rvenkat + book   220

Norms in the Wild - Paperback - Cristina Bicchieri - Oxford University Press
The philosopher Cristina Bicchieri here develops her theory of social norms, most recently explained in her 2006 volume The Grammar of Society. Bicchieri challenges many of the fundamental assumptions of the social sciences. She argues that when it comes to human behavior, social scientists place too much stress on rational deliberation. In fact, many choices occur without much deliberation at all. Bicchieri's theory accounts for these automatic components of behavior, where individuals react automatically to cues--those cues often pointing to the social norms that govern our choices in a social world

Bicchieri's work has broad implications not only for understanding human behavior, but for changing it for better outcomes. People have a strong conditional preference for following social norms, but that also means manipulating those norms (and the underlying social expectations) can produce beneficial behavioral changes. Bicchieri's recent work with UNICEF has explored the applicability of her views to issues of human rights and well-being. Is it possible to change social expectations around forced marriage, genital mutilations, and public health practices like vaccinations and sanitation? If so, how? What tools might we use? This short book explores how social norms work, and how changing them--changing preferences, beliefs, and especially social expectations--can potentially improve lives all around the world.

--To-do: compare with Ullmann-Margalit's work. Don't remember the exact connections...
book  norms  dynamics  social_behavior  homophily  contagion  social_influence  networks  social_networks  teaching 
yesterday by rvenkat
Nicholas Shea, Representation in Cognitive Science - PhilArchive
"How can we think about things in the outside world? There is still no widely accepted theory of how mental representations get their meaning. In light of pioneering research, Nicholas Shea develops a naturalistic account of the nature of mental representation with a firm focus on the subpersonal representations that pervade the cognitive sciences."
via:cshalizi  book  philosophy_of_science  cognitive_science 
2 days ago by rvenkat
The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication - Kathleen Hall Jamieson; Dan Kahan; Dietram A. Scheufele - Oxford University Press
The proposal to vaccinate adolescent girls against the human papilloma virus ignited political controversy, as did the advent of fracking and a host of other emerging technologies. These disputes attest to the persistent gap between expert and public perceptions. Complicating the communication of sound science and the debates that surround the societal applications of that science is a changing media environment in which misinformation can elicit belief without corrective context and likeminded individuals are prone to seek ideologically comforting information within their own self-constructed media enclaves.

Drawing on the expertise of leading science communication scholars from six countries, The Oxford Handbook of the Science of Science Communication not only charts the media landscape - from news and entertainment to blogs and films - but also examines the powers and perils of human biases - from the disposition to seek confirming evidence to the inclination to overweight endpoints in a trend line. In the process, it draws together the best available social science on ways to communicate science while also minimizing the pernicious effects of human bias.

The Handbook adds case studies exploring instances in which communication undercut or facilitated the access to scientific evidence. The range of topics addressed is wide, from genetically engineered organisms and nanotechnology to vaccination controversies and climate change. Also unique to this book is a focus on the complexities of involving the public in decision making about the uses of science, the regulations that should govern its application, and the ethical boundaries within which science should operate. The Handbook is an invaluable resource for researchers in the communication fields, particularly in science and health communication, as well as to scholars involved in research on scientific topics susceptible to distortion in partisan debate.
cultural_cognition  communication  social_construction_of_ignorance  social_construction_of_knowledge  sociology_of_science  dan.kahan  book 
7 days ago by rvenkat
A Duty to Resist - Candice Delmas - Oxford University Press
What are our responsibilities in the face of injustice? How far should we go to fight it? Many would argue that as long as a state is nearly just, citizens have a moral duty to obey the law. Proponents of civil disobedience generally hold that, given this moral duty, a person needs a solid justification to break the law. But activists from Henry David Thoreau and Mohandas Gandhi to the Movement for Black Lives have long recognized that there are times when, rather than having a duty to obey the law, we have a duty to disobey it.

Taking seriously the history of this activism, A Duty to Resist wrestles with the problem of political obligation in real world societies that harbor injustice. Candice Delmas argues that the duty of justice, the principle of fairness, the Samaritan duty, and political association impose responsibility to resist under conditions of injustice. We must expand political obligation to include a duty to resist unjust laws and social conditions even in legitimate states.

For Delmas, this duty to resist demands principled disobedience, and such disobedience need not always be civil. At times, covert, violent, evasive, or offensive acts of lawbreaking can be justified, even required. Delmas defends the viability and necessity of illegal assistance to undocumented migrants, leaks of classified information, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, sabotage, armed self-defense, guerrilla art, and other modes of resistance. There are limits: principle alone does not justify law breaking. But uncivil disobedience can sometimes be not only permissible but required in the effort to resist injustice.


http://crookedtimber.org/2018/10/31/a-superb-new-book-on-the-duty-of-resistance/

-- both the book and the review feels disconnected with how *uncivil disobedience* manifests itself in the real world, I mean the world that is not Europe or North America. *Uncivil Disobedience* without devolution into prolonged violence and terrorism is Utopian fairy tale territory.
book  political_philosophy  political_science  civil_disobidience  protests  terrorism 
8 days ago by rvenkat
Hu, D.: How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls: Animal Movement and the Robots of the Future (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
Insects walk on water, snakes slither, and fish swim. Animals move with astounding grace, speed, and versatility: how do they do it, and what can we learn from them? In How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls, David Hu takes readers on an accessible, wondrous journey into the world of animal motion. From basement labs at MIT to the rain forests of Panama, Hu shows how animals have adapted and evolved to traverse their environments, taking advantage of physical laws with results that are startling and ingenious. In turn, the latest discoveries about animal mechanics are inspiring scientists to invent robots and devices that move with similar elegance and efficiency.

Hu follows scientists as they investigate a multitude of animal movements, from the undulations of sandfish and the way that dogs shake off water in fractions of a second to the seemingly crash-resistant characteristics of insect flight. Not limiting his exploration to individual organisms, Hu describes the ways animals enact swarm intelligence, such as when army ants cooperate and link their bodies to create bridges that span ravines. He also looks at what scientists learn from nature’s unexpected feats—such as snakes that fly, mosquitoes that survive rainstorms, and dead fish that swim upstream. As researchers better understand such issues as energy, flexibility, and water repellency in animal movement, they are applying this knowledge to the development of cutting-edge technology.

Integrating biology, engineering, physics, and robotics, How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls demystifies the remarkable mechanics behind animal locomotion.

http://www.hu.gatech.edu/publications/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/05/science/hu-robotics.html
locomotion  animal_behavior  robotics  book 
9 days ago by rvenkat
Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence
"What does AI mean for your business? Read this book to find out." -- Hal Varian, Chief Economist, Google. Artificial intelligence does the seemingly impossible, magically bringing machines to life-driving cars, trading stocks, and teaching children. But facing the sea change that AI will bring can be paralyzing. How should companies set strategies, governments design policies, and people plan their lives for a world so different from what we know? In the face of such uncertainty, many analysts either cower in fear or predict an impossibly sunny future. But in "Prediction Machines," three eminent economists recast the rise of AI as a drop in the cost of prediction. With this single, masterful stroke, they lift the curtain on the AI-is-magic hype and show how basic tools from economics provide clarity about the AI revolution and a basis for action by CEOs, managers, policy makers, investors, and entrepreneurs. When AI is framed as cheap prediction, its extraordinary potential becomes clear: Prediction is at the heart of making decisions under uncertainty. Our businesses and personal lives are riddled with such decisions.; Prediction tools increase productivity--operating machines, handling documents, communicating with customers.; Uncertainty constrains strategy. Better prediction creates opportunities for new business structures and strategies to compete. Penetrating, fun, and always insightful and practical, "Prediction Machines" follows its inescapable logic to explain how to navigate the changes on the horizon. The impact of AI will be profound, but the economic framework for understanding it is surprisingly simple.

-- interesting pov but does not warrant a book length treatment. What about lowered cost of making mistakes, impact of economic forecasting with model mis-specification,....?
book  economics  prediction  automation  artificial_intelligence  machine_learning  market_microstructure  via:noahpinion  i_remain_skeptical 
12 days ago by rvenkat
Kernighan, B.: Millions, Billions, Zillions: Defending Yourself in a World of Too Many Numbers (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
Numbers are often intimidating, confusing, and even deliberately deceptive—especially when they are really big. The media loves to report on millions, billions, and trillions, but frequently makes basic mistakes or presents such numbers in misleading ways. And misunderstanding numbers can have serious consequences, since they can deceive us in many of our most important decisions, including how to vote, what to buy, and whether to make a financial investment. In this short, accessible, enlightening, and entertaining book, leading computer scientist Brian Kernighan teaches anyone—even diehard math-phobes—how to demystify the numbers that assault us every day.

