- [HLTH/SOC] Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
[community] "Being Mortal" examines quality of life as the primary goal in managing end of life decisions and is an accessible look at many of the ways our current approach sacrifices that goal in order to extend life at all costs. This is a terrific read for book groups, as the issues raised are profound, universal and ultimately personal.
- [ECO/SOC] Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous...
(from amazon.com) Through history, economic growth, in particular, has alleviated human misery, improved human happiness and opportunity, and lengthened human lives. Wealthier societies are more stable, offer better living standards, produce better medicines, and ensure greater autonomy, greater fulfillment, and more sources of fun. If we want to continue on our trends of growth, and the overwhelmingly positive outcomes for societies that come with it, every individual must become more concerned with the welfare of those around us. So, how do we proceed? [The author] argues that our reason and common sense can help free us of the faulty ideas that hold us back as people and as a society.
- [PSYCH] Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness
(from amazon.com) [W]hat kind of intelligence do [octopuses or squids] possess? Drawing on the latest scientific research and his own scuba-diving adventures, Godfrey-Smith probes the many mysteries that surround the lineage. How did the octopus, a solitary creature with little social life, become so smart? What is it like to have eight tentacles that are so packed with neurons that they virtually “think for themselves”? What happens when some octopuses abandon their hermit-like ways and congregate, as they do in a unique location off the coast of Australia? By tracing the question of inner life back to its roots and comparing human beings with our most remarkable animal relatives, Godfrey-Smith casts crucial new light on the octopus mind―and on our own.
- [ANTH] Harari's 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
(from amazon.com) Using the same tack-sharp lens as his previous books, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century addresses urgent, shape-shifting topics that will shape our present and near future, including nationalism, religion, immigration, artificial intelligence, and even the nature of Truth—in other words, everything you're not supposed to talk about at Thanksgiving. Harari is not always reassuring, and he's certainly unafraid of questions challenging widely held views on both global and personal scales, i.e. yours. His quest is not to tear holes in belief systems, but to expand conversations and strip the -isms that channel us into predictably intractable stand-offs. Calling any book "urgent" or "a must-read" is almost always hyperbolic, even shrill. But especially now, 21 Lessons fits the bill.
- [SOC] Everybody Lies: Big/New Data, & What the Internet Can Tell...Who We...Are
By Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (from amazon.com) Blending the informed analysis of The Signal and the Noise with the instructive iconoclasm of Think Like a Freak, a fascinating, illuminating, and witty look at what the vast amounts of information now instantly available to us reveals about ourselves and our world—provided we ask the right questions. By the end of an average day in the early twenty-first century, human beings searching the internet will amass eight trillion gigabytes of data. This staggering amount of information—unprecedented in history—can tell us a great deal about who we are—the fears, desires, and behaviors that drive us, and the conscious and unconscious decisions we make. From the profound to the mundane, we can gain astonishing knowledge about the human psyche that less than twenty years ago, seemed unfathomable.
- [STAT] Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-But Some Don't
(from amazon.com) Nate Silver, in keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, visits the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. He explains and evaluates how these forecasters think and what bonds they share. What lies behind their success? Are they good—or just lucky? What patterns have they unraveled? And are their forecasts really right? He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition. In other cases, prediction is still a very rudimentary—and dangerous—science.
- [GOV] The Fifth Risk, by Michael Lewis
[nytimes.com] In The Fifth Risk, Michael Lewis has taken on his most difficult challenge: He has chosen to apotheosize three obscure government agencies — the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce. In “The Fifth Risk,” his heroes are federal bureaucrats. Why these departments? Well, they are enormous data collection and analysis factories. Lewis believes that essential government functions like protecting nuclear waste (Department of Energy), food safety and feeding the poor (Agriculture) and predicting the weather (Commerce) are under threat.
- [SCI] The Order of Time by Carlo Revelli
(from amazon.com) We all experience time, but the more scientists learn about it, the more mysterious it remains. We think of it as uniform and universal, moving steadily from past to future, measured by clocks. Rovelli tears down these assumptions one by one, revealing a strange universe where at the most fundamental level time disappears. He explains how the theory of quantum gravity attempts to understand and give meaning to the resulting extreme landscape of this timeless world. Weaving together ideas from philosophy, science and literature, he suggests that our perception of the flow of time depends on our perspective, better understood starting from the structure of our brain and emotions than from the physical universe.
- [SCI] Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein's Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time
(from amazon.com) From 1961 to 1963, Feynman delivered a series of lectures at the California Institute of Technology that revolutionized the teaching of physics. In Six Not-So-Easy Pieces, taken from these famous lectures, Feynman delves into one of the most revolutionary discoveries in twentieth-century physics: Einstein's theory of relativity. The idea that the flow of time is not constant, that the mass of an object depends on its velocity, and that the speed of light is a constant no matter what the motion of the observer, at first seemed shocking to scientists and laymen alike. But as Feynman shows, these tricky ideas are not merely dry principles of physics, but things of beauty and elegance. *** Note that one reviewer of the Kindle version indicated his/her electronic version had readability issues.