Book Bits | 18 March 2017

Investment Traps Exposed: Navigating Investor Mistakes and Behavioral Biases
By H. Kent Baker and Vesa Puttonen
Summary via Amazon
Investment Traps Exposed helps investors and investment practitioners increase their awareness about the external and internal traps that they or their clients can encounter. Baker and Puttonen not only examine common investing mistakes, behavioral biases, and investment traps that can ensnare investors, affect sound judgment, and reduce wealth but also delve into how to recognize and avoid these errors. The authors present objective advice, case studies, and empirical evidence in a user-friendly manner and also nudge investors to stay on the right course to mitigate misbehaving.

The Calculus of Happiness: How a Mathematical Approach to Life Adds Up to Health, Wealth, and Love
By Oscar E. Fernandez
Summary via publisher (Princeton University Press)
What’s the best diet for overall health and weight management? How can we change our finances to retire earlier? How can we maximize our chances of finding our soul mate? In The Calculus of Happiness, Oscar Fernandez shows us that math yields powerful insights into health, wealth, and love. Using only high-school-level math (precalculus with a dash of calculus), Fernandez guides us through several of the surprising results, including an easy rule of thumb for choosing foods that lower our risk for developing diabetes (and that help us lose weight too), simple “all-weather” investment portfolios with great returns, and math-backed strategies for achieving financial independence and searching for our soul mate. Moreover, the important formulas are linked to a dozen free online interactive calculators on the book’s website, allowing one to personalize the equations.

The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic
By Ganesh Sitaraman
Summary via publisher (Knopf)
For most of Western history, Sitaraman argues, constitutional thinkers assumed economic inequality was inevitable and inescapable—and they designed governments to prevent class divisions from spilling over into class warfare. The American Constitution is different. Compared to Europe and the ancient world, America was a society of almost unprecedented economic equality, and the founding generation saw this equality as essential for the preservation of America’s republic. Over the next two centuries, generations of Americans fought to sustain the economic preconditions for our constitutional system. But today, with economic and political inequality on the rise, Sitaraman says Americans face a choice: Will we accept rising economic inequality and risk oligarchy or will we rebuild the middle class and reclaim our republic?

The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone
By Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach
Summary via publisher (Riverhead Books)
Humans have built hugely complex societies and technologies, but most of us don’t even know how a pen or a toilet works. How have we achieved so much despite understanding so little? Cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach argue that we survive and thrive despite our mental shortcomings because we live in a rich community of knowledge. The key to our intelligence lies in the people and things around us. We’re constantly drawing on information and expertise stored outside our heads: in our bodies, our environment, our possessions, and the community with which we interact—and usually we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

Living Well Now and in the Future: Why Sustainability Matters
By Randall Curren and Ellen Metzger
Summary via publisher (MIT Press)
Most people acknowledge the profound importance of sustainability, but few can define it. We are ethically bound to live sustainably for the sake of future generations, but what does that mean? In this book Randall Curren, a philosopher, and Ellen Metzger, a scientist, clarify normative aspects of sustainability. Combining their perspectives, they propose that sustainability can be understood as the art of living well together without diminishing opportunity to live well in the future.

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