Priceless: how our unknowing irrationality confounds the price of everything


22 Responses to “Priceless: how our unknowing irrationality confounds the price of everything”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love that the book is “marked down” from 26.99 to 17.81 on amazon.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if the term “irrational” includes the use Ellul makes of it, i.e., that which exists outside of consciousness and rationality. I’ll have to read this to see if the author identifies advertising scientists as specialists in manipulating the socially constructed mental illness we call American education.

  3. Joe says:

    The word “irrational” should be dropped from these discussions. To an economist, “irrational” refers to any behavior that isn’t focused on maximizing a utility function. The idea is that if we pesky humans don’t fit the theoretical model, rather than concluding that the model is wrong, we then label human behavior as “irrational”. But even when we are engaged in “cognitive failures”, we might be up to something else, something that could be understood by looking at our evolutionary history. For example, we’re much more sensitive to losses than gains, but that might just be because some losses can be fatal, so people who overreact to potential losses are more likely to survive.

    Behavioral economics is the only part of economics that is actually scientific (in that its practitioners study how people actually behave), but even many behavioral economists can’t resist going from “is” to “ought”.

  4. Joe in Australia says:

    Lyd: I also use an adblocker, so I loaded this page in a different browser to see the ads. As far as ads go the ones here aren’t excessive. I can’t stand moving pictures in my field of vision so I’ll leave the adblocker running, but a top banner and a single animation is nothing compared to many other other popular sites.

  5. License Farm says:

    I’ve been a fan of Poundstone since I was a kid and picked up BIG SECRETS and BIGGER SECRETS. (BIGGEST SECRETS is on my Amazon wishlist.) This seems to be in keeping with his theme of exposing the puppetmasters and charlatans of the world.

  6. avraamov says:

    ‘As with other behavioral economics texts, Poundstone is setting out to demonstrate how our own cognitive blindspots cause us to behave irrationally, and how this pervasive irrationality has more to do with the price of goo…’

    blue goo perhaps?

  7. ryanrafferty says:

    I picked this book up after seeing it on boing boing a few months ago… and am in the process of reading it now– I think it’s excellent, and references some interesting social-psychology studies.

    The next book on my list is “Connected: the surprising power of social networks” – it is along the same vein of the application/connection of social psychology studies to our daily existence:

  8. arikol says:

    This one is now on my amazon wish list.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m in a talent bank of professional that do voice overs. They are constantly asking, “how much should I charge for…” I wonder if this book could help them figure that out? Can anyone that read it tell me?

  10. Bryan Routledge says:

    The price tag on the cover says $25.99. The list price at Amazon and Powell’s is $26.99 (but it is on sale for $17.81 at Amazon). I am so easily confused.

  11. lyd says:

    I am coincidentally reading this from a borrowed computer. I had no idea that boing boing had become almost impossible to look at without an ad-blocker.

  12. michaelamechanic says:

    Poundstone is an interesting cat. He’s written like 17 books on all sorts of topics. Here’s an interview I did with him on his book Gaming the Vote, which was just kind of a fascinating history of why we use a voting method that leaves most people dissatisfied, when there are much better methods out there — like, oddly enough, the one they use on the website Hot or Not!

  13. Anonymous says:

    reminds me of something that Dan Gilbert said in a TED conference.

  14. arikol says:

    Are there ads on BB?
    I manually block ads (I don’t use an ad-blocker library) and don’t have anything blocked here but only see like ine, small, unobtrusive ad for some american car company. I even have javascript enabled on BB.

    I think your friends computer may have caught a case of something nasty! The computer equivalent of syphilis..

    • lyd says:

      I think they are legit. Top banner and sidebar animated/video. It is the moving pictures that put me over the edge. I could live with static.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I think the sales pitch is that sucking on a Marlboro tastes just like sucking on a cowboy.

  16. cuvtixo says:

    “Poundstone’s subtitle hints that there will be some kind of Dale-Carnegie-style set of tips and tricks for exploiting pricing weirdness” Consider, a book written about the irrational buying decisions of consumers is probably not going to be completely honest and forthcoming on its own contents. After all, the book itself belongs to the set of things it describes!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Poundstone has always written about really interesting topics. I’ve read a lot of of his book and I just discovered that he’s written many more — google him for his home page.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Even those of us less vulnerable to some of the more blatant abuses (my mind automagically rounds .9x to the nearest dollar since as a child with limited funds and a regional tax, I never seemed to have enough to buy things) are equally vulnerable to many of these tactics.

    In a way I’m lucky, as I don’t have the need to equal or outdo my neighbour. But if I am hungry, for example, I lust after every food product advertised on TV, for the few minutes it stays in my mind. Analytical monster that I am, I then pause to analyse what I *really* want. I am, however, overweight.

    I’ve never understood car advertising, though. At over $10,000 how could ‘zoom-zoom’ or any other slogan make that much of a difference? Unless, of course, all products are essentially the same, and the difference is little more than luck. (which it could very well be)

    As for the market, look for quotes from those who got in and out fast, making a killing in the process. (Mark Cuban, Yahoo and Youtube, and many more, not all dot.bomb) The key for them was understanding the underlying industry better than the investors.

  19. Daemon says:

    Not really surprising to anyone who’s been exposed to the madness that is gourmet food or name-brand products without actually buying the hype.

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