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5.0 out of 5 stars How to Make Sense of Human Beings, January 12, 2009
This review is from: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (Hardcover)
Predictably Irrational is a compelling psychology book, with a slight behavioral economics slant, by Dan Ariely. It is written in layman's terms about why humans behave irrationally in certain situations, but systematically irrational so that we are rather predictable. If Mr Spock or the android Data from the Star Trek series had read this book, they would neither have been as puzzled nor intrigued by us as a species.

In the book, Dan explored many simple and common situations we can all relate to in life. This practical aspect of it was the book's major draw for me. Among situations covered were:

* The impact "free" has on us;
* Our procrastination with deadlines;
* The magnitude to which arousal destroys our ability to think;
* How we order food/drink relative to those who ordered before us, pending what we are trying to demonstrate to those around us rather than thinking independently
* How we cheat, but only enough to gain slightly, though not if we just had a little reminder of honesty in some ways beforehand (like a silly request to think of as many of the 10 commandments as we can), etc.

The commonality of the situations Dan chose to discuss in the book means you can pick them up to use them. I just hope you use it either for awareness to catch yourself from the same follies, or to watch others for their "humanity" rather than to take advantage of them like salespeople probably have done to you and I. These human "follies" in our daily lives and in consumer behaviour are also why the field of economics is going down the drain to be replaced by behavioral economics, as Dan also explains. Economics were made for logical beings, which have always led me to declare that economics are for Vulcans, not humans!

The examples the author cited are backed up by a lot of studies, some large and some a little small for my liking. However, in the latter, I found I was not surprised by the conclusions so I didn't doubt them. I also found myself on the end of some of those conclusions, as I'm sure most people would. We are all humans, after all, and by the end of the book, you will also find out we are all predictably irrational.

Save a copy in the library for whenever Spock and Data come along, eh?

p.s. Dan Ariely has a great blog for which you can enjoy more of his writings here. Continued support for a book, to keep on writing and expanding it, seems to be the way of the future... a rather irrational concept not that long ago but one which is becoming predictably irrational.
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Minh Tan
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Location: Halifax, NS CANADA

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