About a year ago Joshua Gans showed me some draft chapters for a book on parenting at which he’d been working away. To use an expression from the AFL, Joshua has a high ‘work rate’ and he writes blog posts in the morning over breakfast – and perhaps at some other times. Anyway, in addition to his main blogging site, he’s been musing for some time on his blog Game Theorist about applications of game theory to child rearing.
You can overdo the analogy between parenting and game theory. We are dealing with little humans, not lab rats. But Joshua does offer his thoughts without claiming that his perspectives are any more than one way of looking at and thinking about a situation. And there are lots of interesting ideas in the book about techniques for finessing tricky situations.
And I spend a lot of my time tearing my hair out while my wife nags her son to eat, and I tell her that she’s not only not doing any good, she’s making things worse by making his lack of eating her problem rather than his. All my suggestions boil down to game theoretic approaches – not that you’d need to know game theory to come up with them, you just think of the incentives and try to set them up to get what you’re after.
Be all that as it may, as Joshua tells us on his blog, his book Parentonomics has just been published and you can bid in an auction for the first copy (the price has gone from around $19 to $51 while I’ve written this, so bidding is brisk). Proceeds from your purchase will to the MS readathon (a worthy cause and one of the only ‘athon’ exercises that don’t involve doing something silly or at least useless to raise money – the readathon gets young kids reading at a great rate). Joshua will then match your donation with his own. (A little game theory there folks! Or perhaps just a little psychology)
So jump in and bid, and if you can’t spare $52, have a squiz in your local bookshop and tell us what you think of Parentonomics.
Postscript: The book is now yours for just $203 – and $406 to the MS Readathon.