I had finally figured that walking across the aisles of the bookshop to identify my next reading project, as a method, does not work for me — personal recommendations do. Whether it’s Terror Incorporated or India after Gandhi, or In spite of the gods — I finished these books with such passion, because someone that read it* told me what to expect and why I might like that book.
That’s how I picked Predictably Irrational — though not from personal recommendation, it was from a reading list published on Business World India’s Reading Room . Given my interest in behavioral economics (remember Freakonomics?), I was looking forward to it.
It is a light read sure, but if I have to break the news first, it is that the book should be retitled Behavioral Economics for Idiots. Not only was the book twice as long as it should have been, the findings, the theories, the stories are extremely pedestrian and in some ways, incomplete.
I don’t say this because I am or I claim to be well-read on this topic, even a high school kid must feel this book is very drawn-out. If this book were a jug of water mixed with a drop of elixir, I would just boil the whole damn book and go for the drop of elixir. The concept of social vs market norms, “three irrational quirks”, IKEA effect, one-step-removed-from-money were explained well. I liked the idea of self-controlled credit cards. Other than that, this book gets a fail — it even has some rubbish chapters that have nothing to do with behavioral economics.
If you are new to the subject, you should get Freakonomics instead or go for the scholarly books. But regardless of the book, behavioral economics, much like economics itself relies very much on models, and models as you can see, do get the basic message right — but nuances are questionable.
*I hope the referees read this post, they’ll know which books they referred — with the exception of Terror Incorporated, for which I got motivation from this TED video.