Thoughts on Books #3

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

A brilliant book dealing with several cognitive biases and our understanding of risk. Many interesting ideas are explored within and they raise even more questions. I think I’ll do a dedicated post on this later.

Baudolino By Umberto Eco

This book was a slight deviation from what I was expecting after Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum, but still fascinating in its own way. The plot is woven into various historical events in the Middle Ages. The novel has an interesting point to make about the accuracy of historical texts and the authenticity of artifacts and relics. That is, people who “recorded” history may have not written down what really happened but altered it to manipulate the opinions of future historians.

Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population By Matthew Connelly

The intricate history of the population control movement. This is a well written, comprehensive book on the subject. Although the author has a bias, and declares so himself, I felt he did a great job in presenting the facts and events objectively. The history of this movement reads like a soap opera at times, with interest groups, NGOs, the church, and governments all vying for control and influence. While I don’t necessarily agree with some of the author’s conclusions, I do think it is very important to note, in the authors own words: The only factor that has consistently and convincingly been found to correlate with lower fertility is increasing women’s education.

The Fortune Tellers: Inside Wall Street’s Game of Money, Media and Manipulation By Howard Kurtz

An interesting, though dated, book which outlines why you should not trust any analyst you see on TV or any of the personalities appearing on financial channels such as CNBC. While historically interesting I would not characterize this as essential reading, although its central arguments remain true today.

The Last River: The Tragic Race for Shangri-la By Todd Balf

Unfortunately I did not get to see Solo at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam but I’m sure it would have been a good companion to this book, which documents the tragic 1998 kayaking expedition to the Yarlung Tsangpo gorge. One of the most remote places on Earth. It provides an interesting glimpse into the psyche of adventurers and practitioners of extreme sports.

The Arraignment By Steve Martini

A legal thriller / mystery novel. While entertaining, I wouldn’t recommend it.

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