reinforce that the precondition for sustaining a high compound rate of growth is dictated by avoiding serious loss.

Reference:
Security Analysis: Sixth Edition, Foreword by Warren Buffett (Security Analysis Prior Editions)


Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)
Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)
by William Poundstone
Edition: Hardcover
44 used & new from $4.82

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Contrasts Matter Most - Absolute Values Do Not, July 27, 2010
Herbert Simon's most enduring contribution is that we are confined to our own `bounded rational'. We are too busy, to ill-informed, and occasionally too boneheaded to think things through. Therefore, our decisions resort to heuristics, or mental shortcuts, to arrive at quick, intuitive choices.

In addition as we learn in 'Priceless', our mental intensity to subjective perception follows the characteristics of a power curve law. Examples of this mental intensity include: it takes 1.7 times the amount of sugar in a soft drink to double the sweetness perception. On the other hand, it takes a light bulb 4 times brighter to double the brightness perception.

What this all leads us to, is that the cost of being so acutely sensitive to contrasts, and ratios, is a relative insensitivity to the absolute. Without a basis for an absolute 'price', we use our mental shortcuts to determine a value and/or price. Merchandisers of course know this, and subtly pull and yank our chains to influence our decisions which may not be of the best value.

In the end, we are influenced mostly by contrasts (comparative assessments) which matter the most, and absolute values do not matter as much, and only sometimes enter the picture.


Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior
by Ori Brafman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.30
197 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Nice Primer on Irrational Behavior, July 26, 2010
As one reviewer indicates, 'yet a another volume in the contemporary genre of books based on a single insight'. Partially true, in that 'we' do display irrational behavior and there are many books on the subject, but not true of this book in total. This is since there are more than a few insights the authors offer to the different ways, and reasons, we act irrational to the outside observer. Some of these irrational behaviors are:

1) Loss Aversion
2) Value Attribution
3) Diagnosis Bias

If you are interested in a primer on this subject, this book is as good a start as any and worth the quick and enjoyable read. If you are interested in more, a few of may favorites on the subject include:

Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition by Michael J. Mauboussin
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Collins Business Essentials) by Robert B. Cialdini
How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life by Thomas Gilovich
Mean Markets and Lizard Brains: How to Profit from the New Science of Irrationality by Terry Burnham
The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making (McGraw-Hill Series in Social Psychology) by Scott Plous
Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger, Expanded Third Edition by Peter D. Kaufman


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