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Disappointing after "The Undercover Economist",
This review is from: The Logic Of Life: Uncovering the New Economics of Everything (Paperback)
After reading Harford's previous book "The Undercover Economist" I was looking forward to reading this one. Alas it was a disappointment.
Harford starts well enough and the first six chapters are more or less well reasoned. Thereafter it's all down hill and the quality of exposition falls apart. As far as I can see for the last three chapters Harford lets his writing style get the better of him and sacrifices clarity in favour of colloquiality. As a result these chapters gloss over their material and fail to sustain a coherent exposition. Readers not familiar with economics might be fooled but others are not :-(
The material in Chapter 7, "The World is Spiky", is annoyingly superficial and particularly irritating to a mathematically literate reader. Chapter 8, "Rational Revolutions" is hopelessly adrift in a laughable pseudo-analysis of first-past-the-post voting systems in which Harford confuses statistics and game theory. In Chapter 9, "A Million Years of Logic" he states, "... malaria is an unlikely candidate for being a cause of underdevelopment." This shows appalling ignorance. Despite this Harford bowls along in an ever more cocksure tone reminiscent of the deeply dismal Steven Landsburg whose works I have panned in other reviews.
Finally, and most laughably in a popular economics book, many of the further sources that Harford cites are in peer-reviewed economics journals and grey literature. Those of us who have access to academic libraries can follow up the references but how many others are in such a position?
This book was a huge disappointment. Harford can do and should have done much better.