Saturday, February 21, 2015

Year of No Sugar book review

Strawberrycake; taken by:Petr Kratochvil; source:freestockphotos.bizI'm a sucker for stunt journalism accounts and when this came on my radar I just couldn't resist. In Year of No Sugar author Eve O Schaub details her family's project of living one  year without eating anything with added sugar. On the whole it is a mixed bag. On one hand she gives a full account of her experiences, strategies, rationale and, what many from these category botch but not her, an extended after-project discussion for her year; on the other, we find questionable  design of these same strategies, no hard numbers resulting from the project and what must deter many, mounds of repetition. She and her family do complete their year on their terms, which brings hope for the rest of us, and she comes across as likable and funny and witty at times, but the important parts tend to get lost in the everyday minutiae. An abridged edition would be welcome, but until then, read-skimming might be the best path. For my part, it has made me more aware of what I'm putting into my mouth and confirmed me in some of my antisugar biases.

3 stars

Update 11/12/16: Wrote some verses on fructose just because I thought it funny.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Reading formal Psychology: questions

title: a-beautiful-young-woman-in-business-attire; source: ; taken by: Benjamin MillerAs part of my ongoing project to read the Great Books I have decided to retake psychology from the ground up to better prepare me for James's Principles of Psychology and Freud's works. Looking around for textbooks, I decided upon Understanding Psychology by Morris and Maisto. It is shorter than Gross' and appears to be even more substantial than Feldman's and even better organized. Hazlitt advices thinking by oneself about the subject before embarking in a reading. This is part of the list of questions that I have come up with:
  • Why has behaviorism declined? Is it still useful? If so, how and when?
  • Does punishing children work? Any good alternatives?
  • What psychology has to say about strengthening one's willpower and concentration?
  • Is there an overarching psychology system? Many of the discoveries of different psychologists, even though they are interesting in themselves, seem to be unconnected to one another. Is there a way to distinguish when to apply the results and methods from classical experiments, and more recent ones, to a given case or problem?
  • Has Freud been superseded? Does his methods still work? How do they fit with contemporary psychology?
  • Where does mind come from?
  • Can one make oneself 'unflappable'?
  • Where do language problems come from?
  • What has psychology has to say about controlling one's anger and fear?
  • Is repression really bad? Can one avoid bad outcomes?
  • Is intelligence set? Can one do anything about one's endowment? For us, regular people, is there a way to use our mind's resources better or more efficiently? How about the senses?
  • Is it bad to practice makeshift psychology?
  • What is the future of psychology like?
I do not expect to have all my questions answered, but I feel that the textbook will set me on the road to discovery. After finishing it, I plan to give myself ample time to read Russell's Analysis of Mind (not particularly recommended by anyone, but it looks interesting and has some philosophical slant) and then proceed to the Great Books on psychology proper. For this project I'm having  as backup texts DK's The Psychology Book, which quickly sheds light on some obscure psychologist or other on demand and Hunt's The Story of Psychology.  Both I recommend.