This book is exciting, inspiring and at the same time frightening. Computers and the people who understand them are helping humanity and at the same time gaining a huge edge over people who don't understand and use computers and have the capital to take advantage of their capabilities.
Every late middle school or early high school student should read this book. Their life's trajectory would certainly change to include a more technical education.
For those of us who are on the other end of life's spectrum it makes one wonder whether life has any safe professions or havens for our children and grandchildren. Will half of our doctors be replaced by computers?
When one spends eight to twelve years after high school in study to become a professional is it possible to see all of that work become obsolete with the perfection of a few computer algorithms? But think --- of all of the benefit to humanity from more accessible and accurate medical treatment for everyone on the receiving end instead of the dispensing end of the medical profession. And on it goes.
In the future truck convoys of driverless trucks are likely to deliver our goods in half the time at a fraction of the current cost with no accidents --- and at the same time displace a million truck drivers.
Think of NYC with twenty thousand automated driverless taxi cabs that are incapable of taking the slowest route or blowing a horn or violating a safety law or even having a collision of any sort. Complete safety. Reduced cost. No noise. Displaced drivers.
Read or listen to this book or ----- stick your head in the sand and be intentionally ignorant of the future --- your choice. The change is in progress. Part is history but the exciting part is what is to come.
Math became quite advanced in the 1600s. Medicine could barely claim a scientific basis until the 1900s. Education? Education is just starting to get there.
The flip flops between "phonics" being the best method to teach reading and "whole language" being the best method to teach reading go back at least to the 1850s because education establishments depended on anecdotal and not rigorous scientific evidence to establish policy. There have been at least four flip flops regarding reading instruction because science was not used to resolve the issue. Many scientific arguments have been made on the subject but not enough large scale controlled studies.
This book is not about reading instruction. It is about the use of the scientific method to resolve the effectiveness of competing alternative methods of instruction.
Some of the discoveries disclosed by scientific inquiry discussed in this book are diametrically opposite to today's teaching methods and many are quite counter intuitive.
I won't go into detail about the content of this book, but one research project discussed in the book demonstrated how little we know.
Take two groups of students and allow one group to use computer monitors that display crisp and clear instructional material. The second group gets the same material, but the monitors are sub-standard and the images are blurred but readable with difficulty.
Who learns more? The answer? Experiments demonstrated that the students using the poor equipment learned more and retained significantly more. Why? They had to struggle. Unbelieveable, but apparently true.
I think about that when I struggle with some of the more confusingly worded Khan Academy problems. You learn from a struggle and not from spoon feeding.
This book is not about anecdotal evidence to support educational theories. It is about what has been proven to work in rigorous scientific studies. It was written by educational researchers at universities and not classroom teachers who often hold diametrically opposite views about what works. Take fifty classroom teachers and you may have twenty different opinions on how best to teach any given thing.
Our big companies such as Google and Amazon use small scale "A/B tests" on a large number of issues daily. They use the results to scientifically tailor the services they deliver to the public.
Primary and Secondary educational establishments run by governmental entities deal more in tradition. There is a trend toward "evidence based" instruction, but often the "evidence" was not scientifically generated with control groups and the examination of alternative methods.
This is a wonderful book. Perhaps there will be a day when every educational manager will take it's message to heart and adopt methods that can withstand rigorous scientific examination.
You must have some background with math to appreciate this book. You don't need to be a mathematician, but you need to have some concept of statistics -- not details -- just a basic idea of how statistics work.
The last half of the book was more interesting to me than the first half. Don't start there, start at the first so you will understand the last half.
I found his comments on multi-candidate elections where no candidate gets a majority to be particularly interesting.
There are parts to this book that drag. Some may drag because you might not be interested in the subject he uses to illustrate a mathematical process or principal. When he talks about sports statistics keep in mind that he is illustrating mathematical principles and not focusing on sports.
You can and will learn a lot from this book and will enjoy most of the book. You might learn more than you want to know about some mathematical subjects, but math is a tool and each addition to our toolkit strengthens us whether we know it at the time or not.
"The Innovators" starts in the early 1800s and proceeds to this century with minute detail about the people who have shaped the world through computing technology.
Other reviewers have detailed the content. Even if you think you know the history of the computer age you probably don't. I thought I knew about the people who have shaped the digital revolution, but I did not know half of the detail contained in this book. It is detail that can bring history to life or bog it down.
Some authors can bore you with details. Others just have the knack for telling a story in detail and making the story enjoyable. I particularly found it interesting how the attitude, motives and methods of the mother of Ada of Lovelace in providing for the education of her daughter laid a foundation for the computer revolution to come more than 100 years later.
I listened to this book while taking a daily four mile walk. This book is so good that I wanted to keep on walking each day.
One characteristic of Thomas Sowell's books, but not necessarily his newspaper columns, is extreme caution and carefulness to say little that cannot be proven by irrefutable supporting data cited in copious footnotes and end notes. This book follows that pattern.
