e-book Wisdom - Making Good Choices with Imperfect Knowledge

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Sort order. Start your review of Knowledge And Decisions. Aug 30, Dan rated it really liked it Shelves: social-science. If you can only read one book on knowledge and how it affects human decision-making, I would highly recommend Knowledge and Decisions. It is an updated expansion of Friedrich Hayek's famous paper "On the Use of Knowledge in Society", most of the extra material being relevant examples in the fields of economics, history, law, and politics. There is a wealth of facts and data here, and conclusions drawn from those facts will be a challenge to accepted ideologies on the left and the right.

This book will for If you can only read one book on knowledge and how it affects human decision-making, I would highly recommend Knowledge and Decisions. This book will force you to think carefully about how the world works, and how certain beliefs about this world can lead to consequences of which nobody could have conceived. On the other hand, while the writing style is quite readable and to-the-point, it can also be a bit dry. My progress was very slow, mostly because it took a lot of energy to digest all the facts and arguments in this very dense, though relatively short book many other books covering the topics this book addresses are much longer and much more boring.

It is definitely something to be taken carefully with a heavy helping of deep thinking. A multi-grain, high-fiber diet for your brain. Aug 24, Nicholas rated it it was amazing Shelves: economics , politics , management. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. One of the densest books I have ever read. In the words of Tucker Max, it teaches you "how to think.

Quotes: "The kinds of people attracted to the original insurgency, under the initial set of incentives and constraints, tend to be very different from the kinds of people who gravitate to it a One of the densest books I have ever read. Quotes: "The kinds of people attracted to the original insurgency, under the initial set of incentives and constraints, tend to be very different from the kinds of people who gravitate to it after it has become successful and achieved a major part of its goals.

By definition, an insurgent movement forms under a set of incentives and constraints very different from those which it seeks to create. Neither the facts, nor intelligence, nor impartiality, are free goods. Categorical rules are a recognition of this and an attempt to economize on the resources available in the light of their costs. Initial miscalculations based upon the inadequate knowledge of the distant planners were not readily correctable by feedback based on the knowledge possessed or acquired by the experience of those actually on the scene.

This is obvious enough when the rights and the costs can be reduced to money. The principle is no less true in cases where the values are nonfinancial.

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It is, above all, the right of ordinary people to find elbow room for themselves and a refuge from the rampaging presumptions of their 'betters. Sep 02, Ari rated it it was amazing Shelves: owned.

Godly Wisdom - God wants us to make wise choices!

Knowledge and Decision is a bit hard to categorize. It's about decision making, asymmetric information, incentives, and public policy. It's also, sneakily, an introduction to economics and economic thinking. It's the sort of book that makes economics look like a fun and interesting topic, as well as a disciplined science. Sowell isn't an ideologue, and he backs his claims with data, and with wonderfully chosen examples. It's a fun read, as well as a highly illuminating one.

Aug 30, Sotiris Makrygiannis rated it really liked it Shelves: internet , public-library , audio-book. Intellectuals exist in order to promote their own wit, ok that was nice : the book is very deep and extensive, mathematics spoken with words and explains the thinking behinds many decisions.

I wonder if he forgot anything, if he did we will see a new edition soon. However, must say that this is not a book for listening but for reading, so don't buy the audiobook but the actual paper version. Oct 15, Paul rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction , audiobooks , economics.

Developing a Decision Profile

I'm having some trouble judging this in the sense that with my love of EconTalk, I'm already so familiar with the paradigm of prices as information and the other ideas from The Use of Knowledge in Society that I'm already very much on Sowell's wavelength. It's interesting how topical this book seems, given that it was published almost 40 years ago.

With these caveats out of the way, I'd definitely recommend reading this book. Sowell does a great job of explaining in a common-sense way about I'm having some trouble judging this in the sense that with my love of EconTalk, I'm already so familiar with the paradigm of prices as information and the other ideas from The Use of Knowledge in Society that I'm already very much on Sowell's wavelength.

Sowell does a great job of explaining in a common-sense way about why who chooses rather than what is chosen is often the right way to think about things. I will say it is fortuitious that I've moved on so quickly to The Blank Slate , as the books pair well together. Both deal with the undercurrent of anathema topics and research results that is rampant among anything determined to be politically relevant race, psychology, biology, etc.