With examples drawn from a rich variety of sources, including journalism, advertising, and politics, Kernighan demonstrates how numbers can mislead and misrepresent. In chapters covering big numbers, units, dimensions, and more, he lays bare everything from deceptive graphs to speciously precise numbers. And he shows how anyone—using a few basic ideas and lots of shortcuts—can easily learn to recognize common mistakes, determine whether numbers are credible, and make their own sensible estimates when needed.

Giving you the simple tools you need to avoid being fooled by dubious numbers, Millions, Billions, Zillions is an essential survival guide for a world drowning in big—and often bad—data.
book  numeracy  communication  education  via:zeynep  cognitive_science  mathematics  heuristics  dmce  teaching 
23 days ago by rvenkat
Network Propaganda - Paperback - Yochai Benkler; Robert Faris; Hal Roberts - Oxford University Press
Is social media destroying democracy? Are Russian propaganda or "Fake news" entrepreneurs on Facebook undermining our sense of a shared reality? A conventional wisdom has emerged since the election of Donald Trump in 2016 that new technologies and their manipulation by foreign actors played a decisive role in his victory and are responsible for the sense of a "post-truth" moment in which disinformation and propaganda thrives.

Network Propaganda challenges that received wisdom through the most comprehensive study yet published on media coverage of American presidential politics from the start of the election cycle in April 2015 to the one year anniversary of the Trump presidency. Analysing millions of news stories together with Twitter and Facebook shares, broadcast television and YouTube, the book provides a comprehensive overview of the architecture of contemporary American political communications. Through data analysis and detailed qualitative case studies of coverage of immigration, Clinton scandals, and the Trump Russia investigation, the book finds that the right-wing media ecosystem operates fundamentally differently than the rest of the media environment.

The authors argue that longstanding institutional, political, and cultural patterns in American politics interacted with technological change since the 1970s to create a propaganda feedback loop in American conservative media. This dynamic has marginalized centre-right media and politicians, radicalized the right wing ecosystem, and rendered it susceptible to propaganda efforts, foreign and domestic. For readers outside the United States, the book offers a new perspective and methods for diagnosing the sources of, and potential solutions for, the perceived global crisis of democratic politics.

-- Open Access Title
book  yochai.benkler  misinformation  disinformation  media_studies  social_networks  political_science 
6 weeks ago by rvenkat
Physical Computation - Paperback - Gualtiero Piccinini - Oxford University Press
Gualtiero Piccinini articulates and defends a mechanistic account of concrete, or physical, computation. A physical system is a computing system just in case it is a mechanism one of whose functions is to manipulate vehicles based solely on differences between different portions of the vehicles according to a rule defined over the vehicles. Physical Computation discusses previous accounts of computation and argues that the mechanistic account is better. Many kinds of computation are explicated, such as digital vs. analog, serial vs. parallel, neural network computation, program-controlled computation, and more. Piccinini argues that computation does not entail representation or information processing although information processing entails computation. Pancomputationalism, according to which every physical system is computational, is rejected. A modest version of the physical Church-Turing thesis, according to which any function that is physically computable is computable by Turing machines, is defended.
book  philosophy  computation  dynamical_system 
7 weeks ago by rvenkat
The New Mechanical Philosophy - Stuart Glennan - Oxford University Press
The New Mechanical Philosophy argues for a new image of nature and of science--one that understands both natural and social phenomena to be the product of mechanisms, and that casts the work of science as an effort to discover and understand those mechanisms. Drawing on an expanding literature on mechanisms in physical, life, and social sciences, Stuart Glennan offers an account of the nature of mechanisms and of the models used to represent them. A key quality of mechanisms is that they are particulars - located at different places and times, with no one just like another. The crux of the scientist's challenge is to balance the complexity and particularity of mechanisms with our need for representations of them that are abstract and general.

This volume weaves together metaphysical and methodological questions about mechanisms. Metaphysically, it explores the implications of the mechanistic framework for our understanding of classical philosophical questions about the nature of objects, properties, processes, events, causal relations, natural kinds and laws of nature. Methodologically, the book explores how scientists build models to represent and understand phenomena and the mechanisms responsible for them. Using this account of representation, Glennan offers a scheme for characterizing the enormous diversity of things that scientists call mechanisms, and explores the scope and limits of mechanistic explanation.
book  philosophy_of_science  philosophy_of_biology 
8 weeks ago by rvenkat
Freedom: The Holberg Lecture, 2018 by Cass R. Sunstein :: SSRN
If people have freedom of choice, do their lives go better? Under what conditions? By what criteria? Consider three distinct problems. (1) In countless situations, human beings face a serious problem of “navigability”; they do not know how to get to their preferred destination, whether the issue involves health, education, employment, or well-being in general. This problem is especially challenging for people who live under conditions of severe deprivation, but it can be significant for all of us. (2) Many of us face problems of self-control, and our decisions today endanger our own future. What we want, right now, hurts us, next year. (3) In some cases, we would actually be happy or well-off with two or more different outcomes, whether the issue involves our jobs, our diets, our city, or even our friends and partners, and the real question, on which good answers are increasingly available, is what most promotes our welfare. The evaluative problem, in such cases, is especially challenging if a decision would alter people’s identity, values, or character. Private and public institutions -- including small companies, large companies, governments – can help people to have better lives, given (1), (2), and (3). This Essay, the text of the Holberg Lecture 2018, is the basis for a different, thicker, and more elaborate treatment in a book.

-- Optimal foraging theory rediscovered by a law professor.
political_science  law  political_philosophy  book  cass.sunstein 
8 weeks ago by rvenkat
Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings — William C. Wimsatt | Harvard University Press
Analytic philosophers once pantomimed physics: they tried to understand the world by breaking it down into the smallest possible bits. Thinkers from the Darwinian sciences now pose alternatives to this simplistic reductionism.

In this intellectual tour—essays spanning thirty years—William C. Wimsatt argues that scientists seek to atomize phenomena only when necessary in the search to understand how entities, events, and processes articulate at different levels. Evolution forms the natural world not as Laplace’s all-seeing demon but as a backwoods mechanic fixing and re-fashioning machines out of whatever is at hand. W. V. Quine’s lost search for a “desert ontology” leads instead to Wimsatt’s walk through a tropical rain forest.

This book offers a philosophy for error-prone humans trying to understand messy systems in the real world. Against eliminative reductionism, Wimsatt pits new perspectives to deal with emerging natural and social complexities. He argues that our philosophy should be rooted in heuristics and models that work in practice, not only in principle. He demonstrates how to do this with an analysis of the strengths, the limits, and a recalibration of our reductionistic and analytic methodologies. Our aims are changed and our philosophy is transfigured in the process.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10539-011-9260-8

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10539-010-9202-x

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10539-010-9199-1
book  philosophy_of_biology 
10 weeks ago by rvenkat
Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition | The MIT Press
"Scaffolding" is a concept that is becoming widely used across disciplines. This book investigates common threads in diverse applications of scaffolding, including theoretical biology, cognitive science, social theory, science and technology studies, and human development. Despite its widespread use, the concept of scaffolding is often given short shrift; the contributors to this volume, from a range of disciplines, offer a more fully developed analysis of scaffolding that highlights the role of temporal and temporary resources in development, broadly conceived, across concepts of culture, cognition, and evolution.

The book emphasizes reproduction, repeated assembly, and entrenchment of heterogeneous relations, parts, and processes as a complement to neo-Darwinism in the developmentalist tradition of conceptualizing evolutionary change. After describing an integration of theoretical perspectives that can accommodate different levels of analysis and connect various methodologies, the book discusses multilevel organization; differences (and reciprocality) between individuals and institutions as units of analysis; and perspectives on development that span brains, careers, corporations, and cultural cycles.

