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Super Crunchers

Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart

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Hardcover published by Bantam (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
An international sensation—and still the talk of the relevant blogosphere—this Wall Street Journal and New York Times business bestseller examines the “power” in numbers. Today more than ever, number crunching affects your life in ways you might not even imagine. Intuition and experience are no longer enough to make the grade. In order to succeed—even survive—in our data-based world, you need to become statistically literate.

Cutting-edge organizations are already crunching increasingly larger databases to find the unseen connections among seemingly unconnected things to predict human behavior with staggeringly accurate results. From Internet sites like Google and Amazon that use filters to keep track of your tastes and your purchasing history, to insurance companies and government agencies that every day make decisions affecting your life, the brave new world of the super crunchers is happening right now. No one who wants to stay ahead of the curve should make another keystroke without reading Ian Ayres’s engrossing and enlightening book.
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An international sensation—and still the talk of the relevant blogosphere—this Wall Street Journal and New York Times business bestseller examines the “power” in numbers. Today more than ever, number crunching affects your life in ways you might not even imagine. Intuition and experience are no longer enough to make the grade. In order to succeed—even survive—in our data-based world, you need to become statistically literate.

Cutting-edge organizations are already crunching increasingly larger databases to find the unseen connections among seemingly unconnected things to predict human behavior with staggeringly accurate results. From Internet sites like Google and Amazon that use filters to keep track of your tastes and your purchasing history, to insurance companies and government agencies that every day make decisions affecting your life, the brave new world of the super crunchers is happening right now. No one who wants to stay ahead of the curve should make another keystroke without reading Ian Ayres’s engrossing and enlightening book.
Product Details
Hardcover (272 pages)
Published: August 28, 2007
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Bantam
ISBN: 9780553805406
Other books byIan Ayres
  • Lifecycle Investing

    Lifecycle Investing
    A New, Safe, and Audacious Way to Improve the...
    Diversification provides a well-known way of getting something close to a free lunch: by spreading money across different kinds of investments, investors can earn the same return with lower risk (or a much higher return for the same amount of risk). This strategy, introduced nearly fifty years ago, led to such strategies as index funds. What if we were all missing out on another free lunch that’s right under our noses? In Lifecycle Investing, Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayres—two of the most innovative thinkers in business, law, and economics—have developed tools that will allow nearly any investor to diversify their portfolios over time. By using leveraging when young—a controversial idea that sparked hate mail when the authors first floated it in the pages of Forbes—investors of all stripes, from those just starting to plan to those getting ready to retire, can substantially reduce overall risk while improving their returns. In Lifecycle Investing, readers will learn How to figure out the level of exposure and leverage that’s right for you How the Lifecycle Investing strategy would have performed in the historical market Why it will work even if everyone does it When not to adopt the Lifecycle Investing strategy Clearly written and backed by rigorous research, Lifecycle Investing presents a simple but radical idea that will shake up how we think about retirement investing even as it provides a healthier nest egg in a nicely feathered nest.

    Carrots and Sticks

    Carrots and Sticks
    Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get Things Done
    Could you lose weight if you put $20,000 at risk? Would you finally set up your billing software if it meant that your favorite charity would earn a new contribution? If you’ve ever tried to meet a goal and came up short, the problem may not have been that the goal was too difficult or that you lacked the discipline to succeed. From giving up cigarettes to increasing your productivity at work, you may simply have neglected to give yourself the proper incentives. In Carrot and Sticks, Ian Ayres, the New York Times bestselling author of Super Crunchers, applies the lessons learned from behavioral economics—the fascinating new science of rewards and punishments—to introduce readers to the concept of “commitment contracts”: an easy but high-powered strategy for setting and achieving goals already in use by successful companies and individuals across America. As co-founder of the website stickK.com (where people have entered into their own “commitment contracts” and collectively put more than $3 million on the line), Ayres has developed contracts—including the one he honored with himself to lose more than twenty pounds in one year—that have already helped many find the best way to help themselves at work or home. Now he reveals the strategies that can give you the impetus to meet your personal and professional goals, including how to   • motivate your employees • create a monthly budget  • set and meet deadlines • improve your diet • learn a foreign language • finish a report or project you’ve been putting off • clear your desk   Ayres shares engaging, often astounding, real-life stories that show the carrot-and-stick principle in action, from the compulsive sneezer who needed a “stick” (the potential loss of $50 per week to a charity he didn’t like) to those who need a carrot with their stick (the New York Times columnist who quit smoking by pledging a friend $5,000 per smoke . . . if she would do the same for him). You’ll learn why you might want to hire a “professional nagger” whom you’ll do anything to avoid—no, your spouse won’t do!—and how you can “hand-tie” your future self to accomplish what you want done now. You’ll find out how a New Zealand ad exec successfully “sold his smoking addiction,” and why Zappos offered new employees $2,000 to quit cigarettes.  As fascinating as it is practical, as much about human behavior as about how to change it, Carrots and Sticks is sure to be one of the most talked-about books of the year.

    Responsive Regulation

    Responsive Regulation
    Transcending the Deregulation Debate
    This book transcends current debate on government regulation by lucidly outlining how regulations can be a fruitful combination of persuasion and sanctions. The regulation of business by the United States government is often ineffective despite being more adversarial in tone than in other nations. The authors draw on both empirical studies of regulation from around the world and modern game theory to illustrate innovative solutions to this problem. Their ideas include an argument for the empowerment of private and public interest groups in the regulatory process and a provocative discussion of how the government can support and encourage industry self-regulation.

    Straightforward

    Straightforward
    How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay...
    What can straight people do to support gay rights? How much work or sacrifice must allies take on to do their share? Ian Ayres and Jennifer Brown--law professors, activists, husband and wife--propose practical strategies for helping straight men and women advocate for and with the gay community. Straightforward advances a thesis that is at once simple and groundbreaking: to make real progress at the central flashpoints of controversy--marriage rights, employment discrimination, gays in the military, exclusion from the Boy Scouts, and religious controversies over homosexuality--straight as well as gay people need to speak up and act for equality. Ayres and Brown take aim at both the hearts and minds of the general public, focusing on strategies that can change the incentives and therefore the behavior of the recalcitrant. The book is peppered with stories about real people and the decisions they have faced at home, in church, at work, in school, and in politics. It is also filled with creative legal and economic strategies for influencing public and corporate decision-making. For example, Ayres and Brown propose the development of a "fair employment mark" to help companies advertise inclusive employment policies. They also show how a simple pledge to vacation in states that legalize gay marriage can create powerful incentives for legislatures to amend their marriage laws. Engagingly written and sure to spark debate, Straightforward promises to change the way America thinks about--and participates in--the gay rights movement.

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