Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The impulse to tell (false) stories (by Pedja dell’Arno)

In several books on behavioral economics (such as “Animal Spirits”, by Akerloff and Shiller, and “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, or the books by Nassim Taleb), scholars explain the tendency of human beings, especially essayists and commentators, to construct stories that “explain” realities that are mostly random by nature. I have seen one example in a very successful book that was published a few years ago: “How Soccer Explains the World. An Unlikely Theory of Globalization”, by Franklin Foer. It is an interesting book, precisely because it tells plausible and suggestive “stories”. In one of them, he praises his favourite team (also mine), FC Barcelona, because it is an example of a “civilized” club that integrates foreigners and it expresses nationalism in a civilized way. It praises that the club never resorted to publicity in the T-shirt. Well, a few years after the book being published, the club has publicity from a Foundation dependent on a non-democratic government. Its maximum officials have been involved in corruption cases and some players accused of racist abuse, like any other team in the world. Before the book being published, FC Barcelona fans routinely threw eggs and potatoes to RCD Espanyol fans, the rivals in the city. The supposed pundit, as an example of the integration of foreign players, says that Johan Cruyff gave the Catalan name Jordi to his son, and that it probably was the first person after the Franco dictatorship that gave a Catalan name to his son. Too nice to be true.  Is the rest of the book (on topics I know much less about) as rigorous as this one?

No comments:

Post a Comment