The Art of Fact Investigation


A brief but comprehensive and enthusiastic guide to conducting thorough, legal investigations.

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A manual for readers interested in tracking down facts that others might prefer to keep hidden.

In this debut work, Segal draws on his decades of experience in law and journalism to provide an introduction to basic investigative techniques. He impresses upon readers that investigation is a complex process in which researchers may be unable to draw absolute conclusions, requiring them to make judgments or pursue new avenues. The book uses modern art as a metaphor: “Just as we can stare forever at Picasso’s work and not know the number of pears there are, we can look all we want at databases and public records, but we may need to move on to interviewing relatives and neighbors.” Segal provides a list of commonly used subscription databases and offers strategies for maximizing their usefulness as well as advice on using Google and other, more familiar sources. Throughout, he emphasizes the importance of following relevant laws, particularly for investigators whose work will be used in court; he offers plenty of cautionary tales about cases that were thrown out due to illegal information-gathering. He also includes several anecdotes from his own investigative work, demonstrating how his team located a divorcing spouse’s hidden assets, why it’s necessary to explore alternate spellings of words, and how a small investment in an interview can save thousands of dollars during a lawsuit’s discovery phase. Throughout, Segal maintains an engaging, conversational tone (“Relying only on Google is like giving a carpenter just one tool—a sledge hammer—and saying, ‘Build me a house’ ”), and the text is never dull. Appendices provide guidance for conducting interviews, locating assets, and getting to know public-records systems. The result is a valuable resource for investigators of all sorts, from students to professionals.

A brief but comprehensive and enthusiastic guide to conducting thorough, legal investigations.

Pub Date: April 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9969079-1-0

Page Count: 130

Publisher: Ignaz Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016


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


Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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