**spoiler alert** MY SUMMARY AND NOTES: What You Can Do To Keep From Being Influenced by Propaganda
· Know the ways of persuasion and realize that you...more**spoiler alert** MY SUMMARY AND NOTES: What You Can Do To Keep From Being Influenced by Propaganda
· Know the ways of persuasion and realize that you personally may be the victim of propaganda. Most people believe that only other people are susceptible to being persuaded and that is when propaganda is best able to get past our defenses.
· Monitor your emotions. If you notice you are having an emotional response to a communication, ask “Why?” Look for things that might induce emotions, such as a false commitment, a “free” gift that makes you feel obligated, a scarce item that induces feelings of inferiority, a we-they distinction that elicits the granfalloon (arbitrary group), or speeches that make you feel fearful or guilty. If you feel that your emotions are being played on, get out of the situation and then analyze what is going on.
· Explore the motivation and credibility of the source of the communication. Ask such things as: “Why is this person telling me this information?” “What does the source have to gain?”
· Think rationally about any proposal or issue. Ask such things as: “What is the issue?” “What labels and terms are used to describe it?” “Are these labels used fairly?”
· Attempt to understand the full range of options before making a decision. Ask such questions as: “why are these choices being presented to me in this manner?”
· Base your evaluation of a leader not on what they say, but on what their actions in the past have shown.
· Stop to consider the possibility that any information you receive may be a factoid. Always ask: “What is the evidence for this?” “Where did you hear it?”
· If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Before making a purchase, look for these common warning signs of a bad deal: 1) the deal is only good for “today”; 2) the seller offers “free gifts” in return for “minimum” effort; 3) a sale item is suddenly unavailable but a “much better” item happens to be available for “slightly more money” (throwing a lowball); 4) the seller emphasizes the amount of each payment rather than the total amount of the sale; 5) a “repair person” discovers a “dangerous” defect in something you own that must be repaired immediately; 6) you are given little or not time to read a contract; 7) the seller makes you feel guilty for asking questions or asks, “Don’t you trust me?”
· Teach your children about propaganda. What TV with your children and help them develop counterarguments against propaganda.
· Support efforts to protect vulnerable groups such as children from exploitative persuasion.
· Avoid being dependent on a single source of information. One of the hallmarks of intense propaganda is centralized communications from a single perspective.
· Think of the news as the news and try to separate it in your own mind from entertainment. · Support campaign spending reform. Instead of letting candidates spend taxpayer allotted dollars on 30-second ads, why not require recipients of federal matching funds to use the money to pay for debates, open forums with the public, press conferences, and infomercials that give the viewer a chance to hear the candidate’s position in detail.
· Demand consumer affairs shows, or talk shows that bring together advertisers, media critics, and consumers to discuss advertising.
· Write companies asking for proof of advertised claims.
· Support and extend efforts to squelch deceptive advertisements. Also support efforts to eliminate misleading labels and other deceptive practices.
· Promote the institutions of democracy. We often take for granted the nature of democracy, thinking that is it just “majority rule” or “the freedom to do our own thing.” A democracy is a pattern of social relations that encourages deliberative persuasion (not propaganda) and respects the rights and responsibilities of all citizens. The hallmarks of a democracy (as opposed to an autocracy) include the following: 1) Communication is decentralized, with multiple sources of information; 2) authority and power are constrained by a system of checks and balances; 3) agendas and goals are established through discussion, not be leader fiat; 4) there is a reciprocity of influence between leaders and citizens, as opposed to unidirectional influence from elites; 5) group boundaries and roles are flexible, as opposed to there being a rigid social structure; and 6) minority opinion is encouraged as a means of obtaining a better decision, and the rights of those in the minority are protected.
