blog progress

This blog is still an intramural affair, but the launch is iminent…
If permalink problems can be solved and
if I manage to tweak the style to my taste and
if get a grip on my spelling errors and and
if I find enough photos do get started and
if I discover a good hosting solution…..

Critical Mass by Philip Ball

0374281254 How one thing leads to another is the subtitle of this book. It brings together the concepts of non-equilibrium thermodynamics, network structure, power laws and game theory with economics, history, sociology and morality. Impossible! Irrelevant! Boring! Too difficult! your gut reaction?…. WRONG! The book succeeds in a superb way of bringing together these ideas. Prigogine, Hobbes, Bak, Popper, E.O. Wilson, Axelrod, Hume, Condorcet, Barabasi and many many more all make an appearance. These names do not sound familiar to you? Don’t worry, Philip Ball intruduces them gently but correctly. The main theme of the book is that an understanding of certain scientific ideas can help in the understanding of some of the problems of society. It cannot be stressed enough that the author is not a blind follower of scientism and clearly states that science, the reductionist and/or the holist kinds included, do not prescribe what ought to happen, they only increase our understanding of what happens and improve our capability of analyzing what the consequences of our actions can be. Economics as a discipline, i do not use the word science here, and, in addition, the devotees of Adam Smith type laissez-faire free markets should certainly try to learn from this book.
There is however a very big challenge this (kind of) book raises and it is not really mentioned in the book: How do we convince our fellow members of society to take these ideas about the physics of society serious. Similar concerns were justifiably raised after E.O Wilson published his Consilience. (I forgot in what review i read that.) Lets keep blogging however, who knows the meme will catch on, we cannot afford not to try.