Ignorance and Overconfidence!

confidence

Have you ever come across people who are utterly ignorant about an issue and yet overly confident of their stand on it? Do you feel irritated by it? I do. But reading “Thinking, Fast and Slow” made me realize that it is not always ignorance and confidence. It might as well be ignorance, hence confidence.

The book is content heavy and it is going to take me sometime to write the summary. But I though of sharing some interesting bits and pieces from the book. The author talks about an experiment where participants were exposed to a legal scenario. There were three groups of participants.

  • All three groups read the background material, which provided the facts of the case.
  • Two groups were exposed to the presentation made by the lawyer of one party each (they read only one side’s argument).
  • The third group read the presentation of both the lawyers.

Then they were asked for their judgment.

Here were the outcomes:

  • The participants hearing one side of arguments had all the necessary information (due to explanatory background material) to be able to construct the other side of the argument too. But they did not do that. Their judgment had pronounced effect of the argument of the side they heard.
  • The above may not be surprising, but this one takes the cake. The people who had been exposed to only one side of the argument were more confident of their judgment than those who had heard both the sides.

As they say, ignorance is bliss. Ignorance is confidence as well. So, next time someone irritates you with their ignorance and overconfidence, try not to ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by “ignorance”. :)

Why studying irrationality is useful?

Predictably IrrationalIf you are not academically inclined and you start reading a book like “Predictably Irrational” and “Thinking, Fast and Slow” (or worse still books that are not supposedly aimed at normal people, but only at academicians), you will identify with the following status update I had posted on Facebook recently:

Human irrationality surprises nobody other than Economists.

Human behavior surprises nobody other than psychologists.

The psychologists and behavioral economists love to spend time (and pages of writing) in convincing people that the traditional economists‘ idea of humans being rational agents is not right. Apparently traditional economists are also not an extinct species and they are busy in debunking these psychologists. The debate continues. And a layman (from the point of view of academic economists and psychologists) is often left to wonder if there is any point in reading what essentially tells us something we already know very well. That humans are not rational!

Well there is a point! Because thankfully, psychologists don’t just stop at explaining and proving that humans deviate from economists’ idea of rationality, they also study exactly how they are irrational. Not being rational does not mean there is no rhyme or reason to human behavior. While figuring out how people are irrational, psychologists essentially figure out how we behave. Some things they figure out may be obvious and intuitive to us, and many others are not. These findings can help us in understanding our own selves better, making better decisions and generally improving our lives by managing our psychology. As marketers and entrepreneurs these give valuable insights into behavior of our customers, employees and anyone we deal with.

The point of studying human irrationality is best summed up in the following insight from “Predictably Irrational”.

Our irrational behaviors are neither random not senseless – they are systematic and predictable.

And that’s why studying them is useful. It can help us predict human behavior.

So, how about starting by reading the summary of “Predictably Irrational“? Summary of “Thinking, Fast and Slow” is also coming soon.

Reading summaries on Apple Devices from India

Apple Inc.iTunes currently does not sell e-books in India. So, my summaries are also not available through iTunes in India.

But worry not! You can always buy them from Pothi.com and you will receive a DRM-free epub. You can load that into your iTunes and sync with other Apple devices.

Unable to buy on Kindle?

Kindle 3 moved all major operates to the botto...

For some reason only they understand, Kindle is not making most of the summaries available for purchase outside US. But if you want to read it on kindle, here is a way to do it.

  1. Buy the summary on Pothi.com and send me a mail at mayor@summarytown.com with the order number.
  2. I will send you the mobi file that can be loaded to your kindle.

Alternatively, you can also choose to receive it directly on your device through Send-to-Kindle e-mail address.

  1. For this add mayor@summarytown.com to your approved personal document e-mail list.
  2. Then e-mail me your Send-to-Kindle e-mail address and Pothi.com order number. I will mail the mobi file to your Kindle e-mail address. By default the document will appear in your “Archived” collection. Sync the device to download it.

I know it isn’t as convenient as one-click Kindle buying. But it isn’t as complicated either. Give it a try :)

From our newsletter: Bad Roads, No Drinking Water! But “har haath mein phone”?

Government’s idea of distributing mobile phones to the poor for free has generated widespread criticism and skepticism. Even if unintended, could there be some real benefits?

Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Dear Summary Town Residents,

How are you doing? I am sure you have heard of Indian governments’ intention of announcing “Har Haath mein Phone” scheme. It has met with widespread criticism. When we are yet to solve the problems of safe drinking water, electricity and basic infrastructure like roads. what is the meaning of government spending money on mobile phones for poor? I, too, have no illusions about the intention. It is a get-votes strategy for the election year. I am pretty sure that those who are drafting the plan have not read “Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” by Prof. C. K. Prahlad. But since I have read it, I feel that the impact might actually surprise us. And the government too. (Assuming, of course, at least a decent number of phones reach in the right hands).

Prof. Prahlad argues in the book that poor adopt advanced technology readily. Especially when it gives them entrepreneurial opportunities to improve their lives. Fisherman in Keala are already using mobile phones to get highest bidders for their catches. When ITC installed PCs with Internet connectivity for its e-Choupal initiative, villagers soon figured out how to not only check the soya prices in the neighbouringmandis, but also the future prices in Chicago Board of Trade. If electricity is a problem, entrepreneurs in villages don’t take long to start mobile-charging services using batteries.

From the outside, we often make assumptions about what poor want. Won’t they want proper sanitation in their living quarters before a television set or mobile phones? The reality may surprise us. When the land ownership is not clear, who would want to invest in improving the housing? A mobile and a TV are different. TV viewing builds aspirations and mobile can be a business tool to fulfill those aspirations.

What else do we not know about people at the bottom of the pyramid? Just how big the market is and what are the opportunities it presents? Read the Summary of the Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid and find out for yourself. You might agree with what the author says. That if we stop thinking of the poor as victims or as burdens and start recognizing them as resilient and creative entrepreneurs and value-conscious consumers, a whole world of opportunity opens up.

Regards
Jaya

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Why Summaries of Business Books?

 

Chapters Book Store

Having worked in the publishing industry for a while now, let me tell you a little secret. Guided by the economics of printing and traditional distribution, business books are expected to be of a certain length. If the core idea of the book is not enough to make it that long, it is padded with supplementary material to achieve that. This material might be useful, but is not always essential.

An effective business book, measuring at 200-250 pages, can not just be pages after pages of business material. There will be a witty remark or two. Some connection to anecdotal knowledge. Some connection to theory of evolution and some to what Shakespeare’s characters said about the world. Stuff to make the book interesting. When you are reading for pleasure, these things are useful. But when you are pressed for time, you want to get to the core ideas quickly.

A good business book is as much about the ideas as about effective story telling. Apart from explaining the core idea, the authors also needs to sell it. So, a significant part of the book is used for that. If you are not convinced that the idea is valid, the selling part is essential. But if you quickly want to know what there is to know, you really don’t need to spend time being sold to.

So, I have written these summaries to extract the core ideas from across the chapters, instead of summarizing the book chapter-wise. The effort has been to present the broad picture and also include all the essential details. After reading the summaries, if you find that the book is what you absolutely need currently, or you find something very interesting and intriguing, or you feel like challenging the idea, you can read the complete book.