Tag Archives: science

@FTThum #BookReview ‘everybody lies: What the internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are’ by Seth Stephen-Davidowitz

I am intrigued by the impact of internet on human lives. This book is about an aspect of it.

Title:      everybody lies: What the internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are
Author:  Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Publishers: Bloomsbury Publishing, UK (2018)
Format: Paperback
Pages:   338
Genre: Non-fiction, Science, Technology, Psychology, Sociology

 

 

What’s it about?

As Steven Pinker(cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author) states in the foreword, “this is a book about a whole new way of studying the mind” and, I would add, human behaviour.

This book is less about big data science than about the new innovative ways of thinking, of designing, and of approaching the questions we ask of our life.

Stephens-Davidowitz makes his points by regaling the reader with early Big Data collected through Google searches and clicks, predominantly. Facebook also features as with other Silicon Valley data companies.  “everybody lies” gives new and interesting insights into matters such as the effect of assassination of leader on a country’s economy, or going to a great university equates to a better career or larger paycheck.

Stephens-Davidowitz provides a definition of “data” which is no longer limited to numbers or words. For a data scientist such as he, Big Data has four virtues. First, Big Data as “digital truth serum” as people are most honest without an apparent audience leading to honest data on say, sexual preferences or racial discrimination. It provide honest data.  Second, it offers a way to run large-scale randomized controlled experiment through the click of the mouse. Third, Big Data allows us, through the large scale sample, to zoom in on subsets of people and with greater accuracy. Fourth, Big Data provides new types of data.

What’s logical and rational before is no longer enough nor are the experiment results accurate enough. The scope of our sample size has significantly increased withe the internet, so why think small?

That is not to say, as Stephens-Davidowitz points out, that Big Data is the answer but it is a valuable resource which we are ill-advised to ignore. Information is king or queen, and this is truer than before. Social science is becoming real science, Stephens-Davidowitz says. Why? Read the book.

Stephens-Davidowitz encourages us to approach this field with curiosity and creativity when contemplating how we use and manage data. Data however is neither good or evil; it is powerful.  In “everybody lies”, he cautions against what Big Data cannot do and what we shouldn’t do with Big Data.

Would I recommend it?

Reading this book is a pleasurable journey. Highly recommended.

My rating:                 4/5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

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Levant Mirage by @OliverFChase “It’s so possible, it’s scary.” #Book Review

  • Author: Oliver F. ChaseLevant Mirage by Oliver F. Chase
  • Title: Levant Mirage
  • File Size: 3416 KB
  • Print Length: 309 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Pearl River Publishing Group; 1 edition (October 15, 2015)
  • Publication Date: October 15, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B015G7TWYQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Formats: Paperback & Kindle
  • Pricing: $13.99 & $3.99
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Thriller, Suspense, War

I received a copy of this book for an honest review and I’m glad I did.

Levant Mirage takes snapshots from the headlines of the past few years to build a character and combines it with frighteningly realistic possibilities to give a story you pray never happens.

35 year old U.S. Army Major Adam Michaels is no James Bond, nor did he ever set out to be. What is he? He’s a man who rejects the easy path that being the heir to a shipping empire gives him in order to join the military, serve his country, and be a father. Right, no money other than what he makes as a Major in the Army. You don’t see jet flying, limousine riding, womanizing and all of that. I would trade in the 10 year old Corolla for something a little better though. Tap into the trust fund already.

Finding himself used as a scapegoat for a foreign relations nightmare, Michaels works out his days in the Pentagon pushing papers, and paying alimony, child support and the mortgage on his rising political star ex-wife’s house. You see the everyday life to some extent leading up to the changes in life the military can throw at you. You don’t control you in the Army. And there are times when that twists the guts out of Michaels.

Michaels is of a dubious parentage, with his father not being who he thought he was, but upon finding out explains a great deal. This in part leads to his choice of path in life. He wants to be his own man. He doesn’t want to be identified with a past that isn’t really what he thought it was.

But part of that past comes back in one night and changes a quiet world into a search to find the defense against a missile guidance system he created that is now in the hands of terrorists. Which terrorists? Who is the enemy? You won’t believe it. Or you will believe it but be surprised.

The believability of Levant Mirage is what makes it so freakin’ scary at times. Perhaps the guidance system isn’t real, or I hope it’s not. But I’m sure there is something like it out there. The enemy Michaels must fight against is out of this world. If he fails, billions die. If he succeeds?

Chase writes with detail and a knowledge base that gives the story realism. You are able to submerse yourself into Levant Mirage and you don’t get pulled out by oddities and unbelievable scenes. Some scenes are high energy and amped up, but still possible.

Being honest, the amount of detail is incredible at times and I could have done with a little less of the technological speak, but it doesn’t take away from the story. In truth, it adds the believability—you don’t have these leaps from action to intellect in the span of a few seconds. Okay, maybe you do but for a whole different reason, but I’m not giving those parts away. Ah, that does remind me of one scene that did cause me pause and have to reread in order to get it clear. In part, that was due to the surprise of those involved.

