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Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Den tist Kindle Edition
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Like no other economist, Tyler Cowen shows how economic notions—such as incentives, signals, and markets—apply far more widely than merely to the decisions of social planners, governments, and big business. What does economic theory say about ordering from a menu? Or attracting the right mate? Or controlling people who talk too much in meetings? Or dealing with your dentist? With a wryly amusing voice, in chapters such as “How to Control the World, The Basics” and “How to Control the World, Knowing When to Stop” Cowen reveals the hidden economic patterns behind everyday situations so you can get more of what you really want.
Readers will also gain less selfish insights into how to be a good partner, neighbor and even citizen of the world. For instance, what is the best way to give to charity? The chapter title “How to Save the World—More Christmas Presents Won’t Help” makes a point that is every bit as personal as it is global.
Incentives are at the core of an economic approach to the world, but they don’t just come in cash. In fact, money can be a disincentive. Cowen shows why, for example, it doesn’t work to pay your kids to do the dishes. Other kinds of incentives—like making sure family members know they will be admired if they respect you—can work. Another non-monetary incentive? Try having everyone stand up in your next meeting if you don’t want anyone to drone on. Deeply felt incentives like pride in one’s work or a passing smile from a loved one, can be the most powerful of all, even while they operate alongside more mundane rewards such as money and free food.
Discover Your Inner Economist is an introduction to the science of economics that shows it to be built on notions that are already within all of us. While the implications of those ideas lead to Cowen’s often counterintuitive advice, their wisdom is presented in ordinary examples taken from home life, work life, and even vacation life… How do you get a good guide in a Moroccan bazaar?
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B0019VWXPO
- Publisher : Plume; Reprint edition (May 27, 2008)
- Publication date : May 27, 2008
- Language : English
- File size : 731 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 260 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #822,923 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- #870 in Social Psychology & Interactions
- #2,944 in Happiness
- #5,701 in Health, Fitness & Dieting (Kindle Store)
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The book is also distinguished in the breadth of fulfilling topics it covers. While Freakonomics mostly details academic papers of Steven Levitt unlikely to improve one's daily life, Cowen never constrains himself to his own research. You will not find a single academic paper written by Cowen in the book's references, though plenty of mentions for his blog Marginal Revolution. He respects a wide range of sources, whether they be academics, journalists, or other bloggers. His prose jumps quickly and often abruptly between topics, but this freer style allows him to efficiently expose the reader to a wide variety of ideas. At times the academic in me screamed for more rigor in some of his arguments, but ultimately I feel the book was better off as written. The book provides only the detail necessary to make a point, and this allows for 221 pages of light and invigorating reading.
By producing such a variety of advice, Cowen ensures some reader disagreement, but the book is better for it. No one buys Chicken Soup for the Soul expecting every single anecdote to be life-changing, and this book needs to be approached the same way -- and unlike most other self-help books, this one is always entertaining. My impression is that if readers ignore or forget 99% of the book's specific advice a month after they've read it, the lifelong benefits of a few tips can be worth the price. And for readers that learn to apply Cowen's thinking throughout their daily lives, this book becomes a cornucopia.
I expect readers will respond most favorably to Cowen's sections on art and food, as these are where he shows the most passion and relies the most on his personal experience. His arguments for broadening horizons -- becoming a "cultural billionaire" in his words -- are the most convincing. The chapter on self-deception made me feel much better about myself, as I feel I utilize "necessary" self-deception and avoid "dangerous" self-deception. (Or is this feeling another example of my self-deception?) I anticipate readers will differ widely in which advice affects them the most. The only way to find out is to read the book yourself.
So far, so good. Where the book lets off is where it stops being insightful like that. You can't review a book without reviewing the other books in its genre - the Washington Post review of this book in the Amazon page spends half the time comparing it to Freakonomics. On one level that's not fair because a book should stand or fall on its own. On the other hand, nothing exists in a vacuum and where the author himself references Freakonomics in his own book you can get a bit of a pass for doing it in a review too. As I've pointed out and as the author does as well, unlike Freakonomics, this book purports to tell you not just where economics principles can help but also where they hurt. In that case he has to get this right too. And I don't feel he did. Continuing the example: if paying your daughter to do the dishes means she won't do as good a job and will instead look for a better-paying job, is that a bad thing? Depends what you're trying to motivate her to do and what result you're seeking. It's that last analysis that Cowan doesn't give enough here. Freakonomics told you its motivations, and what would be motivated by following economics principles. Cowan doesn't tell you what you lose or what you gain by abandoning them. He should have.
For example, Cowen has an insightful chapter on combating global poverty. No, he doesn't claim to have any solutions, but he does have an excellent piece of advice: Don't give to beggars. Why? Because that encourages begging. If there are people who are equally poor but spending their time doing more productive things than begging, the true philanthropist will take the time to find them. (If that sounds crass, Cowen points out that some beggars in India have had their limbs amputated just to increase their begging revenues. If charitable pedestrians would think through the incentives their spare change creates, this horrific phenomenon wouldn't exist.)
Many of Cowen's points are more obvious, or relevant only to a narrow audience (foodies?). I doubt that you'll learn to "Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist," as the subtitle claims. (His dentist advice amounts to "be nice to her"--the incentives faced by dentists, it turns out, are complicated.) Still, this is a quick and breezy read. When the marginal costs are so low, the occasional gem of insight yields positive net benefits indeed.
Top reviews from other countries
Reviewed in Italy 🇮🇹 on October 28, 2018
Dans un genre proche lisez plutôt le magistral " Système 1 / Système 2 : Les deux vitesses de la pensée " de Daniel Kahneman, qui est tout ce que ce petit ouvrage n'est pas : riche, abordable, passionnant, et susceptible de changer définitivement votre vision de vous-même et du monde.
1.The postcard test:ハガキ大に論文をまとめろ
2.The Grandma test:おばあちゃんにもわかるように話せ
3.The Aha Principle:納得のいく理論を作れ