--link to a book review
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10441-014-9230-z

-- thoughts based on the introductory essay
Herb Simon's _Architecture of Complexity_ meets Developmental Biology. Stuff Andy Clark missed. S.J. Gould's first book philosophized.
book  philosophy_of_biology  philosophy_of_technology  cultural_evolution 
10 weeks ago by rvenkat
In Search of Mechanisms: Discoveries across the Life Sciences, Craver, Darden
Neuroscientists investigate the mechanisms of spatial memory. Molecular biologists study the mechanisms of protein synthesis and the myriad mechanisms of gene regulation. Ecologists study nutrient cycling mechanisms and their devastating imbalances in estuaries such as the Chesapeake Bay. In fact, much of biology and its history involves biologists constructing, evaluating, and revising their understanding of mechanisms.

With In Search of Mechanisms, Carl F. Craver and Lindley Darden offer both a descriptive and an instructional account of how biologists discover mechanisms. Drawing on examples from across the life sciences and through the centuries, Craver and Darden compile an impressive toolbox of strategies that biologists have used and will use again to reveal the mechanisms that produce, underlie, or maintain the phenomena characteristic of living things. They discuss the questions that figure in the search for mechanisms, characterizing the experimental, observational, and conceptual considerations used to answer them, all the while providing examples from the history of biology to highlight the kinds of evidence and reasoning strategies employed to assess mechanisms. At a deeper level, Craver and Darden pose a systematic view of what biology is, of how biology makes progress, of how biological discoveries are and might be made, and of why knowledge of biological mechanisms is important for the future of the human species.
book  philosophy_of_biology 
10 weeks ago by rvenkat
Explaining the Brain - Hardcover - Carl F. Craver - Oxford University Press
What distinguishes good explanations in neuroscience from bad? Carl F. Craver constructs and defends standards for evaluating neuroscientific explanations that are grounded in a systematic view of what neuroscientific explanations are: descriptions of multilevel mechanisms. In developing this approach, he draws on a wide range of examples in the history of neuroscience (e.g. Hodgkin and Huxleys model of the action potential and LTP as a putative explanation for different kinds of memory), as well as recent philosophical work on the nature of scientific explanation. Readers in neuroscience, psychology, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of science will find much to provoke and stimulate them in this book.
book  philosophy_of_biology  neuroscience 
10 weeks ago by rvenkat
Discovering Complexity | The MIT Press
In Discovering Complexity, William Bechtel and Robert Richardson examine two heuristics that guided the development of mechanistic models in the life sciences: decomposition and localization. Drawing on historical cases from disciplines including cell biology, cognitive neuroscience, and genetics, they identify a number of "choice points" that life scientists confront in developing mechanistic explanations and show how different choices result in divergent explanatory models. Describing decomposition as the attempt to differentiate functional and structural components of a system and localization as the assignment of responsibility for specific functions to specific structures, Bechtel and Richardson examine the usefulness of these heuristics as well as their fallibility—the sometimes false assumption underlying them that nature is significantly decomposable and hierarchically organized.

When Discovering Complexity was originally published in 1993, few philosophers of science perceived the centrality of seeking mechanisms to explain phenomena in biology, relying instead on the model of nomological explanation advanced by the logical positivists (a model Bechtel and Richardson found to be utterly inapplicable to the examples from the life sciences in their study). Since then, mechanism and mechanistic explanation have become widely discussed. In a substantive new introduction to this MIT Press edition of their book, Bechtel and Richardson examine both philosophical and scientific developments in research on mechanistic models since 1993.
philosophy_of_biology  book 
10 weeks ago by rvenkat
Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy: Harford, Tim: Hardcover: 9780735216136: Powell's Books
Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy paints an epic picture of change in an intimate way by telling the stories of the tools, people, and ideas that had far-reaching consequences for all of us. From the plough to artificial intelligence, from Gillette's disposable razor to IKEA's Billy bookcase, bestselling author and Financial Times columnist Tim Harford recounts each invention's own curious, surprising, and memorable story.

Invention by invention, Harford reflects on how we got here and where we might go next. He lays bare often unexpected connections: how the bar code undermined family corner stores, and why the gramophone widened inequality. In the process, he introduces characters who developed some of these inventions, profited from them, and were ruined by them, as he traces the principles that helped explain their transformative effects. The result is a wise and witty book of history, economics, and biography.
book  economics  technology  via:wolfers 
10 weeks ago by rvenkat
Godfrey-Smith, P.: Philosophy of Biology (Hardcover, Paperback and eBook) | Princeton University Press
This is a concise, comprehensive, and accessible introduction to the philosophy of biology written by a leading authority on the subject. Geared to philosophers, biologists, and students of both, the book provides sophisticated and innovative coverage of the central topics and many of the latest developments in the field. Emphasizing connections between biological theories and other areas of philosophy, and carefully explaining both philosophical and biological terms, Peter Godfrey-Smith discusses the relation between philosophy and science; examines the role of laws, mechanistic explanation, and idealized models in biological theories; describes evolution by natural selection; and assesses attempts to extend Darwin's mechanism to explain changes in ideas, culture, and other phenomena. Further topics include functions and teleology, individuality and organisms, species, the tree of life, and human nature. The book closes with detailed, cutting-edge treatments of the evolution of cooperation, of information in biology, and of the role of communication in living systems at all scales.

-- I have major issues with the last chapter of the book but is an adequate book. Also, the lack of chapters on cybernetics and absence of adequate discussions on self-organization and emergence. Also missing are literate discussions of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics and its role in the genesis of biological complexity. Overall, the book left me with the feeling of "where is the other half of the book?". But with a suitable collection of articles on missing topics, the book can serve as a text for a first course.
book  peter.godfrey-smith  philosophy_of_biology  teaching 
10 weeks ago by rvenkat
Stochastic Processes: From Applications to Theory - CRC Press Book
Unlike traditional books presenting stochastic processes in an academic way, this book includes concrete applications that students will find interesting such as gambling, finance, physics, signal processing, statistics, fractals, and biology. Written with an important illustrated guide in the beginning, it contains many illustrations, photos and pictures, along with several website links. Computational tools such as simulation and Monte Carlo methods are included as well as complete toolboxes for both traditional and new computational techniques.
book  stochastic_processes  probability 
july 2018 by rvenkat
Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War
A bracingly immediate memoir of the Syrian war from its inception to the present by a young man coming of age and finding his voice as a journalist, whose friends traveled divergent paths through the carnage. An intimate lens into the century’s bloodiest conflict, and a profound meditation on kinship, home, and freedom. Illustrated with over 80 ink drawings by Molly Crabapple.

In 2011, Marwan Hisham and his two friends–fellow working-class college students–Nael and Tareq, joined the first protests of the Arab Spring in Syria, in response to a recent massacre. Arm-in-arm they marched, poured Coke into each other’s eyes to blunt the effects of tear gas, ran from the security forces, and cursed the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad. It was ecstasy. A long-bottled revolution was finally erupting, and freedom from a brutal dictator seemed, at last, imminent. Five years later, the three young friends were scattered: one now an Islamist revolutionary; another dead at the hands of government soldiers; and the last, Marwan, now a journalist in Turkish exile, trying to find a way back to a homeland reduced to rubble.

Brothers of the Gun is the story of a young man coming of age during the Syrian war from its inception to the present. Marwan watched from the rooftops as regime warplanes bombed rebels; as revolutionary activist groups, for a few dreamy days, spray-painted hope on Raqqa; as his friends died or threw in their lot with Islamist fighters. He became a journalist by courageously tweeting out news from a city under siege by ISIS, the Russians, and the Americans, all at once. He watched the country that ran through his veins–the country that held his hopes, dreams, and fears–be destroyed in front of him, and eventually joined the relentless stream of refugees risking their lives to escape.

With vivid illustrations that bring to life the beauty and chaos, Brothers of the Gun offers a ground-level reflection on the Syrian revolution–and how it bled into international catastrophe and global war. This is a story of pragmatism and idealism, impossible violence and repression, and, even in the midst of war, profound acts of courage, creativity, and hope
book  syria 
july 2018 by rvenkat
Handbook of Graphical Models - CRC Press Book
A graphical model is a statistical model that is represented by a graph. The factorization properties underlying graphical models facilitate tractable computation with multivariate distributions, making the models a valuable tool with a plethora of applications. Furthermore, directed graphical models allow intuitive causal interpretations and have become a cornerstone for causal inference.

While there exist a number of excellent books on graphical models, the field has grown so much that individual authors can hardly cover its entire scope. Moreover, the field is interdisciplinary by nature. Through chapters by leading researchers from different areas, this handbook provides a broad and accessible overview of the state of the art.

