Features of Stolen Focus Why You Cant Pay Attention PDF
Stolen Focus Why You Cant Pay Attention PDF-Our ability to pay attention is collapsing. From the New York Times best-selling author of Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections comes a groundbreaking examination of why this is happening – and how to get our attention back.
“The book the world needs in order to win the war on distraction.” (Adam Grant, author of Think Again)
“Read this book to save your mind.” (Susan Cain, author of Quiet)
In the United States, teenagers can focus on one task for only 65 seconds at a time, and office workers average only three minutes. Like so many of us, Johann Hari was finding that constantly switching from device to device and tab to tab was a diminishing and depressing way to live. He tried all sorts of self-help solutions – even abandoning his phone for three months – but nothing seemed to work. So Hari went on an epic journey across the world to interview the leading experts on human attention – and he discovered that everything we think we know about this crisis is wrong.
We think our inability to focus is a personal failure to exert enough willpower over our devices. The truth is even more disturbing: our focus has been stolen by powerful external forces that have left us uniquely vulnerable to corporations determined to raid our attention for profit. Hari found that there are 12 deep causes of this crisis, from the decline of mind-wandering to rising pollution, all of which have robbed some of our attention. In Stolen Focus, he introduces listeners to Silicon Valley dissidents who learned to hack human attention, and veterinarians who diagnose dogs with ADHD. He explores a favela in Rio de Janeiro where everyone lost their attention in a particularly surreal way, and an office in New Zealand that discovered a remarkable technique to restore workers’ productivity.
Crucially, Hari learned how we can reclaim our focus – as individuals, and as a society – if we are determined to fight for it. Stolen Focus will transform the debate about attention and finally show us how to get it back.
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Hari was born in Glasgow, Scotland, to a Scottish mother and Swiss father, before his family relocated to London when he was an infant. Hari was physically abused in his childhood while his father was away and his mother was ill.
According to Hari, he attended The John Lyon School, an independent school affiliated with Harrow, and then Woodhouse College, a state sixth form in Finchley. Hari graduated from King’s College, Cambridge in 2001 with a double first in social and political sciences.
In 2000, Hari was joint winner of The Times Student News Journalist of the Year award for his work on the Cambridge student newspaper, Varsity. He was forced to leave Varsity as a result of his allegedly unethical behaviour.
After university, he joined the New Statesman, where he worked between 2001 and 2003, and then wrote two columns a week for The Independent. At the 2003 Press Gazette Awards, he won Young Journalist of the Year. A play by Hari, Going Down in History, was performed at the Garage Theatre in Edinburgh, and his book God Save the Queen? was published by Icon Books in 2002.
In addition to being a columnist for The Independent, Hari’s work also appeared in The Huffington Post, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, The Nation, Le Monde, El País, The Sydney Morning Herald, and Haaretz, and he reported from locations around the world, such as Congo and Venezuela. He appeared regularly as an arts critic on the BBC Two programme The Review Show and was a book critic for Slate. In 2009, he was named by The Daily Telegraph as one of the most influential people on the left in Britain.
In June 2011, bloggers at Deterritorial Support Group and Yahoo! Ireland editor Brian Whelan asserted that Hari had plagiarised material published in other interviews and writings by his interview subjects. For example, a 2009 interview with Afghan women’s rights activist Malalai Joya included quotations from her book Raising My Voice in a manner that made them appear as if spoken directly to Hari. Hari initially denied wrongdoing, stating that the unattributed quotes were for clarification and did not present someone else’s thoughts as his own. However, he later said that his behaviour was “completely wrong” and that “when I interviewed people, I often presented things that had been said to other journalists or had been written in books as if they had been said to me, which was not truthful”. Hari was suspended for two months from The Independent and in January 2012, it was announced he was leaving the newspaper.
The Media Standards Trust instructed the Council of the Orwell Prize, who had given their 2008 prize to Hari, to examine the allegations. The Council concluded that “the article contained inaccuracies and conflated different parts of someone else’s story” and did not meet the standards of Orwell Prize-winning journalism. Hari returned the prize, though he did not initially return the prize money of £2,000. He later offered to repay the sum, but Political Quarterly, which had paid the prize money, instead invited him to make a donation to English PEN, of which George Orwell had been a member. Hari arranged with English PEN to make a donation equal to the value of the prize, to be paid in installments when he returned to work at The Independent, but he did not return to work there.
In addition to plagiarism, Hari was found to have fabricated elements of stories.
