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The Presence of Paramilitaries Is a Warning Sign of Tyranny

Lesson 6: Be wary of paramilitaries: Be vigilant when armed forces separate from the military become involved in politics.

In a healthy democracy, the state should have a monopoly on the use of force, constrained by the rule of law. The rise of paramilitaries - armed forces operating outside the official military structure - is a key warning sign of tyranny. From Hitler's Brownshirts to Mussolini's Blackshirts, paramilitaries can be used to intimidate opponents, subvert legal authority, and consolidate power for a dictatorial regime. They often blur the lines between civilian politics and military force. If you see paramilitary activity or the celebration of paramilitary groups from the past, it's a red flag that democracy is in danger.

Section: 1, Chapter: 6

Book: On Tyranny

Author: Timothy Snyder

The Anna Karenina Principle Applied To Animal Domestication

The many factors required for successful animal domestication can be summarized by the "Anna Karenina Principle" - many independent factors must all fall into place for it to succeed:

  • Diet - Can it be efficiently fed by humans?
  • Growth rate - Is it fast enough to be worth raising?
  • Captive breeding - Will it breed readily in captivity?
  • Nasty disposition - Is it docile enough to be safely handled?
  • Tendency to panic - Can it be kept in herds/groups without panicking?
  • Social structure - Does it have a dominance hierarchy allowing human control?

A failure in any one of these factors can make an animal undomesticable, which is why only a handful of large mammal species have ever been successfully domesticated.

Section: 2, Chapter: 4

Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond

The Limits Of Language In Explaining Cult Influence

While cult leaders' linguistic techniques are undeniably powerful, it's crucial to understand that language alone cannot brainwash or coerce people into believing or doing things they truly don't want to. Phrases like "mind control" and "drinking the Kool-Aid" oversimplify the complex reasons why someone might join and stay in a cult, such as a search for meaning, a desire for belonging, or gradually escalating commitment over time.

These loaded terms can also stigmatize cult involvement as something that only happens to the foolish or mentally ill, when in reality, a wide range of psychologically normal people can be vulnerable under the right circumstances. To have productive conversations about this topic, avoid sensationalistic language and instead strive to understand the underlying human needs and social forces at play.

Section: 2, Chapter: 4

Book: Cultish

Author: Amanda Montell

The UN Predicts The World Population Will Level Off By 2100

Chapter 3 tackles the widespread fear of overpopulation. While the world population is still increasing rapidly by about 1 billion every 13 years, UN projections show it will level off around 10-12 billion by 2100.

  • This is because the number of children in the world has stopped increasing. We have reached "peak child."
  • The current population growth comes from the last large generation of children, born just before families started shrinking, growing up and having their own children.
  • But those children are having just 2 kids on average. After 3 generations of this, the population growth will flatten out.

Section: 1, Chapter: 3

Book: Factfulness

Author: Hans Rosling

Our Reverence For Independence

"Our reverence for independence takes no account of the reality of what happens in life: sooner or later, independence becomes impossible."

Gawande points out the flaw in society's unrelenting prioritization of independence - it fails to account for the unavoidable reality that age-related declines will make depending on others a necessity for most seniors at some point. Being unprepared to accept and adapt to this dependency leads to much suffering. A different societal approach is needed to support seniors' quality of life through this phase.

Section: 1, Chapter: 2

Book: Being Mortal

Author: Atul Gawande

Could A New Social Technology Save Us From Runaway Mimetic Desire?

History has seen two major social "technologies" that helped control negative mimesis:

  1. The scapegoat mechanism, which channeled violent rivalries into the sacrifice of a single victim. It temporarily unites communities against a common enemy.
  2. The market economy, which transforms many rivalries into economic competition. Adversaries fight for market share, not to the death.

As both these systems weaken, a "third invention" may be needed - some new social mechanism to contain mimetic violence. Possibilities include:

  • Gamified marketplaces that reward pro-social behavior
  • Massive online communities organized by self-transcending values
  • A resurgence of ritual and religion in shared physical spaces

Section: 1, Chapter: 8

Book: Wanting

Author: Luke Burgis

Societies Isolated From Cultural Diffusion Regressed Technologically

Tasmania, cut off from Australia by rising sea levels 10,000 years ago, provides a striking example of technological regress in isolation:

  • The island was inhabited by hunter-gatherers using simple stone tools
  • They lost many technologies that archeological evidence shows were originally brought from Australia, such as bone tools, cold-weather clothing, nets, fishhooks and boomerangs
  • Without cultural diffusion from outside, the small Tasmanian population was not able to sustain these technologies

Section: 3, Chapter: 13

Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond

Human Evolution's Secret Weapon

Humans uniquely evolve both genetically and culturally. Our inventions, from fire to water containers to clothing, modify our biological selection pressures. Technology builds cumulatively, feeding back to shape our bodies, brains and societies in a cycle of gene-culture coevolution. Diversity of ideas, recombined and transmitted through this collective brain, is the engine of human progress.

