2010年3月9日 星期二

Superfreakonomics

Few years ago, I read the 《Freakonomics》written by Steven and Stephen. The book is interesting and popular. I have seen lots of discussions about the book and some books with similar style e.g. 《More Sex is Safer Sex》, 《The Logic of Life》etc. are published after that. People are more curious about how decisions are made subtlety by general public and how these decision to be reasoned.

So I buy this book instantly when I see it on the shelve. It is a reasonable and predictable behavior, isn't it?

I have just finished reading the Introduction part of this book. What's a coincidence that it quotes the same example as 《世界大趋世》to illustrates the effect of technological breakthrough. It seems that the authors of these two books share common view in this aspect.

The story extracted from《世界大趋世》 is as follows:

「预言,大多数是人们根据经验和推理得出来的,认为现今社会的基本参数将会持续不变的假设多少也是如此。但是,人们在推断的时候往往会忘记考虑人类的发明才能。

19世纪70年代,让人们陷入无尽担忧和恐惧的是一个有着四条腿和发达的消化系统的东西。随着英格兰的有钱人越来越多,马车的 数量也迅速增加,而每一匹马都要排泄粪便。

仅在伦敦一个城市就有大约50 000匹马,而每匹马每天要排泄10到30磅的粪便和一升多的尿液。因此,每天都有一千多吨粪便被运出城外,而运输这些粪便的马匹也要排泄。于是,专家们 武断地得出了骇人听闻的结论:一旦伦敦人口达到400万,整个城市就会被淹没在马粪中。

从理论上讲,专家的计算并没有什么问题,但是他们没有想到的是,汽车出现了。」

Steven and Stephen said "When the solution to a given problem doesn't lay right before our eyes, it is easy to assume that no solution exists. But history has shown again and again that such assumptions are wrong."

What is the problem we are facing now? What people fear about after watching 《The Day After Tomorrow》 and 《2012》?

「气候变冷?变暖?还是变冷?

现今人们对于气候变暖的担心和20世纪70年代的时候对于气候变冷的担心一样,都是杞人忧天。20世纪 30年代末到40年代,我还是一个小男孩,在犹他州渐渐长大,当时人们最大的恐惧就是"冰川世纪的到来"。当时以及20世纪70年代人们所担心的都是"全 球气候变冷"。

1974年,曾获普利策新闻奖的美国专栏作家乔治·威尔(George Will)写道:"一些气象学家认为到本世纪末北半球的平均温度可能会下降2~3度。如果事实真的如此,那么高纬度地区(加拿大、中国北部和苏联)的粮食 将减产,从而引起大规模人口死亡和社会动荡。"现在,"本世纪末"已经成为了过去时,这一预言并没有实现,人们开始相信全球气候在逐渐变暖。」

Both authors of the books believe that human will find a way to survive this. If we don't have a solution for it now, it's simply because we don't have enough incentives.

So after reading my post, do you have enough incentive to read this book?

5 則留言:

會計史丹利 提到...

Yes, I think I will. I like book reviews and will try to fetch and buy the book if I like the recommendation. So, first thanks for your referral.

In fact, people are always trying to master the situation best they could, however, there are so many things beyond human's knowledge and control. Problems will not be solved itself but sometimes a problem at one point of time is not one at another time. This is due to the change of the situation.

C.M. 提到...

Not enough still, though it sounds interesting.

過內人 提到...

我剛看了Freakonomics...

你覺得好呢本好睇,又可以睇吓《Economics Facts and Fallacies》
http://www.amazon.com/Economic-Facts-Fallacies-Thomas-Sowell/dp/0465003494

方潤 提到...

典型的「今朝有酒今朝醉」

匿名 提到...

These issues are controversial and no consensus can be reached. So, don't trust anything and be suspicious.