Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Review of In Defense of Troublemakers: The Power of Dissent in Life and Business by Charlan Jeanne Nemeth

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:

Short Description


Elaborate Description

Overview:

This is a book on how to raise decision making quality.  While searching for consensus hurts decision making, dissent improves decision making.  Assuming the majorities claims narrows thinking and creates poorer decisions.  People speak from the majorities perspective even if the individual is not part of the majority.  Dissent broadens thinking by opening up alternative perspectives.  The benefits of dissent are that thinking becomes more divergent, creative, and creates a search for information about the claims raised.  A reason for not raising alternative ideas is the fear of being ridiculed or rejected.  There are ways to reduce persecution such as anonymity.  Dissent should not be created for its own sake, but should be permitted and embraces when it is present.  By not speaking up, the group suffers and misses opportunities.  What matters for the dissenter is how to argue their ideas, as their ideas allow the group to see those different opportunities, some of which can be much better.  

Consensus is a problem when it goes unchallenged.  When the majority has a position, they influence just because of their numbers.  Facts matter little when people think that the number of people who believe something are more likely to be correct.  People can follow the majority whether it is correct or wrong.  Majorities get public agreement without the people believing the majority position.  

Dissent provides value, even when it is wrong, as it breaks blind following of the majority, and it motivates consideration of alternatives.  Dissenter minority voice influences by reason.  Persuasion by dissenter is time consuming, usually indirect, and contains an artful argumentative style.  Consistency in the dissenter is needed for persuasion, but it is not sufficient.  Dissenters change minds in private rather than publicly.  People tend to agree with dissenters in private, but resist in public.

Playing devil’s advocate does not necessarily work because its not authentic dissent, and as such does not stimulate divergent thinking.  Not criticizing others ideas is not a good tactic as it prevents consideration of the alternatives.  


Caveats?

This book is well written to support those who think differently.  Some caveats of the book include research quality and support for dissent.  

Research that is meant to support the claims have mixed quality.  Some are practical and can be applied to real life, others are to abstract to be appropriate supports of the claims made.  The research needs to be considered more carefully before applying some of the claims.  

This book is very partial in disapproving majority thinking, while only supporting dissent.  Although the reasons to favor listening to dissenters and questioning majority are marvelous, it does reduce the complexity of real life which can prevent appropriate application.  There are reasons that people dissent which does not add value to decision making.  The dissenters can have their own motivations which are not for the benefit of the majority, and prevent majority decision which can help the many.  Sometimes dissenters can prevent quality decision making by the majority by coming up with erroneous alternatives.  Too much dissent can be problematic as well.

There is an attempt in making a case for how to go about with a dissent, but it needs a lot of work as there are many ways in which a dissenter who is right can project their views in a manner that makes them appear wrong.  As in, the way a dissenter presents the information, the dissenter can prevent a search for information rather than inspire the search. 


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What makes decision making better and worse? 
•How does the majority influence decisions?  How does the minority?
•Are majorities always right?
•What do dissenters provide? 
•Why do individuals not raise alternative ideas?
•Should dissent be created? 
•How to argue?
•How not to be succumbed by the majority?
•Can the majority become tyranny? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780465096305
Pages to read:   137
Publication:     2018
1st Edition:      2018
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           4

Monday, November 29, 2021

Review of Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemo─člu, James A. Robinson

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Economics, History

Short Description

Elaborate Description

Overview:

Political and economic institutions shape incentives for everyone in the society.  Political and economic rules are created and enforced by citizens and state.  While the economic system shapes how people earn an income, trade, and innovate, it is the political process that determines under what economic system people live under.  Inclusive economic institution encourage participation of everyone in economic activity by unbiased laws, property rights, public services, level playing field for exchange and contract, entry of new business, and individual’s ability to choose their careers.  Extractive economic institutions have the inverse properties of inclusive economic institutions, and extract wealth from society to the benefit of a few.  Societies choose their economic system through the political process in which they decide what rules to enforce.  There is synergy between inclusive political and economic institutions, as there is synergy between extractive political and economic institutions, because those in power will try to retain their status.  

Inclusive economic institutions facilitate a willingness of individuals to partake in economic activity knowing that their output will not be arbitrarily taken.  As individuals will get rewarded for their output, they are more willing to invest and increase productivity.  Inclusive economic institutions create inclusive markets that provide individuals with the same opportunities to utilize their talents.  Facilitate obtaining skills and work suited for the individual.  Inclusive political institutions have power broadly distributed, and constrain arbitrary power.  They have elected representatives which are replaced when they misbehave.  

Extractive political institutions do not have many constraints on exercise of power.  Leading to extractive economic institutions which are structured to extract resources from the rest of society.  To extract wealth, extractive institutions do need some way to stimulate economic activity.  Limited prosperity directed to benefit the few.  They exclude their citizens from participating in political decisions.  

