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The Social Atom: Why the Rich Get Richer,…
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The Social Atom: Why the Rich Get Richer, Cheaters Get Caught, and Your…

by Mark Buchanan

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An interesting read. Not my field of experteise but I can see how some of it would ring true. Like some other reviewers he lost me at the end when he started attacking religion. Surely it, like all other human traits should be worked with rather than against.

It's an interesting look at the fact that humanity tends to work in groups and that a lot of people find it very hard to go against the group. He's a physicist and has some pet theories about social sciences that he feels need airing.

It's one to read, think about and use some salt with. Peppered with interesting ideas and encouages thinking. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Apr 22, 2009 |
Gift for Dad???
  rfewell | Jan 27, 2009 |
I went to a seminar by the author recently, which is why I picked this one up. Unfortunately it's a little more pop-science than I was hoping for, and complexity science writers really need to come up with some new anecdotes, because there wasn't a whole lot to this book that I hadn't come across elsewhere.

This book is basically about how the social sciences should use a more physics-like, experimental approach to their research, instead of coming up with theorems which are logical but don't produce results that resemble reality. (I quite like the quote from Mike Davis on the back cover: "This is a first-class attack on the smugness of the Humanities".) The sections on economics and altruism were particularly lacking in things I hadn't heard before, but the stuff about ethnocentrism was pretty interesting.

Over all, I thought this was pretty good but could have done with more maths. ( )
  tronella | Dec 22, 2008 |
The author says, "Get a rough picture of the social atom, and of how people interact, then use anything you have, mathematics, the computer, whatever, to learn the kinds pattern likely to emerge and what their consequences might be. Outside of the social world, this is how all science works. And it is ironic that this is still not the way most social science works." It's easier said than done. The problem is that pattern itself may not last forever. So just by discovering a pattern might not prove anything. It just takes one abnormal pattern to disprove the discovery. Also, the author portrays religion as a dangerous threat to human society. It's just as a narrow view point in my mind. What about pointing out how religion also contributed positively to our society in "some" ways"? ( )
  lt999 | Nov 15, 2008 |
kürzlich in der sz verrissen: gehypte trivia, oberflächlich, ohne eigentlichen Inhalt.
  cromangnon | Mar 22, 2008 |
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The idiosyncrasies of human decision-making have confounded economists and social theorists for years. If each person makes choices for personal (and often irrational) reasons, how can people's choices be predicted by a single theory? How can any economic, social, or political theory be valid? The truth is, none of them really are. This book makes the fascinating argument that the science of physics is beginning to provide a new picture of the human or "social atom," and help us understand the surprising, and often predictable, patterns that emerge when they get together. Look at patterns, not people, the author argues, and rules emerge that can explain how movements form, how interest groups operate, and even why ethnic hatred persists. Using similar observations, social physicists can predict whether neighborhoods will integrate, whether stock markets will crash, and whether crime waves will continue or abate. Brimming with mind games and provocative experiments, the book is an incisive, accessible, and comprehensive argument for a whole new way to look at human social behavior.… (more)

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