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The Economic Naturalist (unabridged audiobook) [Audiobook, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Robert H Frank , narrated by Jeff Harding
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.41
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Book Description

1 Feb 2010
For years, economist Robert Frank has been encouraging his students to use economics to explain the situations they encounter in everyday life, from peculiar product design to the vagaries of sex appeal. Now he shares the most intriguing questions and the economic principles that answer them to reveal why many of the most puzzling parts of daily life actually make perfect (economic) sense.

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 7 pages
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audio Books; Unabridged audiobook. 7 CDs. edition (1 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1407449206
  • ISBN-13: 978-1407449203
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 13.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,609,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Fascinating... provides the answers to some of life's quirkiest conundrums. --The Daily Mail

Explains how cold, hard cash really does make our world go round. --The Independent

Book Description

DISCOVER THE SECRETS BEHIND MANY EVERYDAY ENIGMAS --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
After reading Levitt's "Freakonomics" and Harford's "Undercover Economist" I was attracted to this book when I came across it. Yes, there's some overlap with both of them and yes, in some places either Levitt or Harford is better. Where this book scores, however, is that you can take it in small bites and have a good mull over what it says a bit at a time.

As another reviewer has noted, the book is based on questions that Frank's students have posed and answered, in varying degrees of depth, but always from the economist's perspective. The result is a collection of questions and answers, all relatively concise, and all showing economic thought at work. And the book pretends to be no more than that.

Criticism that it is too shallow or not based on empirical research IMO misses the point. The book's purpose is to demonstrate the application of economic thought to questions about everyday economic observations. The answers are cogently presented without any pretence that they are the last word - and this alone is welcome in a field whose more psychotic schools of thought have a hubristic track record of basing theories on patently false premises.

The important thing about this book is that it seeks to make its readers *think* about the things it discusses. IMO, it succeeds admirably (and it certainly made me think a lot). As a former student of economics, I'd confidently recommend it as a taster for students considering whether to take economics as a major subject.

More power to Frank and his students. I hope he writes a sequel ("More from the Economic Naturalist"?) that addresses topics not included in the original.
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some good questions, but generally weak answers 27 May 2008
By Pete VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
There's a rash of these things. This latest one, like Freakonomics, takes an "economic approach" (i.e. use of basic statistics and vague generalisations) to make a series of obvious or clearly incorrect assertions about the world. Still, the lack of hagiographies about the authors at least makes it easier to stomach than Freakonomics.

I got bored after two chapters of this. To take an example: there's a section on why milk comes in square cartons, while coke comes in cylinders. The answer seems to me to be almost entirely because coke needs to be pressurised. He says it's because it's drunk from the can and therefore needs to be easy to hold. I don't care either way because I can't see why either has anything whatsoever to do with economics. And anyway, what's so hard about drinking directly from a Tetrapak?

Get Tim Harford's "The Undercover Economist" instead, which addresses many of the same points (especially the ones about product features/costs) much more intelligently and in some cases directly contradicting this; Frank assumes that additional product features cost more to produce; Harford makes the point that often they don't, they're just excuses to have differentiated pricing. It's a much stronger case.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I bought this book expecting, on the basis of cover quotes, to find more of the type of incisive and analytical thinking that illuminates Freakonomics and The Undercover Economist. Against the standard sent by those, and other books, it is a **huge** disappointment. Peter Kennedy writes in his review that it uses "basic statistics and vague generalisations". From my reading I'd say that it weights itself heavily towards the vague generalisations side of this statement (I would also like to say that Freakonomics is rather more robust than its mention in Peter's review implies). I got bored very quickly.

This is a book that is cashing in on the popularity of a genre and falling short of the standard of that genre. Prospective purchasers should be aware that the source material for the book is short essays that were written by Robert H. Frank's students of an Introductory Economics course. Specifically, they were asked to 'use a principle, or principles, discussed in the course to pose and answer an interesting question about some pattern of events or behaviour that you personally have observed' in less than 500 words. So you are, in effect, reading a compendium of coursework that addresses this challenge. And, frankly, the lack of rigour that results is evident.

To be fair to Robert H. Frank (and his students), he does admit in his introduction that he doesn't expect all the answers to be correct and that they should be read with a critical eye. He states that the answers should be seen as 'intelligent hypotheses suitable for further refinement and testing'. And many of them do stand up to that measure. But I'd have been grateful for a bit of the refinement and testing coming from Professor Frank himself. For example the answer to the question of why Kamikaze pilots wore helmets (which is touted on the cover of the book) is historically inaccurate and doesn't even contain any economics.

Avoid.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An overall okay book 1 Oct 2011
By econ
Format:Paperback
A good book, starts as a light mood pop-economics, and gets more serious after the half.

I find many reviews here too harsh, so decided to try adding my 2 cents.

As the author says, the answers he gives are free to be refutable, open interpretation, and it's just an economical aproach. The point not to reply to the answers as whole (like how electromagnetism works for the lights in the freezer, and etc.) but to answer them in the economical perspective.

For the most, it was interesting, although I didn't agree with everything. I admit I liked freakonomics more, but an interesting read nontheless. I'd give it 3,2/5
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly Obvious & Unrelentingly Dull
I got this because I have no background in economics and the cover made it look like an accessible and stimulating intro to economics that would make it relevant for the layperson. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Harriet Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars a welcome return to the bookshelf
I love this book, lent it out and moved house so this is a welcome return. Light reading and interesting, you will look at coffee store prices in a different way
Published 2 months ago by K. M. Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
Really useful book, perfect for A Level economics students and great reading too, accessible, straightforward and also fun. Recommended for students of Economics and business
Published 2 months ago by St John's School Librarian
3.0 out of 5 stars Perseverance
This book started off simple and a little dull but as it developed and more complicated issues arose it became very interesting and educational.
Published 16 months ago by Allyi02
4.0 out of 5 stars Good enough
Quite a good book. Not all questions need an economist to explain them, some are plain common sense. Recommended read.
Published on 5 Nov 2011 by V. Georgios
2.0 out of 5 stars Why economics offers incomplete or false explanations.
For anyone who is genuinely puzzled as to why their fridge, but not their freezer, contains an internal light; this book will doubtless be a godsend. Read more
Published on 29 Sep 2011 by skeptictank
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor choice
This book epitomizes what I believe the worst of modern economics. It rationalizes the status quo, and generate explanations of why the current practice is the best behaviour.
Published on 15 Mar 2011 by Jason Li
2.0 out of 5 stars Avoid
There are several profound, engaging and well researched books on popular economics out there at the moment but this really isn't one of them. Read more
Published on 13 Sep 2010 by Bemischen
2.0 out of 5 stars Generally Disapointing
The field of "Behavioral Economics" has grown quite significantly in the last few years. The premise is quite interesting, are we in control of our decisions or are there some... Read more
Published on 9 Feb 2010 by Mr. P. M. Sharpe
5.0 out of 5 stars Who would have thought it?
Robert's excellent book takes economics to the real world.

Ever wondered why CD's work everywhere but DVD's are regionally controlled, why hotel minibars cost so much... Read more
Published on 26 Nov 2009 by Jonathan Kettleborough
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