Only Economists in Shangri-la?

Michael Giberson

I’ve mentioned Seth Roberts’ Shangri-La diet here before. I’m interested, because I could probably stand to drop 10 or 15 pounds, but I really don’t see myself as a “dieter” or “diet book buyer.” Of course I could try out the ideas based upon publicly available information about the diet, but then I wouldn’t be sure I had given it a good shot. For the moment, I’m still in the “Shangri-La curious” mode.

A few in the econo-blogosphere have tried it out, more or less: see David Tufte’s mostly positive reaction at VoluntaryXchange and Arnold Kling’s decidedly non-positive reaction at EconLog. The Freakonomics duo wrote about Seth Roberts and the diet in one of their New York Times columns and on their blog, and it has also been blogged and recommended at Marginal Revolution.

I suspect this kind of attention from economists is unusual for a diet book, and my suspicion appears supported by Amazon. Following a link to The Shangri La Diet at Amazon, it says that “Customers who bought this item also bought”:

* The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford
* Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
* An Army of Davids by Glenn Reynolds
* America: The Last Best Hope (Volume I) by William J. Bennett
* Happiness Is a Serious Problem : A Human Nature Repair Manual by Dennis Prager

Check out other diet books at Amazon. Customers who buy other diet books are not also buying economics/policy/happiness research books. Buyers of The Shangri-La Diet are. Maybe it is just an artifact of the free publicity the book has generated in particular corners of the blogosphere, but it struck me as curious and noteworthy.

2 thoughts on “Only Economists in Shangri-la?

  1. Economists and Dieting

    Knowledge Problem has noted that The Shangri-La Diet seems to have special appeal to economists. I think there are good reasons for this. Economists like to think of the world in terms of constrained optimization. Traditional diet books tend to

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