Pratkanis, A.R., & Aronson, E. (2001). Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion, 2nd ed.(less)
Okay, now let’s have some fun. Let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about women. Freud said he didn’t know what wome...more**spoiler alert** MY FAVORITE QUOTES:
Okay, now let’s have some fun. Let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about women. Freud said he didn’t know what women wanted. I know what women want: a whole lot of people to talk to. What do they want to talk about? They want to talk about everything. What do men want? They want a lot of pals, and they wish people wouldn’t get so mad at them. Why are so many people getting divorced today? It’s because most of us don’t have extended families anymore. It used to be that when a man and a woman got married, the bride got a lot more people to talk to about everything. The groom got a lot more pals to tell dumb jokes to. A few Americans, but very few, still have extended families. The Navahos. The Kennedys. But most of us, if we get married nowadays, are just one more person for the other person. The groom gets one more pal, but it’s a woman. The woman gets one more person to talk to about everything, but it’s a man. When a couple has an argument nowadays, they may think it’s about money or power or sex or how to raise the kids or whatever. What they’re really saying to teach other, though without realizing it, is the: “you are not enough people!” A husband, a wife and some kids is not a family. It’s a terribly vulnerable survival unit. (p. 48-49).
The imagination circuit is taught to respond to the most minimal of cues. A book is an arrangement of twenty-six phonetic symbols, ten numerals, and about eight punctuation marks, and people can cast their eyes over these and envision the eruption of Mount Vesuvius or the Battle of Waterloo. But it’s no longer necessary for teachers and parents to build these circuits. Now there are professionally produced shows with great actors, very convincing sets, sound, music. Now there’s the information highway. We don’t need the circuits any more than we need to know how to ride horses. Those of us who had imagination circuits built can look in someone’s face and see stories there; to everyone else, a face will just be a face. (p. 133-134).(less)
This book follows up his "9-11" book with lots of later interviews and talks about the U.S. government's reaction to 9-11...more**spoiler alert** My summary:
This book follows up his "9-11" book with lots of later interviews and talks about the U.S. government's reaction to 9-11. Specifically, the approach of the war in Afghanistan and the general use of force to get back at the terrorists responsible for 9-11. Chomsky once again points out examples of why the U.S. continues to sponsor terrorist acts, but calls it "anti-terrorism" because it is done by the U.S. The idea of invading a nation to root out terrorists is described as a facade since the people of the country are the ones that suffer, not the terrorist organizations themselves. He talks about how the U.S. acts unilaterally and ignores European opinions as well as the opinions of its own people. The driving force behind the current military actions is not finding the people responsible for the specific attack against the U.S., but rather to further increase our sphere of influence across the world. Through using the events of 9-11 the U.S. government can justify eliminating foreign governments that do not aid our military objectives. He goes into examples of how else our goal of controlling valuable resources has led to our sponsorship of Israel and the continuation of war in the Middle East. He specifically mentions how the U.S. has actually barred the peace process in order to maintain our influence in the Middle East. The same argument is made for Turkey, where the U.S. sponsors state terrorism because the government allows the U.S. military to use Turkish soil, airspace, etc. for its purposes. He also brings up the general rule of state terrorism and its relation to U.S. foreign aid. In other words, the more money the U.S. gives to any country, the more state terrorism occurs in that nation. Overall, Chomsky describe the U.S. as a great manipulator moving the "chess pieces" of the world through any means necessary. He also appeals to the educated classes to take notice of the ruthlessness of the U.S. government and to work towards a reduction in state terrorism in order to reduce the motivation of foreign terrorists against the U.S.(less)
President Andrew Jackson’s professions of humanitarian intent scarcely disguised the ruthlessness of what was be...more**spoiler alert** My notes and quotes:
President Andrew Jackson’s professions of humanitarian intent scarcely disguised the ruthlessness of what was being done: “[This] just and humane policy recommended … [the Indians] to quit their possessions … and go to a country to the west where there is every probability that they will always be free from the mercenary influence of white men. … Under such circumstances the General Government can exercise a paternal control over their interests and possibly perpetuate their race.” (p.36).
To be precise, seven characteristic phases of American engagement can be discerned: 1. Impressive initial military success. 2. A flawed assessment of indigenous sentiment. 3. A strategy of limited war and gradual escalation of forces. 4. Domestic disillusionment in the face of protracted and nasty conflict. 5. Premature democratization. 6. The ascendancy of domestic economic considerations. 7. Ultimate withdrawal. (p. 48).
The trouble with limited war turned out to be that public patience with it was even more limited. It would take the United States another long war to learn that lesson, and this war would end not in a tie but in a humiliating defeat. The paradox of the imperial Republic was that it was the civilian political elite – along with sections of the military – that favored limited war, much more than the wider electorate. (p. 94).
