By Chris | February 12, 2008
The Logic of Life, Tim Harford: Harford uses rationality to explain everything from the Cold War to increased divorce rates. If you read many economics blogs, you will undoubtedly be familiar with some of the academic work he references. Nevertheless, what the book lacks in novelty is more than compensated by Harford’s articulate writing. And, most readers will find plenty of new and intriguing ideas. I found his chapter on high CEO pay and his analysis of rational racism particularly interesting. The book also helped me understand why I’m such a poor poker player. The Logic of Life is definitely an entertaining and thought-provoking read.
The Myth of the Rational Voter, Bryan Caplan: A common economic view of democracy is that it fails because people are rationally ignorant and self-interested voters produce bad policies. Caplan shatters both of these fallacies. He argues that because the marginal impact of a single vote is almost zero, people vote to indulge their biases and satisfy their consciouses. Biases common among voters include anti-market bias, anti-foreign bias, make-work bias, and pessimistic bias. Caplan’s impeccable logic backed by strong empirical support transformed my view of democracy. I was put-off by his unnecessary disparaging remarks about religious beliefs, but still thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating read.