The Logic of [Economic] Life

The Rational Economics of an Irrational World Tim Harford

Tim Harford is an economist, and advisor to the World Bank, a host on a BBC business show, and is a columnist for, and on the editorial board of, the Financial Times, and he authored The Undercover Economist, a best seller.

In The Logic of Life (LoL) – kindly forgive my insertion of the word “Economic” but I do not wish to mislead anyone as does Harford -- he writes in a breezy, journalistic style that communicates but offers no memorable prose. Harford propounds (with a satirical undercurrent and occasional touches of wit) the thesis that virtually all human reactions can be predicted in much the same way that economists predict causes and effects of business cycles.

Much of what he posits would be obvious to most (e.g., punishment deters crime), while some of it is mildly offensive (e.g., oral sex among teenagers is not so bad, as it deters intercourse, the spread of AIDs, babies by adolescents and the like). The subtitle (“The Rational Economics of an Irrational World”) is misleading, as the book offers nothing that the academic world would define as “economics”.

The book received rave reviews by Harford’s friends (fellow-economists and journalists, including book critics). These reviews, supplemented by TV talk show interviews has kept the book moving off the shelves.

The purpose of posting notes on this book is this: LoL proves that a book, however useless, by a TV personality and well-known columnist, will sell.