I enjoyed the handling of the terrorists. As you read you’ll develop ideas but never get to comfortable, you never know what is going to happen next, who is going to happen, or what the truth is until it’s almost too late. But there are clues along the way.

Recommendation

I would recommend Levant Mirage to those who like believable action thrillers. Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt and other NUMA series books come to mind, but not that fantastical or off the charts. Where Cussler takes you over the edge of believability at times, Chase keeps you here on earth and scares the life out of you with reality you can find in your neighbors living room.

Character Believability: 4Levant Mirage by Oliver F. Chase
Flow and Pace: 4
Reader Engagement: 4
Reader Enrichment: 4
Reader Enjoyment: 4
Overall Rate: 4

 

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About the Author

olvier-chaseOliver spent five years in a police department working narcotics and SWAT, and the next 22 in the FBI. Now he’s the author of Marsh Island, Blind Marsh, the first two installments of the Hirebomber Series. And now Levant Mirage, releasing Oct. 15, 2015.

oliverchase.net

https://oliverchase.wordpress.com

facebook.com/oilverchase

https://twitter.com/OliverFChase



About the Reviewer

Ron_LWIRonovan is an author, blogger and former educator who shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer though his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of  LitWorldInterviews.WordPress.com, a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources.  For those serious about book reviewing and interested in reviewing for the LWI site, email Ronovan at ronovanwrites (at) gmail (dot) com to begin a dialogue. It may not work out but then again it might.

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Book Review. The Martian by Andy Weir.

The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian by Andy Weir

Title:   The Martian
Author:   Andy Weir
ISBN-10: 0091956145

ISBN-13: 978-0091956141

ASIN: B00FAXJHCY

Although I’m not much of an engineer and my knowledge of physics and chemistry is by now rusty at best, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s a story of survival of the human spirit, creativity and problem solving at its best.

In previous reviews I have commented on how usually we put ourselves in the place of the protagonists of the books we’re reading and wonder what we would do. I can honestly say if I had been in Mark Watney’s place (abandoned alone in Mars), I’d be dead.

Of course he’s an engineer, a botanist and an astronaut, so he’s not your usual Joe. Even by those standards, he seems like an extraordinary human being as he never (or very seldom) gets downtrodden and keeps trying and going, no matter what. Resilience should be his second name.

I cannot comment on how accurate many of the suggestions or situations in the book are (and I’m sure people will have as reference other stories, books and movies), although I know whilst I was reading it, it seemed well constructed, plausible, and to my untrained eye the story felt true.

I found the epistolary (logs) style appropriate and suited to the content (this is not somebody trying to write a novel or a confessional), the book thrilling, and the adventures of this modern day Robinson Crusoe gripping and impossible to put down.

Do we get to know much about Mark? Probably not, other than his steel determination, his sense of humour (somewhat infantile, but hey, whatever helps) and his resourcefulness. There is no much character development, but maybe survival is far too consuming an activity to allow for much of anything else. We know the other characters more through their actions than through deep psychological insights, but this is an adventure book and it focuses on doing.

We can’t help but ask ourselves if in real life the team around him and the whole world would have been so generous. One seriously wonders, but there are wonderful examples of human generosity and we can only hope so.

Having had a quick look at the negative reviews I observed that many people said it read like an instructions manual and it was boring. Although it’s not the most emotionally engaging book I’ve ever read, I didn’t find it slow or boring, just the opposite. But maybe it’s me. And it seems a few other people. I’d recommend it to anybody who finds the premise interesting, but just in case have a look inside and read a sample, as the style does not change much and if you don’t like the beginning you might not get along with the book.

Book Highlights: The sheer amount of detail and technical knowledge.

 Challenges of the book: As above. From reading some reviews people found the science part of it a bit hard to stomach. Also, I got the sense that the main character is somebody writing a log for posterity, but not somebody who wanted to discuss his feelings or philosophical insights, rather an eminently practical person. Also, at some point in the book somebody mentions he coped with situations by using humour. Sometimes he appears too upbeat, but then…when you’re alone you have to get on with it.

 What do you get from it: A story of endurance of the human spirit and determination to hang on to life. And a lot of details about life (or the absence of it) on Mars.

 What I would have changed if anything: I would have liked to know more about the life of the character before he was in the situation he is in, but he does not linger on thoughts about his life or himself much and in such circumstances, maybe keeping busy would be the best defence mechanism. Also, we only get what’s written, not the truly alone and unrecorded moments. Taken at face value the form and the content appear suited to each other.

 Who Would I recommend this book to?: People interested in survival stories, and with a certain background or tolerance for lengthy explanations about technical matters. As I comment in the body of the review I don’t think I’m particularly up-to-date in engineering or technical matters, but I’ve always loved solving puzzles and problems and the whole book is a big puzzle.

 

The Martian (Paperback cover)
The Martian (Paperback cover)

 

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5
Made Me Think: 4.5/5 (more about technical issues than about life in general)
Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5
Readability: 4/5
Recommended: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
 

Buy it at:  Amazon
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $15.48
Kindle:  $5.35

Audio:  $30.99

 

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com