A welcome antidote to apocalyptic thinking.

FEWER, RICHER, GREENER

PROSPECTS FOR HUMANITY IN AN AGE OF ABUNDANCE

Global threats—including climate change, nuclear proliferation, and pandemics—have people worried about the future of humanity. Siegel instead argues that there is good reason to be optimistic.

At the core of the author’s thesis is the idea that the population explosion is “just about over” and that this is welcome news. “It will almost certainly end in this century,” he writes. As countries experience increased affluence and lower death rates, couples tend to have fewer children. Aided by new technologies, which enhance productivity and reduce the need to own so many things, “we are on the verge of the greatest democratization of wealth and well-being that the world has ever known,” and we will be richer “not just in money and goods, but in food, health, longevity, education, culture, safety, and just about everything else that people need and crave.” Moreover, writes Siegel, this democratized economic wealth will lead to a greener planet through protective policies and eco-technologies. The author backs up his sanguine outlook by citing dozens of economists and researchers, both historical and modern. This glut of data, often presented visually in charts and graphs, is both enlightening and cumbersome. The narrative is a remarkable resource but not a casual read. Still, Siegel does a good job of moving through dense analysis using prose that anyone can understand. He also recognizes that reaching global affluence, peace, and health has significant challenges, though his certainty that they can be overcome might seem overly optimistic in light of many grim current events. Democratizing education and technology and solving the problem of resource allocation for a population living longer are crucial. Siegel’s most salient argument is perhaps our most important goal, and it’s not simple: Everyone, in particular younger generations, must believe it can be done and that they possess the tools and minds to make a difference.

A welcome antidote to apocalyptic thinking. (b/w photos, illustrations, charts, graphs)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-119-52689-6

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2020

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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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Smart, engaging sportswriting—good reading for organization builders as well as Pats fans.

THE DYNASTY

Action-packed tale of the building of the New England Patriots over the course of seven decades.

Prolific writer Benedict has long blended two interests—sports and business—and the Patriots are emblematic of both. Founded in 1959 as the Boston Patriots, the team built a strategic home field between that city and Providence. When original owner Billy Sullivan sold the flailing team in 1988, it was $126 million in the hole, a condition so dire that “Sullivan had to beg the NFL to release emergency funds so he could pay his players.” Victor Kiam, the razor magnate, bought the long since renamed New England Patriots, but rival Robert Kraft bought first the parking lots and then the stadium—and “it rankled Kiam that he bore all the risk as the owner of the team but virtually all of the revenue that the team generated went to Kraft.” Check and mate. Kraft finally took over the team in 1994. Kraft inherited coach Bill Parcells, who in turn brought in star quarterback Drew Bledsoe, “the Patriots’ most prized player.” However, as the book’s nimbly constructed opening recounts, in 2001, Bledsoe got smeared in a hit “so violent that players along the Patriots sideline compared the sound of the collision to a car crash.” After that, it was backup Tom Brady’s team. Gridiron nerds will debate whether Brady is the greatest QB and Bill Belichick the greatest coach the game has ever known, but certainly they’ve had their share of controversy. The infamous “Deflategate” incident of 2015 takes up plenty of space in the late pages of the narrative, and depending on how you read between the lines, Brady was either an accomplice or an unwitting beneficiary. Still, as the author writes, by that point Brady “had started in 223 straight regular-season games,” an enviable record on a team that itself has racked up impressive stats.

Smart, engaging sportswriting—good reading for organization builders as well as Pats fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982134-10-5

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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