The Mind of the Market

Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics

Michael Shermer

Times Books

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Bestselling author Michael Shermer explains how evolution shaped the modern economy—and why people are so irrational about money
 
How did we make the leap from ancient hunter-gatherers to modern consumers and traders? Why do people get so emotional and irrational about bottom-line financial and business decisions? Is the capitalist marketplace a sort of Darwinian organism, evolved through natural selection as the fittest way to satisfy our needs? In this eye-opening exploration, author and psychologist Michael Shermer uncovers the evolutionary roots of our economic behavior.
 
Drawing on the new field of neuroeconomics, Shermer investigates what brain scans reveal about bargaining, snap purchases, and establishing trust in business. He scrutinizes experiments in behavioral economics to understand why people hang on to losing stocks, why negotiations disintegrate into tit-for-tat disputes, and why money does not make us happy. He brings together astonishing findings from psychology, biology, and other sciences to describe how our tribal ancestry makes us suckers for brands, why researchers believe cooperation unleashes biochemicals similar to those released during sex, why free trade promises to build alliances between nations, and how even capuchin monkeys get indignant if they don’t get a fair reward for their work.

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Book Excerpts

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Chapter 1

Living along the Orinoco River that borders Brazil and Venezuela are the Yanomamö people, hunter-gatherers whose average annual income has been estimated at the equivalent of about $100 per person per year. If you walk into a Yanomamö village and count up the stone tools, baskets, arrow points, arrow shafts, bows, cotton yarn, cotton and vine hammocks, clay pots, assorted other tools, various medicinal remedies, pets, food products, articles of clothing, and the like, you would end up with a figure of around three hundred.

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Reviews

Praise for The Mind of the Market

"[A] captivating raconteur of all the greatest hits of behavioral, evolutionary and neuropsychology, [and] provider of wonderful cocktail party material... Fascinating."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"The book has no end of conversation starters, from capitalism as modern Darwinism to neuroeconomics that show that—biochemically, at least—a human brain is shockingly similar during smooth business deals and sex."—Boston Globe

"Have you ever wondered how people develop trust and live together peacefully? Michael Shermer’s new book uses psychology and evolution to examine the root of these human achievements… [He] has earned the right to our attention."—Washington Post

"Drawing from research, and injecting his own wit, Shermer explains why people make bad decisions about money, why wealth can’t buy you happiness, and why we love cooperating."—Psychology Today

"Compelling… Take[s] us on an intimate tour of the best of the last half-century’s work in behavioral economics and neuroscience."—New York Post

"Entertaining… a fascinating tour d’horizon of discoveries in several of today’s cutting-edge sciences."—The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

"Well-written [and] highly entertaining…. Replete with thought-provoking examples and solid references, the book will start as many debates as it will end."—Choice

"[The Mind of the Market] provides a thorough account of what’s going on in a branch of psychology dedicated to understanding the natural origins of economic decisions."—Science News

"Pure entertainment… Some of the most interesting economic research being undertaken these days draws on the disciplines of cognitive science and psychology, and [The Mind of the Market is a] highly readable contribution."—The Business Economist

"Eye-opening … [The Mind of the Market] recounts truly fascinating experiments and discoveries regarding physiological components of our market decisions…. Filled with fun analogies and a smattering of funny lines."—Humanist

"Thoughtful and complete…You’re certain to learn something new when you read it."—WestWord

"[Shermer] does a bang-up job knitting together the complexities of science and the frail psychology of human beings to explain the unpredictable postmodern world of trade and finance…. An informative, inventive, broad-spectrum analysis of what makes modern man tick, starting with his wallet."—Kirkus Reviews

"Using fascinating examples… Shermer explores the evolutionary roots of our sense of fairness and justice, and shows how this rationale extends to the market…. Offers much insight into human behavior and rationales regarding money."—Publishers Weekly

"The Ripley’s Believe It or Not of behavioral economics, or why people act the way they do in a capitalistic marketplace…. Shermer applies his wide-ranging knowledge of science and its rigorous investigatory discipline to uncover the answers and make connections between trade and emotion—in essence, popularizing neuron-economics."—Booklist

"Extremely interesting… Shermer is a fantastic presenter."—Steven D. Levitt, The New York Times Freakonomics Blog

"Michael Shermer brilliantly shows that the real experts of Homo economicus are often found in psychology, biology, even primatology." —Frans de Waal, author of Our Inner Ape

"Written with his customary verve and flair, The Mind of the Market is Michael Shermer at his best."—Dinesh D’Souza, author of What’s So Great About America

"Economists who understand Charles Darwin are almost as rare as biologists who understand Adam Smith. Yet the two were essentially saying the same thing—that order emerges unordained from competition and innovation. Michael Shermer brilliantly brings the two insights together to explain how the human mind creates the human market."Matt Ridley, author of The Origins of Virtue

 


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About the Author

Michael Shermer

Michael Shermer is the author of The Believing Brain, Why People Believe Weird Things, The Science of Good and Evil, The Mind Of The Market, Why Darwin Matters, Science Friction, How We Believe and other books on the evolution of human beliefs and behavior. He is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, the editor of Skeptic.com, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University. He lives in Southern California.

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Mind of the Market
Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics
Michael Shermer

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
Times Books
December 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429924436
ISBN10: 1429924438
336 pages
$9.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Henry Holt and Co.
Holt Paperbacks
January 2009
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780805089165
ISBN10: 0805089160
5 1/4 x 8 inches, 336 pages
$15.00
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