Gene Expression

The bubble in irrationality

Felix Salmon pointed me to The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street today. There really is a boom in these sorts of books recently! Are we overdoing the “irrationality” bit? Probably. Mike offers up some skepticism about the creeping of irrationality as an explanation for everything.


  1. #1 bioIgnoramus
    May 29, 2009

    Far more trouble is caused by arguing rationally from bad premises than by arguing irrationally from good ones. And if you don’t agree I’ll bash you on the snoot.

  2. #2 McApe
    May 30, 2009

    There probably is some excess hoeing of the irrationality row going on, but that seems to me to be a relatively natural swing of the pendulum away from the excess of faith in human rationality which was prevalent before.In the current wave of books on irrationality it might be easy to lose the perspective that it was rational human thought which put together all of the research which exposed so much human irrationality. The current wave is fascinated with tearing down old constructs which were based on the myth of human rationality. At some point this should move toward attempts to build new models based on a more balanced view of human nature.

  3. #3 Neuroskeptic
    June 1, 2009

    Is there a way of explaining a bubble in books about irrationality without positing irrationality? This stuff is deep, man.

    It could be that authors and publishers see that there is a market for humans-are-irrational books and rationally decide to make them. But that still leaves consumers as irrationally obsessed with irrationality. Unless, you see believing in irrationality (or at least, talking about it and being seen reading books about it) as a rational choice…

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