A consistently engrossing guide to trend forecasting.

NON-OBVIOUS MEGATRENDS

A business book aimed at readers who want to predict the next big thing.

Bhargava (Likeonomics, 2012, etc.) got his start as a brand and marketing strategist by identifying the ways that society is changing and flowing, including how social media affects one’s identity and how companies work to deepen their social responsibility. He’s the creator of the Non-Obvious Trend Report, “one of the most widely read collections of future insights in the world,” which he’s put out annually for the last decade. This book’s first part focuses on “non-obvious thinking,” or noticing patterns where others see only random occurrences. He goes through his own noticing process and how he winnows down many different ideas, seeks validating research, and chooses the best possible trends for a given year. In the book’s second section, his focus shifts to 10 overarching trends, called “megatrends.” Each gets its own chapter, with subsections that clearly explain what the megatrend is, how it connects to research or societal examples, and ways to leverage this trend in one’s own life; he also provides a flowchart that depicts how elements of other trends, from past years, contributed to it. For instance, the megatrend “Amplified Identity” is summed up as follows: “As individualism rises globally, people are carefully cultivating how they are perceived both online and offline, chasing stardom, and making themselves vulnerable to criticism in the process”; it’s connected to the trends “Everyday Stardom” and “Selfie Confidence” from 2015. Finally, the third part offers quick evaluations of the accuracy and longevity of past years’ trend reports, offering a refreshingly candid look at how predictions can be inaccurate. The conclusion is a short, irreverent reminder that no single trend persists forever and that outlandish ones often die out quickly. A recommended reading section offers intriguing books on each of the megatrend topics. Throughout, Bhargava offers clear and straightforward prose, and his engaging, well-spaced graphic elements make the text more interactive.

A consistently engrossing guide to trend forecasting.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-940858-96-8

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Ideapress Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 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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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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