The handbook is targeted at a wide audience, including graduate students, applied researchers, and experts in graphical models.

https://stat.ethz.ch/~maathuis/papers/Handbook.pdf
graphical_models  book  statistics  algorithms 
july 2018 by rvenkat
Active Matter | The MIT Press
The past few decades brought a revolution in computer software and hardware; today we are on the cusp of a materials revolution. If yesterday we programmed computers and other machines, today we program matter itself. This has created new capabilities in design, computing, and fabrication, which allow us to program proteins and bacteria, to generate self-transforming wood products and architectural details, and to create clothing from “intelligent textiles” that grow themselves. This book offers essays and sample projects from the front lines of the emerging field of active matter.

Active matter and programmable materials are at the intersection of science, art, design, and engineering, with applications in fields from biology and computer science to architecture and fashion. These essays contextualize current work and explore recent research. Sample projects, generously illustrated in color, show the range of possibilities envisioned by their makers. Contributors explore the design of active material at scales from nano to micro, kilo, and even planetary. They investigate processes of self-assembly at a microscopic level; test new materials that can sense and actuate themselves; and examine the potential of active matter in the built environment and in living and artificial systems. Active Matter is an essential guide to a field that could shape the future of design.
book  active_matter  self_organization  collective_dynamics  robotics  artificial_life  artificial_intelligence 
july 2018 by rvenkat
Asymptotics of Elliptic and Parabolic PDEs - and their Applications in Statistical Physics, Computational Neuroscience, and Biophysics | David Holcman | Springer
This is a monograph on the emerging branch of mathematical biophysics combining asymptotic analysis with numerical and stochastic methods to analyze partial differential equations arising in biological and physical sciences.

In more detail, the book presents the analytic methods and tools for approximating solutions of mixed boundary value problems, with particular emphasis on the narrow escape problem. Informed throughout by real-world applications, the book includes topics such as the Fokker-Planck equation, boundary layer analysis, WKB approximation, applications of spectral theory, as well as recent results in narrow escape theory. Numerical and stochastic aspects, including mean first passage time and extreme statistics, are discussed in detail and relevant applications are presented in parallel with the theory.
Including background on the classical asymptotic theory of differential equations, this book is written for scientists of various backgrounds interested in deriving solutions to real-world problems from first principles.
markov_process  pde  book 
june 2018 by rvenkat
An Introduction to Model-Based Cognitive Neuroscience | Birte U. Forstmann | Springer
Two recent innovations, the emergence of formal cognitive models and the addition of cognitive neuroscience data to the traditional behavioral data, have resulted in the birth of a new, interdisciplinary field of study: model-based cognitive neuroscience. Despite the increasing scientific interest in model-based cognitive neuroscience, few active researchers and even fewer students have a good knowledge of the two constituent disciplines. The main goal of this edited collection is to promote the integration of cognitive modeling and cognitive neuroscience. Experts in the field will provide tutorial-style chapters that explain particular techniques and highlight their usefulness through concrete examples and numerous case studies. The book will also include a thorough list of references pointing the reader towards additional literature and online resources.
cognition  models_of_behavior  neuroscience  book 
june 2018 by rvenkat
Padgett, J. and Powell, W.: The Emergence of Organizations and Markets (Hardcover, Paperback and eBook) | Princeton University Press
The social sciences have sophisticated models of choice and equilibrium but little understanding of the emergence of novelty. Where do new alternatives, new organizational forms, and new types of people come from? Combining biochemical insights about the origin of life with innovative and historically oriented social network analyses, John Padgett and Walter Powell develop a theory about the emergence of organizational, market, and biographical novelty from the coevolution of multiple social networks. They demonstrate that novelty arises from spillovers across intertwined networks in different domains. In the short run actors make relations, but in the long run relations make actors.

This theory of novelty emerging from intersecting production and biographical flows is developed through formal deductive modeling and through a wide range of original historical case studies. Padgett and Powell build on the biochemical concept of autocatalysis--the chemical definition of life--and then extend this autocatalytic reasoning to social processes of production and communication. Padgett and Powell, along with other colleagues, analyze a very wide range of cases of emergence. They look at the emergence of organizational novelty in early capitalism and state formation; they examine the transformation of communism; and they analyze with detailed network data contemporary science-based capitalism: the biotechnology industry, regional high-tech clusters, and the open source community.

review here
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/339/6124/1150

-- auto-catalytic sets, principles of self organization,...? Comments withheld till I read the book. Haven't General systems theorists tried all this before?
book  self_organization  institutions  complexity  market_design  for_friends 
june 2018 by rvenkat
Freedom rising human empowerment and quest emancipation | Comparative politics | Cambridge University Press
This book presents a comprehensive theory of why human freedom gave way to increasing oppression since the invention of states – and why this trend began to reverse itself more recently, leading to a rapid expansion of universal freedoms and democracy. Drawing on a massive body of evidence, the author tests various explanations of the rise of freedom, providing convincing support of a well-reasoned theory of emancipation. The study demonstrates multiple trends toward human empowerment, which converge to give people control over their lives. Most important among these trends is the spread of “emancipative values,” which emphasize free choice and equal opportunities. The author identifies the desire for emancipation as the origin of the human empowerment trend and shows when and why this desire grows strong; why it is the source of democracy; and how it vitalizes civil society, feeds humanitarian norms, enhances happiness, and helps redirect modern civilization toward sustainable development.
book  history  comparative  political_science  development_economics  the_civilizing_process  democracy  debates 
may 2018 by rvenkat
The Book of Why – Hachette Book Group
-- I anticipate outcry that *his* vision is very limited, ...... and all that.
book  causality  causal_inference  judea.pearl 
march 2018 by rvenkat
Built
Imagine you woke up one morning, and everything that engineers had created disappeared. What would you see?

No cars, no houses; no phones, bridges or roads. No tunnels under tidal rivers, no soaring skyscrapers. Engineering is an intrinsic and intimate part of our existence, shaping the spaces in which reside. We cannot live without it.

In BUILT, structural engineer Roma Agrawal takes a unique look at how construction has evolved from the mud huts of our ancestors to towers of steel that reach into the sky. She unearths how humans have tunnelled through kilometres of solid mountain, bridged the widest and deepest of rivers, and tamed Nature’s precious – and elusive – water resources. She tells vivid tales of the pioneers behind landmark builds such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Burj Khalifa, and examines, from an engineering perspective, tragedies like the collapse of the Twin Towers. She reveals how she designs a building so it will stand strong – even in the face of gales, fire, earthquakes and explosions.

With colourful stories of her life-long fascination with buildings – and her own hand-drawn illustrations – Roma uncovers the extraordinary secret lives of structures.
book  engineering  design  philosophy_of_technology  ? 
march 2018 by rvenkat
Roberts, M.E.: Censored: Distraction and Diversion Inside China`s Great Firewall (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
As authoritarian governments around the world develop sophisticated technologies for controlling information, many observers have predicted that these controls would be ineffective because they are easily thwarted and evaded by savvy Internet users. In Censored, Margaret Roberts demonstrates that even censorship that is easy to circumvent can still be enormously effective. Taking advantage of digital data harvested from the Chinese Internet and leaks from China's Propaganda Department, this important book sheds light on how and when censorship influences the Chinese public.

Roberts finds that much of censorship in China works not by making information impossible to access but by requiring those seeking information to spend extra time and money for access. By inconveniencing users, censorship diverts the attention of citizens and powerfully shapes the spread of information. When Internet users notice blatant censorship, they are willing to compensate for better access. But subtler censorship, such as burying search results or introducing distracting information on the web, is more effective because users are less aware of it. Roberts challenges the conventional wisdom that online censorship is undermined when it is incomplete and shows instead how censorship's porous nature is used strategically to divide the public.

