What Book Changed Your Mind?

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Walker
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Walker » Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:03 am

Dalek Prime wrote:
duszek wrote:"The God-Father" by Mario Puzo.

Scilician gangster families are not as bad as I expected. And they respect women. And they have a sense of honour that I can understand at least, even though it is not my cultural background.

La famiglia Corleone mi ha impressionato senza darmi disperazione e paura.
Now that's scary...
Risk assessment.

Soon in the United States numbers for a $1.4 billion lottery will be drawn. That's Billion. One thousand four hundred millions and no cents.

In addition to the conventional advice, consider this if you win. Technology tells authorities where the ticket was purchased, even the time it was purchased. Security cameras and facial recognition will eliminate the rest of your privacy.

The Godfather knows this. The Godfather knows who and how to bribe ... ummm, persuade.

Consider the implications.

It pays to plan ahead when gambling with 300 million to 1 odds.

Obvious Leo
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Obvious Leo » Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:32 am

What point are you trying to make? Nowhere in the world is personal wealth so idolised as in the US. Are you now suggesting that being rich is dangerous?

Walker
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Walker » Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:13 pm

Really? Ok. The Godfather likes free money. The Godfather has been known to make offers that can’t be refused. He might make such an offer to the winner, before the ticket is cashed. With a billion at stake, this possibility is in the mix. Seeing the obvious is not advocating the obvious. Savvy?

Dalek Prime
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Dalek Prime » Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:51 pm

Walker, do yourself and everyone else a favour, and don't base your moral compass on fictional blackmailers, murderers, extortionists, and the like.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:12 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:
Hobbes' Choice wrote: I not sure how well his ideas have stood the test of time, but Immanuel Velikovski's "Worlds in Collision" was a dramatically different way of explaining some puzzling things.
It didn't stand the test of time at all and was even soundly ridiculed at the time of publication. I'm sure if you read it again now you'd reckon it was a crock of shit. About as plausible as von Daniken, who also managed to acquire a cult following during the same era.
.
I think his main advantage was to use imagination and to bring to the table things that could have happened, which were not refutable. A planetary collision to explain an early disaster from a transitory collision from a body now millions of miles away is like the tourist murderer.

Walker
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Walker » Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:34 pm

Dalek Prime wrote:Walker, do yourself and everyone else a favour, and don't base your moral compass on fictional blackmailers, murderers, extortionists, and the like.
:D

Fortunately, thinking folks aren't confined to the limitations of the box you live in.

Dalek Prime
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Dalek Prime » Tue Jan 12, 2016 3:05 pm

Walker wrote:
Dalek Prime wrote:Walker, do yourself and everyone else a favour, and don't base your moral compass on fictional blackmailers, murderers, extortionists, and the like.
:D

Fortunately, thinking folks aren't confined to the limitations of the box you live in.
I hope not. I don't want a flatmate. Especially, a flatmate who is guided by Sicilian mobster morality.

Obvious Leo
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Obvious Leo » Tue Jan 12, 2016 8:50 pm

Are Gates, Bezos, Zuckerberg, Buffet et al constantly under threat by the mob bearing blowtorches to be applied to the insteps? Puzo is quite an accomplished writer, Walker, but I hate to be the bearer of unwelcome news. His genre was fiction.

Obvious Leo
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Obvious Leo » Tue Jan 12, 2016 8:52 pm

Do you imagine the winner of the 1.4 billion turning up at the newsagents with a suitcase to carry off his winnings in unmarked small notes?

Walker
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Walker » Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:52 am

You're OK Leo? You're slowing down.

It's the Puzo principal, updated for changes in technology.

Obvious Leo
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Obvious Leo » Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:56 am

Walker wrote:You're OK Leo? You're slowing down.
I think I'm OK but it's 43 degrees C outside even as we speak. Such weather tends to slow me down.

Walker
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Walker » Wed Jan 13, 2016 3:01 am

Obvious Leo wrote:
Walker wrote:You're OK Leo? You're slowing down.
I think I'm OK but it's 43 degrees C outside even as we speak. Such weather tends to slow me down.
Wow. I did the conversion to the F language. Find some shade, man.

Polar Express on this side of the planet, though I never read the book.

