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Archive for 'reality'

Kindle Daily Deal (Mon. 4/21) – ‘This Explains Everything: 150 Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works’ ed. by John Brockman

April 21, 2014

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new book – ‘A Metaphysics of Psychopathology’ by Peter Zachar

March 25, 2014

Metaphysics of Psychopathology

A Metaphysics of Psychopathology by Peter Zachar (MIT Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

In psychiatry, few question the legitimacy of asking whether a given psychiatric disorder is real; similarly, in psychology, scholars debate the reality of such theoretical entities as general intelligence, superegos, and personality traits. And yet in both disciplines, little thought is given to what is meant by the rather abstract philosophical concept of “real.” Indeed, certain psychiatric disorders have passed from real to imaginary (as in the case of multiple personality disorder) and from imaginary to real (as in the case of post-traumatic stress disorder). In this book, Peter Zachar considers such terms as “real” and “reality” — invoked in psychiatry but often obscure and remote from their instances — as abstract philosophical concepts. He then examines the implications of his approach for psychiatric classification and psychopathology. Proposing what he calls a scientifically inspired pragmatism, Zachar considers such topics as the essentialist bias, diagnostic literalism, and the concepts of natural kind and social construct. Turning explicitly to psychiatric topics, he proposes a new model for the domain of psychiatric disorders, the imperfect community model, which avoids both relativism and essentialism. He uses this model to understand such recent controversies as the attempt to eliminate narcissistic personality disorder from the DSM-5. Returning to such concepts as real, true, and objective, Zachar argues that not only should we use these metaphysical concepts to think philosophically about other concepts, we should think philosophically about them.

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new book – ‘The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day’ by David J. Hand

February 14, 2014

The Improbability Principle

The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day by David J. Hand (Scientific American/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publishers:

In The Improbability Principle, the renowned statistician David J. Hand argues that extraordinarily rare events are anything but. In fact, they’re commonplace. Not only that, we should all expect to experience a miracle roughly once every month.
But Hand is no believer in superstitions, prophecies, or the paranormal. His definition of “miracle” is thoroughly rational. No mystical or supernatural explanation is necessary to understand why someone is lucky enough to win the lottery twice, or is destined to be hit by lightning three times and still survive. All we need, Hand argues, is a firm grounding in a powerful set of laws: the laws of inevitability, of truly large numbers, of selection, of the probability lever, and of near enough.
Together, these constitute Hand’s groundbreaking Improbability Principle. And together, they explain why we should not be so surprised to bump into a friend in a foreign country, or to come across the same unfamiliar word four times in one day. Hand wrestles with seemingly less explicable questions as well: what the Bible and Shakespeare have in common, why financial crashes are par for the course, and why lightning does strike the same place (and the same person) twice. Along the way, he teaches us how to use the Improbability Principle in our own lives—including how to cash in at a casino and how to recognize when a medicine is truly effective.
An irresistible adventure into the laws behind “chance” moments and a trusty guide for understanding the world and universe we live in, The Improbability Principle will transform how you think about serendipity and luck, whether it’s in the world of business and finance or you’re merely sitting in your backyard, tossing a ball into the air and wondering where it will land.

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$2.99 kindle ebook – ‘Bottleneck: Our Human Interface with Reality’ by Richard Epworth

December 17, 2013

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new book – ‘The Why of Things: Causality in Science, Medicine, and Life’ by Peter Rabins

August 13, 2013

The Why of Things

The Why of Things: Causality in Science, Medicine, and Life by Peter Rabins (Columbia University Press, 2013)

 

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk)

 

Why was there a meltdown at the Fukushima power plant? Why do some people get cancer and not others? Why is global warming happening? Why does one person get depressed in the face of life’s vicissitudes while another finds resilience?

Questions like these — questions of causality — form the basis of modern scientific inquiry, posing profound intellectual and methodological challenges for researchers in the physical, natural, biomedical, and social sciences. In this groundbreaking book, noted psychiatrist and author Peter Rabins offers a conceptual framework for analyzing daunting questions of causality. Navigating a lively intellectual voyage between the shoals of strict reductionism and relativism, Rabins maps a three-facet model of causality and applies it to a variety of questions in science, medicine, economics, and more.

Throughout this book, Rabins situates his argument within relevant scientific contexts, such as quantum mechanics, cybernetics, chaos theory, and epigenetics. A renowned communicator of complex concepts and scientific ideas, Rabins helps readers stretch their minds beyond the realm of popular literary tipping points, blinks, and freakonomic explanations of the world.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website

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