The content was very interesting. What a refreshing (no pun intended!) way of looking at history!
After reading this book, I was so fascinated that I watched a documentary on coffee and one on beer.
Though an excellent concept, The World until Yesterday drones on, wallowing in poor analogies and disjointed stories. Not enough insight and "big picture" ideas, difficulty tying it all together.
Pinker's analysis of the state of violence in society is thorough. Every time I had a "but what about such-and-such!" moment, he would counter my protest at some point in the book, leaving me, for the most part, satisfied with the completeness of his analysis. His tone is convincing but not biased; often I felt as though I was not sure which "side" he was on as he earnestly tried to report the facts and flaws of each argument and analysis. He takes you on a journey through the history of human violence and leads you gracefully to some possible answers to a very important question (perhaps the most important question); why has violence declined and how can we keep it low or even lower? After reading the book, I was left with a feeling of hope and optimism that has stuck with me as well as a better understanding of what policies I can support to help reduce violence in my community.
CS Lewis was way ahead of his time. If we take
I am already fit and eat a balanced diet which includes foods the author recommends against--fruits, tubers, and whole grain breads. I read this book because I was curious to hear his argument against carbohydrates. I came away with 3 major complaints: 1. The author makes no distinction between glucose and fructose, which are metabolized differently and have different effects on insulin production (a much higher % of fructose is metabolized to fat while a very small amount of glucose contributes to lipogenisis, glucose can be utilized directly by neurons and other cells of the body while fructose must be processed in the liver, fructose does not suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin while glucose does, glucose stimulates insulin production while fructose does not, fructose increases presence of uric acid contributing to high blood pressure, etc.). 2. The author goes overboard when arguing against the importance of exercise in weight loss. Yes, you can't loose weight by just working it off the calories, but exercise is not just about burning calories; it is essential to other aspects of regulating fat and insulin. Exercise increases insulin sensitivity in skeletal muscle, helps mobilize fats, helps reduce the effects of chronic stress which contributes to metabolic syndrome, increases focus and cognitive health, and strengthens skeletal muscles. The author goes so far as to suggest that exercise is bad for you and may cause you to gain weight! Personally, I know that I gain weight when I do not exercise despite reducing carb consumption. The idea that exercise does not affect weight or fitness is absurd. 3. The author uses outdated examples and pick-and-chooses the rare studies that support his argument including observations from 19th century french men. What the heck? I tried the diet just because I was curious to see the effects (not for weight loss) and found that it had a negative effect on my energy level and ability to focus.
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