In the words of retired General Anthony Zinni: “There is a fundamental question that goes beyond the military. It’s, ‘What is our obligation to the world?” We preach about values, democracy, human rights, but we haven’t convinced the American people to pony up. … There’s no leadership that steps up and says, “This is the right thing to do.” … That’s the basic problem. … There’s got to be the political will and support for these things. We should believe that a stable world is a better place for us. If you had a policy and a forward-leaning engagement strategy, the U.S. would make a much greater difference to the world. It would intervene earlier and pick fights better. (p. 293).
Does imperial denial matter? The answer is that it does. Successful empire is seldom solely based on coercion; there must be some economic dividends for the ruled as well as the rulers, if only to buy the loyalty of indigenous elites, and these dividends need to be sustained for a significant length of time. The trouble with an empire in denial is that it tends to make two mistakes when it chooses to intervene in the state of affairs of lesser states. The first may be to allocate insufficient resources to the nonmilitary aspects of the project. The second, and the more serious, is to attempt economic and political transformation in an unrealistically short time frame. As I write, the United States would seem to be making the second of these mistakes in both Iraq and Afghanistan. By insisting – and apparently intending – that they will remain in Iraq only until a democratic government can be established “and not a day longer,” American spokespeople have unintentionally created a further disincentive for local people to cooperate with them. (p. 294-295).(less)
This book served as an excellent contrast to Niall Ferguson's book "Colossus". Bacevich points out the dangers of overextending the U.S. on the global...moreThis book served as an excellent contrast to Niall Ferguson's book "Colossus". Bacevich points out the dangers of overextending the U.S. on the global stage in much the same way that Ferguson argues for the under-utilization of U.S. political influence. I thought Bacevich was a bit overly bleak on some fronts, but overall his analysis was compelling, especially given the current global economic transformation. It is unlikely that the U.S. will ever have the kind of economic pre-eminence it has enjoyed in the last few decades, so trying to maintain that status through military channels is going to become even more futile with each passing year. Overall a great book, and his point about war being inherently and eternally messy no matter how smart of bombs we create is especially timeless. (less)
Jews, Arabs, Turks, Russians, Finns, Swedes, Czechs, Uzbeks, Macedonians, Estonians, Malayans, Cathayans, Japane...more**spoiler alert** My notes and quotes:
Jews, Arabs, Turks, Russians, Finns, Swedes, Czechs, Uzbeks, Macedonians, Estonians, Malayans, Cathayans, Japanese, Sinhalese – one and all planetwide – have a nurturing access to the fullness of their myriad histories, histories that often seem as old as time. African Americans must spiritually survive from the meager basket of a few mean yesterdays. No chance for significant group progress there. None. For we have been largely overwhelmed by a majority culture that wronged us dramatically, emptied our memories, underminded our self-esteem, implanted us with palatable voices, and stripped us along the way of the sheerest corona of self-definition. We alone are presumed pastless, left to cobble self-esteem from a vacuum of stolen history. By default, we must define ourselves by our ongoing tribulations and those who mete them out to us. Otherwise, we have little in the way of a long-held interior idea of who we are. (p. 28).
I will not belabor the point here. Talk of the International Monetary Fund tends to induce sleep quickly. But certainly were it not for the blindness occasioned by Africa’s damaged self-confidence, Africa’s leaders would know from painful historical experience that money’s Western sorcerers can quickly change costumes when there’s money to be made, pawns to be fleeced. The Western strategy for five hundred years has always been to exploit until understanding dawns and economic circumstances alter, or sufficient public revulsion gathers to force a retreat. Thus, slavery was caused to morph into colonialism, and colonialism into the Cold War and the Cold War into the African Growth and Opportunity Act. (p. 183).
There is, I think, a useful lesson in this story. Those – nations, individuals, whites as a racial entity – who enjoy the privileges of disproportionate power and wealth will seldom voluntarily do more than render to the disadvantaged an appearance of helpfulness. It is not in their interests to school the disadvantaged on the origins of their dilemma. Nor would they ever be likely to take unforced measures that would tend to level the playing field, if you’ll forgive the tired metaphor. Never, in the march of human relations, has power behaved thus. Intrinsic to advantage is the drive to maintain itself. Aah, the advantaged. Careful, now, not to deify them. For such undeserved admiration, in and of itself, is for the disadvantaged a debilitating condition. (p. 198).
