Pinker, Von Neumann, and how to be decent

20th September, 2021

Various exciting books are now out, or imminent. Steven Pinker’s “Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce” is just around the corner, and as you might expect it is erudite, entertaining, and packed full of ideas (some new to me and some not). I’m doing an event with Steven Pinker, hosted by 5×15, in a couple of months – but you may not wish to wait for that. The book is well worth a look.

Ananyo Bhattacharya’s “The Man From The Future: The Visionary Life of John von Neumann” is out in early October. I’m very excited about this book: a really weighty intellectual biography, full of telling details and determined to make the connection between von Neumann’s ideas and what came afterwards. (Since he had ideas about everything from game theory to computing, and much else, this is no small task.) Heartily recommended.

The Art of Fairness: The Power of Decency in a World Turned Mean” by David Bodanis has been out in the UK for a while (and in the run-up to paperback publication the hardback price is a steal) but I mention it here because it’s just been published in the US. It’s wide-ranging and full of wonderful storytelling.

If you want something other than book suggestions, try the new FT Weekend Podcast (I’m interviewed on the subject of the joys and sorrows of To Do lists).

The paperback of “How To Make The World Add Up” is now out. US title: “The Data Detective”.

“One of the most wonderful collections of stories that I have read in a long time… fascinating.”- Steve Levitt (Freakonomics)

“If you aren’t in love with stats before reading this book, you will be by the time you’re done.”- Caroline Criado Perez (Invisible Women)

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