The Logic of Life, By Tim Harford

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The Independent Culture

"There is nothing irrational about love," asserts the economist Tim Harford. He also, more provocatively, poses that the behaviour of smokers, gamblers, racists and revolutionaries might also comply to economic logic. Then why do we not usually class such activities as being rational? Much of today's conventional wisdom is shallow, retorts Harford. In lucid language, he peels away layers of confusing complexity to reveal what he believes is the misunderstood truth, economic at core.

The author is adamant that "rational people respond to trade-offs and to incentives". He attempts to illustrate this in a broad array of contexts: the author's home town of London, office life with bullying bosses and backstabbing rivals, a casino in Las Vegas. Although reason can be highly destructive, he argues, rational behaviour shapes the entire history of human civilisation. His theories aren't always entirely convincing but it would be unreasonable not to admit that this is an engaging and thought-provoking book.

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