Creative destruction can create different losers and winners.  Those who might lose from creative destruction fear inclusive economic and political institutions.  Those controlling political power can limit competition to prevent degradation of their privileges.  

Critical junctures are events which can disrupt societies political mix.  They can break the vicious cycle of extractive institutions, or can endanger inclusive institutions.   Inclusive economic and political institutions tend to emerge after a conflict, as there are powers wanting to maintain the status quo.  In many cases, conquerors could not coerce labor.  The tools they used were instead to incentive labor.  To get people to want to work.  

Many public services can be provided by the market, but the state has a unique ability to coordinate on a large scale.  Markets are not free from becoming extractive when few firms control most of the market.  Needing a kind of political centralization to provide law and order.  To enable coordination without obtaining monopoly powers that lead to extractive institutions. 


Caveats?

This book provides an easy read and a very good understanding of how political and economic institutions shape inequality.  Using historical analysis to bring about that understanding.  The problem is that there are many issues and inconsistencies in the book.  

The focus of the book is only on political and economic institutions, while eager to dismiss the alterative views of geography, culture, and knowledge as factors in inequality.  Those factors might not explain everything, but they have shaped what the political and economic institutions people live under.  Therein also lies an inconsistency, as during certain parts of the book, the authors used geography, culture, and knowledge as reasons for obtaining certain types of political and economic institutions. 

The historical examples quality is mixed.  Sometimes there is an in-depth background into the problems of a nation.  Other times, incidents are given and described in terms of only inclusive or extractive economic and political institutions, but there were a lot more to the events which can provide a different understanding.  There is a lot of history in this book, mainly with the start of the Industrial Revolution, but even during the low historical quality events, it enables the reader to search for more information on the nations.  

There is an inconsistency in which inclusive and extractive institutions are described.  It appears that inclusive political institutions only produce inclusive economic systems, while extractive political systems only produce extractive economic systems.  As in, there appears to be a separation between inclusive and extractive institution.  The problem is that economies have a mixture of both inclusive and extractive institutions.  In the histories presented, there were turns to and from inclusive or extractive institutions.  Which means, and the author do make the claim, that there as conflict between those within the nations on the opposing sides.  Not realistic for a society to be completely inclusive, while it may appear that complete extraction is possible. 

The issue of the mixture of inclusive and extractive institutions brings up an associated idea of dependency on the past.  It appears that there is no way to change the inclusive or extractive institutions without critical junctures.  Critical junctures appear random, but this might be because their outcomes during their time were uncertain.  The problem is that the conflicts and events of the critical junctures, had social backing and their own precedence.  Not very predictable ones, but did require some impetus before the critical juncture.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What are political institutions?
•What are economic institutions?
•What makes political and economic institutions inclusive?  What makes them extractive?
•Why do inclusive institutions create more inclusion while extractive institutions keep extracting?
•Who creates the rules?  Who enforces the rules? 
•What is creative destruction? 
•Why are critical junctures important? 
•Why is government needed? 
•What is the dual economy?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780307719218
Pages to read:   462
Publication:     2012
1st Edition:      2012
Format:            Hardcover

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          4
Overall           4


Friday, November 26, 2021

Review of The Secret Formula of Strategic Thinkers: Winning Steps for Sustained Success by Cory Smith

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Intriguing Connections = Why Do People Think Differently?

Short Description

Elaborate Description

Overview:

Chess is more than just a game, it is a mindset.  Chess provides a way of thinking that can be beneficial to everyday life.  Such as influencing the outcome of a situation by applying strategies.  Planning ahead orients decisions to conform with set goals.  Which facilitates control of what happens, rather than life just happening.  Strategy involves utilizing available resources towards an objective.  Adjusting the objective to become realistic and achievable.  Strategy involves a conflict between interest and resolution.  Strategy allows the individual to overcome obstacles.  Much like in chess, the more information is known, the more informed strategies become.  A way to obtain more information is by looking at situations from different perspectives.  Becoming a strategic thinker requires the individual to know one’s self.  This book being a general guide to getting to know one’s self, to obtain self-knowledge.  


Caveats?

This book is easy to read, but has many inconsistencies.  The basic premise is to use chess skills in real life.  The problem is that chess and life have different complexities.  In chess, rules rarely change.  Learned rules can easily apply to future scenarios.  While in life, rules change quickly.  What was successful recently, cannot easily become applicable moving forward.  Life cannot be manipulated as pieces in chess. 

Part of the book requires a bit of cognitive dissonance, or maybe the language needs to be made more consistent.  The cognitive dissonance comes how much control an individual has over their lives.  From seeing the outcome of a plan static and trying to fulfill it, but also being fluid.  As in that the individual can control the outcome, but also not really.  There is an acknowledgement that the future is uncertain, but most claims are for controlling an outcome.  Individual’s may have some control over their lives, but the book reads as if individual’s control everything about their lives.  

