As a fan of Freakonomics, Predictably Irrational and Thinking Fast and Slow (among many others of the cognitive ilk) at first I thought this title might not have much new information for me. Indeed, most of the topics covered are familiar ground for me. Still, the social tack taken here really cements how relying solely on common sense can get you into trouble. Clear, articulate yet never dull. Great stuff.
Love the fact that Mr. Watts read this himself, gives it so much more texture than most. And more importantly, his insights and ideas are brilliant, fun to listen to and think about.
Watts lays out a solid survey about why, in many cases, the reasons we think cause certain things to happen, just may not be the case. Solid narration.
It's a pity that although it has some interesting thoughts, even though some are rehashed from others, there is always a hidden job interview for a central planner in books like this:"Hire me, I have found an argument to put a sauce of scientific respectability over your grab of raw power over people."
After heralding the power of accumulated wisdom of freely trading individuals, he names cap and trade and all kind of government coerced programs of taxation as examples of free markets. He also blames the financial crisis on the foolishness of crowds, ignoring that a small elite is setting interest rates, inflating money supply and directing the masses with laws as central planners, being lavishly campaign donated by Freddy and Fanny just before these mortgage giants needed a bailout.
In the same line he ponders about how the hell to devise a reward scheme that is fair in the banking world, with all kinds of regulations, while ignoring the most obvious one:let them fail and don't throw in the bailout slaves at the point of a gun. But getting rid of power is not an argument that falls good in a job applications with the coercive elite, so more power to patch the problems of previous power is the rule.
I thought this was going to be a book about how things work. It is, instead, his opinion and commentary on society. The title could not be more misleading. I want my money back.