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Traffic

by Tom Vanderbilt

Would you be surprised that road rage can be good for society? Or that most crashes happen on sunny, dry days? That our minds can trick us into thinking the next lane is moving faster? Or that you can gauge a nation's driving behavior by its levels of corruption? These are only a few of the remarkable dynamics that Tom Vanderbilt explores in this fascinating tour through the mysteries of the road. Based on exhaustive research and interviews with driving experts and traffic officials around the globe,Trafficgets under the hood of the everyday activity of driving to uncover the surprisingly complex web of physical, psychological, and technical factors that explain how traffic works, why we drive the way we do, and what our driving says about us. Vanderbilt examines the perceptual limits and cognitive underpinnings that make us worse drivers than we think we are. He demonstrates why plans to protect pedestrians from cars often lead to more accidents. He shows how roundabouts, which can feel dangerous and chaotic, actually make roads safer--and reduce traffic in the bargain. He uncovers who is more likely to honk at whom, and why. He explains why traffic jams form, outlines the unintended consequences of our quest for safety, and even identifies the most common mistake drivers make in parking lots. The car has long been a central part of American life; whether we see it as a symbol of freedom or a symptom of sprawl, we define ourselves by what and how we drive. As Vanderbilt shows, driving is a provocatively revealing prism for examining how our minds work and the ways in which we interact with one another. Ultimately,Trafficis about more than driving: it's about human nature. This book will change the way we see ourselves and the world around us. And who knows? It may even make us better drivers.

You May Also Like

by Tom Vanderbilt

From the bestselling author of Traffic, a brilliant and entertaining exploration of our personal tastes--why we like the things we like, and what it says about us.Everyone knows his or her favourite colour, the foods we most enjoy, and which season of The Sopranos deserves the most stars on Netflix. But what does it really mean when we like something? How do we decide what's good? Is it something biological? What is the role of our personal experiences in shaping our tastes? And how do businesses make use of this information to develop and sell their products? In You May Also Like, Tom Vanderbilt dives deep into this complex and fascinating world. He explores the physiology of eating to reveal how our taste buds, which can only recognize five tastes, interact with our olfactory systems and our memories to create an astounding array of flavours. He shows how difficult it is, even for experts, to pinpoint exactly what makes something good or enjoyable, and how companies like Netflix can make or lose millions based on their ability to predict what we will enjoy. Like his bestselling book Traffic, Vanderbilt's new book takes us on a stimulating and surprising intellectual journey that helps us better understand our world and ourselves, and the things we so often take for granted.From the Hardcover edition.

You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice

by Tom Vanderbilt

From the best-selling author of Traffic, an enlightening and illuminating look at why we like the things we like, why we hate the things we hate, and what our preferences reveal about usWhy is showing up to work wearing the same outfit as a coworker so embarrassing? Why do we venerate so many artists who were controversial or ignored during their lifetimes? What makes an ideal cat an ideal cat, or an ideal beer an ideal beer, in the eyes of expert judges? From the tangled underpinnings of our food taste to our unsettling insecurity before unfamiliar works of art to the complex dynamics of our playlists and the pop charts, our preferences and opinions are constantly being shaped by countless forces. And in the digital age, a nonstop procession of "thumbs up" and "likes" and "stars" is helping dictate our choices. Taste has moved online--there are more ways than ever for us, and companies, to see what and how we are consuming. If you've ever wondered how Netflix recommends movies, how to spot a fake Yelp review, or why books often see a sudden decline in Amazon ratings after they win a major prize, Tom Vanderbilt has answers to these questions and many more that you've probably never thought to ask. With a voracious curiosity, Vanderbilt stalks the elusive beast of taste, probing research in psychology, marketing, and neuroscience to answer myriad complex and fascinating questions. Comprehensively researched and singularly insightful, You May Also Like is a joyous intellectual journey that helps us better understand how we perceive, judge, and appreciate the world around us.From the Hardcover edition.

You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice

by Tom Vanderbilt

Everyone knows his or her favourite colour, the foods we most enjoy, and which season of The Sopranos deserves the most stars on Netflix. But what does it really mean when we like something? How do we decide what's good? Is it something biological? What is the role of our personal experiences in shaping our tastes? And how do businesses make use of this information? Comprehensively researched and singularly insightful, You May Also Like delves deep into psychology, marketing and neuroscience to answer these complex and fascinating questions. From the tangled underpinnings of our food choices, to the discrete dynamics of the pop charts and our playlists, to our non-stop procession of 'thumbs' and 'likes' and 'stars,' to our insecurity before unfamiliar works of art, the book explores how we form our preferences - and how they shape us. It explains how difficult it is, even for experts, to pinpoint exactly what makes something good or enjoyable, and how the success of companies like Netflix, Spotify and Yelp! depends on the complicated task of predicting what we will enjoy. Like Traffic, this book takes us on a fascinating and consistently surprising intellectual journey that helps us better understand how we perceive and appreciate the world around us.

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