...a potpourri of interesting thoughts, ideas and stories which I just didn't see coming. One of my favorite books ... and I don't even like David. I wish I could erase everything I know from the book and start all over again !!!
Totally unpredictable from chapter to chapter.
The worst thing about the book is its title and cover by a landslide.
Every human should read/listen to this book. From quantum paradoxes to AI terror alleviation, this book has given me hope though problems are inevitable but saleable.
One of the reasons for downloading this as audiobook is to be able to multi-task while listening. During the first few chapters were easy, after around chapter 3, it gets more complex and requires full time attention.
I would have preferred to buy this as an ebook instead.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
I am not sure if this book is an optimistic anti-dogmatic prescription for unlimited progress or anti-religious liberal ravings about how people should think. Maybe it is a bit of both.
Some nits: The author describes Good Explanations and criticism as the key to progress. Near the end of the book he suggests calling Good Explanations, instead, misconceptions (which I find better, but still not quite right). I would instead use the less loaded term of Story. With a Good Explanation being a Falsifiable Predictive Story. The author also uses Testable which is not quite right. I like Falsifiable as being more to the point.
I was quite unimpressed by the dialog and the description of the multi-worlds interpretation as a Good Explanation.
This book has some of the same undercurrents as The Singularity is Near, but is more rambling, less focused, and more philosophical. Although there were a lot of interesting ideas in this book, there was also quite a lot missing. It seems to me there is much more to a really Good Explanation than is implied, and there is more yin-and-yang to conservative verses progressive than the author presents.
Nevertheless it is a good listen for anyone interested in thinking about how the scientific method really works. Unfortunately some parts are pretty boring or just tedius.
When writing a review, I like to wait a few weeks after listening to a book. I find, when I look back, that my memory is able to distill some of salient points and I am better able to reflect on the essence of a particular book. As far as this work is concerned, here are the reflections that come to mind:
1. In my opinion, there seems to be a theme, perspective, tone, whatever one wishes to call it, by physics/hard science authors that their particular field entitles them to comment on or critique general issues or questions with a greater weight or authority than others. This also tends to create hyperbolic and grandiose titles like "The Begining of Infinity: Explanations that Transformed the World.No doubt this is related to the rigorous standards of their discipline. One may have heard such statements like " there is nothing else but physics" (I am heavily paraphrasing). In particular, one section of this book asks us to believe that even beauty is objective, can be given criteria and scientifically explained. That's right, beauty is no longer in the eye of the beholder but is subject to the laws of physics too. Thus, following these suggestions to their conclusions, all art curriculums should be replaced by science courses and legitimate beholders will have first interned at Fermilab.
Very often however, they neglect to point that their positions, postulations and conclusions are based on a particular interpretation and not necessarily on proven fact, though they would have us think otherwise. In this case, the author is known for espousing ideas based on the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics, hardly a widely accepted view. Listening to this book, one would never know that.
2. I liked the beginning of the book. It started well and I felt it had some promise, but about mid-way through it seemed to go off the rails a bit. Beginning about the time the author is imagining dialogs with Socrates, I began to lose the thread of the material. By the time it was finished, some 12 hours later, I felt and still feel like there were a couple of different books buried in the contents. It was as if the author had gone back and picked out particular essays or short works over his career and tried to stitch them together into some sort of coherent framework. Perhaps in one of the many alternate quantum worlds this and similar techniques are more successful.
3. One of the books' main arguments, as I found some 18 hours in, is that in the authors view, mankind has potential limited only by the laws of physics. Given time, anything that is possible will be achieved (more or less - again I am paraphrasing). In my opinion, the gentleman is far too sanguine with regard to humans and human nature. The last couple of hours seemed almost pollyanna-ish. Perhaps I am being too hard, it was after all very close to a listening marathon, but I seriously doubt anyone would suggest that this book is an example of the objective beauty it suggests. It did, in fact, infinitely transform me in a being 20 hours older than I was before.
Deutsch no. Dixon yes.
Not that hard.
David Albert wrote an excellent and friendly review of this book in The New York Times Sunday Book Review of 08/12/2011. Despite it’s positive tone, it reassured me that I made the correct decision to stop listening to it. Sadly, it took me about 12 hours to decide that. Deutsch is smart and eloquent, but he's a master sophist. He writes clearly and skillfully, but treats his conjectures as facts. A term I once heard for this is “lying the truth”. He convinces himself that things are actually the way he thinks they are, and then he writes as if that is the case, which in his created mindset, it is. He covers many topics. For those where you have some knowledge, the holes in his certainty are obvious. For those where you don’t have some knowledge, you’re in danger of accepting some ideas as truths that are no more than pure speculation on his part.
Going on my third listening of the book...
You've never heard of most of the ideas in this audiobook. It's a masterpiece of original thinking from a creative genius.
Get this audiobook before your friends do, you'll have a 50 year head start in diner party converstations.
I must confess that I gave up part way through the book. This is only the third book in many years of listening that I could not force myself to see through to the end. I really liked parts of the book but really disliked other parts. The chapter titled The Dream of Socrates was too much for me. It seemed to go on and on without saying anything that I cared about. The reason I think this would be better in book form is that then you could flip through and read parts of interest and ignore the other parts. Since I'm usually driving when listening to audio books, skipping through the book is not an option.
This is a thrilling book, written by someone who has clearly a great mind. His representation of Popper's thought is strongly inspiring.
Many parts are quite hard to grasp - one has to struggle to get through!
I would listen to it again few years down the road for sure!