Every day, we make decisions on topics ranging from personal investments to schools for our children to the meals we eat to the causes we champion. Unfortunately, we often choose poorly. The reason, the authors explain, is that, being human, we are all susceptible to various biases that can lead us to blunder.Our mistakes make us poorer and less healthy; we often make bad decisions involving education, personal finance, health care, mortgages and credit cards, the family, and even the planet itself. Thaler and Sunstein invite us to enter an alternative world, one that takes our humanness as a given. They show that by knowing how people think, we can design choice environments that make it easier for people to choose what is best for themselves, their families, and their society. Using colorful examples from the most important aspects of life, Thaler and Sunstein demonstrate how thoughtful "choice architecture" can be established to nudge us in beneficial directions without restricting freedom of choice. Nudge offers a unique new take - from neither the left nor the right - on many hot-button issues, for individuals and governments alike. This is one of the most engaging and provocative audiobooks to come along in many years.Included in this recording are a bonus chapter and a Postscript that was added in the paperback edition.More
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An overly long Nudge in the right direction
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.
Libertarianism - interesting!