Obvious Leo
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Obvious Leo » Wed Jan 13, 2016 3:09 am

Walker wrote: Find some shade, man.
I don't go outside on days like this, believe me. Unless I run out of beer.

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Greta
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Greta » Wed Jan 13, 2016 11:55 pm

Obvious Leo wrote:
Greta wrote:In my 30s The Selfish Gene answered more questions for me than any work I've read before or since.
Same here. It made a huge impact on me as a young biologist and is still a very useful source of ideas. Unfortunately most of the ideas have subsequently been shown to be false but such is the fate of all scientists. Dawkins has moved on a long way since 1976 and his remarkable ideas have evolved with him. I just wish he'd stop poncing around the world with that fuckwit Larry Krauss and stop arguing with the theists. It only encourages them.
Ditto. The "New Atheists" started the ball rolling by helping people overcome their unreasonable fear and undue respect of religion and to see religions in terms of another interest group. It was important and necessary work, but plenty less talented people can now carry the atheist banner for him. He is now so well known that his views are entirely predictable, in which case it would be nice for him to return to research and uncovering the new again.

Re: the Selfish Gene's accuracy, most observers today would side with EO Wilson in the group selection debate, and the mutability of genes was not known at the time of writing, which changes a great deal. Genes are not necessarily our destiny, just a collection of tendencies. Still, I found TSG grounding - rational answers to big questions presented honestly and carefully, in stark contrast with most reading material I found at the time. People today forget what it was like before the internet, where debates can be quickly resolved by Googling. We largely lived in a relative information black hole with authors taking advantage of the lack of accountability to jump to conclusions and spruik all manner of religious tosh about the nature of reality.

Arguably RD's greatest achievement in TSG is his conceptualisation and explanation of the meme, which has become a successful meme in itself. I also learned useful info from his game theory chapters and observations of inherent familial genetic conflicts of interest.

Obvious Leo
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Re: What Book Changed Your Mind?

Post by Obvious Leo » Thu Jan 14, 2016 1:46 am

Greta wrote:Re: the Selfish Gene's accuracy, most observers today would side with EO Wilson in the group selection debate, and the mutability of genes was not known at the time of writing, which changes a great deal.
Very much so. Even in 1976 I thought Dawkins' argument in rejection of group selection was a weak one but subsequent research by Wilson and others has effectively killed it off completely. I also felt that he paid insufficient heed to Eldredge and Gould's notions of punctuated equilibrium which more precisely defines evolution as an information theory. However Dawkins still deserves most of the credit for the future direction of biology more generally as an informational paradigm and specifically for his precise definition of genes as information carriers. I've noticed time and time again in science history that scientific theories always seem to emerge in their own place in time to accord with the intellectual zeitgeist of the era and this was a very good example. The decade following the publication of The Selfish Gene saw a complete re-alignment of the biological sciences towards complexity theory and informational modelling, basically consigning Darwinism and neo-Darwinism to mere subsets of evolutionary theory. Unfortunately this paradigm shift doesn't yet seem to have been reflected in the wider lay community, whose understanding of evolutionary theory remains woefully ill-informed. In a way the creationists are being handed a free kick because of the extremely narrow way in which evolutionary theory is mostly discussed in the public debate and Dawkins is making a serious error of judgement if he thinks that logic can be used to combat a belief.
Greta wrote:Genes are not necessarily our destiny, just a collection of tendencies.
Science is still merely scratching at the surface of the full implications of this. It turns out that 96% of our DNA isn't "junk" after all but actually performs a useful function in gene adaptation and expression. That's close to 4 billion base pairs of nucleotides whose function still needs to be unravelled so we'd best not be too impatient. In all likelihood this will forever remain a non-computable task so the precise physical nature of a human being will always be an unknowable unknown.
Greta wrote: Arguably RD's greatest achievement in TSG is his conceptualisation and explanation of the meme, which has become a successful meme in itself.
I completely agree. The meme has been an astonishingly successful idea and is now widely used in all the sociological sciences and particularly in economics. Ideas evolve and can spread rapidly through a population once they reach a critical mass. Gay marriage, a more enlightened approach to the "war on drugs", the gradual decline of consumerism in the west, and a more sustainable attitude towards our biosphere are just some of the major sociological shifts I have witnessed in my own lifetime and all are due to meme evolution.

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