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怎样去获得爱情和赢牌

(2009-05-23 12:42:02)
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the

economist

How to get a lover and win at poker

怎样去获得爱情和赢牌

THERE was a time when economics was widely seen as a graph-strewn study of exchange rates, gross domestic product and the like. Tim Harford's 2005 bestseller, “The Undercover Economist”, was a book that has helped shift that perception by bringing the not-so-dismal science to a wider audience.

 

曾经一段时间以来经济学被广泛地认为是一门充斥着各种图表去研究汇率,国内生产总值等现象的科学。蒂姆· 哈福特2005年的畅销书《隐蔽的经济学家》把这门并非那么忧郁的科学带给了更广大的读者, 从而帮助人们改变了对经济学的这种认识。

 

Mr Harford's second book, “The Logic of Life”, stakes out similar ground. Once again he eschews chalkboard economics in favour of a reader-friendly guide to the economics of everyday life. The result is a fascinating study of how society is shaped by hidden pay-offs and punishments. Compulsive gambling or inflated boardroom pay might seem like madness, but look closer, says Mr Harford, and you find a kind of logic.

 

哈福特先生的第二本书《生活的逻辑》也研究类似的领域。在这本书中他再一次回避了教科书式的经济学,而是选择了让读者通俗易懂的日常经济学。结果是一个非常吸引人的研究,它显示了社会是怎样被看不见的收益和惩罚形成的。难以抑制的赌博行为或者董事们高额的薪水看起来似乎很疯狂,但是哈福特先生说如果你仔细观察,你会找到里面的逻辑。

 

The author sees rational calculation everywhere—even, or perhaps especially, in matters of love. Romantic types might say they seek the perfect soul mate but the revealed truth is more prosaic. Marriages are market-based transactions, swayed by supply (what is available) as much as demand (what the heart desires). Men may prefer slim women and women favour tall men, but both will alter their demands in response to market conditions. Suitors settle for what is on offer now, even if plumper or shorter than the ideal, rather than hold out for the perfect partner.

 

作者看到了人们无处不在的理性分析――甚至,或者尤其是在爱情方面。浪漫主义者们或许会说他们在追寻完美的精神伴侣,但是所揭示的真实情况表明爱情其实更加实际。婚姻是基于市场的交易,它同样被供(可供选择的对象)需(内心想要的对象)左右。男人可能会更加喜欢苗条的女人,而女人可能会更加钟爱高大的男人,但是受市场条件的限制他们都会调整他们的需求。只要合适,追求者就会接受目前可供选择的对象,尽管他们比理想目标要胖一点儿或者矮一点儿,而不会一直坚持追求完美伴侣。

 

The book surveys shelf after shelf of the economics literature but in such skilful hands it does not feel like a dutiful trip to the library. Economists are often too beguiled by elegant theories, but Mr Harford wisely confines himself to ideas that have been carefully tested against real life. Only thorough research could discern that residents of high-rise buildings are more likely to be victims of crime, because stacked tenants make for poor monitors of the surrounding streets. Even the excellent chapter on game theory has a practical hero: the card player, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson1 , who applied its lessons to win the poker world championship in 2000.

 

该书对汗牛充栋的经济学文献的处理极为高超,让人们觉得去图书馆查文献并不是一种迫不得已的任务。众多经济学家往往过多地被漂亮的理论所迷惑,但是哈福特先生聪明地把自己限制在那些被真实生活仔细检验过的理论上。只有通过详实的研究才能洞察到高层住宅的居民更加容易成为犯罪现象的受害者,因为拥挤在一起的居民不能对周围的街区做良好的监控。博弈论这一章撰写地非常棒,即使是面对这样抽象的理论,作者也有一个现实生活中的英雄:扑克牌玩家――克里斯“耶稣”弗格森1,他应用自己的所学的博弈论知识赢得了2000年世界扑克牌锦标赛的冠军。

 

Mr Harford, who works at the Financial Times, is an amiable guide for the non-specialist reader, neither too lofty nor dumbed-down. The book's tone is breezy, but his command of the subject is such that even a well-schooled economist will discover much that is new. It is not a wonkish tome, but its broad policy prescriptions are clear enough. Since behaviour is governed by incentives, the way to achieve different outcomes is to alter the pay-offs carefully.

 

对于非专业读者来说,目前任职于《金融时报》(Financial Times) 的哈福特先生是一位和蔼可亲的指导者,他既不故作玄虚,也不降低自己。全书的格调轻松明快,由于他对题材的非凡驾驭,使得即使是饱学的经济学家也能在书中发现很多新东西。该书虽然不是一本学术式的泱泱大作,但是它总体上提出了足够清晰的权威的建议。因为行为受激励的控制,所以获得不同结果的办法就是仔细调整收益。

 

One of the merits of “The Logic of Life” is its variety. Subjects range from the terrifying logic of “rational racism” to a cold calculus of divorce rates. If you want to know which poker hands to bluff with, why neighbourhoods with permanent residents have more road crossings or why digital communication makes the world spikier not flatter, Mr Harford's book provides some answers. And it does it all without an exchange-rate graph in sight.

 

《生活的逻辑》还有一点值得称道的就是它丰富多彩的选材。研究的题材从“理性种族主义”的骇人逻辑到对离婚率的冷峻计算,不一而足。如果你想知道哪手牌可以虚张声势,为什么在有常住居民的小区里有更多的十字路,或者你还想知道数字通讯技术为什么让世界变得更加崎岖而不是更加平坦,或许你可以通过阅读哈福特先生的这本书来找到一些答案。而且它给你答案的时候,连一张汇率图都不用。

译者注:弗格森于1999年在加州大学洛杉机分校获得计算机博士学位。他在玩牌中充分使用他所掌握的博弈论以及计算机模拟知识。他于2000年获得世界冠军,拿到了150万美元的奖金。

 

英语原文来自于《THE ECONOMIST》《经济学人》:http://www.economist.com

 

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