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Jan W. H. Schnupp

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Should be mandatory reading.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-01-17

Packed with important and interesting facts about the Internet and related technologies that we have become dependent on.

connecting the dots

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-02-16

The author reviews about 2 decades worth of political scandals, puts them in context and connects the dots. A very thougt provoking if depressing read. The sections comparing cost of various welfare expenditures against those of private finance initiatives I found particularly eye opening. even if you don't share the authors avowedly very left wing perspectives you will have to admit that he is putting his finger on some important and awkward questions which the establishment would rather you did not ask.

1 person found this helpful

Clear intro to the neuroscience of music

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5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-11-15

Another reviewer described this audiobook as "passionless". To me that criticisms seems rather unfair, a bit like describing a nice juicy watermelon as not tasting meaty enough. I can imagine that if you turn to this audiobook looking for gripping musical entertainment then you might perhaps be a bit disappointed, but I don't think that is what the author was aiming to provide. If you are after a beautifully clear, accessible and quite comprehensive overview of the state of the art of brain research relating to music perception, then this among the best introductions you are likely to find. There are a number of other popular science titles relating to music on the market, e.g. Oliver Sacks' "musicophilia" or Levitin's "this is your brain on music", which might, for some, score higher on entertainment value, but the material covered in those books is very anecdotal and light-weight in comparison. Prof Patel's course, in contrast, is throughout firmly grounded in proper, quantitative and peer reviewed scientific research. If you want proper science, then this is the good stuff.

10 people found this helpful

Interesting, but why the hectoring voice?

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-11-15

I certainly learned a lot about banking history. The authors make a compelling case that the interplay between powerful politicians and the bankers they turn to to fund their pet projects can interact in important but often unforeseen manners, and that there are important lessons in history which have (surprise surprise) by and large not been learned. Overall an interesting book and I am glad I persisted with it, but it was a bit of a struggle, partly because some of the early American banking history stuff I found a bit boring, and in a big way because, sorry to be so blunt, I found the voice and narration style of the narrator very grating. He always sounds as if he is shouting at you. (Basil: mellow out!) Still, I learned a great deal.

2 people found this helpful

Thought provoking but overconfident

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-09-15

I enjoyed this book a great deal, and found many ideas expressed in it quite thought provoking and insightful. In particular, the idea that the apparent drive of our species to form common narratives, stories, concepts, narratives, may have evolved because it facilitates spontaneous, loosely organized but highly effective cooperation among large numbers of individuals was interesting and very compellingly argued.
Nevertheless, the author does have a tendency to present his ideas not so much as interesting ideas that might be true, but as facts. His style is very engaging and persuasive, so you often don't even notice the hidden questionable assumptions, or the fact that, in his wide, sweeping arguments, the author often roams through several disciplines that he can't possibly all be expert in.
Overall a very enjoyable intellectual journey, but to be enjoyed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

268 people found this helpful

Disappointing

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-08-14

I had very high hopes for this book - and found them sorely disappointed. Frans de Waal is no doubt a great expert on animal behaviour and has countless interesting observations and anecdotes to draw from. Sadly he is not a deep and careful thinker, and has a tendency to over-generalize and jump to unjustified and unjustifiable conclusions. A typical example might be the passage where the author blames "science" and "scientists" for the atrocities committed during Hitler's holocaust. Not only is this utter nonsense, it is insulting to scientists. And that is not an isolated example of dubious assertions made in this book in areas where the author is hardly an authority being presented as fact. All this in order to investigate the "biological mystery" of pro-social behaviours, which really isn't that hard to understand at all. (If creatures need to reproduce to persist down the generations, and if reproducing is easier in groups where we watch each others backs rather than stabbing them, the evolution of pro-social behaviours is hardly unexpected. What's the big deal?) All in all a laboured and unconvincing treatment of a non-problem, and the odd interesting story about our closest relatives was not enough to save it. I could not make it past the first half of the book. If you are interested in this sort of subject, you are likely to be much better off with Steven Pinker's "Better Angels of Our Nature".

1 person found this helpful

Enjoyable trip through spacetime - no maths needed

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5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-07-14

I'm about 2/3rds through and am enjoying this book greatly. It provides a clear and accessible account of modern cosmology. Finally I understand why some people are very excited by measurements of cosmic microwave background radiation. The title may make you wonder whether this book will be hard work, but I didn't think so. You certainly don't have to do equations. Even though the subject matter (multiverses, general relativity & similar) may seem heavy going, the writing style of the book is quite chatty and enthusiastic, so it doesn't feel like work. And the narrator has a lovely smooth voice and reads with nice emphasis.

5 people found this helpful

Not as funny as I had hoped

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-06-14

I was hoping for a laugh-out-loud funny book. This was not it. Mildly amusing, but in the end just too predictable...

6 people found this helpful

The lighter and the darker sides of probability

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5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-06-14

Mathematical subjects can be awfully dry, but in this book the author weaves a highly accessible, enjoyable and enlightening tapestry of the history of mathematical thinking on luck and chance. Thought provoking examples of the counter-intuitive nature of randomness and chance are interwoven with little vignettes of the sometimes surprising episodes of the lives of pioneering probability theorists. Take for example Cardano, who invented probability theory to beat others at dice games in order to pay his way through renaissance medical school. He rose to become chair of the medical school, only to be betrayed to the inquisition by his own incestuous and cruel children who were maneuvering for "cushy" jobs as full time torturers and henchmen. What are the odds of that? Or, indeed, what are the odds that a mother will kill two of her children? Or that OJ Simpson got away with murder? You don't have to die to find out.

An Eye Opener

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-02-14

This well written and highly accessible book should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in politics, economics, finance, or anyone who is just trying to achieve or maintain a modicum of prosperity in an uncertain future.
The author's main point is that positive feedback mechanisms can lead to bubbles and instability in the economy just as easily as negative feedback can cause (localized and temporary!) stability and equilibrium, and that future financial crises are therefore just as "natural" as future rain storms. The author makes this point very cogently, and indeed it's really somewhat obvious if you think about it enough, but the author also clearly shows that far too many of the people in charge in politics and finance have a complete blind spot when it comes to that simple truth, and due to their blind faith in self correcting markets make stupid and massively expensive mistakes. (Yes, Gordon Brown, we are talking about you here, among many others.)
The criticism of the "efficient market hypothesis" in this book is particularly clear and penetrating, and I would love to hear the author's reaction to the fact that last year's economics Nobel prize went to the inventors of the efficient market myth. If the Swedish academy can get it so wrong, I guess that just underscores why this book is so important.
One of the most important books I've read in years, and to top it all off it's even quite enjoyable, as the book's narrative is nicely illustrated with well researched and fascinating glimpses into the mathematics of earth quakes, the workings of stock markets, or state of the art forecasting methods in meterology and in finance.

3 people found this helpful