The Logic of Life by Tim Harford
The Rational Economics of an Irrational World

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Life sometimes seems illogical. Individuals do strange things: take drugs, have unprotected sex, mug each other. Love seems irrational, and so does divorce. On a larger scale, life seems no fairer or easier to fathom: Why do some neighborhoods thrive and others become ghettos? Why is racism so persistent? Why is your idiot boss paid a fortune for sitting behind a mahogany altar? Thorny questions–and you might be surprised to hear the answers coming from an economist.

But Tim Harford, award-winning journalist and author of the bestseller The Undercover Economist, likes to spring surprises. In this deftly reasoned book, Harford argues that life is logical after all. Under the surface of everyday insanity, hidden incentives are at work, and Harford shows these incentives emerging in the most unlikely places.

Using tools ranging from animal experiments to supercomputer simulations, an ambitious new breed of economist is trying to unlock the secrets of society. The Logic of Life is the first book to map out the astonishing insights and frustrating blind spots of this new economics in a way that anyone can enjoy.

The Logic of Life presents an X-ray image of human life, stripping away the surface to show us a picture that is revealing, enthralling, and sometimes disturbing. The stories that emerge are not about data or equations but about people: the athlete who survived a shocking murder attempt, the computer geek who beat the hard-bitten poker pros, the economist who defied Henry Kissinger and faked an invasion of Berlin, the king who tried to buy off a revolution.
Once you’ve read this quotable and addictive book, life will never look the same again.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Tim Harford

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Tim Harford is the Undercover Economist and Dear Economist columnist for the Financial Times. His writing has also appeared in Esquire, Forbes, New York magazine, Wired, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. His previous books include The Undercover Economist and The Logic of Life. Harford presents the popular BBC radio show More or Less and is a visiting fellow at London's Cass Business School. He is the winner of the 2006 Bastiat Prize for economic journalism and the 2010 Royal Statistical Society Award for excellence in journalism.
Published January 15, 2008 by Random House. 274 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Logic of Life

Kirkus Reviews

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Contrary to pop economists who have examined the stranger moments of human behavior vis-à-vis the benjamins (Freakonomics, etc.), Financial Times and Slate columnist Harford (The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, Why the Poor Are Poor—And Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Ca...

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The New York Times

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“Because the chance of any individual’s vote making any difference to the result is tiny, the benefits of turning an uninformed vote into an informed vote are also tiny,” Mr. Harford writes.

Jan 25 2008 | Read Full Review of The Logic of Life: The Ration...

The Guardian

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The Economic Naturalist: Why Economics Explains Almost Everything by Robert H Frank 256pp, Virgin, £7.99 The Logic of Life: Uncovering the New Economics of Everything by Tim Harford 288pp, Little, Brown, £18.99 The Dismal Science: How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community by Stephen A ...

Mar 29 2008 | Read Full Review of The Logic of Life: The Ration...

Publishers Weekly

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Arguing that rational behavior is more widespread than most people expect, Harford uses economic principles to draw forth the rational elements of gambling, the teenage oral sex craze, crime and other supposedly illogical behaviors to illustrate his larger point.

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The Independent

He attempts to illustrate this in a broad array of contexts: the author's home town of London, office life with bullying bosses and backstabbing rivals, a casino in Las Vegas.

Mar 29 2009 | Read Full Review of The Logic of Life: The Ration...

Beyond Brics (Finanical Times)

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Anyway, I was pleased: Harford is pretty clever, using a series of headline grabbing dilemmas to illustrate what would otherwise be quite dry economic theory to suck you in, before he then goes on to cover a whole range of meatier subjects such as the "rewards for failure" amongst chief execs an...

Oct 26 2007 | Read Full Review of The Logic of Life: The Ration...

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