The Social Atom: Why the Rich Get Richer, Cheaters Get Caught, and Your Neighbor Usually Looks Like You

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Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 05.12.2008 - 256 Seiten
The idiosyncrasies of human decision-making have confounded economists and social theorists for years. If each person makes choices for personal (and often irrational) reasons, how can people's choices be predicted by a single theory? How can any economic, social, or political theory be valid? The truth is, none of them really are.
Mark Buchanan makes the fascinating argument that the science of physics is beginning to provide a new picture of the human or "social atom," and help us understand the surprising, and often predictable, patterns that emerge when they get together. Look at patterns, not people, Buchanan argues, and rules emerge that can explain how movements form, how interest groups operate, and even why ethnic hatred persists. Using similar observations, social physicists can predict whether neighborhoods will integrate, whether stock markets will crash, and whether crime waves will continue or abate.
Brimming with mind games and provocative experiments, The Social Atom is an incisive, accessible, and comprehensive argument for a whole new way to look at human social behavior.
 

Inhalt

Think Patterns Not People
1
The Human Problem
21
Our Thinking Instincts
43
The Adaptive Atom
65
The Imitating Atom
90
The Cooperative Atom
112
Together Apart
140
Conspiracies and Numbers
164
Forward to the Past
187
Acknowledgments
203
Notes
205
Index
233
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Autoren-Profil (2008)

Mark Buchanan is an American physicist and author. He was formerly an editor with the international journal of science Nature (journal), and the popular science magazine New Scientist. He has been a guest columnist for the New York Times, and currently writes a monthly column for the journal Nature Physics. Buchanan's books and articles typically explore ideas of modern physics, especially in quantum theory or condensed matter physics, with an emphasis on efforts to use novel concepts from physics to understand patterns and dynamics elsewhere, especially in biology or in the human social sciences. Key themes include, but are not limited to the (often overlooked) importance of spontaneous order or self-organization in collective, complex systems.

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