In one of the stories for which he won the Orwell Prize, he reported on atrocities in the Central African Republic, claiming that French soldiers told him that “Children would bring us the severed heads of their parents and scream for help, but our orders were not to help them.” However, an NGO worker who translated for Hari said that the quotation was invented and that Hari exaggerated the extent of the devastation in the CAR. In his apology after his plagiarism was exposed, Hari claimed that other staff of the NGO had supported his version of events.
He was also reported to have invented an account of seeing a demonstrator die at the 2001 Genoa G8 summit, when he had in fact left in a taxi before the event. Private Eye’s Hackwatch column also suggested that he pretended to have used the drug ecstasy and misrepresented a two-week package tour in Iraq as a one-month research visit, in order to bolster support for the Iraq war by claiming that Iraqi civilians he spoke to were in favor of an invasion.
He was also accused of misrepresenting writing by George Galloway, Eric Hobsbawm, and Nick Cohen.
While Hari was working at the New Statesman, the magazine’s deputy editor, Cristina Odone, doubted the authenticity of quotations in a story he wrote. When she asked to see his notebooks, he stalled, then claimed to have lost them. Odone subsequently found that her Wikipedia entry had been altered by Hari’s sockpuppet account “David Rose” to falsely accuse her of homophobia and anti-Semitism.
Misuse of Wikipedia
In September 2011, Hari admitted that he had edited articles on Wikipedia about himself and journalists with whom he had had disputes. Posing as a journalist named “David Rose”, he added false and defamatory claims to articles about journalists including Nick Cohen, Cristina Odone, Francis Wheen, Andrew Roberts, Niall Ferguson, and Oliver Kamm, and edited the article about himself “to make him seem one of the essential writers of our times”.
In July 2011, Cohen wrote about the suspicious Wikipedia editing in The Spectator, prompting New Statesman journalist David Allen Green to publish a blog post collecting evidence. This led to a community investigation and “David Rose” was blocked from Wikipedia. Hari published an apology in The Independent, admitting that he had been “David Rose” and writing: “I edited the entries of people I had clashed with in ways that were juvenile or malicious: I called one of them anti-Semitic and homophobic, and the other a drunk. I am mortified to have done this, because it breaches the most basic ethical rule: don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you. I apologise to the latter group unreservedly and totally.”
Use of libel law to suppress criticism
Hari used threats of suing for libel to prevent critics revealing his misrepresentations. His critique of a Nick Cohen article, What’s Left: How Liberals Lost Their Way, was criticised for factual and interpretive errors by British bloggers. Hari used libel law against a blogger who wrote that “a reputation for making things up should spell career death”, forcing the blogger to remove the post in question.
Chasing the Scream (2015)
Main article: Chasing the Scream
In January 2012, after leaving The Independent, Hari announced that he was writing a book on the war on drugs, which was subsequently published as Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. His 2015 TED Talk, entitled “Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong”, has been viewed over 15 million times (as of 22 February 2020) and lays out the idea that most addictions are functional responses to experiences and a lack of healthy supportive relationships, rather than a simple biological need for a particular substance. Due to the previous scandals, Hari provided audio of interviews conducted for the book. Writer Jeremy Duns criticised instances where quotes were inaccurately transcribed or translated.
Lost Connections (2018)
In January 2018, Hari’s book Lost Connections, which deals with depression and anxiety, was published, with Hari citing his childhood issues, career crisis, and experiences with antidepressants and psychotherapy as fuelling his curiosity in the subject. Kirkus Reviews praised the book. An excerpt, published in The Observer, was sharply criticised by neuroscientist and Guardian columnist Dean Burnett, who pointed out that Hari appeared to be reporting as his own discoveries material—such as the biopsychosocial model—that has been common knowledge for decades, and for misrepresenting the medical, psychiatric, and scientific establishments as “some shadowy monolithic organisation, in thrall to the drug industry”. Burnett subsequently wrote that he had been pressured by friends of Hari’s at The Guardian to offer Hari a pre-emptive right to reply and, after publication, to link to Hari’s attempt at rebuttal.
Stolen Focus (2022)
In January 2022, Hari published a book called Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention, claiming that elements of modern lifestyles, including social media, are “destroying our ability to concentrate”. The book received praise from Hillary Clinton and Stephen Fry. The book debuted at number seven on The New York Times nonfiction best-seller list for the week ending February 12, 2022. Neuroscientist Dean Burnett and psychologist Stuart Ritchie criticised the book for failing to cite strong evidence for the claim of shrinking attention spans, as well as presenting mainstream psychological concepts as niche ideas that Hari had discovered. Writer/broadcaster Matthew Sweet investigated some of the claims in the book and found that Hari had failed to cite the primary sources for some studies, and misrepresented the results of studies that suggested multitasking could have benefits in certain conditions.
