Your Money & Your Brain

The subtitle is How the New Science of Neuroeconomics Can Help Make You Rich, written by financial journalist Jason Zweig.  I enjoyed the content of this book, and would recommend it as a stimulating source of ideas, but with some caveats:

1. The new science of neuroeconomics cannot help make you rich, unless perhaps you have inherited a scanner and then rent scanner time to neuroeconomists (often $500 an hour or more).  Or unless you decide to simply buy and hold, compared to some other foolish plan you might have had.

2. I would have liked more emphasis on the tentative nature of neuroeconomics results.  Most studies have very few data points (see #1).  And if human choice is so context-dependent — a message of the book — doesn’t it matter if people are removed from their normal environment, told they are in an experiment, and subjected to a loud, whirring machine?

3. What does it really mean if some part of your brain lights up?  Who really knows?

4. The book mixes in results from experimental economics, surveys, and field experiments.  That’s fine, but if the neuro results had to stand alone on an open plain they would look less impressive.

I genuinely am a fan of neuroeconomics, but in the interests of science it’s important not to oversell it.