SUGGESTIBLE YOU

THE CURIOUS SCIENCE OF YOUR BRAIN'S ABILITY TO DECEIVE, TRANSFORM, AND HEAL

An eye-opening exploration of the intersection between philosophy and science and a fascinating peek into our innermost...

The human mind is capable of astonishing feats, but does it hold the power to alleviate pain, or even cure disease, simply through suggestibility?

The placebo effect, in which an inert substance relieves symptoms simply because the patient thinks it’s an active pill, is among the most fascinating subjects in medicine. The importance of the placebo effect is so integral to clinical trials that no pharmaceutical study is permitted unless it compares the results of medicated subjects with those of a placebo group. In his compelling book, Discover contributing editor Vance, whose writing has appeared in Harper’s, the New York Times, Scientific American, and elsewhere, chronicles his travels around the world and through history to detail the unexpected ways our lives and outlooks are affected by similar forms of suggestibility. Raised as a Christian Scientist, the author grew up in a community that believed God’s healing power alone could cure any ailment. In an enthralling anecdote, he relives his recovery from Legionnaires’ disease as a toddler and how the turning point of his near-death experience was his mother’s abandonment of fear and trust in God. This is not to say that Vance is advocating religion in lieu of antibiotics—far from it—but in this and many other first-person narratives, he challenges traditional views on the effect of expectation, or suggestibility, on the physical body. He shows that modern neuroscience supports this line of inquiry. Brain chemistry has long been known to affect mood, regulate pain, and even affect gastrointestinal health, and cutting-edge techniques to map brain activity provide new insight. As the author frequently points out, if scientists are able to apply clinical data to the age-old mind-body problem, it may be possible to personalize medicine to an extent never before dreamed of.

An eye-opening exploration of the intersection between philosophy and science and a fascinating peek into our innermost selves.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4262-1789-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

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

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. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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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