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Life Finds a Way: What Evolution Teaches Us About Creativity

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  54 ratings  ·  14 reviews
How the principles of biological innovation can help us overcome creative challenges in art, business, and science

In Life Finds a Way, biologist Andreas Wagner reveals the deep symmetry between innovation in biological evolution and human cultural creativity. Rarely is either a linear climb to perfection--instead, "progress" is typically marked by a sequence of peaks, plat
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 11th 2019 by Basic Books
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Kelsey  May
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This year, I’ve been diving into nonfiction and science books more than ever, thanks, in part, to my husband’s interest in reading about animals and trees, which hooked me. So when I walked past a display of science books at Grand Rapids Public Library, I couldn’t help but snag one. Dr. Andreas Wagner’s "Life Finds a Way: What Evolution Teaches Us About Creativity" has a stunning cover — a mosaic of brilliantly-colored moths. I sat down in a chair and was engulfed in the profund insights Dr. Wag ...more
Daniel Hulter
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book! Andreas Wagner takes us though numerous insights about the fundamental laws of creativity and innovation. I have already begun re-reading and will continue exploring the concepts Wagner has beautifully illustrated and their profound implications further.
William Bies
Dec 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
This reviewer recalls a passage from Alexander Baumgarten’s eighteenth-century classic and foundational Aesthetica, which did so much to foster the growth of the nascent discipline of aesthetics, to the effect that an author ought not to attempt a work in a genre beyond his powers, in that the results are bound to appear ridiculous. Baumgarten has in mind, say, that a poet who excels at composing lyrical ballads would be unlikely to meet with much success if he were to try his hand at writing an ...more
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
I was attracted to this book because I thought it was going to be able evolution and how different species creatively evolve. Boy, was I wrong.

Instead, what Wagner does here is use different topics of population genetics to support how we creatively think and succeed as a human race. He does throw in examples of different life forms and how they have coped with different "weapons" - i.e. bacteria. In the first half of the book, he is introducing topics, such as genetic landscape, drift, natural
Coelho Pré-Cambriano
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
É um livro muito interessante, sobretudo os primeiros 5 capítulos, que lidam mais propriamente com paisagens adaptativas em um contexto biológico e, portanto, evolutivo.

A analogia da paisagem adaptativa é muito eficiente em demonstrar como o Darwinismo estrito (isto é, selecionista demais) falha miseravelmente enquanto explicação da criação da complexidade.

A marcha cega da seleção, sempre pra cima, impede que ela explore outros picos (soluções melhores, outros graus de complexidade) e, assim,
May 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a book about the strategies observed in nature to find optimum solutions to problems in high-dimensional spaces. For readers with background in optimization – mathematics, computer science, engineering – the discussion will be easy to understand; and I suspect those without any background in optimization may struggle to visualize the n-dimensional “landscape” that the author refers to frequently.

Andreas starts off with the discussion about how life finds optimum solutions to challenges f
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was so looking forward to this book, but I found it pretty... eh.

For an evolution book, there were extremely few examples of ... evolution or even genes. You hope to read about animals, but instead you're treated to analogies of convoluted computer models. It's a good analogy, but seemed better suited to a long essay or article rather than an entire book. One of its more interesting points was in mentioning how genetic drift can have a stronger effect on populations of mammals compared to nat
The Inquisitive Biologist
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How does evolution move through adaptive landscapes? And are there parallels with human inventiveness? Wagner returns with another insanely fascinating book combining cutting-edge computational biology with daring lateral thinking. See my full review at ...more
Oct 31, 2019 rated it liked it
What starts as a book about the adaptive landscape in population genetics -- that is, how natural selection pushes species toward success, ignoring that the path to the optimal solution may not be a straight ascent, and how nature adjusts for this -- takes a bit of a turn somewhere around the middle as the author attempts to apply lessons from this to other areas, including human creativity and innovation. It's an intriguing framework, although the book feels oddly weighted in terms of the atten ...more
Aug 15, 2020 rated it liked it
I almost gave up on this halfway through but was rewarded at the end. There's quite a bit about evolution, crystal structures, etc but keep going. It all ends up being highly applicable to human creativity. ...more
Alejandro Peláez
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
2 stars = a fine book. Explains well what it sets out to do.
Lori Kuchenbeisser
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I like how someone took Michael Crichton's quote from "Jurrasic Park" and wrote about it. Now to see if Crichton is mentioned in the book. ...more
Yanick Punter
Some people seem to think that intelligence, or g, is sufficient for creativity. A book like Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind states that people light in schizotypy are more creative. If you look there's plenty of articles stating this and "creativity and madness" is a common trope. Anyway.

The book mentions that the military found differences in creative pilots and intelligent pilots. I think this is important. I speculate it has something to do with networks, with
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Andreas Wagner is Professor in the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Zurich and an award-winning science writer. He received his PhD from Yale and has held research positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The author of more than 150 scientific papers published in leading journals including Nature and Science ...more

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