- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 11 hours and 26 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Gildan Media, LLC
- Audible.com Release Date: February 23, 2009
- Language: English
- ASIN: B001TY8DFA
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness [Expanded Edition] Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
It contains an interesting chapter on the various psychological factors that influence decision making. (I had, in fact, just read before this Prof Thaler's book on 'Misbehaving', which provides a more detailed study of the factors.)
Some of the subjects, e.g. saving for retirement, mortgage, organ donation, are covered in detail with insightful recommendations. Other subjects, e.g. credit cards and privatisation of social security, are touched upon only briefly and rather superficially.
In all, an interesting read.
To the content itself, I was right there with the author for the first 2/3 of the book. Suddenly, it's as if they did an author switch and didn't bother to read the first half that they had already written. Many of the ideas surrounding NUDGE are the use of default options, mandatory choice and other helpful decision-making tools to improve outcomes. These tools are based on harnessing System 1 thinking (intuitive thinking) or by using the laziness of System 2 (rational) thinking. This worked very well on issues such as 401(k) contributions, organ donations and investment choices. However, when pulled into the context of environmental issues and school choice, it is logically inconsistent to assume that humans will suddenly become econs on these issues.
Specifically, corporations are unlikely to be motivated to change their environmental records based on a government blacklist. Most people would not bother to find the list, let alone read it. And corporations would not see the list as an environmental nudge so much as a publicity nudge. It is cheaper to launch ad campaigns to promote the idea that you are a responsible corporation than it is to actually be a responsible corporation. As a test case, consider BP. They had a very successful ad campaign touting their environmental responsibility. Yet, they were responsible for a massive spill that was largely due to irresponsibility. This nudge will likely turn into a publicity war, not an environmental movement.
Next school choice is hardly as simple as test scores. Test scores are a greater reflection of the neighborhoods the schools are in and not the methods of teaching. The best teachers in the world have extremely low odds of turning a low-performing district into a average one. It's far too complex a system to pin success to one variable. Nevertheless, even if test scores are indicative of better schools, this would undoubtedly become another publicity issue. In order to attract dollars (students), ambitious schools would tout all sorts of nonsense to attract students in order to maximize revenue. Spending would have to be cut in order to meet their new advertising budgets. It again, becomes a publicity issue. Assuming that consumers would suddenly start making rational decisions about their kids is divorced from reality and divorced from the first part of the book.
In spite of my disappointment, I enjoyed the book and thought it had many good ideas that I plan to implement into my business as I deal with my clients. But you can effectively throw out the entire last part of the book and lose nothing. In fact, the text would be improved with such an omission.
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