Hari is gay. He has said, “I’m an atheist, but I am in awe of the fact the reaction of the Charleston victims’ families is genuinely Christ-like”, in reference to the Charleston church shooting.
Student News Journalist of the Year by The Times, 2000
Young Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards, 2003
Newspaper Journalist of the Year at Amnesty International Media Awards, 2007, for the article The Dark Side of Dubai
Author of Story of the Year at the Environmental Press Awards, 2008
Orwell Prize for political journalism, 2008 (withdrawn 2011)
Journalist of the Year at the Stonewall Awards, 2009
Cultural Commentator of the Year at the Comment Awards, 2009
Newspaper Journalist of the Year at Amnesty International Media Awards, 2010, for the article Congo’s tragedy: The War the World Forgot
Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, 2010
Dimensions and Characteristics of Stolen Focus Why You Cant Pay Attention PDF
Listening Length 10 hours and 20 minutes Author Johann Hari Narrator Johann Hari Whispersync for Voice Ready Audible.com Release Date January 25, 2022 Publisher Random House Audio Program Type Audiobook Version Unabridged Language English ASIN B09FYHKYFJ
- Book Name : Stolen Focus Why You Cant Pay Attention PDF
Susan Quinn “This is a gargantuan book–and not because of its size (which I’m sure the publisher limited and 30% of it is end notes). It’s massive in the scope of what it attempts: to explain the degredation of our ability to focus.
The most important part about this book, in my opinion, is the framework he provides: our focus has been *stolen* and there’s no easy fix. It is a collective problem with massive individual impact. He’s careful to point out that there are *many* things an individual can do to make it better (or worse)–and you should absolutely attempt those things–but those things are accessible primarily to the privileged. And it’s an insult to pretend otherwise. Worse, intentional efforts are made (by corporations or other parties who benefit) to blame individuals for the very problems the corporations created (and continue to profit from). Victim-blaming is real, and culturally, we’re well-primed to blame the individual for everything–from blaming women who can’t carry an endless unpaid care-labor burden for their difficulty in focusing to blaming kids with stressful lives for not being able to focus in a testing-obsessed educational system.
The pandemic shone a spotlight (a FOCUS) on the fact that the system doesn’t work for most people, hasn’t worked for some time, and is actively getting worse.
We were all collectively suffering, and some of us are starting to realize this is not an *individual* problem.
In some ways, this is a depressing, challenging book. There are no easy answers–just a whole bunch of really difficult ones. But it’s a terribly important book. Because it gives a framework (a FOCUS) to the problem, which is a vital first step. We’ll need to work collectively to solve this problem of focus–just like the climate crisis, just like the erosion of democracy–and I don’t know if we will. We’re *capable* of it, that’s certain. But I don’t know if we’ll make that choice.
I’ll leave you with a couple quotes from Hari, to get a flavor of what he’s attempting, but if it’s not clear: I think everyone *needs* to read this book. Addressing this problem is foundational to fixing *every* problem.
“Solving big problems requires the sustained focus of many people over many years. Democracy requires the ability of a population to pay attention long enough to identify real problems, distinguish them from fantasies, come up with solutions, and hold their leaders accountable if they fail to deliver them.”
“Imagine that one day you are attacked by a bear. You will stop paying attention to your normal concerns—what you’re going to eat tonight, or how you will pay the rent. You become vigilant. Your attention flips to scanning for unexpected dangers all around you. For days and weeks afterward, you will find it harder to focus on more everyday concerns. This isn’t limited to bears. These sites make you feel that you are in an environment full of anger and hostility, so you become more vigilant—a situation where more of your attention shifts to searching for dangers, and less and less is available for slower forms of focus like reading a book or playing with your kids.”
Not that mobile technology, and the companies that make it, are innocent. Using insider testimony and industry documents, he provides persuasive evidence that Silicon Valley cultivates a business model based on keeping users hooked. They know their devices produce cocaine-like dopamine jolts, and they know some modest tweaks could fix that without hurting their balance sheets. But nobody can afford to be the first to make the responsible choice.
Throughout the story, Hari hints at something he spells out explicitly in the conclusion. Despite the individualistic Western myth, this widespread attention failure isn’t an individual problem; it was created systemically, and can only be fixed systemically. Hari outlines several steps individual readers can implement to regain some of their attention span, some of which I’ve already implemented. But ultimately, like racism or homophobia, this collective problem requires collective solutions.
I’m not blind to the irony that you’re reading this review online. Without social media, I never would’ve discovered this book. But Hari doesn’t advocate tossing the baby with the bathwater; networked mobile technology serves an important social role. The goal, rather, is to master our technologies, instead of letting them master us. We can achieve that goal, working together. Hari provides the first organized tools to do so.”
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