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9 April 2008 @ 10pm

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The Logic of Life

Cycling around in the rain, I’ve been catching up on my podcasts. One of the many excellent (and free) podcasts offered by the BBC is Start The Week, and last night I listened to an excellent edition that featured a great interview with novelist Peter Carey on his latest book His Illegal Self. The bit that really caught my attention, however, was on a book called The Logic Of Life by economics columnist Tim Hartford who specializes in making connections between economic theory and every day life.

The thrust of the book seems to be that many of the decisions that people make in their lives which seem irrational or “stupid”, may actually be rational after all. One example he gives in the podcast concerns the US teenage “oral sex epidemic”. Hartford points to studies that suggest that the “epidemic” is a rational response on the part of teenagers bombarded with information about the risks of unprotected sex. It seems teenagers are having sex later, using condoms more and the pill less, and substituting intercourse with oral sex.

Here is the author running the gauntlet on the Colbert Report (4 minutes), and in a more formal setting, here at Authors at Google (40 minutes).


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