Sharp and original, this book should alter how readers look at the world.

VISUAL INTELLIGENCE

SHARPEN YOUR PERCEPTION, CHANGE YOUR LIFE

A comprehensive guide to seeing what others do not, distilled from art historian Herman’s acclaimed seminar The Art of Perception.

A few years ago, an image of a lung X-ray went viral due to the fact that 83 percent of radiologists who examined it failed to note something obvious: a 2-inch cartoon of a gorilla superimposed over the right lobe. Psychologists call this effect “inattentional blindness,” suggesting that when our brains focus exclusively on a certain task, such as evaluating a lung scan for cancerous tumors, other details can fade to the background even when they are literally right in front of you. The author takes it one step further. “The ability to see, to pay attention to what is often readily available right in front of us,” she writes, “is not only a means to avert disaster but also the precursor and prerequisite to great discovery.” Since developing her seminar at The Frick Collection in 2000, she has used famous works of art to coach FBI agents, physicians, CEOs, and police officers to enhance their abilities to observe their surroundings and effectively articulate what they see. In converting her lectures to this fascinating book, Herman convincingly argues that closely analyzing works of art is an empowering exercise that translates to seeing the 'hidden' clues in many real-life scenarios. Perhaps most compelling are the author’s descriptions of actual crime scenes that were only solved because someone noticed the right detail—a pair of inside-out pants, a whirling ceiling fan—when most people missed it. Yet despite her expert clientele, Herman amply demonstrates that tapping into an inner Sherlock Holmes isn’t only a skill for investigators and that heightened observation is critical to communicating effectively, empathizing with others, and making informed decisions. With practice, she argues, everyone has an innate “visual intelligence” waiting to be refined.

Sharp and original, this book should alter how readers look at the world.

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-38105-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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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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