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Flavor of the Month: Why Smart People Fall for Fads, by Joel Best

Flavor of the Month: Why Smart People Fall for Fads, by Joel Best

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Sociologist Best dissects the dangerous hula hoops of business, medicine, science and education in this exposition on institutional fads. According to Best, American attitudes toward progress (colored by optimism, competitiveness, a belief in positive change and a fear of being seen as old-fashioned) serve as kindling to the fire of the next big cure, technological revolution, business management secret or teaching method. Best delineates stages of the fad life-cycle (“emerging,” “surging,” then finally “purging”) and identifies conditions and players essential to creating a successful fad (a problem needs a solution, which is then proposed by originators and pushed by promoters).

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