Monday, May 21, 2012

Wait by Frank Partnoy (ARC)

Quick, from the title alone, what's book is the opposite of this? If you said Blink by Malcom Gladwell, then you and I have the same thought process. The subtitle of this book is "The Art and Science of Delay", which is so different from the thin-slicing concept in Blink. But, apart from the subject matter, both books feel similar - they're written in an enjoying way (well, there's another part about the essence of the book, but I don't know how to describe a book's character through mere words).

This book, like Blink, explores the decision-making process. Only in this case, they advise waiting as long as possible. Even for the superfast sports, like Baseball, the experts wait as long as possible before making their move. Hence, we should also do likewise (between these two disparate statements is a fairly long and convincing explanation). Of course, the book also goes on to show how we can possible control these reactions (and biases in thin-slicing).

The book actually has a survey you can take here to see how you deal with time. I haven't taken it yet, but I will (when I finish procrastinating, which apparently may not be a bad thing).

The only problem I had with the book was with the first chapter, where it keeps talking about the evolutionary role. I don't think evolution is true (or even convincing), so to me, this whole reptile-throwback stuff is unbelievable. Why can't we just say that we have two such parallel systems? How does it enhance the theory?

Otherwise, the book was really good. Most of the research presented is interesting and fairly convincing, although I have no way of telling if there's any cherry-picking going on. A wide range of subject matter, from Fight Club to a It's Just Lunch (a dating service) is used to illustrate the various points in the chapter.

In fact, one of my favourite things learnt involves the subconscious influence (and I sent it off as a "quote of the day" to my friends and cousins. It goes about how research shows that if you want to cram for an exam, or just finish reading faster, you should go to MacDonalds. My really smart friend (Aggy, it's you!) that the red and orange in the place physiologically makes you feel energised and want to rush.

Apart from that, I really like the quote on how "Two of the skills that many students develop in college are the ability to manage their time throughout a semester, and the ability to cram for an exam or quickly finish a term paper at the semester's end. Students who are required to finish an assignment every week may not develop these skills." I shall go out on a limb and assume that the second sentence means that your grade is completely/largely not dependent on a major exam but is consistent. Well, apart from university, IB will do fine too. While I like the whole "working constantly" thing that IB taught me -time management!- (and I'm using it now if TUFS), there were major assignments and exams too. Which is why when, for example, we have a maths portfolio (it's a math essay), you'll notice that the amount of sleep that goes down beyond the normal levels as everyone rushes to finish the portfolio/essay.

Well, basically, this is a really interesting book. If you need a non-fiction read, you should really put this on your reading list.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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