Customer Review

161 of 194 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes shallow, sometimes wrong, June 1, 2008
This review is from: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (Hardcover)
First, the good points.
The author turns our attention to some important things in human behavior. The comparison between 'social norms' (where people help each other and do good things for free) and the 'market behavior' is very interesting. Social norms in the work-place and social norms in education are very positive things.
Another very important point is the observation that young people can not make correct decisions when aroused. Thus, "Just Say No!" is really the right answer!
The negatives.
Well, many experiments and observations lack depth and scope. Most are done with students in prominent universities and therefore, can not be spread on the entire society. Young students often live in a special world of their own.
Next, the author sometimes extrapolates quite wrongly. For instance, in Chapter 11 where he discusses honesty/dishonesty in society, on pp. 214-215 the author writes:
"Adam Smith reminded us that honesty really is the best policy, especially in business. To get a glimpse at the other side of this realization - at the downside, in a society without trust - you can take a look at several countries. In China the word of one person in one region rarely carries to another region...Iran is another example of a nation stricken by distrust. An Iranian student at MIT told me that business there lacks a platform of trust".
OK, in the June 2008 issue of Scientific American there is a research article on the neurobiology of trust. On page 95 in that article we see a table 'National Trust' showing the trust levels in different countries. In this list of 30 countries the highest level of trust is found in Norway (above 60%), while China comes third (above 50%) and Iran fourth (50%), way above many European countries.
So, just because "An Iranian student at MIT told me", the author branded Iran as a nation "stricken by distrust" - and this in found in the chapter on honesty! What about the scientific method?
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 2, 2011 4:23:14 PM PST
I disagree with your last paragraph analysis (considering you seem to use this to point out the negatives of this book). I come from India and have lived in US. I love my country India to a level most people do of their native land but having lived in India, I can also see where Indians go wrong and one aspect is in trust. We rarely trust each other whether in social situations or business situations. I also believe that this is a common attribute in most over populous nations including China (having known many Chinese in US). After all, survival in a highly dense nations may be the reason. You can also see this in New York. The author is right about this, however in some cases he was quick to come to judgments on some of his experiments and there was scope for further analysis on those. Overall, this book has been a revelation to me (I heard the audio book).

Posted on Apr 9, 2012 11:24:27 AM PDT
L. Liang says:
I don't want to make any other comments , but ONLY "The highest level of trust is found in China comes third (above 50%)" is enough for me to ignore the entire research!!

Is this a joke?? !!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2012 4:41:49 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 6, 2012 4:42:27 PM PST
RC Lim says:
There is a huge difference between the display of trust and the actual trust. I would agree that Chinese people display little trust, but it doesn't mean that the real trust in their society is lower than those who display greater trust. Been to California before? Everyone seems nice. SEEMS nice.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 23, 2012 11:32:33 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 23, 2012 11:32:52 PM PST]

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 10:30:58 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2013 10:35:02 PM PST
R Harding says:
I've been to China for both work and leisure so many times I've lost count. And the one thing that rings repeatedly, either through direct conversation or in body language, is that most Chinese people, not just businessmen, do not trust each other. You will see that in the piles of documents needed and the cash deposit required for a simple exhibit booth space at a trade fair. In the 1990's, it used to be that all you had to submit was a couple of business cards, a cash advance deductible from the total due, and your business registration papers, that's it.

Through the years, more and more documentary requirements have been added to the laundry list of req'ts for companies who want to put up a simple booth, due to the many instances of foreign and local buyers both being defrauded of on-the-spot deposits. Go rent a bike, or avail of any service that entails you taking possession of a moving asset, and you'll be asked for 押金 or deposit in upfront cash. These are but a few evidences of a prevailing low-trust environ in China, aren't they? I dunno what metrics were used that placed China at #3 trust ranking, nor do I know how Scientific American defined "National Trust", but I'm sure it isn't sound science.
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