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

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  156 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
“I am an assiduous reader of John Casti’s books. He is a real scientific intellectual.”
 —Nassim Nicholas Taleb, New York Times bestselling author of Fooled by Randomness

“Casti is at his best in presenting difficult philosophical ideas enthusiastically and lucidly, and in presenting everyday examples to illustrate them.”
New York Times Book Review

In his highly provocative a
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
May 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
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.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saggi, ecologia
Il mondo in cui viviamo è cambiato in modo radicale nell’ultimo secolo. Per sostenere lo stile di vita industriale che si è affermato, nuove tecnologie, sempre più complesse, si sono sviluppate ad una velocità vertiginosa, incrementando enormemente l’interconnessione delle diverse strutture e dei numerosi servizi. Ma la globalizzazione ha un lato negativo spesso celato ma estremamente preoccupante, in quanto espone la nostra società moderna ad un rischio sempre maggiore di crollo scatenato da un ...more
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
SoManyBooks SoLittleTime (Aven Shore)
3.5 Not because I agree with everything, or particularly enjoy the horror-movie-ish thrill of getting all worked up by focusing on why everything, inevitably, is all going to fall apart!! Imminently!!

But because it was an enjoyably well-thought out reasoning exercise/thought experiment.

It falls down for getting a little bit histrionic (predictably), and also for being tediously repetitive. Yes, our culture and its supporting infrastructure is propped up by a fragile complexity - I get it! Don't
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
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: futures
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
Robert Chapman
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, society
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
Smiley McGrouchpants
Freaky. Like anyone who's heard of/concerned about "Black Swans" (hence the blurb, from the conceiver of that concept), readers alive to the possibilities at the stray, stray end of the spectrum will find good conjecture done, here. A palliative to feeling too sanguine, or worrying about the wrong things, or relieving yourself from the burden of concerning yourself with the perspectives of those who worry about the wrong things: one can't afford to lack a grasp of the complexity of systems nowad ...more
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014
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
Oct 27, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Donna Riley-lein

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
Donna Riley-lein

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
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Tim Corrigan
Nov 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cultural-nonfic
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.
Tracy Rivera
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is not a fast scifi read. It's an intellectual trek through world killing scenarios.

Logical theories are presented in scientific method. Anyone who read this book might have predicted Brexit. :)

I borrowed this book from the library and then decided to purchase my own copy. It's worth reading.
Oct 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 23, 2012 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.
bibliotekker Holman
Jun 23, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Matt Maxwell
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Sadly superficial and disappointing. I'm sure others will find something that sticks between the covers, but I found it to be pretty facile.
Gevera Bert
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Most of it was informative and well-written but the political/government chapters seemed much longer and less cohesive.
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 .
Philip Chaston
Mar 07, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Brendan  McAuliffe
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Some things I hadn't heard of before
Dec 30, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
rated it it was amazing
Jan 04, 2017
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Jan 28, 2016
Jerzy Filizola papandreu
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Oct 23, 2013
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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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“The World is currently facing a confluence of mounting shortages in three commodities essential to the continuance of human life on this planet: water, energy, and food. Those three elements combine into something much greater than the sum of its parts, a looming global disaster by 2030. By 2030 the demand for water will increase by 30 percent, while demands for both energy and food will shoot up 50 percent. All this will be driven by a global population increase to about 8 billion people, placing tremendous stress on our highly industrialized global food system.” 1 likes
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