I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
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 a really nice set of reviews and essays. The best is when he personally undergoes waterboarding. The worst part about this audio book is there are too many references I wanted to note to remember. The only way to effectively listen to this book is to be doing nothing else and have paper and pen handy, which kind of eliminates the usefulness of an audio version (for the sighted). I did not agree with everything I heard, but virtually everything was interesting or thought provoking. The narration was simply awesome.
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.
I admit, I read this book with an ulterior motive. I have kind of a "self help" interest in memory and its quirks. I have this idea that if I can polish up my past (and I don't see why not, I'm the keeper of it, after all) then it should - in countless subconscious ways - improve my present.
This book gives my ulterior motive hope because, as the book explains, memory is really a confabulation of past experiences, stories and present hopes and attitudes - not an unchanging video of the mind. Charles Fernyhough combines the latest and greatest of memory research with personal stories (like how he's attempting to give his children vivid memories of his father, who died before they were born.) He covers common memory glitches - like how siblings remember the same event, but happening to different people.
(I have this situation with my sister. I cut my finger on a peanut butter can - yes, peanut butter used to come in cans - and had to get stitches. She remembers the incident as well, but thinks it was her finger that was cut. The weird thing is that we both have a scar on that finger.)
I don't know if this book will grip those without personal gain in the back of their minds, but I enjoyed it. Recommend.