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Tashiro offers little revelatory information, but it helps to know that you are not alone.

An academic and psychologist examines the “quirks and unique talents of awkward individuals” and why it’s not so bad to be awkward.

Combining research and anecdote, Tashiro (The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love, 2014) suggests that a certain amount of awkwardness is perfectly normal, that a little more can provide a series of learning experiences, and that any diagnosis short of autism might be handled in-house or with the help of a good therapist. As he writes, the author was socially awkward and is still recognized as such by some of his friends, though he proceeds to show how he met what in his case were mild challenges: “I am awkward by nature but socially proficient by nurture.” Such nurture comes in the form of training and advice, learning the consequences of some behavior, and becoming more adept at navigating social interaction. “Three important cues,” he writes, “tend to give awkward individuals trouble: nonverbal behaviors, facial expressions, and decoding language used during social conversations.” Awkward people tend to have a tighter focus and more obsessive routines; they are better at following rules than deciphering clues. They may not look others in the eye, and they tend to lecture rather than converse (when they are not alone, where they feel more comfortable). Sometimes awkwardness correlates with giftedness and thus standing apart. The awkward must learn what seems to come more naturally to others, to recognize the importance of social belonging, and to extend their comfort zones to include others. The cultural shift to the internet, in areas ranging from business communication to dating, can complicate the challenge, making cues more difficult to decipher without facial expression and tone of voice. Yet the author assures that awkwardness can be a gift and that one can be grateful for it—because he is.

Tashiro offers little revelatory information, but it helps to know that you are not alone.

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-242915-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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

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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 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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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