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The Social Atom: Why the Rich Get Richer, Cheaters Get Caught, and Your Neighbor Usually Looks Like You [NOOK Book]

Overview

The idiosyncrasies of human decision-making have confounded economists and social theorists for years. If each person makes choices for personal (and often irrational) reasons, how can people's choices be predicted by a single theory? How can any economic, social, or political theory be valid? The truth is, none of them really are.
Mark Buchanan makes the fascinating argument that the science of physics is beginning to provide a new picture of the human or "social atom," and ...
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The Social Atom: Why the Rich Get Richer, Cheaters Get Caught, and Your Neighbor Usually Looks Like You

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Overview

The idiosyncrasies of human decision-making have confounded economists and social theorists for years. If each person makes choices for personal (and often irrational) reasons, how can people's choices be predicted by a single theory? How can any economic, social, or political theory be valid? The truth is, none of them really are.
Mark Buchanan makes the fascinating argument that the science of physics is beginning to provide a new picture of the human or "social atom," and help us understand the surprising, and often predictable, patterns that emerge when they get together. Look at patterns, not people, Buchanan argues, and rules emerge that can explain how movements form, how interest groups operate, and even why ethnic hatred persists. Using similar observations, social physicists can predict whether neighborhoods will integrate, whether stock markets will crash, and whether crime waves will continue or abate.
Brimming with mind games and provocative experiments, The Social Atom is an incisive, accessible, and comprehensive argument for a whole new way to look at human social behavior.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Be forewarned: Mark Buchanan's book will surprise, irritate, and confound you. Like Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point and Steven Levitt's Freakonomics, The Social Atom proposes that even serious readers aren't models of autonomous, rational decision making. Buchanan, a theoretical physicist, argues that even momentous life crossroads like deciding to have children or making job changes are products of social forces almost identical to those that control our clapping at a music concert. He notes that for 99 percent of human history, our ancestors lived in small-group environments in which reciprocal altruism was the norm. According to Buchanan, who edits a journal on biocomplexity, this deeply engrained heritage gives us both a bias for cooperation and a distrust of other groups.
Publishers Weekly

Buchanan (Ubiquity: The Science of History) reaches out to the audience for pop social science like The Tipping Pointand Freakonomicswith the concept of "social physics," a scientific model for the patterns that emerge from the interactions among large groups of people. Though his observations that people excel at imitating the successful behavior of others and will often form collective bonds over such fundamental pretenses as shared ethnic heritage aren't startling, Buchanan leans on his background in theoretical physics and treats these ideas as "a quantum revolution in the social sciences." His presentation is muted by a tendency to talk around the subject, recapping prior discussions and promising future developments instead of establishing a clear, compelling thread. Though the real-life scenarios he uses to illustrate his theories—such as the unexpected revival of Times Square or the outbreak of ethnic violence in the former Yugoslavia—are engaging, some sections draw upon computer simulations of arbitrary behavior that illustrate his thesis but don't command equal interest. This is a great idea for a magazine article, but awkward at book length. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596917316
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 12/5/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 931,236
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Physicist Mark Buchanan is a former editor at Nature and New Scientist, and is the author of numerous magazine and newspaper articles internationally. He currently writes monthly columns for the financial media outlet Bloomberg View, as well as for Nature Physics. He has written two prize-nominated non-fiction books, Ubiquity: The Science of History and Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks, and, most recently, The Social Atom. He lives in Dorset, England.

physicsoffinance.blogspot.co.uk/
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 2, 2011

    Good Read

    This book was used in conjunction with a micro economics class, it was used to relate items of micro economics to this book. I found many interesting details and I would recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2007

    Fantastic Book

    I've always been intrested in Sociology and The Social Atom helped answer my questions as well as ignite more curioisly about the field of Sociology. It describes the science in-depth and at the same time keeps it simple enough so that any reader could grasp those ideas. I would definently reecommend this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2007

    A reviewer

    As a recent high school graduate just beginning to explore the social sciences, I found the subject matter interesting and thought Buchanan presented it in an easy-to-understand way. If you're interested in how the laws of nature may relate to socioeconomic principles, I highly recommend this book.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

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