I wish I had the energy to review each essay, as there were some winners and some losers, and I have opinions on many. But I'm too lazy for that. I s I wish I had the energy to review each essay, as there were some winners and some losers, and I have opinions on many. But I'm too lazy for that. I skipped a few that were not my taste. ...more
The Happiness Hypothesis is an excellent discussion book. I read it in an informal, impromptu book club. We met every few weeks and discussed a just 1The Happiness Hypothesis is an excellent discussion book. I read it in an informal, impromptu book club. We met every few weeks and discussed a just 1-2 chapters at a time and had amazing AMAZING discussions.
The most important thing to know about this book is that Haidt uses a completely different definition of "divinity" and "divine" than the rest of the world. After being really into this book, the sudden inclusion of those words upset me and turned me off and made me hate it for a while. My book club had to talk me down and convince me that divine means "super special" instead of "super natural". I reread the last few chapters with that substitution and all was well. Or, mostly well. I still take a lot of issue with those chapters for other reasons, but I was able to take what I needed from those parts as well.
I have a hell of a lot more to say, but I can't even organize that many thoughts into something coherent. ...more
I was tempted to give Thinking Fast and Slow 3 stars. But then I realized that that was my remembering self's evaluation, based on my extreme feelingI was tempted to give Thinking Fast and Slow 3 stars. But then I realized that that was my remembering self's evaluation, based on my extreme feeling (2 stars) and my ending feeling (4 stars). On a per page average, I think 2 is the correct rating to convey how I experienced the book.
Section 5, was by far the most interesting. It's given me quite a lot of food for thought....more
Things this story could have used: * Discussion of aphasia besides basic psych 101 definitions * Discussion of bilingual aphasia beside basic psych 101Things this story could have used: * Discussion of aphasia besides basic psych 101 definitions * Discussion of bilingual aphasia beside basic psych 101 definitions * Discussion of treatment for bilingual aphasia * Descriptive incites into differences between Chinese and English and how language shapes perceptions, attitudes and reality besides basic statements that such differences exist * More quick wit and barbs from Meiling, especially toward the Americans * Americans who aren't contemptible boors.
Things this story could have done without: * Attempts to be sympathetic to incompetent and obnoxious characters * Promises of interesting story featuring fascinating neurology as a cover for a story about a marriage. * The notion that there are approximately 7 people in all of Shanghai who speak English, and only 2 that speak both English and Chinese * The misguided idea that when a powerful and talented person must leave their career the most appropriate person to take over is their spouse despite having no relevant skill or training, rather than their presumably highly trained and qualified coworkers. * Using mental illness and disability as an excuse for infidelity.
A lot of the brain stuff is interesting, but I completely failed to make many of the connections between the brains and the artists. Possibly, this isA lot of the brain stuff is interesting, but I completely failed to make many of the connections between the brains and the artists. Possibly, this is because I'm not familiar most of the works referenced. But I think that some of my confusion is because Lehrer didn't make convincing arguments or explinations. Some sections are more clearly spelled out than others.
George Eliot changed religions and believed in free will and one of her characters got married. Therefore: Brain plasticity. I can't connect those dots and I don't believe Eliot was the first person to understand free will.
I also don't believe that Gertrude Stein (who happened to be a neuroscience (or equivalent at the time)) discovered grammar. Or that the linguist Noam Chompsky confirmed the existence of grammar. Huh? I'm certain that everyone knew that grammar existed hundreds of years before either was even born. Clearly there was some deeper thing that Lehrer was getting at but whatever that was flew totally over my head.
The best parts were things that I'd already learned about on Radio Lab.
I think I would have had a different experience with this if I'd read the book instead of listening to it. Listening in 3 hour chunks on a roadtrip diI think I would have had a different experience with this if I'd read the book instead of listening to it. Listening in 3 hour chunks on a roadtrip didn't give me a chance to digest the content. And I really really would have liked a table of contents. I'm sure there must have been some structure, but without defined breaks and chapter/section headings I often felt confused about what the topic was.
While I feel like it was only 2 stars the way I heard it, I still want to get the actual book and try again. And I'm re-inspired to start a meditation practice, this time in ultra-small sessions.
Also, while I totally dig the connections between Buddhism (as a method for happiness) and neuroscience, I'm more and more convinced that the correlations to quantum mechanics (also seen in the Dali Lama's The Universe in a Single Atom) is BS. If you're going to be science-y, leave the woo out of it....more
Malcolm Gladwell books are incredibly easy to spoil. They hint at a point, or a thesis, but really, we read them because he uses great stories as examMalcolm Gladwell books are incredibly easy to spoil. They hint at a point, or a thesis, but really, we read them because he uses great stories as examples. And these stories are so great we can't resist the urge to repeat them to our friends. Before you know it, we've all become like previews for a comedy movie, the kind of previews that show all the jokes so there is nothing fresh in the film, the kind of previews that make you want to see a film, and then get bored 1/2 way through. Blink and Tipping Point were spoiled for me in this way.
Outliers is the first Gladwell book I've read without that kind of preview and I found it to be much more enjoyable. And I find myself tempted to start telling these stories. But I'm resisting the urge. And when Gladwell comes out with another book I'll refuse to listen to people rave about it or to read reviews.
In short: Don't read reviews of this book! And don't let your friends tell you about it.
Now that makes it hard to review doesn't it? I'll try to only discuss the theses rather than the examples.
I absolutely buy the premise that much of success is being in the right circumstances at the right time. I think there is no disputing that, I struggle to see how that isn't at least partially common sense.
I'm not really clear on how the two halves of the book work together. The second half, seemed less about outliers, more about cultures. I was left feeling suspicious. I wonder how much Gladwell conflates correlation with causation. That's not to say that I wasn't interested in the second half, I actually thought it was much more interesting, if a bit uncomfortable. ...more