NYC Event, Male Monkeys, LA Times
NYC book launch event + links and recommendations
I'm doing a book launch event at The Village Underground in New York City with on February 20 at 6pm. I’d love to see as many NYC-based readers there as possible.
I’m also doing a book event at AEI in Washington D.C. on February 27 at 11am and at 8VC in San Francisco on March 7 at 6pm. More info and details to RSVP soon.
From the archives:
My review of Tár (2022). In hindsight, this film did seem to either mark or reflect a shift in the culture. I was more intrigued, though, by the film’s portrayal of social class than what it said (or didn’t say) about sexual predation and MeToo.
Links and recommendations:
Dartmouth College recently became the first Ivy League school to reverse course and reinstate the SAT/ACT requirement. You can read my new op-ed about the importance of standardized testing in the Boston Globe here
My forthcoming book is (somehow) featured in The Los Angeles Times “10 books to add to your reading list in February." Genuinely surprised. Nice to get some love from the newspaper of my city of birth.
Great piece here. Unlike Tony Soprano who was born into it, Walter White deliberately, knowing full well the enormity of his decision, chose a life of crime. The same is true of Jesse Pinkman. He is shown to have been raised by an upper middle class family with parents who cared deeply for him. Jesse chooses a life of drugs and crime. This is what sets the show apart from other great dramas. Unlike the characters in The Sopranos, The Wire, The Shield, etc. Walt and Jesse couldn’t blame poverty or dysfunction or perverse organizational incentives. They consciously chose crime and violence over suburban tranquility.
How Do Violent Extremists Persuade People to Join Their Causes? by Lindsay Hahn
Three interesting findings:
1. Male monkeys will “pay” (forego a fruit juice reward) to view the genitals of female monkeys or the faces of high-status males, but require payment to view the faces of low-status males. (source).
2. In a mock legal decision-making study, participants were more likely to say that defendants with untrustworthy (vs. trustworthy) facial appearances were guilty. When researchers told participants about facial stereotypes, this reduced participants’ explicit belief that personality is reflected in facial features, but had no effect on their subsequent verdicts; they were still more likely to say defendants with untrustworthy faces were guilty. (source).
Relatedly, in his book Influence, psychologist Robert Cialdini reports research indicating that attractive defendants are twice as likely to avoid jail as unattractive ones. In a study on damages awarded in negligence trials, defendants who were better-looking than their victims had to pay an average of $5,623; but when the victim was more attractive, the average compensation was $10,051.
3. Among diverse groups, high testosterone correlates with poor performance and low testosterone correlates with high performance. In homogeneous groups, the effect is reversed such that homogeneous groups with high average testosterone perform better. (source). The researchers suggest that in diverse groups, testosterone increases competition and conflict within a group, which hinders group performance. Conversely, in a homogenous group, testosterone increases competition between groups, leading group members to cooperate and do what’s best to obtain victory.
My book will be officially out in less than 2 weeks, on February 20. But as an author, pre-orders can make or break a book. Preorders are how the booksellers, reviewers, and publishers judge interest in a title.
So if you’re sure you want to get it, please don’t wait! Thank you.
Audible (I narrated the audiobook myself)
I’ve spent several months compiling this list of the most interesting and impactful books I’ve ever read.
The list contains my mini-reviews summarizing each book and explaining its importance.
If you are interested in getting the list, just follow these two steps:
1. Pre-order a copy of Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class in whatever format you want (print, ebook, or audiobook)
2. Forward your receipt or proof of purchase to the email address email@example.com
Already purchased a copy? Just send your receipt or proof of purchase to firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll get the secret reading list right away.