Derbyshire does as admirable job conveying the complexity of the Reimann Hypothesis in a way that makes you feel like almost understand what the fuckDerbyshire does as admirable job conveying the complexity of the Reimann Hypothesis in a way that makes you feel like almost understand what the fuck he is talking about....more
The stories are interesting, but some come off a little exaggerated and unbelievable. Feynman was brilliant and insightful, but also a bit of an asshoThe stories are interesting, but some come off a little exaggerated and unbelievable. Feynman was brilliant and insightful, but also a bit of an asshole. Even granting him some credit for the views of the time he comes off misogynistic....more
Ishmael gets some of the problems right but is stunningly amiss when it comes to solutions. Undoubtedly, over population, resource use, and general cuIshmael gets some of the problems right but is stunningly amiss when it comes to solutions. Undoubtedly, over population, resource use, and general cultural attitudes and behavior are significant causes for concern. However, the solutions Quinn offers vary between illogical and downright abhorrent.
In order to save the world from environmental catastrophe, Quinn thinks humans ought to live a more primitive life, similar to those of hunter-gatherers before the agricultural revolution. He believes this will both solve environmental issues as well as lead to humans living happier, peaceful, more free lives. This fantasy, so-called anarcho-primitivism, is rife with issues:
- Reduction of the human population from 7,000,000,000 to the much, much smaller number (500,000,000?) such a global society could support. - Earlier hunter-gatherer societies still waged war and fought one another, often eagerly (see the Musket Wars). - The incredible benefits of many aspects of modern society: modern medicine, division of labor, safety, comfort, intellectual freedom, etc. Quinn does touch on some of these briefly: at one point he argues humans should be more accepting of death. I'm going to bet Quinn still goes to the doctor.
Quinn cites the choice of existing primitives to continue their current course of existence as evidence that their life must be better than modern society. This is completely neglectful of the fact that many such primitive societies were as much assimilated as conquered.
The book is also overflowing with misconceptions and logical fallacies. It repeatedly uses straw men and false dichotomies in it's arguments. Some claims, such as the Law of Limited Competition, are downright factually incorrect (counter examples: primates, dolphins, some microorganisms). Animals don't choose not to wage war - they just haven't figured out how.
The one upside of this book is that it does get people thinking about things that are incredibly important. Things are out of balance. People are doing terrible things to the environment. Many people are forced to work far too much for far too little. These things need to be fixed - just not Quinn's way. ...more
The book is a bit dated at times and there's some to disagree with, but Friedman is intellectually honest and makes a strong argument for classical liThe book is a bit dated at times and there's some to disagree with, but Friedman is intellectually honest and makes a strong argument for classical liberalism and maximizing individual freedom....more
I never though of evolution as being gene-centric before reading this book. Dawkins conveys his ideas in a manner that is engaging, insightful, and eaI never though of evolution as being gene-centric before reading this book. Dawkins conveys his ideas in a manner that is engaging, insightful, and easy-to-follow....more
I listened to this book on tape while traveling so it took me a while to get through and I may have missed some parts.
This book is thoroughly thoroughI listened to this book on tape while traveling so it took me a while to get through and I may have missed some parts.
This book is thoroughly thorough (yes, double thorough), though it doesn't discuss the computer or much (any?) engineering (but it's definitely long enough - don't get any ideas about an addendum, Bryson). Some recurring themes:
How frequently people think science is close to "done" or most things are known How virtually every problem simply becomes more complex the deeper you go. The insanity of the time scale of human accomplishment. Knowledge acquisition is surely exponential....more
This is not a well-written book. The writing is prosaic. The pacing is meh. You will almost certainly have no trouble putting it down. It is, however,This is not a well-written book. The writing is prosaic. The pacing is meh. You will almost certainly have no trouble putting it down. It is, however, a book almost everyone should read - especially politicians, technocrats, and others in positions of public policy.
Sunstein and Thaler argue that dramatic changes in human behavior can be effected through sensible changes in "choice architecture". Choice architecture is the orchestration of options. It can range from how choices are presented (make the broccoli easy to reach and in sight, but put the double fudge cake on the bottom shelf), to default options (make retirement plans opt-out, rather than opt-in), to a wide variety of other "nudges".
Nudge presents a copious amounts of data from psychology and behavioral economics. It supplements these with examples of successful and unsuccessful choice architecture. Only the most obstinate and orthodox could read this book and not come away convinced that subtle, inexpensive reforms are capable of achieving dramatic, positive changes.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about Nudge is that the reforms it proffers are bipartisan. Give people more information about the choices they make? Set defaults that are the best for everyone? Give people feedback about how efficient and effective their decisions are? The only people who can be against these ideas are those with a vested interests in an ignorant or otherwise misled populace.
The only question I'm left asking is: why aren't more of these changes happening?...more
Proust and the Squid is a book about reading in three parts: the history and development of reading, an analysis of the typical process with which theProust and the Squid is a book about reading in three parts: the history and development of reading, an analysis of the typical process with which the brain reads, and the ways that the reading process can break down, particularly in dyslexics.
I didn't take that much away from this book. The origins of reading are fascinating, but I would have liked appreciated a more rigorous analysis. Wolf repeatedly claims that modern writing systems are almost perfect. There is no doubt that are writing systems are very efficient, but how do we actually know we can't do better?
The book claims it is going to use Proust and squids as it's central metaphor, but it returns to them seldom. One thing I learned from this book is the only thing Maryanne Wolf likes more than reading is quotes about reading. There are numerous quotes at the beginning of sections that seemed at various times unnecessary and schmaltzy.
The book did make me marvel at how complex reading and writing actually are. The ability of the brain to effortlessly and rapidly process complex symbols is miraculous. The effort involved in learning to read happens at such a young age that it's easy to forget how difficult it is!