Hans Rosling was a great author (and a speaker) and he expressed his ideas in a very clear way. One of the great things that open this book, is the test that he gives you at the beginning. It comes to prove you, how little you know about the world we live in. It drives the point home very clearly.
I’ve just finished this interesting book on the biography of cancer. On one hand, it’s a depressing story, as we are still losing many battles. On the other hand, there are many ways that progress have been made and hopefully, we are in a phase (e.g. genomics research and the cost reduction in analyzing DNA) that will bring us more victories. It is a story about the history of research with eureka moments and decades of despair.
The author, Dr Mukherjee does a great job in describing the history from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago (when the Greek historian Herodotus records the story of Atossa the queen of Persia and the daughter of Cyrus, who noticed a lump in her breast.) through the progress in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence.
I found somewhere this encouraging answer he gave to the question “With all that you have learned up to this point, are you hopeful in terms of cancer research and possible cures?” Mukherjee: “I feel pathologically hopeful! The opposite of hopeful is hopeless. How can you be hopeless? Discoveries have occurred, and discoveries are occurring. Look at history, does that mean that every move becomes the most brilliant discovery or the universal cure for cancer? No. But history clearly shows a track record of progress. Medicine is caught in this moment of pulling out from a sea of uncertainty these little pieces that are more certain than others. I often tell fellows and residents, to me there is no discipline we practice as human beings that manage this level of complexity. Not just statistical or scientific complexity, but emotional complexity. That’s what makes it one of the most unbelievably moving professions that exist.”
Thanks to @farnamstreet for these great points that he posted on Twitter. It reminded me of a good conversation I had with a friend about the ‘right’ decision and a ‘good’ decision.
A good decision is the best decision you can make based on the evidence at hand at the moment you need to decide. If it will be the ‘right’ one – only time can tell. Btw, it is good to remember that many decisions are reversible. With those types of decisions, you can use a light-weight process. You don’t have to live with the consequences for that long if you can change it (which is easy to say and hard to do). You should improve your skills to recognize quickly that a decision is wrong. When you become good at course correction, you will be able to ‘fail quickly’ and move forward fast. If you wish to get better and increase the odds to have good decisions that turn out on the right side, here is a list of rules to help with the process.
Let’s say that you can read 2 books a week. In a year, you will be able to read ~100 books and if you keep this pace for the next 80-90 years you have a chance to read ~9000 books which is only 0.007% from the total amount.
I am collecting suggestions, so please feel free to share.
Btw, If you wish to understand why your kids are hooked on Fortnite? check The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. I’m still amazed how Epic game (the company the behind Fortnite) took so many great ideas from these books and baked them into the game.
Want a few more that I really enjoyed?
Wish to laugh?
Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
Yes please! by Amy Poehler
Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell
Where Good Ideas Come from, by Steven Johnson
Learn about health and the cutting edge of our knowledge about cancer?
The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene: An Intimate History both by Mukherjee Siddhartha
Learn (more) about great thinkers?
Einstein or Leonardo da Vinci or Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow and Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and 21 lessons for the 21st centery by Yuval Noah Harari
Last week I finished an interesting book by Matt Ridley (the author of several good books on genetics and evolution) – “The Evolution of Everything”.
The main idea from the book is simple, yet to many people disturbing: government, technology, society, religion and other areas evolves without any real control over the process. Although we neglect and ignore them, bottom-up trends shape the world in many aspects. Continue reading →