Thursday, January 28, 2010

Review: Simplexity

I just finished another book by Jeffery Kluger called Simplexity. Basically it is a pop science book that talks about Simplexity: an emerging theory that proposes a possible complementary relationship between complexity and simplicity. How do we know if something is simple or complex? We are often misguided in many ways into thinking that something is more complex than it really is, or simple for what it seems. This is the basic task of Sante Fe Institute in their study of complexity theory. (One of the often mentioned names is Nobel winner physicist Murray Gell-Mann). Using many areas from sports to education to arts to economics, the author shows how often we are misguided by scale or payoffs or flexibility etc. This is yet another modern scientific research made readable book like Tipping Point or Freakonomics.

My verdict? Interesting but not impressive. I do enjoy learning about the analysis on what goes into a scientific research on the complexity of subject matters. And I think I can derive for myself the answers to the "So what?" But I cannot feel the excitement as I felt when I read some other pop science book. I think it has got to do with the writing. Perhaps it has failed to satisfy this particular reader (me) in the balance between being simple and profound.

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