Why does one smoker die of lung cancer but another live to 100? The answer is 'The Hidden Half' - those random, unknowable variables that mess up our attempts to comprehend the world. We humans are very clever creatures - but we're idiots about how clever we really are. In this entertaining and ingenious book, Blastland reveals how in our quest to make the world more understandable, we lose sight of how unexplainable it often is. The result - from GDP figures to medicine - is that experts know a lot less than they think. Filled with compelling stories from economics, genetics, business, and science, The Hidden Half is a warning that an explanation which works in one arena may not work in another.
Entertaining and provocative, it will change how you view the world.
"Highly original and challenging... Once you have read this book, you can't unread it." (Daniel Finkelstein, The Times)
"Fascinating and provocative. Blastland is one of the most original thinkers around." (Tim Harford, Financial Times columnist and author of The Undercover Economist)
"Elegantly written and mind-expanding, The Hidden Half will enthrall you with its storytelling while educating you with its scientific depth." (Daniel H. Pink, best-selling author of Drive)
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Fascinating topic. Meh book.
Lots of good science books discuss uncertainty and human fallibility. For such an interesting topic, I often felt bored. The bit on medicine effectiveness seemed overly negative. It's not all bad news with whopping unknowns! Sure, duloxetine has a 1:9 efficacy according to that article in "Nature" magazine (googling suggests that's a VERY conservative estimate). However, if you use the trial-and-error approach described earlier (and later) in the book, the probability of finding an effective anti-depressant is actually pretty good!