• The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World

    linked to by 8 published by Random House on Tue 1st Jan 08
    Tim Harford

    ISBN 1400066425

    A Message to Amazon Readers from Author Tim Harford

    Give yourself a pat on the back. You're not as stupid as everyone says you are, and now there's a book that proves it.

    When I first conceived of The Logic of Life, my aim was to show that a world full of smart people--people like you, that is--doesn't necessarily look logical on the surface. We eat too much and worry about being fat; drink too much and cringe when we remember; spend too much at Christmas and worry about the bills in New Year. And that's just the small stuff: what about crime, racial segregation, divorce, big-money politics?

    And yet underneath it all there is a hidden logic. It isn't always pretty, but it's there if you know how to see it. That is what The Logic of Life is all about.

    But when I'd finished the first draft, my editor told me that he didn't think that people were as logical as I'd said. He wanted me to prove my point.

    At first, I thought it was my editor thinks people are illogical because he works in the publishing business. Of course life looks illogical if you do that. (In fact, life looks crazy in most offices: see "Why Your Boss is Overpaid," chapter four.) But then I realised he was right. I'd left the most important step out.

    So I went back and made sure that I laid out all the amazing evidence. I looked at single women hitting the dating scene in American cities; I looked at juvenile delinquents across the US; I looked at Mexican prostitutes; I looked at traders at a convention in Disney World; I looked at professional poker players in Las Vegas and professional soccer players in Europe. I looked at violent spouses, alcoholics, and school bullies.

    In every case I discovered a story of hidden incentives and unexpected logic. And through the process of writing--and living--the book, I discovered that this crazy world of ours makes more sense than you might think.


  • Posts discussing this item

    • The unbearable cuteness of economics

      posted to PSD Blog - World Bank Group on Tue 17th Mar 09

      Tim Harford, author of The Logic of Life, has managed the impossible feat of turning The Market for Lemons into somethingpalatable for a general audience. Check out Tim'svery cute YouTube video on why you can never buy a decent used car. For extra credit, find

    • The unbearable cuteness of economics

      posted to PSD Blog - World Bank Group on Tue 17th Mar 09

      Tim Harford, author of The Logic of Life, has managed the impossible feat of turning The Market for Lemons into somethingpalatable for a general audience. Check out Tim'svery cute YouTube video on why you can never buy a decent used car. For extra credit, find

    • The city is the future

      posted to PSD Blog - World Bank Group on Wed 4th Mar 09

      Tim Harford opines on the future of cities in his book The Logic of Life:It's true that modern communications technology is allowing some forms of work that once had to be done in the city to be done in the countryside. But as we've seen, it also allows the

    • The city is the future

      posted to PSD Blog - World Bank Group on Wed 4th Mar 09

      Tim Harford opines on the future of cities in his book The Logic of Life:It's true that modern communications technology is allowing some forms of work that once had to be done in the city to be done in the countryside. But as we've seen, it also allows the

    • Isn't there a better way?

      posted to Megan McArdle on Mon 16th Jun 08

      A commenter asks an interesting question:You're a long way from establishing your critical point, focusing only on the downsides of unionism to productivity. What about the downsides of focusing only on the next quarter's return? Any individual corporation

    • Harford vs Ariely - final round

      posted to The Undercover Economist on Wed 7th May 08

      The full discussion is here; my final post is here, about climate change. Here’s the guts of it:Standard economics has a solution: a carbon tax, or a tradable permit scheme, to raise the cost of emitting carbon. We’d all have an incentive to cut

    • Sinemada Patlam Msr Neden Pahal? (II)

      posted to N. Emrah Ayd?nonat on Mon 21st Apr 08

      Uur Grses'in son yazsnda deindii "Sinemada Msr Neden Pahal?" sorusunu cevaplamaya alan makaleye ve konuyla ilgili bir habere uradan ulaabilirsiniz: Sinemalarda Patlam Msr Neden Pahal?Bu konu ilginizi ektiyse "ktisat ve Hayat" kemizdeki u yazlara bir gz atabilirsiniz:Sigaray

    • Harford v. Ariely

      posted to Anti-Dismal on Thu 17th Apr 08

      Tim Harford and Dan Ariely go One-on-One over at Amazon. The problem:Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational and Tim Harford's The Logic of Life, have a pretty basic disagreement. Ariely, says his book jacket, "refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally

    • The Root Causes of Divorce: The Usual Suspects, by Bryan Caplan

      posted to EconLog on Sat 22nd Mar 08

      Reading Tim Harford's "Is Divorce Underrated?" in The Logic of Life got me wondering about the root causes of divorce. I want to create a list of "main" root causes, not partition logical space; at the same time, I want the categories to have some economic

    • Game theoretical hostage negotiations

      posted to Virtual Economics on Mon 18th Feb 08

      More musings inspired by Tim Harford's The Logic of Life - if you haven't read it yet, you really should (if only because about half my recent posts won't have made much sense recently. Seriously. You can buy one here if you're in England, or here in the US.

    • Marginal Revolution book forum on chapter 9

      posted to Anti-Dismal on Wed 5th Mar 08

      Fabio Rojas ends the Marginal Revolution book forum on the Logic of Life with a discussion of chapter 9.

    • Marginal Revolution book forum on chapter 8

      posted to Anti-Dismal on Tue 26th Feb 08

      Sahar Akhtar continues the Marginal Revolution book forum on the Logic of Life with a discussion of chapter 8, Rational Revolutions.

    • Sexual Signaling

      posted to Agoraphilia on Thu 14th Feb 08

      This doesn't surprise me at all:Bennett Galef's team at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, placed two male rats behind mesh screens at either end of a tank, one of which had recently copulated with a female. A number of different female rats