Drawing parallels between censorship in China and the way information is manipulated in the United States and other democracies, Roberts reveals how Internet users are susceptible to control even in the most open societies. Demonstrating how censorship travels across countries and technologies, Censored gives an unprecedented view of how governments encroach on the media consumption of citizens.

http://www.margaretroberts.net

-- book based on a set of papers co-authored with Gary King, extensively discussed in Tufekci's book. Her current projects include work with Grimmer on causal inference of political attitudes from text-mined data.
book  surveillance  authoritarianism  censorship  civil_rights  platform_studies  china  governance  social_media  political_science 
march 2018 by rvenkat
Wuthnow, R.: The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
What is fueling rural America's outrage toward the federal government? Why did rural Americans vote overwhelmingly for Donald Trump? And, beyond economic and demographic decline, is there a more nuanced explanation for the growing rural-urban divide? Drawing on more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, Robert Wuthnow brings us into America's small towns, farms, and rural communities to paint a rich portrait of the moral order--the interactions, loyalties, obligations, and identities—underpinning this critical segment of the nation. Wuthnow demonstrates that to truly understand rural Americans' anger, their culture must be explored more fully.

We hear from farmers who want government out of their business, factory workers who believe in working hard to support their families, town managers who find the federal government unresponsive to their communities' needs, and clergy who say the moral climate is being undermined. Wuthnow argues that rural America's fury stems less from specific economic concerns than from the perception that Washington is distant from and yet threatening to the social fabric of small towns. Rural dwellers are especially troubled by Washington's seeming lack of empathy for such small-town norms as personal responsibility, frugality, cooperation, and common sense. Wuthnow also shows that while these communities may not be as discriminatory as critics claim, racism and misogyny remain embedded in rural patterns of life.

Moving beyond simplistic depictions of the residents of America's heartland, The Left Behind offers a clearer picture of how this important population will influence the nation's political future.
via:?  trumpism  inequality  democracy  right-wing_populism  economic_sociology  book 
march 2018 by rvenkat
Philosophy of Daniel Dennett - Oxford Scholarship
Daniel C. Dennett began publishing innovative philosophical research in the late 1960s, and he has continued doing so for the past 45 years. He has addressed questions about the nature of mind and consciousness, the possibility of freedom, and the significance of evolution to addressing questions across the cognitive, biological, and social sciences. This book explores the intellectual significance of this research project, bringing together the insights of 11 researchers who are currently working on themes that are relevant to Dennett’s philosophical worldview. Some of the contributions address interpretive issues within Dennett’s corpus, and they aim to bring increased clarity to Dennett’s project. Others report novel empirical data, at least in part, in the service of fleshing out Dennett’s claims. Some of them provide a fresh take on a Dennettian theme, and others extend his views in novel directions. Like Dennett’s own work, these papers draw on a wide range of different methodologies, from appeals to intuition pumps and scientific data, to turning the knobs on a theory to see what it can do. But each of them aims to be readable, and approachable. And as a whole, the volume provides a critical and constructive overview of Dennett’s stance-based methodology, as well as explorations of his claims about metal representation, consciousness, cultural evolution, and religion.
philosophy  cognitive_science  book 
march 2018 by rvenkat
Probabilistic Foundations of Statistical Network Analysis - CRC Press Book
Probabilistic Foundations of Statistical Network Analysis presents a fresh and insightful perspective on the fundamental tenets and major challenges of modern network analysis. Its lucid exposition provides necessary background for understanding the essential ideas behind exchangeable and dynamic network models, network sampling, and network statistics such as sparsity and power law, all of which play a central role in contemporary data science and machine learning applications. The book rewards readers with a clear and intuitive understanding of the subtle interplay between basic principles of statistical inference, empirical properties of network data, and technical concepts from probability theory. Its mathematically rigorous, yet non-technical, exposition makes the book accessible to professional data scientists, statisticians, and computer scientists as well as practitioners and researchers in substantive fields. Newcomers and non-quantitative researchers will find its conceptual approach invaluable for developing intuition about technical ideas from statistics and probability, while experts and graduate students will find the book a handy reference for a wide range of new topics, including edge exchangeability, relative exchangeability, graphon and graphex models, and graph-valued Levy process and rewiring models for dynamic networks.
networks  network_data_analysis  nonparametric  statistics  book 
march 2018 by rvenkat
Randomistas | Yale University Press
Experiments have consistently been used in the hard sciences, but in recent decades social scientists have adopted the practice. Randomized trials have been used to design policies to increase educational attainment, lower crime rates, elevate employment rates, and improve living standards among the poor.

This book tells the stories of radical researchers who have used experiments to overturn conventional wisdom. From finding the cure for Scurvy to discovering what policies really improve literacy rates, Leigh shows how randomistas have shaped life as we know it. Written in a “gladwell-esque” style, this book provides a fascinating account of key RCT studies from across the globe and the challenges that randomistas have faced in getting their studies accepted and their findings implemented. In telling these stories, Leigh draws out key lessons learned and shows the most effective way to conduct these trials.
empiricism  experiments  economics  sociology  public_policy  book 
march 2018 by rvenkat
The Space between Us by Ryan D. Enos
The Space between Us brings the connection between geography, psychology, and politics to life. By going into the neighborhoods of real cities, Enos shows how our perceptions of racial, ethnic, and religious groups are intuitively shaped by where these groups live and interact daily. Through the lens of numerous examples across the globe and drawing on a compelling combination of research techniques including field and laboratory experiments, big data analysis, and small-scale interactions, this timely book provides a new understanding of how geography shapes politics and how members of groups think about each other. Enos' analysis is punctuated with personal accounts from the field. His rigorous research unfolds in accessible writing that will appeal to specialists and non-specialists alike, illuminating the profound effects of social geography on how we relate to, think about, and politically interact across groups in the fabric of our daily lives.

https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/12/how-place-shapes-our-politics/548147/
book  sociology  geography  political_sociology  homophily  social_networks  networks  dmce  teaching 
march 2018 by rvenkat
Centola, D.: How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
New social movements, technologies, and public-health initiatives often struggle to take off, yet many diseases disperse rapidly without issue. Can the lessons learned from the viral diffusion of diseases be used to improve the spread of beneficial behaviors and innovations? In How Behavior Spreads, Damon Centola presents over a decade of original research examining how changes in societal behavior--in voting, health, technology, and finance—occur and the ways social networks can be used to influence how they propagate. Centola's startling findings show that the same conditions accelerating the viral expansion of an epidemic unexpectedly inhibit the spread of behaviors.

While it is commonly believed that "weak ties"—long-distance connections linking acquaintances—lead to the quicker spread of behaviors, in fact the exact opposite holds true. Centola demonstrates how the most well-known, intuitive ideas about social networks have caused past diffusion efforts to fail, and how such efforts might succeed in the future. Pioneering the use of Web-based methods to understand how changes in people's social networks alter their behaviors, Centola illustrates the ways in which these insights can be applied to solve countless problems of organizational change, cultural evolution, and social innovation. His findings offer important lessons for public health workers, entrepreneurs, and activists looking to harness networks for social change.

Practical and informative, How Behavior Spreads is a must-read for anyone interested in how the theory of social networks can transform our world.

-- While the ideas are simple and neat, his *complex* contagion is not *complex* enough to revolutionize networked interventions. A review article would have sufficed. Some of the mechanisms observed in spread of misinformation and disinformation suggest a completely different model.
book  networks  contagion  i_remain_skeptical 
march 2018 by rvenkat
Topics at the Frontier of Statistics and Network Analysis by Eric D. Kolaczyk
This snapshot of the current frontier of statistics and network analysis focuses on the foundational topics of modeling, sampling, and design. Primarily for graduate students and researchers in statistics and closely related fields, emphasis is not only on what has been done, but on what remains to be done.
networks  teaching  statistics  book 
february 2018 by rvenkat
Five Constraints on Predicting Behavior | The MIT Press
Scientists were unable to study the relation of brain to mind until the invention of technologies that measured the brain activity accompanying psychological processes. Yet even with these new tools, conclusions are tentative or simply wrong. In this book, the distinguished psychologist Jerome Kagan describes five conditions that place serious constraints on the ability to predict mental or behavioral outcomes based on brain data: the setting in which evidence is gathered, the expectations of the subject, the source of the evidence that supports the conclusion, the absence of studies that examine patterns of causes with patterns of measures, and the habit of borrowing terms from psychology.

Kagan describes the important of context, and how the experimental setting—including the room, the procedure, and the species, age, and sex of both subject and examiner—can influence the conclusions. He explains how subject expectations affect all brain measures; considers why brain and psychological data often yield different conclusions; argues for relations between patterns of causes and outcomes rather than correlating single variables; and criticizes the borrowing of psychological terms to describe brain evidence. Brain sites cannot be in a state of “fear.”