Humanity dominates the planet not because we have big brains as individuals, but because we are the only species to network our brains into a collective intelligence. Language, social learning and culture enable us to accumulate knowledge across generations in a way no other animal can. We are not born smarter than other primates - our individual intelligence is an emergent property of the cultural knowledge we soak up from our social groups. Connection is our competitive advantage.

Section: 1, Chapter: 7

Book: Rebel Ideas

Author: Matthew Syed

Students Full Of Empathy, Devoid Of Decency

An elite NYC private school girl became a pariah after joking with friends over text about ill-advised Halloween costumes (like dictators or abstract concepts). Though her intent was benign teen humor, not genuine bigotry, classmates reported her to the administration for racism and anti-Semitism.

The incident epitomizes a broader trend. The same schools most aggressively teaching "social-emotional skills" like empathy are often cauldrons of vicious student-on-student cruelty. Researchers find over-emphasis on empathy counterintuitively fuels self-righteousness and merciless treatment of "offenders." In trying to create kinder campuses, progressive pedagogy has unleashed a new meanness instead.

Section: 2, Chapter: 8

Book: Bad Therapy

Author: Abigail Shrier

Food Production As A Competitive Advantage

Once agriculture developed, it spread to neighboring regions as farmers spread and outbred hunter-gatherers due to their higher population densities, and hunter-gatherers adopted crops and livestock from their neighbors, once exposed to them.

Several factors tipped the competitive balance in favor of food production over hunting-gathering:

  • Decline in availability of wild foods, due to overhunting or climate change
  • Increased availability of domesticable wild plants, due to climate change
  • Development of technologies for collecting, processing and storing wild foods
  • Rise in human population densities, putting pressure on food supplies

Section: 2, Chapter: 6

Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond

Writing Enabled Eurasian Conquests

Writing was a key factor in enabling European societies to build the knowledge and organizational complexity needed to dominate the Americas:

  • Writing allowed communication over long distances and time periods
  • Literate societies can accumulate and transmit knowledge over generations
  • Writing facilitated political administration and economic exchanges
  • European literacy and record-keeping was vital for navigation and colonial rule The lesson is that preserving and transmitting information via writing provides a huge competitive advantage for societies.

Section: 4, Chapter: 18

Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond

AI Adoption Faces The Same Challenges As Past General Purpose Technologies

The authors argue that AI is a general purpose technology (GPT) like electricity and the steam engine that has the potential to transform the economy over time. However, as with past GPTs, there is a significant delay between the initial invention and demonstration of the technology and its widespread adoption and impact on productivity. The authors refer to this delay as "The Between Times." During this period, point solutions and application solutions emerge, but the big productivity gains come only later with the development of system solutions that more fully exploit the technology's potential.

Section: 1, Chapter: 2

Book: Power and Prediction

Author: Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb

The Unprecedented Fattening Of Humanity

Starting in the late 1970s, something unprecedented happened - obesity rates skyrocketed across the world, more than doubling in the US between 1979-2000. This had never happened before in human history and could not be explained by genetics. The food environment had transformed, flooding us with addictive processed foods.

Scientist Paul Kenny ran an experiment where rats were exposed to the modern American diet - cheesecake, bacon, sugary foods. The rats quickly became addicted, ballooned in weight, and kept overeating even when it meant enduring painful electric shocks. When the junk food was taken away, they starved rather than going back to healthy chow. This mirrors how the human food environment has overridden our natural appetite regulation.

Section: 1, Chapter: 2

Book: Magic PIll

Author: Johann Hari

A Brief History Of Lawns (And Why They Matter)

The suburban lawn is a staple of the modern world, but they have a deeper history that reveals the power of culture in shaping our environments and values.

The idea of the lawn began with the rarefied tastes of European nobility. With the rise of the middle class, the lawn became part of the suburban ideal. Today, lawns are an ecological disaster but a cultural sacred cow.

The story of the lawn is a parable of how arbitrary markers of status become entrenched norms - and how the collective fictions we create can have very real consequences for our world. The lesson is that we must be mindful of the stories we tell and the habits we cultivate - for they may end up as unquestioned parts of the physical and cultural landscape for generations to come. In an age of existential challenges, that's a bug we must treat as a feature - and use to reshape our world for the better.

Section: 3, Chapter: 9

Book: Homo Deus

Author: Yuval Noah Harari

"We Did Not Domesticate Wheat. It Domesticated Us."

"The Agricultural Revolution certainly enlarged the sum total of food at the disposal of humankind, but the extra food did not translate into a better diet or more leisure. Rather, it translated into population explosions and pampered elites. The average farmer worked harder than the average forager, and got a worse diet in return. The Agricultural Revolution was history's biggest fraud."