I find across the entire political and ideological spectrum, there is a disturbing trend of "thoughts that must not be thought" and the idea of "dangerous research topics". It seems that both Sowell and Pinker have the same concerns. Jun 08, Jim rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Anyone, but it's not an easy read.

Knowledge And Decisions by Thomas Sowell

Not an easy book to read but well worth it. Sowell has the unique ability to make highly abstract concepts both interesting and practical. Oct 12, Sylvester Kuo rated it it was amazing Shelves: politics , history , economics , law. Knowledge is power. Sowell's analysis of how knowledge is transmitted in the society as capital can influence law, politics and history is captivating and compelling. Oct 27, Chris rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , economic-history , intellectual-history , american-history.

Sep 08, Sean Rosenthal rated it really liked it Shelves: economics , non-fiction , a-to-z-challenge.

ISBN 13: 9780984653300

Interesting Quotes: "What then is the intellectual advantage of civilization over primitive savagery? By contrast, the civilized accountant or electronics expert, etc. Food reaches his local supermarket through processes of which he is probably ignorant, it not misinformed. A primitive savage could never survive knowing so little about the production and use of spears, grass huts, or with such utter naivete about which berries are poisonous, which snakes dangerous, or the ways and means of coexistence in the same jungle with the lions, tigers, and gorillas.

The time and effort including costly mistakes necessary to acquire knowledge are minimized through specialization, which is to say through drastic limitations on the amount of duplication of knowledge among the members of society. No expert can say from miles away, and sight unseen, that this year's grape crop is good, or even that last week's good grapes are still good this week. By contrast, an expert on the manufacture of steel can specify the exact quality of steel that can be produced by given combinations of iron ore and coal at given temperatures.

For these reasons, steel production has been successfully centrally planned and controlled in various countries, whereas agricultural production has had such chronic problems and periodic disasters in centrally planned economic systems that even the most centralized communist governments have had to make major exceptions in agriculture, allowing decentralized decision-making of various sorts.

The devotion of many rational and public-spirited men of later times to the principle of royal succession, which might seem at first to be only an irrational special privilege, is more easily understood against an historical background of astronomical transactions costs in choosing national leaders. Even one who felt that a given king or kings in general had only average intelligence, or even somewhat below average intelligence, might still reasonably choose to bear with royal succession if he felt that the likely differences in leadership were not worth the carnage involved in alternative political processes available at the time.

In this approach, the whole market process - risks, estimates, consumer validation, etc. Because firms can survive only insofar as prices cover costs, this vision of survivors-only can proceed as if it is axiomatic that prices are somehow automatically suspended above costs, with the gap between them containing a profit to be siphoned off by those who happen to hold the legal title to the means of production - this arbitrary title being the economic cause as well as the institutional mechanism behind their proceeds.

To generalize about any group from the experience of its successful survivors alone is often to miss the whole point of the process in which the group as a whole is involved. Using such an approach, one could, for example, prove that no one was killed in World War II. The great successes of one era tend to disappear into oblivion in subsequent eras - witness Life magazine, the Graflex Corporation, and W. Grant, all of whom were once giants dominating their respective fields. The disappearance of these once dominating enterprises within the past generation is part of a longer history of such disappearances.

Virtually none of the top industrial giants of a hundred years ago are still with us today. Such disappearances are perfectly understandable in a vision of a risky process of estimation and subsequent validation. They are hard to explain in a vision of prices mysteriously suspended above costs for the convenience of 'capitalists.

Frequently this leads to statements that 'there are noneconomic values' to consider. There are, of course, noneconomic value. Economics is not a value itself but merely a method of trading off one value against another.

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If statements about 'noneconomic values' or, more specifically, 'social values' or 'human values' are meant to deny the inherent reality of trade-offs, or to exempt some particular value from trade-off process, then such propositions need to be made explicit and confronted. Dedication to high and selfless ideals can be no more effectively demonstrated than by trading off financial gains in the interest of such ideals. This is an economic trade-off.


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With zero violence and zero threat of violence, no one would turn over his economic assets to the criminal. But beyond some point, violence causes public outcries which bring more police power to bear in a given sector, reducing crime opportunity for other criminals as well as for the one who committed some 'senseless' violence against an economic crime victim.