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Old 08-28-2013, 03:22 PM   #2688
Jailblazers7's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 20,816
Default Re: What are you reading?

Originally Posted by Thorpesaurous
That sounds very much like a Malcolm Gladwell book, and I love Gladwell, so maybe I'll give it a shot. After a period of a few years where I read all the social science type stuff I could find like that, 5 Gladwell books, both Freakonomics books, and a few off the beaten path variations, like The Drunkard's Walk, I just kind of burned out on it. It went from this weird realization that there were other people out there thinking the way I think, but in much more refined ways, to this depressing realization that there were a ton of people out there thinking like that, all reaching similar conclusions, with varying levels of detail.

I also like Nate Silver, although not as much as most. I've been reading and listening to his take on sports topics forever. And look forward to his new Grantland style ESPN branch website. But I find his speach pattern oddly annoying. He asks the question "Right?", seemingly at the end of every sentence.

Personally I started up recently on more fiction, trying to go through the full works of Cormac MaCarthy. I ripped through The Road, and enjoyed the hell out of it, even knowing much of the story. Then I read a few short stories he published. And now I've moved on to Blood Meridian, and I'm starting to wear out. He's so dense in description but his tendency to not even name a lot of characters is beginning to make them feel flat. And he has a really bizarre writing style. He doesn't always start a new paragraph in dialogue. Doesn't use quotation marks. It probably wouldn't bother me as much if I weren't reading them back to back to back. And honestly I haven't picked it up in a couple weeks now.

I have never actually been a huge fan of the Gladwell books. I think he brings an interesting perspective to social psychology but nothing that really ever sticks. It is kind of like the joke the only use for a degree in psychology is to make interesting dinner conversation.

The Freakonimcs books are kind of similar in that they look for attention grabbing relationships that have flair and shock value. That has been a pretty common crique of Levitt in the field of economics as well. The coolest thing about those books to me is the creativity Levitt has with data. That guy really squeezes out every detail from a data set.

I think Nate Silver's book has a different vibe because it really hones in on why prediction fail or succeed in the specific fields that he discusses. It isn't about a social phenomenon like Gladwell or splashy statistical findings like in Freakonomics. I would actually really enjoy Silver's take on Freakonomics because Levitt seems to fall for the overconfidence trap that Silver warns about a lot. Also, he gives really cool insights into the fields like the computing tech in weather forecasting and chess. He describes the endgame of chess vs a supercomputer as a blackhole because the computer is basically unbeatable once the possibilities have been dwindled down to a small enough number.
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