Perhaps it would help her place herself in context if she could read a letter I came upon in the wonderful book Strong Men Keep Coming by Tonya Bolden. The letter is dated August 7, 1865, and was written by Jourdon Anderson, once a slave in Big Spring, Tennessee, to his former owner, Colonel P.H. Anderson, who had written to the ex-slave in Dayton, Ohio, where he had resettled with his wife and children. The colonel had written to persuade Anderson to return to Big Spring and work for him as a free man: Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdan, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can … I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mnady, - the folks call her Mrs. Anderson, - and the children – Milly Jane, and Grundy – go to school and are learning well … Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again. As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my freedom papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshall-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-give dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to … Please send the money by Adam’s Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for our faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises for the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense … Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire … Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.
Colonel Anderson never paid Jourdon Anderson what he owed him for his labor, nor had any of the other slaveholders (including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson) who had stolen the labor of tens of millions of blacks and, by so doing robbed the futures of all who would descend from them. (p. 241).(less)
This is a great book, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you want a healthy dose of cynicism added to your literary diet. Every single one of the exam...moreThis is a great book, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you want a healthy dose of cynicism added to your literary diet. Every single one of the examples Johnston discusses makes you realize that the "haves" in our society often do not get ahead by being better capitalists, but rather by being masters of manipulating our (taxpayer) money. I think the most positive message this book has to offer is that opponents of free trade and capitalism as a system are often completely groundless in their attacks; it's not pure capitalism that leads to inequality and ridiculously large gaps between the rich and poor, it's the perversion of capitalism by those with extreme wealth. The author's liberal use of Adam Smith's own words and writings bring this point home several times. Most of the abuses we face today (e.g., corporate subsidies) all existed in Smith's day, albeit on a much smaller scale. Although the stories Johnston shares are infuriating in the extreme, the unfairness and corruption he uncovers serves as a meaningful call to action for every taxpayer (and voter) in our country. Definitely worth handing out to all of your conservative and liberal friends. (less)
The book is a collection of interviews and talks Chomsky gives on his reactions to the events of 9-11. The most important...more**spoiler alert** My summary:
The book is a collection of interviews and talks Chomsky gives on his reactions to the events of 9-11. The most important distinction he makes is that the United States should be considered a terrorist nation no different than the nations or individuals responsible for the attacks. He goes into many examples of the U.S. terrorist record and how it is not treated as terrorism because it is done by the U.S. He talks about Bin Laden and the motivations behind the attack. Basically he says that Bin Laden and other extreme Muslims don't have a problem with the people of the United States and the growth of capitalism, but more with the U.S. government and how they manipulate and try and control Muslim nations. He compares our labeling of terrorism as much the same as previous powerful nations in history (e.g., Nazi Germany) such that military opposition to our agenda is treated as evil terrorism rather than terrorism by the weak vs. terrorism by the strong. Some of the many examples of U.S. funded terrorism concerns the beginnings of groups led by Osama Bin Laden in the late 70's and 80's who were funded by the U.S. to fight the Soviet Union (in Afghanistan, etc.). When these groups no longer served a purpose they were discarded, often with serious repercussions down the road (i.e., they continued to pass on the U.S. training to their new followers and then turned against the U.S.). He also brings up the issue of Nicarauga and U.S. intervention there that was labeled as terrorism by the U.N. After being ordered to pay reparations to the people of Nicarauga the U.S. promptly ignored the resolution and continued with their previous agenda anyway. Chomsky also brings up other cases of supporting terrorist factions (like the Northern Alliance in Bosnia) when they support our agenda, even though they use extremely brutal methods and are often considered barbaric fanatics. He relates all of these examples of U.S. terrorism to the root cause of 9-11 and general ill will towards the U.S. across the world. Overall, the world is not upset at the people of the U.S., but at U.S. policy that uses any means necessary to secure resources for itself at the expense of other (generally weaker) nations.(less)
The Easter Islanders' isolation probably also explains why I have found that their collapse, more than the colla...more**spoiler alert** My notes and quotes:
The Easter Islanders' isolation probably also explains why I have found that their collapse, more than the collapse of any other pre-industrial society, haunts my readers and students. The parallels between Easter Island and the whole modern world are chillingly obvious. Thanks to globalization, international trade, jet planes, and the Internet, all countries on Earth today share resources and affect each other, just as did Easter's dozen clans. Polynesian Easter Island was as isolated in the Pacific Ocean as the Earth is today in space. When the Easter Islanders got into difficulties, there was nowhere to which they could flee, nor to which they could turn for help; nor shall we modern Earthlings, have recourse elsewhere if our troubles increase. Those are the reasons why people see the collapse of Easter Island society as a metaphor, a worst-case scenario, for what may lie ahead of us in our own future. (p. 119).(less)
**spoiler alert** My summary and notes from the book: ***The author goes through several examples of how water is treated in different parts of the wor...more**spoiler alert** My summary and notes from the book: ***The author goes through several examples of how water is treated in different parts of the world, different cities, and in difference situations. Overall, he argues that our water supply is in such danger in so many places because people take water for granted. They don’t even think about it despite it being one of our most basic needs. This leads us to waste it, mismanage it, and fail to put resources into maintaining our water supply for the future. Only once crisis hits to we finally start to pay attention to how we use water and where it comes from.
