Phishing for Phools Book Review (by George Akerlof and Bob Shiller)


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The gist of this book is the myriad ways in which our culture is directly and/ or indirectly affected by those who may  (or may not) always have our best interests in mind.

What I liked about this book

One of the interesting references the book makes is concerning the marketing ideas conceived by a company you may be aware of, Cinnabon, as an example of luring weary (and often times hungry) air travelers by the delicacy’s notorious “scent” and how strategically placing kiosks near airport gates became an easy means of trapping the traveler while at his or her weakest emotional moments.  This makes for easy prey – and astronomical profits!  This would hardly be a problem but for the fact that if the traveler were thinking straight, they might realize that they are about to scarf down over 800 calories per treat!   Not a good trade-off for a momentary fill.

It’s funny, but this reminds me of a similar situation I encounter often when I pick my children up from school in the afternoon.  I noticed about 10-15 minutes prior to the bell ringing, I see an old, rickety blue ice cream truck ripping around the corner to secure the most strategically-located spot for the schoolchildren (soon to be excused by the bell – which I’m sure he knows the exact time it is scheduled to occur).  What is even more peculiar (and a bonus to Mr. Ice Cream) is  not only how easy the pickings are with the kids,  but because we live in a very hot and dry area, he even corrals more than a few of the “big kids” (i.e. the parents) who cannot resist the chance to grab some ice cold sugar for a quick fix.  Well, so much for that early morning workout in the park, right?

Whether we are talking about a multi-million dollar franchise pushing high fat, sugary items our way at our weakest moments, or a barely solvent ice cream pusher capitalizing on our child-like tendencies, both are clear examples of how to enact a sneaky yet highly effective method to lure us into parting with our money and blowing up our bellies in the process “without thought.” Though all is perfectly legal, it is proof of the concept of  baiting the weak and  “phishing for phools!”

What I did NOT like about this book…

Nothing! It’s an excellent read with many interesting points made.

Whom do I recommend should read this book

This is a great book for anyone who enjoys a quick and enjoyable read.  It is good for all ages and would even work well entered into a bibliography for any book or book report in the area of psychology or the use of subliminal marketing techniques with respect to how we are easily ( and often negatively) influenced by others in our daily decisions.


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