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Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  445 ratings  ·  27 reviews
David Friedman has never taken an economics class in his life. Sure, he's taught economics at UCLA. Chicago, Tulane, Cornell, and Santa Clara, but don't hold that against him. After all, everyone's an economist. We all make daily decisions that rely, consciously or not, on an acute understanding of economic theory--from picking the fastest checkout tine at the supermarket ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 7th 1997 by HarperBusiness (first published 1996)
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Feb 11, 2008 rated it liked it
This books tries to be an economics text book for lay people. I learned quite a bit, but there were many instances where I used the graphs and English descriptions to go, "Oh, he means XYZ in calculus." I'm not sure how clear those passages would be without a good math background (not necessarily calculus, but at least comfort with geometry). In general I feel like I learned a lot about modern economic theory and he had some fun passages that applied economics theory to unusual situations (like ...more
Tough read. This is not a _Freakonomics_ or Sowell's _Basic Economics_. You have to engage the econ part of the brain and think hard. (There is actually a part of the brain that fires heavily in Econ majors and rarely in other college students). Therefore I hated it and felt dumb, and missed a lot.

But after the first third, he turns away from the blackboard, sits down in his armchair, and gives example after example of application in the real world. That was refreshing and I enjoyed it. Still,
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mind-blowing! A little harder than Machinery of freedom but no less rewarding!
Logan Hughes
Mar 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: thrift
From the title/cover/description, I was expecting a pop-sci, layman-oriented romp through economics with a tight focus on, well, the economics of everyday life: shopping, working for compensation, giving, children's allowances, etc. That's sort of what this is, and I think the author thinks he's writing for a layman audience, but it gets pretty deep into economic theory with lots of charts and figures which lost me pretty quickly. Some of the examples focus on everyday life situations, but just ...more
Joe Price
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The 5 stars is just for economists or econ students, though I think most other people would put it at 3-4 stars. The book provides a number of intriguing explanations to various decisions such as why we give diamond rings when we get engaged or why the British wore bright red uniforms.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it liked it
While there are good parts for sure, and the examples he uses make his point fairly well, it can be slow going in places. It isn't quite what I thought it was going to be based on the title, but is still a worthwhile read.

Perhaps the most interesting parts show that how a group of people, all making the correct decision for their own well being, end up making a poor decision for the group. If everyone in the group uses the same logic, the whole group is worse off. One example he gave was cars g
Edha Singla
Apr 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
Okay so I had high expections from this book and it met none of them. Although I understand that this book does not look at economics from a monetary point of view but, it is such an uninteresting and dry book. I just couldn't relate to it. It just talks about such obvious things, which could have been explained in a much easier and simpler way. For example Henry hazlet's economics in one lesson does the job spectacularly well. ...more
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good, but slightly too heavy-going for my purposes. That's more a criticism of me than it is the book itself. ...more
Mark D.
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, economics
This book is not what most people would expect from an economics book, even one aimed at the popular audience. From the start, you can tell that the author approaches economics from an unconventional point of view: in his view, economics is not about money. Instead, it turns out to be about value, and how we exchange things of value to obtain others; money need not be involved. When examined from this viewpoint, economics suddenly becomes applicable to study of how we make decisions about nearly ...more
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Friedman is a brilliant economist (and son of Milton), and this book is really the forerunner to Freakonomics, in the sense that it was the first of the armchair economics books geared toward discussing data in more interesting and conversational ways. A friend who recommended Hidden Order claimed that it was the book that Freakonomics was trying to be. This is true in the sense that Hidden Order does a far better job of illustrating the pervasiveness of the power of numbers in all aspects of ou ...more
Maria (Ri)
Jun 07, 2010 rated it liked it
I finally finished this one. It is pretty heady which is what took me so long to read it. I would only make it through a couple pages at night before drifting off to sleep. It is more of a daytime read! LOL

This is not easy economics reading like Freakonomics, etc. This book would be awesome for a college economics class. It has very detailed information like you would learn at the level of a college course, but it is presented in a more entertaining way than a textbook. Having said that, it is
May 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I was told by a friend that this is the book "Freakonomics" wished it could be. I heartily disagree. I'm not dumb or brilliant, I like to think I am slightly above average in intelligence and the author completely spoke above me almost the entire time. He tried to explain things simply and ended up making everything more complex, at least to me. I can handle A to B or even A to D, skipping a few steps, but the author jumped from A to Q and expected his readers to be able to follow with no issues ...more
May 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, bookcrossing
One of the random interests I have is unusual perspectives to economics, and this seemed to fit that category. The contents seemed interesting, and some chapters were rather interesting (economics of crime or marriage). But not all chapters were interesting, and it took over a month to finish me the book (still skipping some of the parts with incomprehensible charts). Some chapters, while still interesting in topic, we're written in a boring way. The Undercover Economist is a much more interesti ...more
Diana Marie
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-science
This book is not a quirky, behavioral economics book. Don't be fooled by the title. It is a complete review of everything that I ever learned as an Econ major. While it gets a bit wordy at times and is rather dry, it is a great, condensed version of everything in basic economics - and for this aspect, I give it 5 stars. But since the only part of it that I was truly interested in were the last two chapters, I give it 3 stars. Instead of straight-up economics 101 lectures, I would have preferred ...more
Jul 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Exciting book about an exciting topic. This book had enough depth to cover topics like marginal values and demand curves, and enough practicality mixed in to make for an interesting mix. Friedman has advanced degrees in physics and law and he chooses to teach economics because there are plenty of parallels to draw into this subject. He has a good libertarian bent, but I don't know how an understanding of economics could lead to any other political view. ...more
Jan 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone, esp. critical thinking liberals wanting an accessible view into how libertarians think
Recommended to Kenny by: I know the author
A very good read, I find this book excessively reductionist, i.e. the explanations (Friedman brings libertarian economics to a popular audience very well) are based on assumptions that are unrealistic (people are purely driven by profit type of thing) but a good introduction to that style of economic thought if you read critically.
Paul Childs
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: economics
This book is more complete and detailed than books like the Undercover Economist or Freakonomics, but it is also much harder to read since it is written in a dryer more textbook like fashion. Parts of the book were interesting and other parts tended to make me nod off. This book would probably be best for someone that has a more than passing interest in the subject.
Feb 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Interesting...however much denser, and therefore less readable than other economics books I have made it through...namely Armchair Economist, The Drunkard's Walk, and Freakonomics - the remedial member of the family. ...more
Tyler Nice
Jul 31, 2012 rated it it was ok

This book is a bit misleading. Not a pop-Econ book. There is some challenging material in here. If you are looking for a fun light Econ read, I recommend looking elsewhere. Try Charles Wheelan's Naked Economics...
Ami Iida
May 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: economics
the book is an good economics book but Mankiw introductory economics is great than it.
I recommend you to read Mankiw economics.
June Grabemeyer
Jul 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
Excellent book about understanding economics applied to real life situations.
Apr 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Not that innovative.
Himanshu Shukla
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Apr 26, 2015
Kay Kim
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Aug 31, 2014
Christy A Schmidt
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Feb 09, 2016
Bill Mooney
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Oct 25, 2011
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Aug 26, 2015
Harris Rodis
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Jun 22, 2018
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May 03, 2019
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Jul 02, 2012
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I am an academic economist currently employed as a law professor, although I have never taken a course for credit in either field. My specialty, insofar as I have one, is the economic analysis of law, the subject of my book _Law's Order_.

In recent years I have created and taught two new law school seminars at Santa Clara University. One was on legal issues of the 21st century, dis

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