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2009 book stats
2 books started
2 books finished
590 pages read
100% digital
0% fiction
0% by non-white-guys Why does this matter?
The New Paradigm for Financial Markets
George Soros
read on November 1, 2009

Blech. This book is.. not what I expected. To be fair, I didn't do much research before buying it. I didn't know much about Soros, except he was a billionaire arbitrageur. I figured it would be good to get his take on the recent bubble/crash. After having gone through Bailout Nation's more top-level account, I was hoping this book would cover the crash in more detail. I've made it through the first third of the book and given up. It has not yet mentioned anything at all about the 2008 crash. In fact, in the first third of the book it doesn't mention anything about financial markets - or anything even remotely related to finance. The book instead is Soros' take at a philosophy text. He just goes on and on about Karl Popper, reflexivism, and falsification. I'm sure a lot of what he has to say is worth hearing. In fact, his comments on reflexivism were very interesting. But I don't have the patience for it right now. I wanted to hear about subprime loans and credit default swaps - I felt cheated by the title and never really got past that.

Someday I'll be in a philosophy mood, and maybe then I'll come back to this.

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Jonah Lehrer
read on October 1, 2009

This book is about how humans make decisions, and more importantly, how we can make better ones. I had expected the book to be pretty light-lifting, but it was much more technical than I anticipated. The book covers a lot of high level neuroscience, describing the parts of our brains that are used for several different kinds of thought. Primarily, the author calls out rational logic and emotional reactions as the two primary ways we make decision.

Rational thought is controlled by the prefrontal cortex, the frontal lobe of the brain that is far more developed in humans than any other species. This is where we make calculations and do cost benefit analysis, and solve problems and even invent creative solutions. I don't need to describe the benefits of this. But it's also where we deliberate and over analyze. Furthermore, it has a surprisingly limited number of data points that it can consider at once, which can trick you into thinking you're considering everything, when really you aren't.

The emotional centers of the brain do the opposite. They're equipped with chemical reward centers that have been trained over your lifetime to instantly analyze the situation based on your past experience, long before your rational mind can do the calculations.

The book explains the balance between rational thought and emotional "autopilot" thought- and most importantly urges the reader to recognize what situations are most appropriate for each process. The purpose of the book is to enable the reader to make better decisions. By realizing the type of situation you are in and then from there engaging the most appropriate decision making neurological process.

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