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John L. Casti
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X-Events: The Collapse of Everything

3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  110 ratings  ·  23 reviews
An acclaimed theorist offers a provocative and chilling warning: today’s advanced societies have grown overcomplex and highly vulnerable to extreme events that could topple civilization

The modern industrialized world is a complex system on a scale never before witnessed in the history of humankind. Technologically dependent, globally interconnected, it offers seemingly lim
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ebook, 336 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by William Morrow (first published January 1st 2012)
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Will Byrnes
UPDATED - 7/19/13 - see item at bottom

We are all doomed, I say, doomed! The only question is which event or combination of events will get us first.

John Casti offers an analysis of contemporary trends that focuses on an increase in institutional complexity. One result of this is that major upheavals, the X-events of the book’s title, occur. He is separating these out from natural events over which we have little control. Things like incoming asteroids, the God-based stuff (euphemism alert) of th
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Stephen
This is very much a work book - dull, not particularly well written, tedious at times, but worth the effort in terms of pay-off for work. At the time, I was working on a set of wild cards. I had developed a theoretical framework to generate the wild cards, but needed a bit of content to drop into the framework. That was where this book came in.

It provides a set of extreme events that are unlikely to happen, but could happen, and if they did, then our world as we know it would cease to operate. T
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Said
Mais um daqueles livros que terminei de ler arrastado. Minha expectativa era a de grandes e emocionantes descrições sobre como seriam os eventos capazes de destruir a humanidade, enquanto o livro só consegue ser repetitivo sobre a complexidade dos sistemas humanos e apenas arranhar a superfície de como seriam tais eventos.
Robert Chapman
I found this book on the discount shelf at my local book store. What an amazing find, a great book and for a bargain price as well!

This is a thought provoking book to say the least. One might think that this book is just a mix of theories that are nothing more than scare tactics, but it's quite the opposite. Each of the X-Events is well researched and well rooted in historical facts which form the foundation of how each X-Event could occur.

What I liked most about this book was that it was ground
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Bill Holmes



Casti's "X-Events" is a thought-provoking book that is worth reading. X-events are rare, unexpected events--Ugly Black Swans to modify the famous phrase popularized by Nicholas Taleb--that cause a system to shift abruptly and perhaps catastrophically from one state to another. The classic examples would be an asteroid strike or a super-volcano. Casti mentions these natural X-events only in passing, preferring to focus on possible collapses caused by human activity.

The author is an expert on the
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Tim
Too big to fail.

It's a phrase that has become so ubiquitous that even the Federal Reserve has a definition on one of its web sites. From the Fed's standpoint, an organization is "too big to fail" when it is "so important to markets and their positions [are] so intertwined with those of other [institutions] that their failure would be unacceptably disruptive, financially and economically." But the complexity and interrelatedness of institutions aren't limited to the financial sphere. There's plen
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Jay
This guy makes a really good case for the idea of X events -- things that have either never happened before or that have happened so rarely that we can't really predict them, and that are big enough to cause devastation to some parts of our civiliation -- and includes some information about how we can predict when something bad is starting to happen. To me, the scariest of the scenarios he outlines is the exhaustion of our oil reserves.

Maybe don't read this book, well-written though it is, if y
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Jimmy
The author is saying that Extreme Events will happen when the significant gap(s) between 2 or more systems where the complexity of one another has increased to a level not tolerable.

It does help one to become aware and alert to such possibility by reading the cases he played out in the book to show what some of these areas can be when this will happen ... including power grid failure, food supply, pandemic, nuclear accidents, financial system failure etc.

