Book #40: Predictably Irrational

You can count the number of business books I've read on one hand, even if that hand had it's thumb and three fingers chopped off in some bizarre finger chopping incident, the likes of which we won't discuss in this family-friendly forum.  But I really enjoyed that book, so there is a distinct possibility I'm going to have to use my own hands for counting from now on, or at least use someone else's chopped-free hands.

The book in question is Predictably Irrational by Don Ariely, an MIT professor who has studied behavioral economics for over 20 years.  His studies have focused on our tendencies to base many of our everyday decisions on irrational beliefs, even when we think that our reasons are perfectly rational.  The crux, though, is that this irrational reasoning is predictable - which means that's with some careful thought and guidance it can be caught and rectified. 

Sounds boring, I know.  But the strength of Ariely's book is his friendly, laymen manner.  He goes into a lot of details concerning the experiments he and his colleagues have conducted over the years to test their theories, but he constantly brings it back to everyday ideas we can all relate to.  From the concept of using a "wing man" to attract women to how Best Buy will position their televisions in such a way to "force" a potential customer to choose the one that boost their profit the most, each experiment is used to illustrate both a small scale, personal situation we might encounter ourselves to more large-scale, national and global concerns.

Very funny, lively and informative, Predictably Irrational is a fast and intelligent read with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments...something you wouldn't typically expect from a economics book.  I should also mention that I came across this book by way of the also very funny and informative Diggnation podcast, where it was highly touted by co-host Kevin Rose.  If you don't check out their weekly podcast, do it - great stuff.