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I accidentally stumbled upon a group of books that support a theory I call "our little fake worldviews." My theory is, basically, that large amounts of things we believe -- and do so very firmly in some instances -- aren't even true.
The first in the series I found was "Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me), by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. This book was followed by, The Self Illusion: Why There Is No "You" Inside Your Head, by Bruce Hood. Both of these books are highly recommended. Later, I found "Thinking, Fast and Slow," by Daniel Kahneman, which I'm reading now.
The basis of the books are that people are terribly easy to manipulate. For example, if you can prime someone by asking the question in a certain way, you can skew the answers given to the question. For example, if you ask the question, "Did Gandhi live to be 144 years old?" You can make people give a much higher age of death for Gandhi than his actual age when he died. Why? Because by inserting "144 years old" into the question, the majority of people start at 144 years old and go down, having a mental image of a very old man in the process (This example was actually from "Thinking, Fast and Slow," by Daniel Kahneman).
The first section of Nudge is very similar to the above books, being filled with interesting studies that show how little there actually is to "us." While very good, unfortunately, some of the studies had actually been covered in the above books somewhere. At some points, it seemed that entire paragraphs were interchangeable between books, as there were sections that I remember almost word for word from other books. I'm not sure who quoted, who, though, or which books even.
The second section of the book is about retirement plans, investing, insurance, etc. The connection to the first section is that, if people are "nudged" in the right direction (by subtle manipulation), the public at large can be pushed in a direction that benefits both the individual and society as a whole. The authors seem to think they are taking a libertarian position while doing their nudging, but as someone who has studied a lot of libertarians philosophy, nothing really jumped out at me as being overtly libertarian in origin.
Unfortunately, the authors are very long winded. The first section of the book is admittedly really interesting. However, if you don't actually have investments, stock, or retirement plans at work, you can just skip the second half of the book. It is tedious and boring.
While I'm sure the book may be of some help to people who actually have investments, stock, retirement plans, etc., this book could be skipped in favor of the similar but better books mentioned above. If you are interested in this book because of its purported libertarian leanings, I would suggest something from Ron Paul instead.
All in all, I am not disappointed for buying the book, but I sure wouldn't put this at the top of my list for must reads.
44 of 48 people found this review helpful
The takeaway that I got from this book is that the way questions are expressed or items are presented will influence (nudge) our decisions. Its an interesting point and was supported by a few good initial examples (I like the term "Choice Architect" that they coined). After that, the point was reinforced with many, many (too many) examples. Most (if not all) were to support their political agenda. 'We feel this agenda is right so we should nudge the public to decide the way they should using these tactics...' Over and over and over for 12 hours... Stop listening after the 1st hour and you'll get enough.
18 of 20 people found this review helpful
How many economists can you invite to a dinner party without spoiling it for everyone else? Why do I pull on doors that say push? Why is their no logic to my saving and borrowing? Why do I put up with default settings on my computer that annoy me?
All of these question and many more have been answered by this book along with why government campaigns on obesity are making matters worse. How to solve the pension crisis and how to get people to drink less without turning into a fascist.
"Libertarian paternalism" they call it or how to design and frame choices so that they have positive outcomes that individuals and society would want when they are thinking logically.
It?s a very important book and highly influential on some decision makers in the UK and the States, I knew that when I bought it; what I didn?t expect was that it would be so funny. I have laughed out loud half a dozen times and not just at the rich vein of references to Homer Simpson who is repeatedly referenced.
I did nod off during the long chapter on the American pension system though there are useful parallels but generally it is highly entertaining and very thought provoking.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Not my favourite book, in fact It has been a while since I have struggled to read an audible book like this one. Behavioural economics books are generally fascinating, but this one applies very few principles to endless obvious examples; the cover is the high point. Read Dan Ariely instead.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
essential listening for everyone who makes decisions and especially for those who create choices for others.
very useful to understand how I am nudged and how to effectively nice myself! Love it!
2 of 4 people found this review helpful