Top critical review
Useful ideas, disappointing presentation
Reviewed in the United States on July 17, 2017
This book is full of interesting and useful ideas about persuasion. It draws on findings from a wide range of research/experiments on decision making.
There are, however, a couple of aspects of its presentation that I find frustrating. First, the authors are often very brief when describing the experiments from which important lessons are drawn. With social science experiments such as these, where there are various factors that are difficult to control, I find it impossible to judge the validity, applicability, or limitations of their findings without considering the sampling methods, conditions under which the experiments are conducted, etc. It is true that the authors do provide footnotes that show where one can look up the papers presented by the various researchers. Assuming that a casual reader has access to all the academic journals concerned, it is unrealistic for him/her to make the enormous efforts to go through all of the very large amounts of background materials. The alternative would be to take the authors' words for granted, which is hardly the attitude to take when one considers evidence-based findings.
My second frustrations has to do with the authors' presentation of the 50 ideas as distinct lessons, without any attempt at grouping (say, based on related concepts or relative importance, etc). As such, I find it difficult when I try to remember the ideas, or refer back afterwards without having to flip through 50 chapters.