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paigeawesome

paigeawesome

Currently reading

The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel
Rachel Joyce
Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Oceans' Oddest Creatures and Why They Matter
Ellen J. Prager
You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself - David McRaney 2 or 2 1/2 stars. Why oh why do I get suckered into pop psychology again and again?

This book started out as a blog and maybe it should have stayed that way. It seems like great material for a blog and I've actually started following it in my RSS reader. But a published book? Not so much...

Mostly the delivery rubbed me the wrong way. My first thought about this book was, "Wow, so there really IS a reason English teachers tell you not to write in the second person--it is SUPER annoying." An article or blog post at a time isn't so bad, but when we're talking book-length... Also, for a "self-described psychology nerd," someone who spends a great deal of time and I would assume effort learning about this subject, it seemed like he didn't have all that much respect for the material. For example: "You should always be the first person to break away from the pack and offer help--or attempt escape--because you can be certain no one else will."
Ahh yes...

SCIENCE!!
Should. Always. Certain. No one else. It's even more annoying because the data he JUST cited refutes this statement. He does things like this a few times--make statements that are contradicted by things he JUST CITED. When I took this complaint to Peter, he said that that sort of writing "appeals to the masses" with its "accessibility factor." Well. He just might have a point. But I was still LKSKDfjsdlfasdDSFing about it.

In another example, he talks about Littlewood's Law, stating "He said the average person is alert for about eight hours every day, and something happens to the average person about once a second." O OK. I guess that clears everything up then. ?!?! I suppose you could be more vague if you tried...but you would have to try hard. Please, author, define "something." Without even the attempt to tell us what "something" means in this context, the sentence is worthless. Do sounds a person hears count as "something" that "happens" to them? Words they see? The effect of gravity on their body? The feeling of their socks on their feet? The fact that their cells are metabolizing? Thoughts drifting through their head? The bombardment of UV rays? You can make the argument that billions of things are happening to a person every second, but you gotta set up some kind of definition, some loose parameter of what this "something" that is happening to "the average person" once a second IS. That kind of stuff really doesn't meet my criteria for information or truth.

"If a celebrity basketball player tells you to buy a particular brand of batteries, ask yourself if the basketball player seems like an expert on electrochemical energy storage units before you take the player's word." Right. ...And this is supposed to be changing my world view, my perception of myself, as promised by the book's introduction? The author seems to be under the impression that he providing revelations to unknown mysteries... in really small, easy to digest pieces with moralizing & free advice thrown in.

I think some of my frustration also comes from having been introduced to most of these concepts already--hell, I've written essays and done 40 minute presentations on a few of them. So maybe I'm not really the target audience in the first place. A lot of this information has been out there for a long time, cited all over the place in books and articles. There were a couple of new ideas for me, and I'm appreciative of them, but mostly, as you might guess when a small book has 270 pages & 50 topics, the coverage is shallow. I got a bit over 100 pages in before I put it down. I have it out from the library and I'll probably pick it up to read a few sections every day until its due date. It's not that it's BAD, it just wasn't what I was looking for and the tone rubbed me the wrong way. There are people I would recommend this to; if you have never learned about any kind of social science and/or applied it to yourself, never examined your own headspace or wondered about people, it would probably be entertaining and enlightening. I'm saying, At least he cites sources.