***Chapter topics: In “Dolphins in the Desert”, Fishman covers the evolution of water policy in Las Vegas. Despite being in the middle of the desert and full of water extravagance, it has developed some of the most sophisticated water reusing systems in the world. - In “Water Under Water”, Fishman explains the complexity of making water supplies disaster proof as he profiles Galveston, TX, after Hurricane Ike. - In “The Money in the Pipes” he profiles several large companies that are at the forefront of water conservation and reuse because they use it in such a large scale. – In “The Yuck Factor” he profiles how important changing attitudes toward water can be when trying to implement new water reuse methods. One city in Australia nearly ran out of water because its citizens couldn’t accept the idea of reusing treated sewer water. – In “Who Stopped the Rain” he talks about Australia, which has been going through a great drought in the last decade or so. This has precipitated several water crises from farming to urban supply. The primary problem is overuse of its rivers and planning based on high-water years instead of the contemporary average. – In “Where Water is Worshipped, but Gets no Respect” he talks about India and how atrocious their water situation is for nearly everyone, rich and poor. Very few cities have 24/7 water supplies, even for well-off people, and the majority of the country suffers from huge productivity and education losses because so much time is spent hand-carrying water for daily needs. He also goes into the major health problems that result from contaminated water and ink-black rivers. E.g., There is so much dangerous bacteria and pollution that one eye-dropper of water from the Yamuna or Ganges River put into six bathtubs full of water would be enough to make it unsafe to sit in. – In “It’s Water. Of Course It’s Free” he summarizes the problem with most attitudes toward water. Unless we start to recognize it as a real resource that requires respect and serious attention, we will continue to stumble into major shortages and conflicts over water. Water is not a global problem in the sense that you can influence water problems across the world, but it is the combination of a million different local problems regarding water that makes it a global concern.
***The 300,000 gallons of water used during a space shuttle launch is not for cooling, but for sound dampening. Otherwise the sound shock waves would tear the shuttle apart.
***The biggest use of water in the home is toilet flushing. We flush on average around 5 times a day which is about 18.5 gallons
***The fundamental problem with water is that it cannot be used up, but it is not equally available in all locations. How and where it is available in usable form varies dramatically and can be very unpredictable. So what this means is that all water problems are local in the sense that saving water in your home isn't going to directly help water-started villages in India. This is very different from many other environmental issues, like carbon footprints or gasoline use.
***Patricia Mulroy (the Las Vegas water czar) suggested to Obama a huge public works program to create a series of canals to capture and divert Mississippi floodwaters so it would both reduce natural disasters and send excess water to places that need it.
***At IBM Burlington, they create what is known as "ultra-pure water" which is hundreds of times cleaner than distilled or purified water. They use complex filtration systems to remove every molecule from water so that the pure water can pull microscopic particles from microchips. The smaller the chip, the more pure the water must be. It is very expensive to create, and in fact, would be dangerous to drink in large quantities. Water is such a good solvent, its molecules are filled with all kinds of minerals, etc. If you remove the minerals, etc. it will try to pull molecules out of anything it comes in contact with, including the nutrients in our body.
***Celebrity Cruise ships have a huge ice expense to create enough ice to cool all of the food/beverages on a typical cruise. One way they have reduced the cost is to no longer use ice, but to cool rocks that retain temperature well enough to cool the food.
