The Mind of the Market | Michael Shermer

Summary of: The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics
By: Michael Shermer


Delve into the intriguing world of ‘The Mind of the Market’, where Michael Shermer redefines our understanding of economics and human behavior by drawing from evolutionary theory. Commonly held assumptions about purely rational and selfish decision-making are debunked as the author explores how much of our modern-day choices are influenced by our ancestral past. Discover how our economic lives have drastically changed from the days of hunter-gatherers, and how social systems like liberal democracy and free market capitalism have shaped our societies. Unearth the significance of understanding the connection between evolutionary traits like reciprocity, fairness, and our economic behavior.

Human Nature and Economics

The book debunks the idea of homo economicus and argues that a sound theory of human nature is fundamental to any theory of economics. It examines the role of evolution in seemingly irrational economic choices and highlights the importance of understanding economic behavior in different cultural contexts. The book explores the economic lives of hunter-gatherers and modern humans and examines the shared economic traits between humans and other primates. It also compares the evolution of economics with that of the natural world, emphasizing the bottom-up development of complex adaptive systems. Furthermore, the book challenges popular misconceptions about Darwinian thought and its relevance to economics, and proposes that a liberal democracy and free market capitalism are the best social organization for balancing selfishness and cooperation. Ultimately, the book highlights the importance of understanding human nature in driving economic behavior, and the need to adapt economic policies to different cultural and evolutionary contexts.

Virtue Economics

Established products inspire loyalty, but market dominance is fleeting. The first principle of virtue economics is reciprocity. Biological and cultural evolution differ in their potential for variation.

The Flaws in Human Decision Making

Humans have inherent flaws in decision-making due to evolutionary roots that make them filter information to support their existing beliefs. This tendency leads to poor decision-making and biases such as the self-serving bias, cognitive dissonance, and the anchoring fallacy. Additionally, humans tend to find patterns where they do not exist, overvalue things they own, and have a low tolerance for economic ambiguity. As a result, people often rationalize irrational judgments to avoid admitting they were wrong. Understanding these flaws is crucial for effective decision-making.

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