From the host of EconTalk, a guide to decision-making when you can't crunch the numbers
Algorithms and apps analyze data and tell you how to beat the traffic, what books to buy, what music to listen to, and even who to date—often with great results. But what do you do when you face the big decisions of life—the "wild problems" of who to marry, whether to have children, where to move, how to forge a life well-lived—that can’t be solved by measurement or calculation?
In Wild Problems, beloved host of EconTalk Russ Roberts offers puzzled rationalists a way to address these wild problems. He suggests spending less time and energy on the path that promises the most happiness, and more time on figuring out who you actually want to be. He draws on the experience of great artists, writers, and scientists of the past who found creative ways to navigate life’s biggest questions. And he lays out strategies for reducing the fear and the loss of control that inevitably come when a wild problem requires a leap in the dark.
Ultimately, Roberts asks us to see ourselves and our lives less as a problem to be solved than a mystery to be experienced. There's no right decision waiting to be uncovered by an app or rational analysis. Reality is harder than that and, perhaps, a little more interesting.
About the Author
Russ Roberts is the president of Shalem College in Jerusalem and the John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He hosts the award-winning weekly podcast EconTalk, in which he distills economic concepts with guests such as Michael Lewis, Jill Lepore, Angela Duckworth, Christopher Hitchens, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He is the author of five books, including Gambling with Other People’s Money and How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, and cocreator of the Keynes-Hayek rap videos, which have been viewed more than 12 million times on YouTube. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago.
“This excellent book won’t make your decisions for you. Instead, it will do something more powerful: help you think about your most important decisions in a completely new light.” —EMILY OSTER, author of Expecting Better
“Wild Problems is a powerful guide to a more meaningful life.” —DAVID EPSTEIN, author of Range
“I’ve learned more about economics and economic reasoning from Russ Roberts than from all other sources combined. I am delighted to find out in this book that Roberts is also a source about the limits of economic reasoning when it comes to existential decisions.” —NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB, author of The Black Swan
“An interesting and useful book. The ‘wild problems’ it explains how to solve include the biggest ones you’ll face in your life.” —PAUL GRAHAM, founder of Y Combinator
“A beautiful meditation on big life choices, gently reminding us of the limits of narrow cost-benefit reasoning and presenting an alternative approach to human flourishing.” —ANGELA DUCKWORTH, author of Grit
“Roberts’s thought-provoking take on the limits of data and the overquantification of contemporary life provides a bold and original perspective on how humans can make better decisions. Daniel Kahneman’s fans will find much to ponder.” —PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY