on September 29, 2015
Everything irrelevant s covered in this book, and the material is well organized, but the writing is atrocious and the presentation disorganized. Topic after topic is discussed without any conclusion being drawn so that over and over one is left asking oneself - huh? One is left with the impression that the authors hurriedly dictated their thoughts into a dictaphone as they occurred to them just before leaving to attend a meeting or give a lecture. Research findings are summarized to explain the points made in such a cursory manner that they add little to the conclusion they were supposed to explain. Had the authors just employed topic sentences it would have done much to mitigate the confusion created by the poor organization of the material discussed. Instead, the authors often launch into a summary of some research leaving the reader with no clue as to where it is all going, and before the reader can draw his or her own conclusion of what it means, they then tell us that there are contrary findings, and describe them and, if we are lucky, they summarize the contradictory information they provided, but often they do not a leave the reader hanging in nmid air, as it were.
To add to the confusion and unnecessary labor, the authors have an excruciating style of writing that violates almost every rule of clear, simply prose. The most idiosyncratic of their excruciating habits is to hold up practically every other sentence with long parenthetical comments to illustrate the statement with which the sentence began, the effect of which is to obfuscate rather than clarify, and make one re-read the sentence as the parenthetical comments are often so long - and frequently there is more than one per sentence - that one forgets how the sentence had begun. It is a lazy and unforgivable way to write. Another practice that trips up many sentences is the constant use of "stylistic" rather than substantive disjunctives - in other words the disjunctives are just two ways of saying the same thing. This is another lazy habit because if one adequately describes something there is no need to amplify it by adding an alternative amplifying description as a disjunctive. The writing is also peppered with vacuous phrases that belong the a bygone age, such as, "it is not surprising that"; "as one might have expected", "there is another intriguing piece of evidence", and so on.
The golden rule whose violation contributes more than anything else to the laboriousness of the prose is that you should put the most complicated thoughts in a sentence after the main verb. The authors repeated do exactly the opposite, and qualify the subjects of sentences before they state them. So, for example, the following is the way the authors chose to make the point that social categorization alone cannot explain in-group favoritism because people don't show in-group favoritism when asked to allocate negative outcomes:
"There is another intriguing piece of evidence that social categorization on its own is not sufficient to trigger discrimination - people do not show ingroup favoritism when instead of allocating money or other positive outcomes, they have to allocate negative outcomes (e.g. blast of noise) among ingroup and outgroup members." And this is just a short example.
To sum up, this is an introductory level book, so the concepts discussed are not hard to understand, but the authors make them so by the disorganized way they present what they wish to say, and by the prose they use to say it.
"instead o whdescribe them. after the verbthe autIf the authors had only adhered to one of the golden rules of clear writing in addition to using topic sentethat are jy have the excruciating habit of stuffing explanatory material - which is often quite superfluous