It is true that he is conservative but he tries to be objective and accurate in his observations.
His conservatism comes from his life experience. He grew up in Harlem. Dropped out of high school and was a Marine in the Korean War. He returned from the war, got an undergraduate degree in economics from Harvard, a master's degree from Columbia and a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago where some of the conservatism of Milton Friedman undoubtedly influenced him.
This book has few flaws. It points out many instances where our politicians have done foolish things by not studying and understanding the data upon which their conclusions rested. He sites many instances where the population as a whole has based popular opinion on an inadequate factual foundation.
I will point out one instance where I think he made one of the mistakes he so ably pointed out in the thinking of others. That mistake is basing decisions on only part of the evidence.
He seems to think that focused, intelligent hard work can overcome any adversity. In general he may be correct, but there are situations where opportunity is stifled by circumstance. He does not subscribe to the belief that overpopulation causes poverty. He correctly cites the successes of resource poor counties like Singapore and Japan that have overcome their circumstances, but fails to grasp that some poor countries with people with little or no education struggling to survive on a fraction of an acre of arable land per person aren't likely to achieve the same result as Japan or Singapore. The same principles apply to families. Too many children competing for too few resources is a localized version of over population that can stifle opportunity.
Everyone would profit from reading this book. I rate it at five stars.
This book shows how perceptive people have separated relevant data from irrelevant data.
The author is fond of baseball and baseball statistics. Not being fond of baseball, I had to remind myself from time to time that the book is about data and analyzing data and not about baseball. Sometimes the book moves a little slow, but it is full of good information.
This is not a mathematical book about statistics so much as a book about judgment calls and how to evaluate relevance.
The author's view on Bayes's theorem is particularly interesting. I hope he will elaborate on Bayes's theorem with examples in detail in a future book.
This book is often considered a classic. It has a catchy start and end with a Persian folk tale. Everything in between is depressing.
The entire story transpires in less than a week as a salesman destroys himself by stupid misbehavior during periods of heavy drinking. Nothing in this book is cheerful. From start to finish it is a downer.
Pure Schadenfreude. If you get pleasure from the misfortune of others you will enjoy this book.
I probably should have rated the performance as five star because the reader made a disgusting person seem more disgusting, but also so blind to his faults as to be helpless in a slide to death.
The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease is an excellent book.
The author is head of the Evolutionary Biology Department at Harvard. It appears that many of the negative reviews are by people who don't believe evolution happens. If you strongly hold to that view yourself you probably will be offended by every page of this book.
The book starts by telling you more details concerning early humanoids than you may want to know, but if you stick with the book for fifty or sixty pages the relevance of the information to modern humans becomes more apparent. The longer you stick with the book the more you are likely to enjoy it.
Ultimately there is much information relevant to how we live today and how we should be living given our likely genetic predispositions.
The one issue that I would like to have heard more about is how or if evolution had much impact on diseases of the elderly when our ancestors rarely lived to the ages we commonly live today.
Overall --- a very good book.
It has been a few months since I listened to The Clockwork Universe so I cannot go into minute detail, but I can say that there are many long term lessons that you will retain from this book.
Even our greatest thinkers are floundering in the dark most of the time but occasionally shining glimpses of light on our world and universe for future generations to follow.
Even Newton, one of our greatest thinkers, spent most of his life exploring worthless theories but his successes were extraordinary.
This is a story of "The Royal Society" and the doers and thinkers who were its members. It is more than history. It gives us an insight into both our ignorance and our knowledge. At any given moment in history perhaps there are only a few dozen or now maybe a few hundred people who are discovering scientific truths that will profoundly alter all future generations.
This story is both remarkable and enjoyable. We owe a huge debt to those individuals in the Royal Society who changed the world forever. Long after the politicians, generals and admirals of the day are forgotten the members of the Royal Society, if not the Royal Society itself, will be remembered.
This book is about irrational financial behavior of the masses. Mackay wrote the book more than 150 years ago, but the irrational behavior persists today.
One side lesson that was unintended by the author is that popular and governmental reaction to the bursting of a financial bubble can be as irrational as the behavior that created the bubble.
Legal entities that shielded investors from risk such as corporations were made illegal in a way that must have stifled innovation for years. The government enacted ex post facto laws that operated retroactively to made criminal acts of acts that were legal when committed. That is people were punished for doing acts that were legal when they acted.
At that time the common law and the law of equity were probably robust enough to sort out the fraudulent acts and punish corporate ventures that were never meant to be valid business deals. That is ventures that were only meant to fleece the purchasers of the stock. The mob acted first.
The primitive nature of accounting and apparent lack of auditing of corporations or governmental regulation of dangerous financial mechanisms was apparent.
There are lessons in this book that should have given pause to investors in the recent financial melt down. There are also lessons for the regulators and legislators -- the reaction to market fraud should be vigorous but not excessive.
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