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Being Choosy

Posted by tinako on April 28, 2010

The April 18th, 2010 NY Times Book Review had an article entitled “Indecision-Making,” by Virginia Postrel, about the book The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar. I like to read this kind of book, interesting social psychology and social economics like Freakonimics, The Tipping Point, and Predictably Irrational.  I find it interesting to read about the sort of crazy things we do, not so I can feel superior, but so I can be aware and decide if I want to continue to do that.

I liked the article, which relays the points the book makes about choice, the most prominent one being that we prefer to have fewer choices.  More isn’t always better.  But Postrel seems to be striking off on her own when she asks, towards the end, “Do contemporary Americans adopt food taboos like veganism because they crave limits  on an overabundance of choices?”

I wonder if Postrel knows any vegans.  It’s true that it’s just a question, but what a silly one.  I mean, really?  She’s wondering if I eliminate animal products from my diet because I have too many choices?  Do I walk into a restaurant and say, “You know, this is too many items to choose from; it’s just overwhelming.  I think I’ll start a diet that limits me to… hmmm, none of these things.  Yes, and I’ll have to pester the waitress about what I could substitute and what’s in all the sauces.  That will make my life more comfortably limiting.  It will come in handy at parties, too, where I can make the hostess feel awkward.”

I crave limits on an overabundance of bad choices, choices that cause suffering.  Doesn’t everyone?  There’s a world of difference.

But I’m still going to read the book.

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