When I graduated MIT in 1984 with a degree in Biology, mine was the first class to be offered a laboratory course in genetic engineering. The rest, as they say, is history. This is the best, most fascinating intro and review of the highlights of all branchs of modern sciences since Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. Compared to that wonderful book, this one has less history and more theory - and is more current and succinct, but never dry. This is the book for the curious mind, whether or not you've every studied the laws of thermodynamics or plate tectonics. As the authors point out, even professional scientists rarely know the latest theories that are outside their own narrow field of study. Here's the chance for layman and scientist to get up to speed. C'mon, now, its the 21st century, and with this book there's no excuse not to be up-to-date.
I've only listened to the free chapter. The author's description of and interpretation of purportedly scientific research belays a lack of understanding of scientific method. Based only on what he says in this chapter, I have to conclude that he totally misinterprets "research" in order to try to sell his book.
Just one example: the description of how smokers react positively to cigarette warning labels, and how this "proves" the labels are useless. Two discrediting errors in this logic: (1) only habitual smokers were tested (2) the smokers tested already associated those warning labels with smoking. The first error is akin to testing traffic signs on drunk drivers; the second error shows ignorance of Pavlov's dogs.
I agree that this is a well-written (and well-recited) book, and worth listening to. But rather than being fact-based, it is an ideological whitewash that attempts to provide moral justification for the gross inequities of unbridled capitalism. It is chock full of "historical" anecdotes to back up the author's ideology. Anyone with an education knows the value, and lack thereof, of anecdotes in the social sciences. If you think that anarchy is better than government, and you are a millionaire, this book is for you. But if you rely on public services for any part of your day (roads, fire, police, school, safe air food and water, etc) then you will find this book shockingly naive. It's no wonder the author is employed by a conservative ideological "think tank". There is no such thing as objective economic theory. Read this book, but then find a more liberal economics text to balance your thinking, otherwise you'll be deluded into parroting the neo-cons.
President Carter has always been an inspirational figure to me. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to his reading of this book, which sounds more like a personal and spontaneous conversation than the well-crafted historical narrative that it is. I have read lengthly critiques of the anti-Israel biases in this book, and I do not discount them... I think it is essential to study those critiques and consider the factual errors that are in this book. But it is still very worthwhile and enjoyable, even if (as with all stories about history and politics), it is necessary to go to other sources to round out the picture.
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