Predictably Irrational

The human race’s predictable irrationality has just been unveiled, thanks to a blue paperback that I managed to finish in around 3 weeks.

I just recently revived the habit of reading voraciously. And thanks to my beb, style economist and officemate Jill (thestyleeconomist.blogspot.com), I found the perfect book to help me get acquianted to the world of economics, albeit in an unorthodox manner.

The lucid book was written by a third-degree burn survivor, Dan Areily. The guy definitely had a lot of time to ruminate on life, economic decisions, and human behavior while he was in deep distress. He also embodied the passion of a true academic, as his claims were all backed by empirical research. Behavioral economics is really something.

The text tackled numerous topics which were viewed in an out-of-the-box way. It explained why we make irrational decisions despite the numerous economic assumptions that people are supposedly rational. It reveals why “free” is really expensive, the power of relativity (the non-Einstein type), the lure of procrastination, and the human tendency to lie in an economic context, among many other things.

The writing style is so-so. It’s not a Pulitzer prize winning type, but enough to get points across. It was the book whose ideas had me thinking twice before I grabbed two budget-unwarranted dresses at Pink Soda. Those same ideas also revisit me when I think about my short-term, medium-term, and long-term financial plans. Affective in practical living. The ideas jump out of the pages. But not necessarily supreme in word usage. I’ve seen better writers, but his ability to persuade is unparalleled by most of his contemporaries. Areily did not even have to go through the sugary self-help route. He was just a sage researcher, pure and simple.

Of course, Nassim Taleb’s book The Black Swan will be quick to debunk the argumentations of Predictably Irrational because it heavily relied on statistics. It was heavy on averaging. But I still believe in its value; it’s really a good and thought-provoking read.

If I had a book that I can feverishly discuss with a friend over coffee, perhaps this would be it. That is, I assume that I will be discussing with a friend who likes human psychology as intertwined with economics, and is as predictably irrational as I am.

Sometimes, though, the author likes to insert sudden departures from the main train of thought. This distracted me a little, although I found the snippets delightful under a different circumstance. But I do acknowledge that it’s non-fiction and non-literary, and therefore excused for minor lapses in coherence. I just think that the book could have been more tightly written.

Final rating: 4.5 stars.
Value for money: Excellent. (295 pesos)