A deeper understanding of the brain’s contributions to behavior, Kagan argues, requires investigators to acknowledge these five constraints in the design or interpretation of an experiment.

--wait till someone from the gender and queer studies department gets hold of this book.
book  human_behavior  psychology  neuroscience  experiments  critique  social_construction_of_knowledge 
february 2018 by rvenkat
Observation and Experiment — Paul R. Rosenbaum | Harvard University Press
In the daily news and the scientific literature, we are faced with conflicting claims about the effects caused by some treatments, behaviors, and policies. A daily glass of wine prolongs life, or so we are told. Yet we are also told that alcohol can cause life-threatening cancer and that pregnant women should abstain from drinking. Some say that raising the minimum wage decreases inequality while others say it increases unemployment. Investigators once confidently claimed that hormone replacement therapy reduces the risk of heart disease but today investigators confidently claim it raises that risk. How should we study such questions?

Observation and Experiment is an introduction to causal inference from one of the field’s leading scholars. Using minimal mathematics and statistics, Paul Rosenbaum explains key concepts and methods through scientific examples that make complex ideas concrete and abstract principles accessible.

Some causal questions can be studied in randomized trials in which coin flips assign individuals to treatments. But because randomized trials are not always practical or ethical, many causal questions are investigated in nonrandomized observational studies. To illustrate, Rosenbaum draws examples from clinical medicine, economics, public health, epidemiology, clinical psychology, and psychiatry. Readers gain an understanding of the design and interpretation of randomized trials, the ways they differ from observational studies, and the techniques used to remove, investigate, and appraise bias in observational studies. Observation and Experiment is a valuable resource for anyone with a serious interest in the empirical study of human health, behavior, and well-being.
book  causal_inference  observational_studies  experiments 
february 2018 by rvenkat
Amazon.com: The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies (9780544789760): Ben Fritz: Books
In the past decade, Hollywood has endured a cataclysm on a par with the end of silent film and the demise of the studio system. Stars and directors have seen their power dwindle, while writers and producers lift their best techniques from TV, comic books, and the toy biz. The future of Hollywood is being written by powerful corporate brands like Marvel, Amazon, Netflix, and Lego, as well as censors in China.

Ben Fritz chronicles this dramatic shakeup with unmatched skill, bringing equal fluency to both the financial and entertainment aspects of Hollywood. He dives deeply into the fruits of the Sony hack to show how the previous model, long a creative and commercial success, lost its way. And he looks ahead through interviews with dozens of key players at Disney, Marvel, Netflix, Amazon, Imax, and others to discover how they have reinvented the business. He shows us, for instance, how Marvel replaced stars with “universes,” and how Disney remade itself in Apple’s image and reaped enormous profits.

But despite the destruction of the studios’ traditional playbook, Fritz argues that these seismic shifts signal the dawn of a new heyday for film. The Big Picture shows the first glimmers of this new golden age through the eyes of the creative mavericks who are defining what our movies will look like in the new era.
book  movie_industry  market_microstructure  21st_century 
february 2018 by rvenkat
Elements of Causal Inference: Foundations and Learning Algorithms | The MIT Press
"The mathematization of causality is a relatively recent development, and has become increasingly important in data science and machine learning. This book offers a self-contained and concise introduction to causal models and how to learn them from data.
"After explaining the need for causal models and discussing some of the principles underlying causal inference, the book teaches readers how to use causal models: how to compute intervention distributions, how to infer causal models from observational and interventional data, and how causal ideas could be exploited for classical machine learning problems. All of these topics are discussed first in terms of two variables and then in the more general multivariate case. The bivariate case turns out to be a particularly hard problem for causal learning because there are no conditional independences as used by classical methods for solving multivariate cases. The authors consider analyzing statistical asymmetries between cause and effect to be highly instructive, and they report on their decade of intensive research into this problem.
"The book is accessible to readers with a background in machine learning or statistics, and can be used in graduate courses or as a reference for researchers. The text includes code snippets that can be copied and pasted, exercises, and an appendix with a summary of the most important technical concepts."
book  causal_inference  graphical_models  causal_discovery  machine_learning  statistics  via:cshalizi 
january 2018 by rvenkat
The Captured Economy - Brink Lindsey; Steven Teles - Oxford University Press
For years, America has been plagued by slow economic growth and increasing inequality. Yet economists have long taught that there is a tradeoff between equity and efficiency-that is, between making a bigger pie and dividing it more fairly. That is why our current predicament is so puzzling: today, we are faced with both a stagnating economy and sky-high inequality.

In The Captured Economy , Brink Lindsey and Steven M. Teles identify a common factor behind these twin ills: breakdowns in democratic governance that allow wealthy special interests to capture the policymaking process for their own benefit. They document the proliferation of regressive regulations that redistribute wealth and income up the economic scale while stifling entrepreneurship and innovation. When the state entrenches privilege by subverting market competition, the tradeoff between equity and efficiency no longer holds.

Over the past four decades, new regulatory barriers have worked to shield the powerful from the rigors of competition, thereby inflating their incomes-sometimes to an extravagant degree. Lindsey and Teles detail four of the most important cases: subsidies for the financial sector's excessive risk taking, overprotection of copyrights and patents, favoritism toward incumbent businesses through occupational licensing schemes, and the NIMBY-led escalation of land use controls that drive up rents for everyone else.

Freeing the economy from regressive regulatory capture will be difficult. Lindsey and Teles are realistic about the chances for reform, but they offer a set of promising strategies to improve democratic deliberation and open pathways for meaningful policy change. An original and counterintuitive interpretation of the forces driving inequality and stagnation, The Captured Economy will be necessary reading for anyone concerned about America's mounting economic problems and the social tensions they are sparking.

https://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21731803-americas-government-should-invest-well-paid-qualified-civil-research-bureaucracy-how
book  bureaucracy  governance  regulation  administrative_state  critique 
january 2018 by rvenkat
Homeward | RSF
In the era of mass incarceration, over 600,000 people are released from federal or state prison each year, with many returning to chaotic living environments rife with violence. In these circumstances, how do former prisoners navigate reentering society? In Homeward, sociologist Bruce Western examines the tumultuous first year after release from prison. Drawing from in-depth interviews with over one hundred individuals, he describes the lives of the formerly incarcerated and demonstrates how poverty, racial inequality, and failures of social support trap many in a cycle of vulnerability despite their efforts to rejoin society.

Western and his research team conducted comprehensive interviews with men and women released from the Massachusetts state prison system who returned to neighborhoods around Boston. Western finds that for most, leaving prison is associated with acute material hardship. In the first year after prison, most respondents could not afford their own housing and relied on family support and government programs, with half living in deep poverty. Many struggled with chronic pain, mental illnesses, or addiction—the most important predictor of recidivism. Most respondents were also unemployed. Some older white men found union jobs in the construction industry through their social networks, but many others, particularly those who were black or Latino, were unable to obtain full-time work due to few social connections to good jobs, discrimination, and lack of credentials. Violence was common in their lives, and often preceded their incarceration. In contrast to the stereotype of tough criminals preying upon helpless citizens, Western shows that many former prisoners were themselves subject to lifetimes of violence and abuse and encountered more violence after leaving prison, blurring the line between victims and perpetrators.

Western concludes that boosting the social integration of former prisoners is key to both ameliorating deep disadvantage and strengthening public safety. He advocates policies that increase assistance to those in their first year after prison, including guaranteed housing and health care, drug treatment, and transitional employment. By foregrounding the stories of people struggling against the odds to exit the criminal justice system, Homeward shows how overhauling the process of prisoner reentry and rethinking the foundations of justice policy could address the harms of mass incarceration.
book  ethnography  economic_sociology  poverty  development_economics  united_states_of_america 
january 2018 by rvenkat
Critical Thinking - Statistical Reasoning and Intuitive Judgment | Columbia University Press
Life is fundamentally uncertain. We do not know whether it will rain, whether the market will go up or down, whether our unhealthy eating choices will have serious consequences, or whether terrorists will strike our city. To make matters worse, we also lack a tried and true procedure for evaluating the likelihood of such events. Yet we are required to make decisions great and small that depend on these events. In the absence of certainty or an objective procedure for estimating probabilities, we must rely on our own reasoning, which a great deal of research has shown to be less rational than we would like to believe.

