September Reader's Den: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, Part 1
“We usually think of ourselves as sitting the driver's seat, with ultimate control over the decisions we made and the direction our life takes; but, alas, this perception has more to do with our desires-with how we want to view ourselves-than with reality.” ―Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
I often find myself amazed by how weird humans are, so I appreciate books that prove we're all nuts. In the interest of sharing these hilarious, intriguing, and helpful case studies, this month I will be leading the Reader's Den in discussing the book Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely.
This was Mr. Ariely's first book, and after its publication the Duke University professor of behavioral economics gained followings, with several heavily-viewed TED talks (for a great taste of this book, watch this one), a blog, and his own MOOC online class (available to take through Coursera).
His tagline is "When we make decisions we think we're in control. But are we?"
Divided into easily digestible short chapters, the book follows many of Mr. Ariely's entertaining experiments and studies (many using students) which yield insights such as why a $10 sugar pill would cure headaches much better than a $1 sugar pill, and how people will desperately keep pretending they have options, even when they know they don't. And that's not even getting into the study that necessitated covering laptops with Saran Wrap.
His personal anecdotes and fun approach to explaining the reasoning, reactions, and methodology make this a quick and enjoyable non-fiction read that might have you sharing the enlightening, sometimes frustrating (us poor humans!) and often funny results to everyone you know. And then making better decisions.
The book was translated into 29 languages. Here are some of the reviews:
“Sly and lucid. . . . Predictably Irrational is a far more revolutionary book than its unthreatening manner lets on.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Surprisingly entertaining. . . . Easy to read. . . . Ariely’s book makes economics and the strange happenings of the human mind fun.” (USA Today)
“A fascinating romp through the science of decision-making that unmasks the ways that emotions, social norms, expectations, and context lead us astray.” (Time magazine)
“In creative ways, author Dan Ariely puts rationality to the test. . . . New experiments and optimistic ideas tumble out of him, like water from a fountain.” (Boston Globe)
“Inventive. . . . An accessible account. . . . Ariely is a more than capable storyteller . . . If only more researchers could write like this, the world would be a better place.” (Financial Times)