Submitted by Shawn Conn on Tue, 05/11/2010 - 21:12

I just finished reading an interesting book called The Logic of Life. Much in the same manner of Freakonomics, the book covers a number of various insights gathered from academics in the field of behavioral economics. The book does a good job of explaining some big concepts in the field without going into too much jargon. Like with Freakonomics and its summary of The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime (argues that the significant drop in crime in the 90's was the result of Roe v. Wade), The Logic of Life contains bold and controversial views offered by economists' work over the years. 

Its expansive view attempts to explain many parts of life in terms of behavioral economics: prefrences for different types of sex, poker, marriage, office politics, city neighborhoods, racism in hiring prefrences, the growth of cities, politics, and the development of civilization. It definitely can be said that the book's information is more wide than deep. The author also admits various times that the views explained by behavioral economics are a simplified view the world; the goal is to create a simplied model of the world that can be used to gather data which then can be used to test against hypotheses. 

I liked the book for the interesting perspective it provided. Data in terms of numbers, if gathered correctly and accurately, can provide information that isn't distorted by perspective or bias. In reality, life is never as simple as some math formula; there are just too many things going on at once to make sense of everything. Sometimes we used intuitions to make sense of things. Other times, we can narrow our vision to gain insight on discrete details. It's difference between describing in words how gravity slows down a ball's ascent then forces to the Earth versus a mathematic equation that describes how the ball will move under certain circumstances. Same phenomena, just described differently.

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