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accounting loophole / creative accounting, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, Benoit Mandelbrot, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, cellular automata, central bank independence, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, collective bargaining, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Henri Poincaré, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, iterative process, John von Neumann, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market microstructure, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, money market fund, open economy, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, place-making, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, seigniorage, six sigma, South Sea Bubble, stochastic process, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, total factor productivity, tulip mania, wage slave, zero-sum game
If I had a cent for every time I heard an economist comment that ‘chaos theory hasn’t amounted to much’ – well, I wouldn’t be wealthy, but I could afford an expensive meal or two. Chaos theory has ‘not amounted to much’ in economics because its central tenets are antithetical to the economic obsession with equilibrium. In other sciences, chaos theory, complexity analysis and their close cousin evolutionary theory have had profound impacts. It shows how isolated economics has become from the scientific mainstream of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century that such ignorant views could be commonplace. The recurring nightmare of straight lines Virtually every critique detailed in this book has led to the result that some relationship between phenomena that economics argued was curved had to instead be a straight line. The economic theory of consumer behavior argued that a person’s consumption of a commodity could change in any direction as his income rose: if it was a luxury, consumption would rise relative to other commodities; if a necessity, consumption could fall.
A concern that conservation laws were being introduced into areas where they did not belong – for example, the analysis of money (Patriarca, Chakraborti et al. 2004; Ding, Xi et al. 2006) or the distribution of wealth – led me to contribute to a paper that was critical of recent developments in Econophysics (Gallegati, Keen et al. 2006). However, over time I expect developments like these to dissipate, given the innately empirical focus of physicists. The complexity scorecard Complexity theory and Econophysics are among the ‘glamour’ areas of science in general today, and this affects economics, even given its relative isolation from the scientific mainstream. The techniques which complexity modelers in economics employ are thus ‘refertilizing’ economics with concepts from other disciplines. The economic fixation upon equilibrium appears quaint to these mathematically literate economists, and this alone may significantly undermine the hold which static thinking has on economics. If statics were to die, then inevitably so too would neoclassical economics, since its way of thinking is unsustainable in dynamics.
Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, Benoit Mandelbrot, bitcoin, Brownian motion, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, continuation of politics by other means, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Graeber, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Davies, double helix, Drosophila, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, hive mind, index card, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, linear programming, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, scientific mainstream, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, technoutopianism, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, transaction costs, Turing machine
And just as cybernetics was mobilizing its intellectual defenses, it also found institutional fortification in the creation of Akademgorodok, a new “scientific township at Novosibirsk” in Siberia. Created in the spring of 1957, this city of science (formally part of the city of Novosibirsk) proved a refuge of privilege and relative intellectual freedom for over 65,000 Soviet scientists, including Aleksei Lyapunov, a pioneering cyberneticist.63 Before the Soviet scientific mainstream could adopt cybernetics, the attendant scholarly communities had to be prepared for an about-face in the official Soviet attitude toward an American-born discipline. The first sign of this turnaround came not from Moscow but from a neighbor in the near abroad: in 1954 in Warsaw, six “Dialogues on Cybernetics” surfaced, and they approached cybernetics in a critical dialectical tone that was serious enough to signify that the topic deserved real discussion.64 In the meantime, three mathematicians and an unlikely philosopher-critic closer to Moscow set off on a mission to remake Soviet cybernetics from the inside out.
Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong-And the New Research That's Rewriting the Story by Angela Saini
Albert Einstein, demographic transition, Drosophila, feminist movement, gender pay gap, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, out of africa, place-making, scientific mainstream, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, women in the workforce
“It seemed clear to me that the history of the life on the earth presents an unbroken chain of evidence going to prove the importance of the female,” Gamble writes in the preface to the revised edition, which came out in 1916. But even an army of readers and the support of fellow activists couldn’t help win biologists around to her point of view. Her arguments were doomed to never fully enter the scientific mainstream, only circulate outside it. But she never gave up. She marched on in her campaign for women’s rights and continued writing for the press. Fortunately, she lived just long enough to see her own work as well as that of the wider movement gain real strength. In 1893 New Zealand became the first self-governing country to grant women the vote. The battle would take until 1918 in Britain, although only for women over the age of thirty.
