Predictably Irrational!

I'm spending these couple of days easing into my new (Italian) milieu and catching up on some reading, which - it must be said - I'm doing on the iPhone through a mix of available apps, including eReader, Amazon's Kindle and Stanza. Sure, it lacks the satisfaction of the physical experience of reading a REAL book, but, let me tell you from past experience, it weighs a heck of a lot less than if I'd lugged every book I might possibly want to read over the summer to Italy with me!

The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine was quite entertaining, about the real-life events and intrique that unfold following the $156,000 record-breaking auction in 1985 of a bottle of Ch√Ęteau Lafite supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson (not least of which was whether this bottle, and several siblings which also surfaced thereafter, was in fact a fake). My only wish for this fun read would have been for its conclusion to be, well, more conclusive. I understand the legal actions are not all finished, but I can't help but think that the author could have nevertheless given a greater sense of closure at the end for the readers who had followed him and the whole story all that way...

Why spend $156,000 for an object which cannot realize the destiny for which it was made without being destroyed? Not to mention for an object which is practically impossible to guarantee complete authenticity? The next book I read might give us a few clues... Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions is the popularization of the groundbreaking research in behavioral economics by MIT prof Dan Ariely. I first encountered his work through a fascinating podcast for the series "All in the Mind." I've since seen him speak live (via stream) at TED2009 about the economics of honesty and on the PBS Newshour about the current economic crisis, and I remain a great fan of his keen and creative intellect.

For further info, Ariely's going to be in the spotlight a lot again soon! TED just posted this afternoon his talk from the EG ("Entertainment Gathering") 2008 conference, and an expanded and updated edition of his bestseller is out TODAY, with additional information regarding his scholarship and experiments, not to mention addressing the astoundingly predictably irrational current stock market crisis!

Hope they pique your interest as much as they did mine! Enjoy!!

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