***The author details an economic model for water designed by Mike Young to better allocate water resources. In the shape of a water glass, each layer of water is designated for a particular purpose. The first layer is “maintenance water” that is just enough necessary to maintain the environmental system. This is already a problem in many rivers where dams have to be built to keep ocean water from heading back up dry river beds. The second layer of water is “critical human needs” such as drinking, bathing, and basic water services. These two layers are guaranteed, but the next two layers are determined by economics. The first is the high security layer, which demands a high premium cost, and the second is low security, which costs less. Then it becomes a risk calculation process about how much you want to invest in water and whether you want to take the risk that your water layer might run out. If water runs low, the low security customers lose it first, then high security. (less)
This is an interesting book that I would recommend to certain others. Although I imagine this book has considerably fewer male readers than female one...moreThis is an interesting book that I would recommend to certain others. Although I imagine this book has considerably fewer male readers than female ones, I think that is unfortunate. This book is especially useful for any male that wants to understand why modern motherhood is characterized by so much anxiety. Warner does a good job of communicating the exasperating aspects of American cultural expectations on motherhood, but I found the historical path of feminism she traces from the 1950's through the present to be the most interesting part of the book. The book did seem a bit disorganized at times (which, since the author is a mother, is probably just more evidence for her overall thesis), but I would still recommend it to others particularly interested in these issuess.(less)
This is yet another wonderful book written by social psychologists, although it is probably unlikely to make the New York Times best seller list for a...moreThis is yet another wonderful book written by social psychologists, although it is probably unlikely to make the New York Times best seller list for a couple of reasons. First, this book ranks right up there with Jimmy Carter’s famed “Great Malaise” speech that pointed an accusing finger at the American people for all of their problems. No one wants to know that WE are the cause of the problem, just like no one really wants to know that I made a mistake, not someone else. This book is about cognitive dissonance and the power of rationalization in many domains of life. The problem with this topic (as I have found after many quarters of teaching it to college students), is that even after learning the concept, literally no one likes to think that they actually engage in these mental gymnastics. Biases in perception, even the automatic activation of stereotypes are easier to get people to believe than trying to show them how every decision or experience we have is colored by the process of making ourselves appear consistent. In reality, we are all highly hypocritical in countless ways, but as the authors show over and over again, this is much easier to detect in others than in ourselves. Only suggestion I would make is to try to use more examples from across the political spectrum to arrest any rationalization ammo for critics of the book. Would recommend to everyone (along with Aronson’s other books). (less)
I've been reading way too many books related to applications of social psychology lately, so this review might be somewhat biased, but I was somewhat...moreI've been reading way too many books related to applications of social psychology lately, so this review might be somewhat biased, but I was somewhat disappointed with the depth of analysis the authors provided. Specifically, much of the research they covered appeared highly similar to many other recent books on effective use of psychological principles to produce social change. Many of the judgmental biases they point out have been highlighted in several books published in the last three years. The primary distinction of this book really seems to be its political bent with specific recommendations for public policy on a number of issues. "Libertarian paternalism" is an interesting idea, and much more palatable with the empirical base the authors put forth compared to many of the unintended paternalistic consequences of current government policies. I would recommend this book to people interested in psychology, politics, and public policy, but who haven't read a broad swath of recent books on judgmental biases written by economists, psychologists, and journalists. Incidentally, one bias they forgot to cover was the tendency of "humans" to believe that they alone are actually an "econ" in a world of irrational people. (less)
As a social psychologist, I will always be biased towards books by social psychologists, but I would have to say that this book does an exceptional jo...moreAs a social psychologist, I will always be biased towards books by social psychologists, but I would have to say that this book does an exceptional job at covering a specific psychological theory and applying it to the problems of the world we live in. Of course my particular opinions differ from the authors considerably in some areas, but I still think this text is an important thought experiment for everyone to take. Just the sheer act of trying to see the world populated by individuals, no matter what the background, looking for meaning and purpose in life, would go a long way in teaching the important of tolerance and understanding of others. It somewhat surprisingly goes into more depth into politics than I would have guessed, but counters the speculative parts with a significant amount of space on the empirical support for the theory. I’ll be using it as a text in my upcoming class so I may revise this review once I see how my students react to it. (less)