In Critical Thinking, Varda Liberman and Amos Tversky examine how we make judgments under uncertainty and explain how various biases can distort our consideration of evidence. Using everyday examples, they detail how to examine data and their implications with the goal of helping readers improve their intuitive reasoning and judgment. From the courtroom to the basketball court, cholesterol count to the existence of the supernatural, Liberman and Tversky explore the fundamental insights of probability, causal relationships, and making inferences from samples. They delve into the psychology of judgment, explaining why first impressions are often wrong and correct answers go against our intuitions. Originally written in Hebrew and published by the Open University in 1996, Critical Thinking is an essential guide for students and interested readers alike that teaches us to become more critical readers and consumers of information.
history_of_ideas  statistics  judgment_decision-making  heuristics  dmce  teaching  book 
january 2018 by rvenkat
Lessons from the Lobster | The MIT Press
"Neuroscientist Eve Marder has spent forty years studying thirty neurons in the stomach of a lobster. Her focus on this tiny network of cells has yielded valuable insights into the much more complex workings of the human brain; she has become a leading voice in neuroscience. In Lessons from the Lobster, Charlotte Nassim describes Marder’s work and its significance accessibly and engagingly, tracing the evolution of a supremely gifted scientist’s ideas.
"From the lobster's digestion to human thought is very big leap indeed. Our brains selectively recruit networks from about ninety billion available neurons; the connections are extremely complex. Nevertheless, as Nassim explains, Marder’s study of a microscopic knot of stomatogastric neurons in lobsters and crabs, a small network with a countable number of neurons, has laid vital foundations for current brain research projects.
"Marder’s approach is as intuitive as it is analytic, but always firmly anchored to data. Every scrap of information is a pointer for Marder; her discoveries depend on her own creative thinking as much as her laboratory’s findings. Nassim describes Marder’s important findings on neuromodulation, the secrets of neuronal networks, and homeostasis. Her recognition of the importance of animal-to-animal variability has influenced research methods everywhere.
"Marder has run her laboratory at Brandeis University since 1978. She was President of the Society for Neuroscience in 2008 and she is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2016 Kavli Award in Neuroscience and the 2013 Gruber Prize in Neuroscience. Research that reaches the headlines often depends on technical fireworks, and especially on spectacular images. Marder's work seldom fits that pattern, but this book demonstrates that a brilliant scientist working carefully and thoughtfully can produce groundbreaking results."
book  neuroscience  comparative  biography  people  ethology  via:cshalizi 
january 2018 by rvenkat
Platform Capitalism | Critical Theory | Continental Philosophy | General Philosophy | Subjects | Wiley
What unites Google and Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, Siemens and GE, Uber and Airbnb? Across a wide range of sectors, these firms are transforming themselves into platforms: businesses that provide the hardware and software foundation for others to operate on. This transformation signals a major shift in how capitalist firms operate and how they interact with the rest of the economy: the emergence of ‘platform capitalism’.

This book critically examines these new business forms, tracing their genesis from the long downturn of the 1970s to the boom and bust of the 1990s and the aftershocks of the 2008 crisis. It shows how the fundamental foundations of the economy are rapidly being carved up among a small number of monopolistic platforms, and how the platform introduces new tendencies within capitalism that pose significant challenges to any vision of a post-capitalist future. This book will be essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how the most powerful tech companies of our time are transforming the global economy.""

also this
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inventing_the_Future:_Postcapitalism_and_a_World_Without_Work

--Marxism and Critical theory tags are tentative as the author belongs to *speculative realism* school, which allegedly moves beyond anti-realist tendencies of the past
GAFA  capitalism  market_failures  monopoly  critique  book  critical_theory  marxism  ? 
january 2018 by rvenkat
Benhabib, S.: Democracy and Difference: Contesting the Boundaries of the Political (Paperback) | Princeton University Press
The global trend toward democratization of the last two decades has been accompanied by the resurgence of various politics of "identity/difference." From nationalist and ethnic revivals in the countries of east and central Europe to the former Soviet Union, to the politics of cultural separatism in Canada, and to social movement politics in liberal western-democracies, the negotiation of identity/difference has become a challenge to democracies everywhere. This volume brings together a group of distinguished thinkers who rearticulate and reconsider the foundations of democratic theory and practice in the light of the politics of identity/difference.

In Part One Jürgen Habermas, Sheldon S. Wolin, Jane Mansbridge, Seyla Benhabib, Joshua Cohen, and Iris Marion Young write on democratic theory. Part Two--on equality, difference, and public representation--contains essays by Anne Phillips, Will Kymlicka, Carol C. Gould, Jean L. Cohen, and Nancy Fraser; and Part Three--on culture, identity, and democracy--by Chantal Mouffe, Bonnie Honig, Fred Dallmayr, Joan B. Landes, and Carlos A. Forment. In the last section Richard Rorty, Robert A. Dahl, Amy Gutmann, and Benjamin R. Barber write on whether democracy needs philosophical foundations.
democracy  comparative  political_science  world_trends  caste_system  book 
december 2017 by rvenkat
AUTOMATING INEQUALITY by Virginia Eubanks | Kirkus Reviews
-- As long as they are open, transparent and regulated, I see no problem with an automated bureaucracy. I understand the concerns but I am becoming increasingly numb to this monotonous tone of the critics. Then again, bureaucracy is never known to operate under openness, transparency and sensible regulations to go along with it.

Technology has been mostly good to humankind and there is no reason to expect that *this* is going to be any different. But who knows, maybe civilization will end in a catastrophic *core dump*...
book  algorithms  machine_learning  big_data  automation  ethics  inequality  critical_theory  phobia  sociology_of_technology  bureaucracy  governance  regulation  via:zeynep 
december 2017 by rvenkat
Garip, F.: On the Move: Changing Mechanisms of Mexico-U.S. Migration (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
Why do Mexicans migrate to the United States? Is there a typical Mexican migrant? Beginning in the 1970s, survey data indicated that the average migrant was a young, unmarried man who was poor, undereducated, and in search of better employment opportunities. This is the general view that most Americans still hold of immigrants from Mexico. On the Move argues that not only does this view of Mexican migrants reinforce the stereotype of their undesirability, but it also fails to capture the true diversity of migrants from Mexico and their evolving migration patterns over time.

Using survey data from over 145,000 Mexicans and in-depth interviews with nearly 140 Mexicans, Filiz Garip reveals a more accurate picture of Mexico-U.S migration. In the last fifty years there have been four primary waves: a male-dominated migration from rural areas in the 1960s and '70s, a second migration of young men from socioeconomically more well-off families during the 1980s, a migration of women joining spouses already in the United States in the late 1980s and ’90s, and a generation of more educated, urban migrants in the late 1990s and early 2000s. For each of these four stages, Garip examines the changing variety of reasons for why people migrate and migrants’ perceptions of their opportunities in Mexico and the United States.

Looking at Mexico-U.S. migration during the last half century, On the Move uncovers the vast mechanisms underlying the flow of people moving between nations.

Review here
http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0094306117734866b
book  migration  immigration  sociology  economic_geography  economic_sociology  social_networks 
december 2017 by rvenkat
Pax Technica | Yale University Press
A foremost digital expert looks at the most powerful political tool ever created—the internet of things. Will it be like the internet of surveillance and censorship we have now, or will it be something better?

Should we fear or welcome the internet’s evolution? The “internet of things” is the rapidly growing network of everyday objects—eyeglasses, cars, thermostats—made smart with sensors and internet addresses. Soon we will live in a pervasive yet invisible network of everyday objects that communicate with one another. In this original and provocative book, Philip N. Howard envisions a new world order emerging from this great transformation in the technologies around us.

Howard calls this new era a Pax Technica. He looks to a future of global stability built upon device networks with immense potential for empowering citizens, making government transparent, and broadening information access. Howard cautions, however, that privacy threats are enormous, as is the potential for social control and political manipulation. Drawing on evidence from around the world, he illustrates how the internet of things can be used to repress and control people. Yet he also demonstrates that if we actively engage with the governments and businesses building the internet of things, we have a chance to build a new kind of internet—and a more open society.

