Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (courtesy of Freakonomics Facebook page)
Conventional wisdom can be a bitch. While there may be occasional wisdom in crowds, the truth is that fools seldom differ.
If going with the flow could land us in hot soup, how then should we solve the many problems in our world?
Which party will you vote for? (courtesy of Channelnewsasia)
Today is the last day of campaigning for all political parties for Singapore’s General Election 2015 (GE2015).
Candidates in the political parties will go all out in their rally speeches to inform, persuade and entertain their audiences. Their objective is to motivate, inspire and cajole the electorate to “vote wisely”.
This man wants you to think more clearly (courtesy of Wikimedia)
You’ve heard the saying “to err is human and forgive divine”.
What you may not know, however, is that us Homo sapiens have been hardwired over the millenia to be illogical, distorted in our perception of reality, and inaccurate in our judgements.
In other words, to err repeatedly is human.
“Undercover Economist” Tim Harford’s latest book Adapt – Why Success Always Starts with Failure blends economics, psychology, evolutionary biology, and anthropology to explain why trial and error is preferred over grand strategic plans. Touted as “Britain’s Malcolm Gladwell”, Harford’s central thesis is that countries, companies and individuals should embrace an evolutionary and empirical approach in determining what works and what doesn’t.
Using analogies from evolution such as variation, selection and adaptation, Adapt uses far flung examples ranging from the Iraq War, Global Warming, 2007’s Financial Meltdown, to 3rd World Development efforts to prove its point. Some of its stories – such as the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg – date all the way back to the middle ages. Others, such as the almost accidental success of Google (which purportedly has no corporate strategy) are more recent.
Creators of the highly popular book Freakonomics, hosts of the Freakonomics radio podcasts, University of Chicago economist Steven D. Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner join forces yet again in Superfreakonomics. Written in the same fast-paced and witty style, the authors combed through prodigious scientific and research data to present findings that astound, amaze and amuse.
Tackling the fields of behavioural economics, criminology, psychology, sociology and other fields, Superfreakonomics examines taboo topics and sheds new light – and answers – while challenging conventional wisdom. Reading through the easily digestible volume, one learns why walking drunk is more dangerous than driving drunk (shorter average number of miles before accidental death), why department store Santas are like prostitutes (seasonal demand), and how capuchin monkeys actually behave like humans when given the right monetary incentives!
Want to know why drug dealers live with their mothers?
Curious to uncover what dishonest schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?
Boston – one of the centres of the Information Economy (courtesy of Shutterscript)
In the age of networks and social media, it seems that there are more and more gurus of globalisation emerging. Just look at the bookshops and see the number of titles touting one worldwide effect after another. Naturally, some ideas are more worthy of consideration than others.
At the recent Public Service Staff Conference organised by Singapore’s Public Service Division and Civil Service College, I was introduced to three emerging megatrends about the world. It was quite intellectually inspiring, and I followed the discussions closely.