In a world dominated by analytics, algorithms, and models, this is a welcome call for reclaiming our common humanity.

THE EYE TEST

A CASE FOR HUMAN CREATIVITY IN THE AGE OF ANALYTICS

How did we get to a society where numbers drive everything? This fascinating book provides helpful insight and a possible course correction.

Do the math. Crunch the numbers. Follow the model. Analytics has become the secret machinery of the modern world, grinding away behind the curtain. Once hailed as the answer to any number of social ills, analytics has become a pathway to dislocation, inequality, and outright weirdness. Jones, a former writer at large for Esquire and winner of two National Magazine Awards, began his journalistic career as a sportswriter in the era when quantitative analysis was taking over professional sports. While providing plenty of useful information, the method also took away much of what made a game interesting, including tension, surprise, excitement, and even joy. Once the idea of the math model was established, it infected everything, from the making of movies to the stock market. Algorithms appear to be based on impartial science, but they seek to predict the future by looking only at the past and are unable to handle variation, complexity, and outliers. Jones has a good time recounting examples of things going wrong, and he does so with a dry sense of humor. However, the topic becomes far more serious when analytics is applied to government and law enforcement. Facial recognition software, for example, has great difficulty reading Black faces (women even more than men), and the picture gets even darker when data is used to fit a narrative rather than reveal the truth. The author makes a convincing case that we should trust our intuition and creativity and treat others as individuals instead of mere aggregations of information. Yes, analytics and algorithms are useful in many ways, but ultimately, they should remain subordinate to a person with a stock of lived experience, empathy, and wisdom.

In a world dominated by analytics, algorithms, and models, this is a welcome call for reclaiming our common humanity.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5387-3067-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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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 refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

MY BODY

The international model embarks on a nuanced investigation of her body and identity.

Ratajkowski’s exploration of fame, self-identity, and what it means to be a “beautiful” woman is surprisingly engaging. Originally thrust into the spotlight in 2013 due to her scantily clad appearance in the music video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” the author eventually became known for her stances about beauty and sexuality and how they are commodified. Now that she is a wife and mother, she writes, “I feel a tenderness toward my younger self. My defensiveness and defiance are palpable to me now. What I wrote and preached then reflected what I believed at the time, but it missed a much more complicated picture. In many ways, I have been undeniably rewarded by capitalizing on my sexuality….But in other, less overt ways, I’ve felt objectified and limited by my position in the world as a so-called sex symbol.” This short book includes the juicy tidbits that avid celebrity-memoir readers seek, and the author shares how she really felt about the video shoot and how the aftermath affected her. Beyond that, the book is a reflective coming-of-age-in-the-industry tale, a story that is never maudlin but contains a few thick, murky sections. Ratajkowski attempts to break down the construction of her identity and sexuality in relation to the ever present male gaze as well as her relationships with the women in her life. The charm of this book lies in the author’s largely relatable writing, which shows the complex emotions and confusion of a young woman experiencing her sexual development and maturation into a capable adult. Admitting that the “purpose of the book is not to arrive at answers, but honestly to explore ideas I can’t help but return to,” Ratajkowski grapples directly with a host of thorny issues.

A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-81786-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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