As you read this, the hard-working staff here is jetting off to a
family vacation corporate retreat in the land Down Under to think hard about how to make 2016 an even more productive year for Spoiler Alerts. Spoiler Alerts will continue to appear, but not quite at the usual pace.
Of course, it’s a long flight, and there’s bound to be some downtime between
making breakfast for the kids team-building exercises and mixing drinks for the adults brainstorming sessions. So here are five things I’m looking forward to reading during my travels. You should look forward to reading them too!
1) McKay Coppins, The Wilderness: Deep Inside the Republican Party’s Combative, Contentious, Chaotic Quest to Take Back the White House. Why does the 2016 race for the GOP nomination seem so screwed up? I don’t know if Coppins has all the answers in this book, but dear God does he have some fun tales to tell. I’ve been horrible, brutally wrong this year in my assessments of how things would play out in the GOP race. Hopefully I’ll learn something from reading this to be less wrong in 2016.
2) Ta Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me. You, my dear Post readers, are no doubt discriminating and active book connoisseurs. But I’m sure at some point in your reading lives, a book has come out that everyone else in your circle has read and raved about but you have yet to crack open. Maybe you still haven’t read “The Goldfinch,” or “Team of Rivals,” or Thucydides’ “History of the Peloponnesian War“ [Um, about that last one on the list, I’m not really sure that everyone…–ed. Oh, shut up!] The point is, I still haven’t read Coates, but I’m going to read him on this trip, dammit.
3) Dani Rodrik, Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science. My September post on economics and political science raised a lot of hackles/triggered a lot of pats on the back. But these are issues I’m still working out in my head, and I’m curious to read what economists think about this subject. As a heterodox thinker, Rodrik’s latest book on the strengths and weaknesses of his discipline should be very useful.
4) Evgeny Morozov, To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism. Morozov’s book came out in 2013, so it’s a little bit old. But as the debate about whether we’re in a disruption bubble has emerged, I need to take another look at Morozov’s cri de coeur against the Silicon Valley way of thinking about public policy.
5) Gordon Pennycook et al., “On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bulls—,” Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 10, No. 6, November 2015. I’m writing a book called The Ideas Industry, and it’s impossible to write such a book without wading into deep, deep layers of intellectual BS. As New York’s Jesse Singal notes, “Pseudo-profound bulls— is all over the place these days, especially in those less rationality-based corners of the discourse.” Why does it persist? This article offers a partial explanation by examining the receptivity of individuals to vacuous koans generated by sites like wisdomofchopra.com. Singal summarizes its findings here, but I want to see what these scholars of BS say for themselves.
Have a good end of December everyone, and remember to continue our long, arduous defense against the War on Jewish Christmas!!