A commendable, galvanizing, cautionary plea for increased consumer awareness that should inspire food-driven dialogue and...

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SPICED

THE GLOBAL MARKETING OF PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES

A motivational text addresses how certain foods become addictive and problematic.

In his book, international marketing authority and scholar Graham (International Marketing: 17th Edition, 2015, etc.) holds the often deceptive marketing initiatives for certain addictive foods he calls “spices” (“that is, something you don’t need”) directly responsible for their rampant misuse, overreliance, and overconsumption. “Government regulation of these spices is a hodgepodge of path-dependent political decision making that yields destructive consequences for the public health and society in general,” he implores. Urgent in tone, Graham’s guidebook targets a highly addictive grouping of “psychoactive substances” that contain the kind of alluring “hedonic compounds” necessary to ensnare an unknowing public into not only buying them, but also becoming reliant on them to enjoy everyday life. He begins with a declarative chapter on the nature and the machinations of today’s aggressive marketing industry and how it attracts human consumption, causes repetitive consumer purchases, and, with the promotion of cleverly bioengineered chemical compounds, entertains “our brains.” The bulk of his book lies in the dissection of key addictive ingestibles, like salt, sugar, chocolate, caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol, and their deleterious effects. But potent, controlled drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and opium are also skewered by the outspoken, authoritative author who spares no fact or opinion during his discussion of each. In an impassioned introduction, Graham first writes about his own experience with these consumables. The worst of the lot is perhaps alcohol, which the author notes “nearly killed me as a teenager. Thrice.” Graphs, charts, and sound evidentiary and referential research bolster already worrisome statistics on things like salt intake, sugar, caffeine, and nicotine consumption and compulsion, and their myriad health consequences. He further denounces the marketers, companies, campaigns, and their manipulations of these key ingredients in a particularly conclusive and damning closing section. Graham’s provocative, impeccably researched, and informative book makes powerful declarative statements about the nature of food addictions and the many components that make up how and why people consume what they do. But because Graham is a marketing guru and not a medical professional, his claims and advice for change should be taken in moderation and further investigated by readers and advocates desiring the definitive answers tailored to their own physical conditions.   

A commendable, galvanizing, cautionary plea for increased consumer awareness that should inspire food-driven dialogue and proactive discussion.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5372-8059-2

Page Count: 382

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2017

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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 deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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