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NOBODY'S FOOL

WHY WE GET TAKEN IN AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT

An outstanding guide to nonsense for critical readers.

America is awash in lies, liars, and scams as well as books denouncing them, and this is among the best.

Simons, a professor of psychology, and Chabris, a cognitive scientist, are aware of the popularity of stories about scammers. In this collaboration, they deliver a steady stream of such tales in which the well known (Bernie Madoff, Elizabeth Holmes) barely scratch the surface. Mostly, scammers exploit habits that serve us well in daily life but make us easy prey. We believe what others tell us unless something seems fishy. We see what we expect to see. Without adequate critical thinking, it’s a formula for disaster. A respected psychology journal published a study in which subjects walking through dirty streets were more likely to think racist thoughts. Had the study—which turned out to be fake—reached the opposite conclusion, the editors might have paid more attention. We also tend to accept fascinating stories without question. Told that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg are college dropouts who became billionaires and then asked if dropouts are more likely to strike it rich, most subjects answer yes. In fact, nearly all billionaires are college graduates. The authors promote Ronald Reagan’s dictum about negotiating with the Soviet Union: “Trust, but verify.” Readers will agree but also admit that we readily distrust statements that contradict our beliefs and accept without question information we agree with. The authors present a delightful parade of fakery in which scammers compete with equally dishonest entrepreneurs, scientists, journalists, and politicians, with special attention to the psychologists. As to the “What We Can Do About It” in the title, Simons and Chabris prescribe easy, common-sense rules, not-so-easy-to-implement but excellent advice on researching dubious claims, and repeated warnings to question our deeply held beliefs and distrust gut feelings.

An outstanding guide to nonsense for critical readers.

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781541602236

Page Count: 336

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

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POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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