First I'll retract, or scale back, some intentions announced here last month -- rather than formal notices or profiles of nonfiction books in the Books section of this website, for now I'll cover such material only informally in this space, just as Locus managing editor Marianne Jablon comments about her sometimes non-SF reading in the ''Editorial Matters'' section of the magazine.
That said, there are lots of interesting, even vital, subjects covered. Chapter 2 discusses how our brains seem to be calibrated exponentially, which is why we have trouble distinguishing between million and billion, and why we don't recognize the dangers of exponential growth. Other chapters cover how poorly humans calculate risk; the flaws of voting systems (Lani Guanier was right!); schemes for dividing thing up 'fairly'; and game theory experiments that validate altruism -- 'tit for tat'.
An interesting point in Chapter 7 pertains to ideas about science many SF readers may take for granted. Cole points out that most people don't realize that when scientists say a theory ''predicts'' something, they're not talking about forecasting future events, but rather predicting the outcome of an experiment or observation that could, in principle, have been made at any time.
--Mark R. Kelly
Previously: 19 April 1998
|© 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.|