One take away is to use observation/data
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Bonnie_blu
This book is an excellent overview of our modern-day house of cards, and it presents complex ideas in an easy to understand way. In fact the author is a complexity scientist with outstanding credentials who clearly shows how the mind-boggling complexity of modern life is leading inexorably to a horrendous international crash - a crash that will make the current Great Recession look like a walk in the park. I highly recommend this book even though the first 50 pages are a bit redundant. But stick ...more
Philip Chaston
A lighter guide around black swans, unexpected disasters and the role of complexity. Useful as an introductory text, as a springboard to further reading and for its early warning scenarios.
Tim Corrigan
Sensationalism, with a few pages of good ideas (where he explains 7 factors leading to an "Xevent", of which 6 make sense...) Black Swans and the Five Stages of Collapse and Normal Accidents are all better looks at these concepts. Dmitri Orlov in particular is great at looking at the interactions of several of these - debt, peak oil and global warming - which this book treats as more or less unrelated, which is just dumb. In trying to be original, he ignores the most dangerous problems - so we'r ...more
Donna Riley-lein
X-Events

John Casti

Beware when academics predict the end of the world. It will not happen with fire, flood, or earthquake. It will happen by boredom. The dry dust of academia will smother everything.
Not really. But, Casti’s X-Events won’t keep you up nights peering at a dark and dangerous world. I’ve heard of all of his scenarios before, as most readers will have.
Casti does not offer any solution as to how to avoid the events or how to survive them. In a way, he’s like a street-side prophet sayin
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Donna Riley-lein
X-Events

John Casti

Beware when academics predict the end of the world. It will not happen with fire, flood, or earthquake. It will happen by boredom. The dry dust of academia will smother everything.
Not really. But, Casti’s X-Events won’t keep you up nights peering at a dark and dangerous world. I’ve heard of all of his scenarios before, as most readers will have.
Casti does not offer any solution as to how to avoid the events or how to survive them. In a way, he’s like a street-side prophet sayin
...more
Edward
X-Events was a well-written book about plausible extinction events. It was divided into three sections - sort of an introduction to X-events, covering some that have already happened in the planet's history, the X-event scenarios, and then an evaluation of the plausibility of the X-events. There was no hype or partisanship, at least no partisanship that was obvious to me; the scenarios were clear and well-balanced. Makes me think I need to start reading the disaster prep books again.
Carlos O, Pires
Achei o livro sensacionalista. Em algumas partes o autor cita supostos estudos e pesquisas, mas se esquece de trazer as fontes e as devidas referências.

Algumas boas idéias em certos trechos, mas a maior parte é feita de suposições absurdas e "viajadas" demais. Não considero um livro sério para o assunto ao qual se propôs.
Wenwe
Thought provoking and interesting. Sometimes technical and hard to grasp. He has a definite bias against "hoarders" and his idea that they contribute to the collapse. Yet his description of the power outage his wife endured and her "lugging water" made me question his ability to take the theory and translate to the practical.
Dave
This book gives you a good idea of the possibilities of how things might go bad. I think it would be impossible to prepare for all of these events, but it is worth thinking about.
bibliotekker Holman
Not the book I expected. Interesting, yet off the wall and somewhat of a let down. The topics he deals with are mostly the rare world changing events like asteroids and man made disasters that could happen. I had expected a more scientific treatment based on extant literature that does exist.
Holly
Jul 31, 2012 Holly added it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book had me alternating between sheer terror and boredom. He tried to keep professional "jargon" out of the book but failed. It sometimes got a little technical for me.

Interesting read - but definitely not for the faint of heart.
Matt Maxwell
Sadly superficial and disappointing. I'm sure others will find something that sticks between the covers, but I found it to be pretty facile.
Tbounds
A little hard to read at times, but worth in the end. This is definitely a story of not if, but where and when the next X event will occur .
Gevera Bert
Most of it was informative and well-written but the political/government chapters seemed much longer and less cohesive.
BakuDreamer
Some things I hadn't heard of before
Rad
Rad marked it as to-read
Aug 01, 2015
Martin Mckenna
Martin Mckenna marked it as to-read
Jul 28, 2015
Synfoo
Synfoo added it
Jul 22, 2015
Nuno
Nuno marked it as to-read
Jun 03, 2015
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John L. Casti (born 1943) is an author, mathematician, and entrepreneur.

As a mathematician and researcher, Casti received his Ph.D. under Richard Bellman at the University of Southern California. He worked at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA, and served on the faculties of the University of Arizona, New York University and Princeton University, before moving to Vienna in 1973 to become one
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