James's Reviews > Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy and the New Science of Desire

Buyology by Martin Lindstrom
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Apr 07, 09

bookshelves: nonfiction, business, science
Read in February, 2009

Given my enthusiasm for Oliver Sacks and some of Malcolm Gladwell's writings, one might presume Buyology would be the perfect blend of the two worlds.

One would be mistaken.

This book, although a worthwhile read, suffers from an overinflated sense of self-importance. Consider how Gladwell can say obvious things in such a low-key way that you take time to consider his arguments fully. This careful subtlety is lost on Lindstrom, who continually injects the book with references to his own importance as a consultant. He also regularly inflates the actual novelty of the research he is reporting on, referring to it as the largest neuroscientific marketing research effort ever conducted. Such superlatives belie the basic science and make much of this book feel like puffery.

Which is a shame because the content, stripped of the puffery and exaggeration, is interesting and scientifically valid. In the hands of a less self-promotional author, the same material might have soared beyond the business shelves of the bookstore to attract the general reader. I recommend the book to people patient enough to sit through the stories of how busy Lindstrom is flying around the world to meet with big name client because at the core of the book lie several interesting nuggets that reveal how the connection between what we think and how we act is not as strong as we would assume.
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