Big Bang by Simon Singh
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Astronomia nova, Brownian motion, carbon-based life, Cepheid variable, Chance favours the prepared mind, Commentariolus, Copley Medal, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Defenestration of Prague, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Freundlich, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Hans Lippershey, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, horn antenna, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Karl Jansky, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, Olbers’ paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Paul Erdős, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, scientific mainstream, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, V2 rocket, Wilhelm Olbers, William of Occam
Perhaps he had become overwhelmed by the stress of fighting for recognition. Perhaps the utter disappointment of not having a share of the Nobel prize proved too much. Alpher gradually recovered, but he would continue to be dogged by ill health. The Necessary Sprinkling of Wrinkling The award of the Nobel prize to Penzias and Wilson marked the point at which the Big Bang model became part of the scientific mainstream. In due course, this model of cosmic creation would even find recognition in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. It was not easy to construct an exhibit which represented the theory and observation that lay behind the development of the Big Bang model, but the curators made some imaginative decisions. The Smithsonian chose to display the Cointreau bottle with which Gamow and Alpher had celebrated their breakthrough in nucleosynthesis, shown in Figure 83 (see p. 335).
Falling to Earth by Al Worden
One of the crewmembers, Ed Mitchell, lived with me for a while at my apartment. He and his wife were separating, but Ed didn’t want to proceed with a full-blown divorce. He was worried how a divorce might affect his astronaut career and preferred to wait until after his flight. I liked Ed. He was different from your average astronaut. Fascinated by psychic phenomena and spiritual energy, he studied “new age” ideas that were far outside the scientific mainstream. It didn’t fit our NASA work, so Ed kept his interests pretty much to himself for a long time. At my apartment, however, we’d have long discussions into the night exploring what he called “the nature of consciousness,” including his plan to try ESP experiments on his moon mission. Ed’s Apollo 14 mission would set down where Apollo 13 had planned to land; NASA was investing two missions in one landing zone.
Meat: A Benign Extravagance by Simon Fairlie
agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, call centre, carbon footprint, Community Supported Agriculture, deindustrialization, en.wikipedia.org, food miles, Food sovereignty, Haber-Bosch Process, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Just-in-time delivery, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, megacity, Northern Rock, Panamax, peak oil, refrigerator car, scientific mainstream, sexual politics, stem cell, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, University of East Anglia, upwardly mobile, women in the workforce, zero-sum game
For every scientific paper showing that a land use change such as converting pasture to woodland, using minimum tillage on cropland, or excluding livestock from pasture increases the amount of carbon sequestered in the soil, there is another showing that, in other circumstances, the effect is the opposite.7 Moreover an increase in soil carbon on one site, for example by converting it from arable to pasture, may result in a decrease on another where pasture is converted to arable. An increase in soil carbon may also result in the release of other greenhouse gases: pasture sequestrates carbon, but grazing animals release methane. Similarly, adding nitrogen, by planting legumes for example, increases vegetation and hence the amount of carbon which the soil can potentially assimilate; but it also releases nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. Within the scientific mainstream there is little consensus as to whether soil carbon sequestration can only have a minor impact upon our overall greenhouse gas emissions, or whether it has the potential to solve all our problems. One scientific paper, authored by nine scientists, states that ‘the IPCC estimates for the global mitigation potential of carbon sequestration in agricultural soils are 0.4 to 0.6 billion tonnes per year (over 100 years) – which is less than ten per cent of our current annual carbon emissions from fossil fuels … From this perspective, soil carbon sequestration can make only modest contributions to the overall need for mitigation of atmospheric CO2 build-up.’ 8 Yet a year later, one of the nine authors, Dr Rattan Lal – who is the world’s number one guru on soil carbon, and frequently cited by the IPCC – stated that ‘the maximum potential rate of Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) sequestration of three billion tonnes of carbon per year is high enough to almost nullify the annual increase in atmospheric concentration of CO2 at 3.4 billion tonnes per year.’9 A perusal of the mainstream scientific literature on soil carbon sequestration suggests that livestock may have something to offer, but perhaps not a lot.
MacroWikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World by Don Tapscott, Anthony D. Williams
accounting loophole / creative accounting, airport security, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, Bretton Woods, business climate, business process, car-free, carbon footprint, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, cloud computing, collaborative editing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, demographic transition, distributed generation, don't be evil, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, energy transition, Exxon Valdez, failed state, fault tolerance, financial innovation, Galaxy Zoo, game design, global village, Google Earth, Hans Rosling, hive mind, Home mortgage interest deduction, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, medical bankruptcy, megacity, mortgage tax deduction, Netflix Prize, new economy, Nicholas Carr, oil shock, old-boy network, online collectivism, open borders, open economy, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, scientific mainstream, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, social web, software patent, Steve Jobs, text mining, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, transfer pricing, University of East Anglia, urban sprawl, value at risk, WikiLeaks, X Prize, young professional, Zipcar
Depending on your perspective there are two competing analyses of what “climategate” means, says Fred Pearce, an environment writer who led a major investigation into the controversy on behalf of the The Guardian.6 Climate scientists tend to see it as the mob storming the lab—the story of a malicious attempt to disrupt, cross-question, belittle, and trash the work of mainstream scientists. Their critics see it as democracy in action—the outcome of an entirely laudable effort by amateur scientists and others outside the scientific mainstream to gain access to the complex data sets behind some of the climate scientists’ conclusions and to subject them to their own analysis. While there is no reason, in our minds, to question the integrity of the world’s climate scientists, there is evidently some truth in both narratives. Pearce’s investigation found evidence of slipshod use of data and apparent efforts to cover that up. It also found persistent efforts to censor work by climatic skeptics regarded as hostile—especially those outside the scientific priesthood of peer review—or those able to generate headlines in media outlets thought unfriendly, like Fox News.
NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, assortative mating, crowdsourcing, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, experimental subject, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, index card, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, Larry Wall, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mother of all demos, neurotypical, New Journalism, pattern recognition, placebo effect, scientific mainstream, side project, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, union organizing, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War
He ended his speech by saying that it was the duty of his fellow scientists to “enlighten government in the prevention of the spread and multiplication of worthless members of society, the spread of feeblemindedness, of idiocy, and of all moral and intellectual as well as physical diseases.” These views of race and disability were not fringe science—the ranting of a deranged extremist at the academic equivalent of a Ku Klux Klan rally. They were the perspective of a broad swath of the scientific mainstream in America after World War I, backed by ongoing research in the United States and Europe funded by major foundations like the Carnegie Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation. Of the fifty-three papers presented at the conference, forty-one were the work of American scientists. The honorary president of the congress was Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone and telegraph.
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Barry Marshall: ulcers, conceptual framework, discovery of penicillin, experimental subject, iterative process, life extension, Louis Pasteur, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, New Journalism, phenotype, randomized controlled trial, scientific mainstream, Silicon Valley, social web, statistical model, stem cell, women in the workforce, éminence grise
Unfortunately, the monkeys failed to produce even a single cancer virus, but nothing dimmed the optimism. Over the next decade, the cancer virus program siphoned away more than 10 percent of the NCI contract budget—nearly $500 million. (In contrast, the institute’s cancer nutrition program, meant to evaluate the role of diet in cancer—a question of at least equal import—received one-twentieth of that allocation.) Peyton Rous was rehabilitated into the scientific mainstream and levitated into permanent scientific sainthood. In 1966, having been overlooked for a full fifty-five years, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine. On the evening of December 10 at the ceremony in Stockholm, he rose to the podium like a resurrected messiah. Rous acknowledged in his talk that the virus theory of cancer still needed much more work and clarity. “Relatively few viruses have any connection with the production of neoplasms,” Rous said.
Rationality: From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky
Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, anti-pattern, anti-work, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, Build a better mousetrap, Cass Sunstein, cellular automata, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological constant, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, effective altruism, experimental subject, Extropian, friendly AI, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, index card, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, Nash equilibrium, Necker cube, NP-complete, P = NP, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, planetary scale, prediction markets, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Solar eclipse in 1919, speech recognition, statistical model, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the map is not the territory, the scientific method, Turing complete, Turing machine, ultimatum game, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game
Since he is not a physicist—and neither am I—I’ll provide some outside sources here for readers who want to vet his arguments or learn more about his physics examples. Tegmark’s Our Mathematical Universe discusses a number of relevant ideas in philosophy and physics.5 Among Tegmark’s more novel ideas is his argument that all consistent mathematical structures exist, including worlds with physical laws and boundary conditions entirely unlike our own. He distinguishes these Tegmark worlds from multiverses in more scientifically mainstream hypotheses—e.g., worlds in stochastic eternal inflationary models of the Big Bang and in Hugh Everett’s many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics. Yudkowsky discusses many-worlds interpretations at greater length, as a response to the Copenhagen interpretations of quantum mechanics. Many-worlds has become very popular in recent decades among physicists, especially cosmologists. However, a number of physicists continue to reject it or maintain agnosticism.