I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
The Numerati examines the bright side, the dark side, and most importantly the human side, of big data.
Having read Big Data, Super Crunchers, The Signal the Noise, Naked Statistics and The Numerati somewhat recently I liked The Numerati the best by a significant margin.
The author is not a supercruncher, which I think was a good thing. Baker keeps humanity always in scope while investigating the details of big data. Even though Baker is not a supercruncher, I found this the most technically interesting of the books, delving into multivariate vector spaces without getting bogged down in equations or just telling stories. Each time a bit of technical information was presented, how that technology would impact people was also thoughtfully considered. I also felt I learned more about the subject from The Numerati than all the other books combined.
Baker uses examples that are more realistic and representative than several of the other books on the subject. The narration is clear and good, adding emphases or emotion quite nicely, but for some reason the frequency range of the reader’s voice grated on me at first and took some getting used to but after a few hours it was fine.
This was a great book. I really found myself unable to put this down. I somewhat expected a dry, one sided, hatchet job. Instead this was detailed story starting with the early life of the clearly troubled founder of Scientology and continuing to the present day. I fully enjoyed the reading of every footnote. I did not really expect to, but I learned a lot. The writing and the narration were both quite compelling.
I have not been a fan of Scientology since a friend of mine joined, and after a few years called me having just escaped penniless and only wearing his underwear out of a window after a many hour auditing session with several people pointing out body thetons on him that were visible to them but not visible to my friend. I agree many of the ideas of Scientology are no weirder than any other religion, and I always thought the basic idea of auditing sounded interesting and potentially useful, but there does seem to be a pattern of secrecy and intimidation not seen elsewhere. This book presents a pattern of paranoia, violence; control, and hypocrisy with an intensity that is truly shocking. I would recommend anyone thinking about Scientology to read this book first.
This is one of the few books that I would recommend to virtually anyone. It is funny and engaging with an obvious, but almost universally ignored thesis, that people don’t have good strategies to achieve happiness. The author demonstrates this in quite a few humorous and compelling ways. I am a big believer in the basic advice in this book. If you want to be happy, find people like yourself, who are older than you, and ask them what has made them happy and what they would have done differently. Although this seems rather obvious, it is seldom done, and even more seldom taken to heart. I recommend listening to this book with an open mind, seeing the ideas as obvious, but nevertheless seeing surprising and counter-intuitive.