There's a story here that needs to be understood, but it is not well told. Too much dry history and self-congratulation. I am tempted to just give up,There's a story here that needs to be understood, but it is not well told. Too much dry history and self-congratulation. I am tempted to just give up, but the topic is important enough that I am going to try to skim instead. This book fits the category of "I want to have read it, I don't want to read it."
I don't see any other reviews. Is that because no one has actually been able to read it? I will try to start at the beginning and add some crib notes to this review as I skim. In the mean time,
Chopra sought to make government information more accessible by the public and to make better use of crowd sourcing. These are worthwhile ideas, but not very ambitious. He has no vision of a more dynamic government that responds to the concerns of the public. I would have liked to see an analysis of the role of government and the opportunities to use technology to improve the government's ability to fulfill that role. And while we're at it, how about an analysis of how technology is enabling government to transgress its proper boundaries? I suppose that is too ambitious, both for what Chopra was tasked to do for Obama and so for what his book can describe.
The chapter about Chopra's experience in Virginia is full of successes, but they are the sort of success you get from saying, "Dude, use the Internet."...more
The authors make a reasonable case, but I think libertarians find nudges too paternalistic, and paternalists find nudges too libertarian. One thinks iThe authors make a reasonable case, but I think libertarians find nudges too paternalistic, and paternalists find nudges too libertarian. One thinks it is likely to be a fig leaf, the other hopes that's true but wants to tear off the fig leaf. The authors emphasize that institutions other than government may use nudges. How can we cultivate this?...more
Just briefly, the authors use finding from neuroscience to challenge some of the important findings of western philosophy. Basically, they look at howJust briefly, the authors use finding from neuroscience to challenge some of the important findings of western philosophy. Basically, they look at how language is processed in the brain and compare that to how philosophy thinks about concepts. I should reread it and make a more serious review. I gave it only four stars because it seemed like it needed some editing, not very readable. Maybe I should give them more points for ambition. Not the slam dunk I would like to have read, but worth the trouble....more
Well written and enjoyable. I'm not sure why I didn't give it 5 stars. I liked the author's basic approach of trying to avoid jumbo-jumbo. Maybe I'm dWell written and enjoyable. I'm not sure why I didn't give it 5 stars. I liked the author's basic approach of trying to avoid jumbo-jumbo. Maybe I'm disappointed that you can't really completely avoid jumbo-jumbo when writing about zen, or explain why you might want to try it, maybe because supposedly the experience can't be described in words. Will it make you happy? Probably not. Will it help you understand the world or yourself better? Kinda sorta maybe. Will it make me rich or get me laid? Very unlikely. Will getting started be difficult, and will practicing be boring and kind of a chore forever? Almost certainly. So it's a fun book on a topic that is hard to talk about or make sense of, and maybe makes no sense.
Let me illustrate by quoting a passage I like, from page 10:
"If you don't do that the truth can never appear. And if it doesn't appear in the way that you can personably grasp it without reservation, this whole world hasn't got a chance in hell. But if you really thoroughly question everything, if you pursue your questions long enough and honestly enough, there will come a time when truth will wallop you upside the head and you will know. But let me offer you a warning, which like everything else I say, you are totally free to disregard: the truth won't be what you imagined. It won't even be close. And you may well wish you hadn't chased it so long. But once you find it you will never be able to run away from it again, and you will never be able to hide. You'll have no choice but to face up to it."...more
The book describes the effects of cognitive dissonance and related psychological phenomena, such as the unreliability of memory. I had seen the concepThe book describes the effects of cognitive dissonance and related psychological phenomena, such as the unreliability of memory. I had seen the concept of cognitive dissonance mentioned in various contexts, but did not understand it well until reading this book. I'm not sure how helpful the book is in helping a reader to avoid the problems the authors describe. Cognitive dissonance will not happen in every case, and will not always take the same form, and may be overwhelmed by other opposing psychological forces. How do we know when it is happening to us? What can we do about it? What precautions should we take to avoid it? Here are some notes I scribbled as I read. Cognitive dissonance can make people double down on their errors. When faced with the uncomfortable tension between "I am a good person" and "I may be responsible for something bad that happened", people can go to great lengths, including unconsciously altering their memories, to ignore, forget, or reframe evidence connecting me to the badness. People will use cog diss to maintain a positive self-image. Whether we did someone a favor or played a dirty trick on them, our unconscious wants to edit reality so that they deserved it. Famous or very self-confident persons tend to be more reluctant to admit error. Self-image is self-preserving. Persons who feel inferior and incompetent experience dissonance when they succeed, and so will give credit to others or minimize their accomplishment, or sabotage it. Catharsis doesn't work. Taking out your anger on a person or thing just makes you more angry. Accomplishments or acquisitions that are costly and difficult will be more appreciated. The old metaphor of boiling the frog may not work literally when boiling frogs, but works well for human brains. A gradual motion of self-justification can make a person willing to do something that obviously crosses a line that ordinarily they would not cross without the gradual approach. The authors use a metaphor of a pyramid. The first small self-justification moved us from the top of the pyramid to one side or the other. Subsequent moves are much more likely to continue the downward motion, rather than to rethink and contradict previous decisions. At the end of the process, similar persons who started out making slightly different initial decisions end up in very different circumstances. Cognitive dissonance and self-justification affect actions, beliefs, and identity, and as each of those change, they affect the others as they readjust to each other. Tolerance is mood-defendant. When things are going badly for us, we are more likely to see others as flawed. When things are going well for us, we are more likely to empathize with others, blame errors on circumstances rather than bad intentions....more