--
book  democracy  sociology_of_technology  world_trends  history  political_economy  global_politics  international_affairs 
december 2017 by rvenkat
Cuisine and Empire - Rachel Laudan - Hardcover - University of California Press
Rachel Laudan tells the remarkable story of the rise and fall of the world’s great cuisines—from the mastery of grain cooking some twenty thousand years ago, to the present—in this superbly researched book. Probing beneath the apparent confusion of dozens of cuisines to reveal the underlying simplicity of the culinary family tree, she shows how periodic seismic shifts in “culinary philosophy”—beliefs about health, the economy, politics, society and the gods—prompted the construction of new cuisines, a handful of which, chosen as the cuisines of empires, came to dominate the globe.

Cuisine and Empire shows how merchants, missionaries, and the military took cuisines over mountains, oceans, deserts, and across political frontiers. Laudan’s innovative narrative treats cuisine, like language, clothing, or architecture, as something constructed by humans. By emphasizing how cooking turns farm products into food and by taking the globe rather than the nation as the stage, she challenges the agrarian, romantic, and nationalistic myths that underlie the contemporary food movement.
culinary_history  cooking  material_basis_of_civilization  cultural_history  technology  book 
december 2017 by rvenkat
Blandford, R. and Thorne, K.: Modern Classical Physics: Optics, Fluids, Plasmas, Elasticity, Relativity, and Statistical Physics (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
"This first-year, graduate-level text and reference book covers the fundamental concepts and twenty-first-century applications of six major areas of classical physics that every masters- or PhD-level physicist should be exposed to, but often isn't: statistical physics, optics (waves of all sorts), elastodynamics, fluid mechanics, plasma physics, and special and general relativity and cosmology. Growing out of a full-year course that the eminent researchers Kip Thorne and Roger Blandford taught at Caltech for almost three decades, this book is designed to broaden the training of physicists. Its six main topical sections are also designed so they can be used in separate courses, and the book provides an invaluable reference for researchers."
book  physics  via:cshalizi 
december 2017 by rvenkat
Acharya, A., Blackwell, M. and Sen, M.: Deep Roots: How Slavery Still Shapes Southern Politics (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
Despite dramatic social transformations in the United States during the last 150 years, the South has remained staunchly conservative. Southerners are more likely to support Republican candidates, gun rights, and the death penalty, and southern whites harbor higher levels of racial resentment than whites in other parts of the country. Why haven't these sentiments evolved or changed? Deep Roots shows that the entrenched political and racial views of contemporary white southerners are a direct consequence of the region's slaveholding history, which continues to shape economic, political, and social spheres. Today, southern whites who live in areas once reliant on slavery—compared to areas that were not—are more racially hostile and less amenable to policies that could promote black progress.

Highlighting the connection between historical institutions and contemporary political attitudes, the authors explore the period following the Civil War when elite whites in former bastions of slavery had political and economic incentives to encourage the development of anti-black laws and practices. Deep Roots shows that these forces created a local political culture steeped in racial prejudice, and that these viewpoints have been passed down over generations, from parents to children and via communities, through a process called behavioral path dependence. While legislation such as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act made huge strides in increasing economic opportunity and reducing educational disparities, southern slavery has had a profound, lasting, and self-reinforcing influence on regional and national politics that can still be felt today.

A groundbreaking look at the ways institutions of the past continue to sway attitudes of the present, Deep Roots demonstrates how social beliefs persist long after the formal policies that created those beliefs have been eradicated.
book  institutions  political_science  political_sociology  slavery  black_history 
december 2017 by rvenkat
Red fighting blue how geography and electoral rules polarize american politics | American government, politics and policy | Cambridge University Press
The national electoral map has split into warring regional bastions of Republican red and Democratic blue, producing a deep and enduring partisan divide in American politics. In Red Fighting Blue, David A. Hopkins places the current partisan and electoral era in historical context, explains how the increased salience of social issues since the 1980s has redefined the parties' geographic bases of support, and reveals the critical role that American political institutions play in intermediating between the behavior of citizens and the outcome of public policy-making. The widening geographic gap in voters' partisan preferences, as magnified further by winner-take-all electoral rules, has rendered most of the nation safe territory for either Democratic or Republican candidates in both presidential and congressional elections - with significant consequences for party competition, candidate strategy, and the operation of government.
book  us_politics  geography  polarization  history  political_science  via:nyhan 
november 2017 by rvenkat
Thinking Through Methods: A Social Science Primer, Martin
Sociological research is hard enough already—you don’t need to make it even harder by smashing about like a bull in a china shop, not knowing what you’re doing or where you’re heading. Or so says John Levi Martin in this witty, insightful, and desperately needed primer on how to practice rigorous social science. Thinking Through Methods focuses on the practical decisions that you will need to make as a researcher—where the data you are working with comes from and how that data relates to all the possible data you could have gathered.
This is a user’s guide to sociological research, designed to be used at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Rather than offer mechanical rules and applications, Martin chooses instead to team up with the reader to think through and with methods. He acknowledges that we are human beings—and thus prone to the same cognitive limitations and distortions found in subjects—and proposes ways to compensate for these limitations. Martin also forcefully argues for principled symmetry, contending that bad ethics makes for bad research, and vice versa. Thinking Through Methods is a landmark work—one that students will turn to again and again throughout the course of their sociological research.

-- a sequel to his _Thinking Through Theory_?
sociology  methods  advice  book 
november 2017 by rvenkat
The Oldest Living Things in the World, Sussman, Zimmer, Obrist
The Oldest Living Things in the World is an epic journey through time and space. Over the past decade, artist Rachel Sussman has researched, worked with biologists, and traveled the world to photograph continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older. Spanning from Antarctica to Greenland, the Mojave Desert to the Australian Outback, the result is a stunning and unique visual collection of ancient organisms unlike anything that has been created in the arts or sciences before, insightfully and accessibly narrated by Sussman along the way.

Her work is both timeless and timely, and spans disciplines, continents, and millennia. It is underscored by an innate environmentalism and driven by Sussman’s relentless curiosity. She begins at “year zero,” and looks back from there, photographing the past in the present. These ancient individuals live on every continent and range from Greenlandic lichens that grow only one centimeter a century, to unique desert shrubs in Africa and South America, a predatory fungus in Oregon, Caribbean brain coral, to an 80,000-year-old colony of aspen in Utah. Sussman journeyed to Antarctica to photograph 5,500-year-old moss; Australia for stromatolites, primeval organisms tied to the oxygenation of the planet and the beginnings of life on Earth; and to Tasmania to capture a 43,600-year-old self-propagating shrub that’s the last individual of its kind. Her portraits reveal the living history of our planet—and what we stand to lose in the future. These ancient survivors have weathered millennia in some of the world’s most extreme environments, yet climate change and human encroachment have put many of them in danger. Two of her subjects have already met with untimely deaths by human hands.

Alongside the photographs, Sussman relays fascinating – and sometimes harrowing – tales of her global adventures tracking down her subjects and shares insights from the scientists who research them. The oldest living things in the world are a record and celebration of the past, a call to action in the present, and a barometer of our future.
book  biology  via:  ? 
november 2017 by rvenkat
Rasmussen, D.C.: The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
David Hume is widely regarded as the most important philosopher ever to write in English, but during his lifetime he was attacked as “the Great Infidel” for his skeptical religious views and deemed unfit to teach the young. In contrast, Adam Smith was a revered professor of moral philosophy, and is now often hailed as the founding father of capitalism. Remarkably, the two were best friends for most of their adult lives, sharing what Dennis Rasmussen calls the greatest of all philosophical friendships. The Infidel and the Professor is the first book to tell the fascinating story of the friendship of these towering Enlightenment thinkers—and how it influenced their world-changing ideas.

The book follows Hume and Smith’s relationship from their first meeting in 1749 until Hume’s death in 1776. It describes how they commented on each other’s writings, supported each other’s careers and literary ambitions, and advised each other on personal matters, most notably after Hume’s quarrel with Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Members of a vibrant intellectual scene in Enlightenment Scotland, Hume and Smith made many of the same friends (and enemies), joined the same clubs, and were interested in many of the same subjects well beyond philosophy and economics—from psychology and history to politics and Britain’s conflict with the American colonies. The book reveals that Smith’s private religious views were considerably closer to Hume’s public ones than is usually believed. It also shows that Hume contributed more to economics—and Smith contributed more to philosophy—than is generally recognized.

-- one day, I should acquire expertise to tell the difference between a pop book and an academic one. This sounds and feels like one but I might be wrong. Until that time....
book  enlightenment  philosophy  history_of_ideas  history  18th_century 
november 2017 by rvenkat
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