Bryan Kim's Reviews > Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Nudge by Richard H. Thaler
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Sep 06, 11

Read in August, 2011

A must for anyone involved with public policy, public health, public safety... pretty much anything public. The eminently economic authors offer a dispassionate debunking of the tattered economic notion of society as a sum total of many rational units of self interest. They offer several major biases and short comings of the typical human decision making processes, offering convincing arguments from the latest research in neuro-science, sociology, evolutionary biology, etc.

Authors champion a framework of "paternalistic liberalism". That is, architecting choices that "nudge" the most amount of people to choose what's probably in their best self interest, without surrounding choice for the rest of society. After laying the framework for this in the first hundred or so pages, authors rifle through many real world and recent examples in public health, personal finance, retirement programs, and other macro domains to drive home their framework.

For those a little more selfishly inclined -- i.e. a capitalist -- it's but a fairly straightforward twist of logic that would allow you to apply many of the underlying lessons to your market share ambitions. An ambitious but readable treatise with many practical applications, I recommend to both policy makers and capitalists alike.
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