March 13, 2008
Books: Why choosing rationally might not be so easy
(Page 2 - Previous Page)For some time after the accident, he assumed that the scars wouldn't last forever and that he'd get back to life much as he had before. When his physical therapist thought he would be heartened to meet another man who has suffered a similar degree of burns who had returned to work as an auto mechanic, Ariely was instead devastated, crushed by the appearance and impaired functioning of the man. Ariely, a handsome and charismatic man, still has some visible scarring and still experiences pain on a daily basis. Using his hands can be difficult, and he finds that he can't write much more than a page or two a day.
Ariely fell out of love with Judaism while in the hospital. He felt that his healing might have progressed more quickly and with less pain had they been able to graft skin onto his, but the rabbinate wouldn't allow skin transplants from dead people. From the perspective of his hospital bed, he couldn't see the logic of their position.
"It's not that I lost faith; I lost respect for Judaism. Religion didn't seem to be about belief but about the administration of how you live and die," he says, admitting that one of the first things he did when he left the hospital was to eat pork for the first time, as an act of rebellion.
Some years later, when he was visiting his great-grandmother in New York, he took a job at Camp Modin in Maine, where the rabbi and director helped him to feel positively about Judaism again.
Ariely and his wife have two young children, and while he tries speaking Hebrew to them, he's not that successful. His wife's family is from New Delhi, and when they got married, they each took on the other's religion: she converted to Judaism and while he didn't convert, he learned about her Hindu traditions. Now, they send their school-age son to Jewish day school in Durham, N.C., spend Friday nights as a family and celebrate lots of holidays.
A self-described workaholic who has lost the ability to relax, Ariely is usually working on 20 projects at once. "Predictable Irrationality" grew out of another project: Inspired to write a book without the usual academic constraints, he began working on a cookbook, "Dining Without Crumbs: The Art of Eating Over the Sink," a decision-making guide through the creation and experimentation that takes place in the kitchen. One book agent suggested that he write a book about his research instead, and then perhaps he'd have an audience for his cookbook. Now, the behavioral economist hopes to get back to the kitchen.
For more information, visit www.predictablyirrational.com
1 | 2