Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple)
By Jeffrey Kluger
(Hyperion, Hardcover, 9781401303013, 336pp.)
Publication Date: June 2008
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Why are the instruction manuals for cell phones incomprehensible?
Why is a truck driver's job as hard as a CEO's?
How can 10 percent of every medical dollar cure 90 percent of the world's disease?
Why do bad teams win so many games? Complexity, as any scientist will tell you, is a slippery idea. Things that seem complicated can be astoundingly simple; things that seem simple can be dizzyingly complex. A houseplant may be more intricate than a manufacturing plant. A colony of garden ants may be more complicated than a community of people. A sentence may be richer than a book, a couplet more complicated than a song. These and other paradoxes are driving a whole new science--simplexity--that is redefining how we look at the world and using that new view to improve our lives in fields as diverse as economics, biology, cosmology, chemistry, psychology, politics, child development, the arts, and more. Seen through the lens of this surprising new science, the world becomes a delicate place filled with predictable patterns--patterns we often fail to see as we're time and again fooled by our instincts, by our fear, by the size of things, and even by their beauty. In Simplexity, Time senior writer Jeffrey Kluger shows how a drinking straw can save thousands of lives; how a million cars can be on the streets but just a few hundred of them can lead to gridlock; how investors behave like atoms; how arithmetic governs abstract art and physics drives jazz; why swatting a TV indeed makes it work better. As simplexity moves from the research lab into popular consciousness it will challenge our models for modern living. Jeffrey Kluger adeptly translates newly evolving theory into a delightful theory of everything that will have you rethinking the rules of business, family, art--your world.
Jeffrey Kluger joined TIME Magazine in 1996, mainly writing science stories, and was named a senior writer in 1998. With astronaut Jim Lovell, he wrote Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13, on which the 1995 movie Apollo 13 movie was based. He's written several other books, most recently Splendid Solution, which is about Jonas Salk and the polio vaccine. Mr. Kluger and two other colleagues won the 2002 Overseas Press Club of America's Whitman Bassow Award for their "Global Warming" cover package (April 9, 2001), garnering first place for the best reporting in any medium on international environmental issues. Before joining TIME, Mr. Kluger was a staff writer for Discover Magazine and a writer and editor for the New York Times Business World Magazine, Family Circle, and Science Digest.
"Simplexity . . . is a study of human behavior, and the way we perceive things and events, and how our perception frequently causes us to make wrong assumptions and to perceive simplicity (or complexity) where it does not exist. The book is sure to be a deserved hit among the ever-growing Freakonomics crowd."—Booklist
Kluger makes the modern world comprehensible...[his] findings are likely to incite controversy, confirming his contention that explaining simplicity and complexity is never as straightforward as it seems.—Publishers Weekly
"Using real world examples such as traffic flow, politics and baby linguistics, the author makes the theories of "simplexity" accessible to the layperson."—Kirkus Reviews