Get Real: How To Tell It Like It Is In A World Of Illusions

Eliane Glaser

(Harper Collins, Rs. 299)

Looks are deceptive… It’s a line that’s never been truer than it is in today’s world. Sample this: oil corporations trumpet their green credentials; public-spending cuts that target the poor are billed as ‘giving power to the people’; and employees seem relaxed as they play table football in spacious offices but, in reality, are working longer hours than ever before.

With the blurring of lines when it comes to conflicts — between East and West or the Right and Left, old ideologies are supposedly being consigned to history. That’s not true, argues Eliane Glaser in this book. She says they never really went away — they just went undercover, creating a looking-glass world in which reality is spun and crude vested interests appear in new disguises. We live in a world of illusion, persuasion and coercion where truth is cleverly concealed. But she believes it is to get real.

This book is an entertaining guide to spotting and decoding the delusions we live under — from ‘revolutionary’ plus-size models to ‘world-saving’ organic vegetables; from heavily scripted and edited ‘reality’ TV to ‘life-changing’ iPhone apps. Busting the jargon and unravelling the spin, the book reveals secrets about modern life that we were never supposed to know.

The Hour Between Dog And Wolf: Risk Taking, Gut Feelings And The Biology Of Boom And Bust

John Coates

(Harper Collins, Rs. 399)

Dr. John Coates, a successful Wall Street trader turned Cambridge neuroscientist, reveals how boom and bust can lead to health risks, driving us to extremes of euphoria and risky behaviour or stress and depression.

In this series of groundbreaking experiments, Coates identifies a connection between testosterone and success that dramatically lowers the fear of risk in men, especially younger men — significantly, the fear of risk is not reduced in women. Similarly, intense failure leads to a rise in levels of cortisol, the anti-testosterone hormone that lowers the appetite for risk across an entire spectrum of decisions.

This book talks of Coates’ research and tells the story of fictional traders who get caught up in a bubble and then a crash. As these traders place their bets and live with the results, Coates looks inside their bodies to describe the physiology driving them to irrational exuberance and then pessimism.

His conclusions are relevant for all types of high-pressure decision making — from the sports field to the battlefield. Finally, it’s not mind over body; it’s about mind and body working together. An interesting read for those interested in science, especially the functioning of the brain and the mind, as well as health.

Positive Linking: How Networks Can Revolutionise The World

Paul Ormerod

(Penguin India, Rs. 599)

As our societies become more and more wired and intertwined, network effects on every level are increasingly profound. ‘Nudge theory’ is popular, but only part of the answer. Positive linking is another solution.

Our social and economic worlds have been revolutionised by an increase in our awareness of the choices, decisions, behaviour and opinions of other people. For the first time in human history, more than half of us live in cities, and this combined with the Internet has transformed communications. Network effects — the fact that a person can and often does decide to change his or her behaviour simply on the basis of copying what others do — pervade the modern world.

In this book, Ormerod talks about what economists need to do, how they have to shift to more subtle, effective and successful policies, ones which harness our knowledge of network effects and make them effective.

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Between the CoversSeptember 12, 2012

Between the CoversAugust 29, 2012