Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
by Dan Ariely
4 recommendations

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Recommendations on Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Recommendations from domain experts (curated by Highlyreco)

Steve Yegge's Review:

 I read a neat book called Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, by Dan Ariely. The book is a fascinating glimpse into several bizarre and unfortunate bugs in our mental software. These bugs cause us to behave in weird but highly predictable ways in a bunch of everyday situations.

For instance, one chapter explains why bringing an uglier version of yourself to a party is guaranteed to get you more attention than other people who are arguably better-looking than you are. I personally do this all the time, except that I'm usually the ugly one. The same principle explains a ploy used by real-estate agents to get you to buy ugly houses.

Another chapter explains the bug that causes you to be a packrat, and shows why you desperately hold on to things you own, even if you know deep down that they would rate lower than pocket lint on eBay.

In any case, well, good book. I'm going to harsh on it a teeny bit here, but it's only one tiny part towards the end, one that actually has little to do with the rest of the research presented in the book. I still highly recommend it. It's only about a 4- or 5-hour read: beyond the reach of most social-network commenters, perhaps, but you can probably handle it just fine.

So: about that harshing. Dan Ariely, who seems like a pretty fascinating guy in his own right, independent of his nifty book, says something that's kinda naïve towards the end. It doesn't seem naïve at all when you first read it. But naïve it is.

Towards the end of the book — and I apologize here, since my copy is on loan to a friend at the moment, and you can't search inside the book on no-thanks to the book's publisher, so I can't double check the exact details — but towards the end, Dan works himself into a minor frenzy over what seems like a neat idea about credit cards.


Max Levchin's Review:

Personally, I prefer less advice, more history. From my favorite business segment: Too Big To Fail, Ascent of Money, When Genius Failed, etc. Books on applied psychology (Influence, Predictably Irrational) are another way to round out primarily technological education.


Vinod Khosla's Review:

In this newly revised and expanded edition of the groundbreaking New York Times bestseller, Dan Ariely refutes the common assumption that we behave in fundamentally rational ways. From drinking coffee to losing weight, from buying a car to choosing a romantic partner, we consistently overpay, underestimate and procrastinate. Yet these misguided behaviors are neither random nor senseless. They’re systematic and predictable—making us predictably irrational.


Derek Sivers's Review:

My favorite type of book: pointing out and understanding all of the counter-intuitive things people do.