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Reviews Mon Feb 25 2008

A Little Nudge Never Hurts

This week's New Yorker includes a critique of two new books on behavioral economics, a field of study examing, among other things, how outside factors influence decision making. One of the books - Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness - comes from University of Chicago professors Richard H. Thaler of the Graduate School of Busniess and Cass R. Sunstein of the Law School. The "nudge" is the idea that people should be offered fool-proof choices that work with, rather than against, their tendency to make unreasonable decisions. A prime example is making organ donation a default option, requiring only those who do not want to donate their organs go through the trouble of explicitly expressing their wishes. The article finds that the book raises some interesting questions, mainly "if people can't be trusted to make the right choices for themselves how they possibly be trusted to make the right decisions for the rest of us?"

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Book Club is the literary section of Gapers Block, covering Chicago's authors, poets and literary events. More...

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