Review: Sway by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

SWAY, by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman, makes an interesting read with some interesting insights into human behaviour and supposedly strong correlation between unrelated influences.
Freakonomics, if I am correct, was the book that started the trend of books which picked out the (ir)rationality human behaviour and the way things work. Malcolm Gladwell, Taleb, Daniel Kahneman and many others have made their names on such topics. So when I picked up Sway from the library, I wasn't expecting to be blown over like a mound of dust facing an onslaught of tepid rains. I already have read Freakonomics, Super Freakonomics, Blink and Outliers and now they function as my mouse pads.

So, well, they start with how an airline pilot, who also happened to be the head of security at KLM, took a wrong decision about taking off and resulted in deaths of 584 people. They arrive at various observations - like one not valuing priceless things if the surroundings or the setup don't match; some 'fun centre' and 'do good centre' not functioning at the same time; the importance of dissenting when you feel like even if you are alone; the uselessness of job interviews; our aversion to loss even in the face of disaster. They do drive home the point that humans are, and will remain, irrational no matter how much post-incident justifications they might provide.

The books strengths lies in that two practical observations that have been listed down: of loss aversion and of two different brain centres not functioning together. These can be applied with hopefully pleasure-some results. But apart from that all the other 'findings' are nothing out of the extraordinary. Some examples are repeated too often to be given importance - in fact the pilot's example and of Israel army recruits taking a test is repeated so often that I felt like deliberately skipping those sections.

A light read of 185 pages and can be read from start to end in a couple of hours. Don't expect to be overwhelmed or to become an 'always-rational-think-I' kind of person.

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