Book : The Mind of the Market by Michael Shermer

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How did we evolve from ancient hunter-gatherers to modern consumer-traders? Why are people so emotional and irrational when it comes to money and business decisions? Bestselling author Michael Shermer believes that evolution and evolutionary psychology provides an answer to both of these questions through the new science of evolutionary economics.

Drawing on research from neuroeconomics, Shermer explores what brain scans reveal about bargaining, snap purchases, and how trust is established in business. Utilizing experiments in behavioral economics, Shermer shows why people hang on to losing stocks and failing companies, why business negotiations often disintegrate into emotional tit-for-tat disputes, and why money does not make us happy. Employing research from complexity theory, Shermer shows how evolution and economics are both examples of a larger and still somewhat mysterious phenomenon of emergence, where one plus one equals three.

Along the way, Shermer answers such provocative questions as, Do our tribal roots mean that we will always be a sucker for brands? How is the biochemical joy of sex similar to the rewards of business cooperation? How can nations increase trust within their borders? Finally, Shermer considers the consequences of globalization and what will happen if nations allow free trade across their borders.

Throughout this entertaining and surprising book Shermer considers the morality of markets in a discussion of what he calls virtue economics. Although we are selfish and altruistic, cooperative and competitive, peaceful and bellicose, in the main the balance is heavily on the side of good over evil. For every random act of violence that makes the evening news, there are 10,000 nonrandom acts of kindness that go unrecorded every day. Markets are moral and modern economies are founded on our virtuous nature. The Enron model of business is the exception and the Google motto of “Don’t Be Evil” is the rule.

The Mind of the Market will change the way we think about the economics of everyday life.

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