Friday, May 1, 2020

Book Report: This Explains Everything

Book Report: This Explains Everything.
This paper will not explain “everything” like Brockman’s book does, but I’ll do my best to explain my favorite parts of his work. An array of topics were discussed in this book: Psychology to software development, physics, to anthropology this book has something for everyone. The excerpts in the book are thought provoking and warrant looking at things in different perspectives. Mixing soft science and hard science was a happy medium which made for a straightforward yet complex read.
The first chapter that caught my eye was The Importance of Individuals by Howard Gardner. This chapter details the importance of individuality. In a world with so many people only few go on to change the themes in their time. Without the contributions from some of these leading individuals our lives would be quite different. The ideas put forth and the actions taken by activists, scientists, musicians, artists color the world. Without individuality everything would lack substance, similarity would become the norm and passive conformity would provide for a more than uneventful life. This has a downside because not only the positive influencers make a difference, but people with bad intent can have a detrimental impact on society. The author shows contempt towards the idea that human behavior can be generalized. With that point I must agree, we are an ever-changing species, we may be predictable but our behaviors are not a given. LINK:
Developmental Timing Explains the Woes of Adolescence by Alison Gopnik goes to explain the developmental instances that occur in prepubescent children and teens. This chapter intrigued me because we have all been there at one point. I fondly remember my adolescence and apply my experiences to my life today. There are certain emotional and motivational queues children begin to pick up on as they get older. As children we grow up learning to carry on friendships, but in adolescence is when we really want to be integrated into groups and accepted by our peers. A mixture of hormones and “how the heck do I handle this” is a time that has passed for many of us but it something that can always still be appreciated as we become older LINK:
Third, we have Occam’s Razor by Katink Matson. The main premise of Occam’s Razor is to “keep it simple”. This short sentence grabbed my attention because I’ve heard this expression used many times across my psychology courses. In relation to psychology also referred to as the law of parsimony, it urges simplicity. Two competing theories one with a 10 page summary of the elements and  another containing 100 pages; if both theories are the same then the shorter one would be the more viable option to choose. This rings true in the field of experimental psychology, studies should be clear and concise, easily interpreted, not  too complex and convoluted. LINK:
Finally The last chapter I found to be interesting to me was that of Adam Alter tilted Kitty Genovese and Group Apathy. The speaks volumes when it comes to the field of social psychology. This section claims that social and environmental factors contribute to how a person acts in certain situations. It also states that a situation involving more than one person can give way to second guessing one’s course of actions. The bystander effect was mentioned, which states if there are many people around during a dilemma and no one offers help it is unlikely for someone to offer help if others are not. People are more prone to do things when they see others taking part. In instances of stress it may be easier for others to interpret someone else's perception of an event that makes their own interpretation. Social situations can become a “follow my lead’ scenario. This applies to another course I’m taking which in the law it states individuals do not have a duty to help others. Sadly instances like Kitty Genovese happen due to plain indifference/disregard. LINK:

In conclusion I would definitely recommend this book to others for a good read. Although some of the concepts are a little hard to grasp we have google to help with that. This book presented so many great ideas that really make you think. What I took from this book is that it made the universe seem so big , earth so small, and we humans as nothing but specs. However, the thoughts and theories by the authors show that humans can do remarkable work in such. One complaint about this book is that I wish it made some of the passages a little easier for laymen to understand. Overall The book was enjoyable!

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