A paradigm-busting vision for the future that doesn’t shy away from the hard choices humanity might have to make to secure...

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Prosperity, Poverty or Extinction?

HUMANITY'S CHOICES

A sound economic model must include ecological sustainability, writes Cookson, a New Zealand educator, who bridges the natural sciences with economics in a quest for solutions to the planet’s most vexing problems.

Economics is the study of scarcity, but, Cookson says, most mainstream models fail to recognize the finiteness of Earth’s biosphere. A science teacher at a secondary school, Cookson earned an economics degree after his son challenged him to help bring about a better future. His debut work is an ambitious, far-ranging tome on the subject of “ecological economics,” which concludes that the planet can’t sustain the current level of human activity. With a population of 7 billion and a global economy becoming more dependent on ever-increasing consumption, Cookson says we must change course if we want to achieve widespread prosperity. He plunges into the debates on climate change, energy, food supply and international trade, probing the writings of influential thinkers like John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman and Rachel Carson. What emerges is a worldview that refuses to measure quality of life solely in terms of money. While policymakers often try to achieve prosperity by creating a bigger economic pie, Cookson proposes a less-is-more approach. He explores demographic strategies to slowly reduce the world population to more sustainable levels, and his economic models reject what he believes to be a harmful obsession with GDP growth, while advocating “balanced trade” between nations rather than free trade. There’s no shortage of doomsayers among futurists, but Cookson remains cautiously optimistic. His broad research, which is meticulously sourced and receptive to opposing viewpoints, succeeds at providing an introduction to a high-stakes, increasingly visible topic. The book is comprehensive and systematic in its presentation, though its heavy use of scientific formulas and supply-and-demand curves can make for arduous reading. To suggest less growth might challenge conventional wisdom, yet the book remains doubly valuable since it earnestly confronts dilemmas that threaten rich and poor nations alike.

A paradigm-busting vision for the future that doesn’t shy away from the hard choices humanity might have to make to secure its survival.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1479742554

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2013

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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