The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Presented by Science & the City and the New York City Skeptics
How did we make the leap from ancient hunter-gatherers to modern consumers and traders? Why do people get so emotional and irrational about bottom-line financial and business decisions? Is the capitalist marketplace a sort of Darwinian organism, evolved through natural selection as the fittest way to satisfy our needs? In this eye-opening exploration, author and psychologist Michael Shermer uncovers the evolutionary roots of our economic behavior.
Drawing on the new field of neuroeconomics, Shermer investigates what brain scans reveal about bargaining, snap purchases, and establishing trust in business. He scrutinizes experiments in behavioral economics to understand why people hang on to losing stocks, why negotiations disintegrate into tit-for-tat disputes, and why money does not make us happy. He brings together astonishing findings from psychology, biology, and other sciences to describe how our tribal ancestry makes us suckers for brands, why researchers believe cooperation unleashes biochemicals similar to those released during sex, why free trade promises to build alliances between nations, and how even capuchin monkeys get indignant if they don't get a fair reward for their work.
Michael Shermer is the author of nine previous books, including the bestselling Why People Believe Weird Things. He is a columnist for Scientific American, the publisher of Skeptic magazine, and the founder and director of the international Skeptics Society. He lives in Southern California.
Photo credit: Brad Swonetz Scientific American