A random digest of recondite terms that may be inaccessible to most.

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The Dimensional Psychologist's Toolkit

OR, THE SO-CALLED SERIOUS JOKE BOOK; THE DIMENSIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA, SECOND VOLUME

Coppedge (The Dimensional Philosopher’s Toolkit, 2013) explores obscure notions of psychology in this collection of ruminations.

The author introduces his work by saying, “I am writing this book out of my obligation as a potentially eminent typologist.” This sense of hubris appears throughout his dictionarylike series of psychological principles. The stated intention is “to provide an original standpoint on conventional principles.” The challenge for the reader is in trying to understand the text. Its structure is an encyclopedic list of arcane psychological concepts—Itineralism; Nariety of Malapropism; Semblancy as Precondition—that often requires multiple readings to grasp some meaning. Some of the entries are images rather than text, but little explanation of these diagrams, via words or images, occurs. In a few select instances, fragments of text seem logical but only when taken out of context. For example, in the entry “Fear - Basis of,” the author notes “a pattern that emerges that knowledge should but does not resolve the problem of fear”; “Fetishistic Determinism” “[e]xplains why many objects have appeal when the person cannot necessarily argue for the object’s purpose, significance, or appeal.” But these intelligible entries are rare. Coppedge often further divides his listings into sections, breaking the concepts down into stages, types or categories, creating greater intricacy and confusion. For example, under the heading “Mentation,” he offers four types—Occupied, Distracted, Compelled and Open—and within those, four stages. Some unfamiliar terms are left undefined—“qua genus,” “agons,” “haptics.” It’s unclear who this book is designed for and what qualifications Coppedge possesses. He refers to himself as a philosopher. The book’s subtitle, “or, The So-Called Serious Joke Book,” remains a conundrum as well. Those with a taste for the esoteric and a love of complex psychology might enjoy this work.

A random digest of recondite terms that may be inaccessible to most.

Pub Date: March 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-1494807238

Page Count: 388

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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