This book sets up many self-help guidelines.  The problem is that they can help or can hurt.  There are many different ways of achieving some of the general claims of self-help virtues, but different people will need to find their own way of achieving them.  The tasks need to be put in context with individual values.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•How can chess be applied to everyday thinking?
•What is a strategy?
•Why should plans be made?
•How to get more informed strategies?
•How does an individual learn about one’s self?
•How much control over the outcome does an individual have?

Book Details
My version was provided by NetGalley
Edition ISBN:  9798498933863
Pages to read:   76
Publication:     2021
1st Edition:      2021
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          3
Overall           3

Monday, November 22, 2021

Review of The Clash of Economic Ideas by Lawrence H. White

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Economics
Intriguing Connections = 1) Learning Economics: Basic to Advanced,


Short Description

Elaborate Description

Overview:

Economic ideas clashed on the role of government and the process of competition.  Discussing the different roles of monetary policy to economic crisis management.  Many of the ideas were taken up by governments, creating experiments which determined which ideas had merit and problems.  All ideas presented had problems with application.  What matters is how to ameliorate the ideas.  Not only are economic ideas disputed, but whether economic ideas themselves hold value.  From those that consider them useless given that those in power will utilize policies which are then adopted by academics who maintain the views.  To application of even derelict ideas to the detriment of policy.  No matter the claims of economists, many ideas and policies persist, even those that contradict their claims.  While academics discuss the economy as is, policy advice is laden with what the economy should be.  

Socialism is normally described as government control over various aspects of the economy.  But there are different techniques involved in commanding the economy.  Capitalism is normally described leaving the economy in the guidance of private control directed by profit and loss.  But there is a need to delineate capitalism guided by the government known as state and crony capitalism from the guide of free market as free-market capitalism.  Those promoting decentralized ownership with competitive markets wanted them for the benefit of workers and consumers, not businessmen.  

Some of the leading figures in the clash of economic ideas were John Maynard Keynes, and F.A. Hayek.  While Keynes wanted government to take more control over the economy, but did not want to abolish the market.  Hayek wanted to reduce government’s interference with market forces, but did not want to abolish the government.   

The price system enables coordination between individuals.  When the Bolsheviks outlawed private property, they removed the price system which led to economic disaster.  As the alternative was starvation, many sectors of the economy readmitted market exchange, which improved economic conditions.  The profit system decentralizes production decision makers, while discouraging wasteful decisions.  The market economy acts as a discovery mechanism of alternative options.  


Caveats?

The book is sometimes well written, other times more difficult.  The problem is that for some chapters and ideas, it is less a clash and more a bash of ideas.  In which the perceived wrong idea is not necessarily given an appropriate understanding to what the idea entails, and as to why there were individuals who believe them. 


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Do economic ideas have value?
•What is the appropriate role for the government?
•What is socialism?
•What is capitalism?
•What happens when government take too much control of the economy?
•What happens when markets take too much control of the economy?
•What influence did economic ideas have on policies?
•Were the policies that used the economic ideas, use them appropriately?
•Why is there disagreement between economic ideas?
•What were some monetary policy disagreements?
•What were the different views on the making of an economic crisis?  How did economists want to resolve economic crisis? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9781139366038
Pages to read:   494
Publication:     2012
1st Edition:      2012
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          3
Overall           3

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Review of An International Economy: Problems and Prospects by Gunnar Myrdal

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Economics

Short Description

Elaborate Description

Overview:

Integration refers to national communities being brought closer to interdependence by internal and mutual adjustments.  Economic integration is an ideal in which everyone gets access to the same opportunities no matter the background of the individual.  Requiring changing social norms.  The problem is that policy cannot easily change the reality of the vast differences in people’s beliefs, interests, cultures, and other differences.  Liberalization of international trade on its own cannot affect integration.  Trade can widen the gap between living standards, and can perpetuate stagnation in underdeveloped regions.  While richer countries advance, poorer countries either stagnate or progress slower.  National integration and regional cooperation are needed to gain bargaining power, which is needed for political balance.

This book showcases the problems with integration such as with industrialization, certain regions has led to the exploitation of natural resources.  When populations urbanized, it broke down social ties and enforced mobility.  Those in power want economic development, but to get it without changing the social structure in which they have been the beneficiaries.


Caveats?

This book is very difficult to read.  Makes it hard to understand the important issues presented.  The book was written for contemporaries of the 1950s, and as such, contains many events that are no longer very applicable to current situations.   General insights can be gained, but to understand the specifics would require background knowledge into the issues of the time.   As the book focuses on problems of development, it can appear that the author is against the development of economies.


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What is economic integration?  
•What is the difference between national and international integration?
•Why does integration challenge regional differences?
•What is the impact of trade?
•How can economies develop?
•Who does not want to develop their economies?
•Should trade be regulated?

Book Details
Edition Library of Congress:  5412156
Pages to read:   343
Publication:     1956
1st Edition:      1956
Format:            Hardcover

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    1
Content          2
Overall           1