Friday, May 16, 2008

Summer Reading List

Dede of Diskusi Ekonomi once told me that according to the late Sumitro Djojohadikusumo, an Indonesian prominent economist and ex political rebel, intellectuals should speak French.

Who doesn't want to be seen as intellectual? With that spirit, I start to read Andre Malraux's Le Condition Humaine. But since I am at best a fake intellectual, I can only read its English translation.

Moreover, to justify my three percent of irrationality --and to avoid being labeled as narrow minded immoral psychology illiterate (ha!)--, I have Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness and Marc Hauser's Moral Minds on my desk now. I've just finished Thaler and Sunstein's Nudge that proposes some measures of libertarian paternalism to improve your life (yeah, right)

After learning some introduction to behavioral economics (and the role of psychology in economics), I must admit that I think I suffer from confirmation bias: instead of weakening my rational choice approach, those conflicting information makes me feel the other way around.

I like the readings though, and so far I find the best short summary on the topic is Matthew Rabin's Psychology and Economics, JEL, vol (36) 1, 1998.

On top of my pile of books, there is a promising novel by Jiang Rong, Wolf Totem. The first half of first paragraph reads:
As Chen Zhen looked through the telescope from his hiding place in the snow cave, he saw the steely gaze of a Mongolian grassland wolf. The fine hairs on his body rose up like porcupine quills, virtually pulling his shirt away from his skin.
I've never seen a Mongolian wolf, but those words captivate me.

At least that's the plan for summer. But as usual, it's always subject to (very likely) change. How do you call this irrationality, by the way?


  1. Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness is v.v.good and engrossing. I finished it in less than 2 days. Yea it's that good. Also if you're into irrationality, which is irrational in way :) Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational is an OK read btw.
    Oh, Hello by theway ...

  2. Debby, I have read Ariely's, and here is my posting on it.

  3. PRRI-Permesta is not really a rebel movement, thus Prof Sumitro is not an ex political rebel. I can say here as a correction movement, so he and the movement should be said as a corrector, "an action to rectify, to make right a wrong". At that time, Indonesia was in the period of "dead-lock economy" and the movement was to rectify that. Thank you.

  4. 'mistakes were made but not by me' (carol tavris & elliot aronson) is also a good one -- and it predicts the case (via cognitive dissonance theory) that reading irrational books is only going to make you even more rational.

  5. Rizal, mind procrastination - especially when the sun shines so lovely. But, since you are done with Thaler and Sunstein (good book, eh), some nudgin might help and you still a (paternalized) libertarian anyway:)

    Have a great summer (reading list)!

  6. Sonny, the problem is: if I know it's a nudge beforehand, then most likely the trick won't work for me :-). The problem, the procrastination, remains.