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Ch. 3 - The Cost of Zero Cost 
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - The Cost of Zero Cost
DWill wrote:
If you accept that much of our behavior in the economic sphere isn't rational (and I think I do), does that mean that, overall, we aren't rational? I'm not sure about that.


When I first read the description of this book, I expected to disagree with much of it because it sounded as if it was going to paint us as irrational beings.

I never got that impression from the book, though, for Ariely never seems to portray the irrational decisions as unintelligible. The thinking (and the word rationality could be used there) behind the irrational choices is something I always felt I could understand. Even if I often felt it played into my mindset to a lesser degree, I at least knew that I've been somewhere close to that.

Then again, I'm sure there's also some arrogance involved in reading about the experiment from the outside to say, 'Well I'd never be that foolish.'

So I don't think the research is ever meant to paint us as irrational beings, just to remind us to be more rational and analytical about somethings, such as those annoyingly FREE! products.



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DWill
Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:57 am
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - The Cost of Zero Cost
joshxb wrote:
DWill wrote:
If you accept that much of our behavior in the economic sphere isn't rational (and I think I do), does that mean that, overall, we aren't rational? I'm not sure about that.


When I first read the description of this book, I expected to disagree with much of it because it sounded as if it was going to paint us as irrational beings.

I never got that impression from the book, though, for Ariely never seems to portray the irrational decisions as unintelligible. The thinking (and the word rationality could be used there) behind the irrational choices is something I always felt I could understand. Even if I often felt it played into my mindset to a lesser degree, I at least knew that I've been somewhere close to that.

Then again, I'm sure there's also some arrogance involved in reading about the experiment from the outside to say, 'Well I'd never be that foolish.'

So I don't think the research is ever meant to paint us as irrational beings, just to remind us to be more rational and analytical about somethings, such as those annoyingly FREE! products.

I think you're right that when we talk about irrational decisions, we usually imply they have no rhyme or reason. The decisions Ariely talks about are "intelligible," as you say, and "predictable" as he says, and does that remove them from the sphere of true irrationality? I agree with you that it might. Have you noticed whether Dan ever defines rationality? I can't recall where he does. He seems to imply that rationality is a cut-and-dried logical quality, but I wouldn't want to restrict rationality so much. One also doesn't need to write a book to tell us that we don't mainly run on logic!



Tue Aug 17, 2010 6:28 am
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Post Re: Ch. 3 - The Cost of Zero Cost
DWill wrote:
Have you noticed whether Dan ever defines rationality? I can't recall where he does. He seems to imply that rationality is a cut-and-dried logical quality, but I wouldn't want to restrict rationality so much. One also doesn't need to write a book to tell us that we don't mainly run on logic!


I don't believe he ever does explicitly define rationality, but I don't think he has to.
Behind the focus of each chapter (and I think he makes this very clear at the end) is the assumption that traditional economic models are based on actors acting in ways to maximize their benefit.
I think this is all Ariely means by being 'rational,' using it as a term to describe how that model works, and not really getting into the philosophy of if that is best, or even truly rational.
I think there is a debate on whether the actions described in this work are truly rational/irrational, but I don't think that's within the scope of the book, and don't believe it should be.

He is tearing down what traditional models say people should/will do, and these are rational/irrational are just the terms he uses, and we have to accept them as he uses them.



Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:47 pm
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