In The Logic of Life, bestselling author Tim Harford quite simply makes sense of this world.
Life often seems to defy logic. The receptionist is clearly smarter than the boss who earns fifty times her salary. Arbitrary lines starkly divide the desirable districts of the city from the dangerous ones. Voters flock to the polling booths to elect candidates who’ll rip them off to favour special interests. None of it makes logical sense — or does it?
Economist and acclaimed author Tim Harford thinks it does. By weaving stories from locations as diverse as a Vegas casino to a barroom speed date, Harford aims to persuade you that people are, in fact, surprisingly logical.
When a street prostitute agrees to unprotected sex, or a teenage criminal embarks on a burglary — perhaps especially when a racist employer disregards a black job applicant — we would seem to be a million miles from rational behaviour. Harford shows that, discomfitingly, we are not. It turns out that the unlikeliest of people are complying with the logic of economics and responding to future costs and benefits, often without realizing it; and socially tragic outcomes can have their roots in individually rational decisions.
Brilliantly reasoned, always entertaining and often provocative, The Logic of Life is a book to help you understand yourself and the world around you.
Financial Times and Slate.com columnist Harford (The Undercover Economist) provides an entertaining and provocative look at the logic behind the seemingly irrational. Arguing that rational behavior is more widespread than most people expect, Harford uses economic principles to draw forth the rational elements of gambling, the teenage oral sex craze, crime and other supposedly illogical behaviors to illustrate his larger point. Utilizing John von Neumann and Thomas Schelling's conceptions of game theory, Harford applies their approach to a multitude of arenas, including marriage, the workplace and racism. Contrarily, he also shows that individual rational behavior doesn't always lead to socially desired outcomes. Harford concludes with how to apply this thinking on an even bigger scale, showing how rational behavior shapes cities, politics and the entire history of human civilization. Well-written with highly engaging stories and examples, this book will be of great interest to Freakonomics and Blink fans as well as anyone interested in the psychology of human behavior.