Today’s Toronto Star had a review of Dan Ariely’s book “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions”. The reviewer gave a bit of background about the author — apparently Ariely is a professor of behavioural economics at MIT — and set forth the book’s premise.
As I was reading the favourable review, my interest in the book was growing, until I came across these two paragraphs in the review:
Predictably Irrational abounds with other eye-opening examples of irrational human behaviour. Ariely demonstrates the kryptonite-like pull of “free” goods by bartering chocolate bars with children trick-or-treating at his door.
Their gormlessness is endearing, but your average 5-year-old apparently fares no worse than adults when it comes to a slavish desire to get something for nothing, even if the “something” we get is less than what we have — or worse, something we don’t need.
After reading that last paragraph my attention immediately went from Ariely’s book to the question of what “gormless” means — and, equally importantly – to wondering why the reviewer use that word.
After getting over my irritation at the diversion of my attention away from the topic at hand (Ariely’s book), I managed to finish reading the review and I jotted the book’s title down to order it from the library. After that, my annoyance with the reviewer returned as I went to look up gormless.
According to Merriam-Webster.com, gormless means: lacking intelligence: stupid.
I don’t mind learning new words, but I couldn’t help think that by using a word I have to look up (not to mention one that made me feel — well, in the words of the reviewer — gormless) all the reviewer accomplished was to distract and irritate me, which I doubt was her (or the newspaper’s) intention.