Sunday, June 6, 2010

Worst Book Review of All Time

The worst book review I've ever read.

Ehrenreich drives me nuts. She thinks that, without having any background in a subject, she can do a little research and make novel insights that have someone escaped everyone else. In her new book, she takes on positive psychology despite knowing nothing about psychology.

She, as the review notes, doesn't understand regressions or statistical significance. (She's doesn't understand what a categorical variable is either.) She does know how to ask asinine questions about dimensional analysis and note that the functional form might be misspecified. But she doesn't understand non-parametric regression, which makes her criticisms moot. Somehow, the reviewer takes all of this as the mark of genius.

The worst part, though, is the reviewer's conclusion, a collection of platitudes about how knowing the truth is more important than being happy. It makes his ignorance about positive psychology to obvious. Does he know "[s]tudies indicate that depressed individuals have more realistic views than non-depressed people?" Is he saying we should all become depressed, lest (to paraphrase) fantasy take precedence over reality?

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