Book Recommendation: The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley

“What? The end? Already?” – that was my reaction when I ran into page 232 of .“The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why” by Amanda Ripley I started reading it only two days ago, and could not stop – on the subway, on the train, and during breakfast.

Ms Ripley created a great book that explores human reaction to disasters and high-stress situations. She has done extensive research in the topic and provided a number of examples ranging from Halifax Explosion to 9/11 and Katrina to Holy Ground Stampede illustrating how we, as humans, behave and what we can do psychologically to stand a better chance if we find ourselves in a high-stress situation. She mentions that this is not a book on how to pack an emergency kit, but how to prepare yourself mentally. The book is very well written, read easily and provides vivid examples.

Some of the topics covered: Fear, Heroism, Stages one goes through in disaster. Post-9/11 security theater also got a few well-deserved jabs. One of important secondary points is how we (mis)evaluate risk and assign higher probabilities to events that in reality are not very likely to occur and what happens as a result. Another book on this topic that I highly recommend is “Beyond Fear” by Bruce Schneier

From Ms. Ripley’s blog, I found out that she is currently working on a book on another topic that interests me greatly – American educational system as compared to other countries. Ms. Ripley certainly has one buyer signed up now. 😉

Overall The Unthinkable is most definitely a highly recommended book!

Lie To Me

It all started with blog entry by Alex Exler about TV show Lie to Me. I’m no fan of most of the TV shows, but I respect Exler’s opinion and I’ve enjoyed many movies he praised (that’s how i got hooked on House MD). So, I decided to see an episode, and it just happened so that yesterday released the season opening. so, right after i was done with Nut House, i switched to Lie to Me. One reaction – awesome. But this is just a start.
Today, during the lunchtime, being the internet junkie that i am, i decided to dig up more information on the show.

Here is some cool stuff:

  • Dr. Cal Lightman is modelled after real-life person, Dr. Paul Ekman who is considered one of the 100 most eminent psychologists of 20th century. 
  • Dr. Ekman lead a project called Diogenes (and later) Wizards Project which identified 50 people (out of 20,000) who had natural ability to spot a liar with a much higher probability than Average Joe. That’s pretty cool. Those people were known as the Truth Wizards.
  • One of Truth Wizards has a website and a blog dedicated to the topic.

Not sure if i’ll get hooked on Lie to Me, but given my early interests in psychology and non-verbal communication, I know, i got something to read for the next few weeks.