Section: 1, Chapter: 2

Book: Homo Deus

Author: Yuval Noah Harari

The Loneliest And Most Anxious Generation

The rising generation, despite receiving unprecedented mental health accommodations and resources, has become the loneliest, most anxious, depressed, pessimistic, and helpless cohort on record. 42% have a diagnosed mental illness. Therapists insist this is because young people face more stressors than ever, like smartphones, the pandemic, and climate change. But the author argues youth mental health has been declining for decades before these factors. She believes the real problem may be the mental health system itself - convincing kids they are disordered, inculcating feelings of helplessness, and inhibiting normal development.

Section: 1, Chapter: 0

Book: Bad Therapy

Author: Abigail Shrier

Social Media and Collective Action Problems

Social media creates "collective action problems" that leave kids and parents feeling helpless:

  • Getting a smartphone/social media later makes you feel left out
  • Letting kids roam unsupervised makes you a "bad parent"
  • Age restrictions only work if all companies enforce them strictly

The solution is coordinated behavior change. If families, schools, and policymakers act in concert to delay/limit phones and encourage independence, resistance gets easier. Groups like Wait Until 8th (smartphones) and Let Grow (free-range parenting) provide strength in numbers.

Section: 4, Chapter: 9

Book: The Anxious Generation

Author: Jonathan Haidt

A Roadmap For Restoring Healthy Childhood

  1. Remove the "spoons" - all the interventions making your kid miserable without even realizing it. Limit social media, over-scheduling, handwringing over grades and milestones.
  2. Detach from the feelings-centered feedback loop. Don't fret over their every mood. Respond to actual problems, not hypotheticals. Let them come to you.
  3. Recognize kids' natural antifragility. Tolerable stress and disappointment fuel growth, not damage. Stop treating them like hothouse flowers.
  4. Don't immediately pathologize your kid's quirks and struggles. Every deviation from the norm isn't a symptom. Give them space to be an individual.
  5. Question the "experts." Mental health professionals aren't infallible and may give awful advice. You know your child best - don't surrender authority to clinicians.
  6. (Re)introduce healthy risk and autonomy. Let them test their capabilities. Failure won't kill them - it's instructive. Rescuing them from every scrape erodes their plasticity.
  7. Foster deep family and community bonds. The "therapeutic alliance" is a weak substitute for lifelong connections. Resist narratives that relatioships are disposable.

Section: 3, Chapter: 12

Book: Bad Therapy

Author: Abigail Shrier

Six Degrees Of Separation

Stanley Milgram's famous experiment showed that most people are connected by about 6 links in a chain. A few key points:

  • A very small number of people are connected to everyone else in just a few steps, while the rest of us are linked to the world through those special few.
  • In a social epidemic, Connectors spread ideas to a wide range of people, Mavens provide the message itself, and Persuaders convince people to act on that message.
  • Paul Revere was a Connector, spreading the word "The British are coming!" His social connections enabled him to tip public opinion and mobilize resistance.

"Six degrees of separation doesn't mean that everyone is linked to everyone else in just six steps. It means that a very small number of people are linked to everyone else in a few steps, and the rest of us are linked to the world through those special few."

Section: 1, Chapter: 2

Book: The Tipping Point

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Geographic Connectedness Allowed Chinese Homogenization

China was more geographically interconnected than Europe, allowing the spread of a single culture:

  • Few internal geographic barriers like high mountains or deserts in China
  • Major navigable rivers flow east-west, facilitating north-south diffusion
  • Result was the spread of technologies and political systems over a wide area
  • The lesson is that geographic features that facilitate the mixing of ideas and people promote cultural homogenization, while barriers promote diversification.

Section: 4, Chapter: 16

Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond

The Rise Of The Creative Class And Their Strong Preference For Walkable Cities

A large and growing percentage of college-educated millennials are choosing to live in urban, walkable neighborhoods instead of auto-centric suburbs. Companies are following their lead, relocating offices from suburban campuses to downtown areas in order to attract this coveted talent pool. 64% of college-educated millennials first decide where they want to live, and only then look for a job there.

A whopping 77% plan to live in America's urban cores. Walkability has become a key factor in the competition between cities over the millennials and creatives who will power economic growth.

Section: 1, Chapter: 1

Book: Walkable City

Author: Jeff Speck

Dunbar's Number: The Brain's Social Channel Capacity

According to anthropologist Robin Dunbar, the human brain can only handle about 150 close relationships at a time. As a social group grows, the number of links between members increases exponentially, not linearly. Keeping track of those relationships consumes more and more mental effort.

At some point the brain reaches its limit. Dunbar found a strong correlation between primate brain size and average social group size. For humans, that cognitive boundary seems to be 150.

"The figure of 150 seems to represent the maximum number of individuals with whom we can have a genuinely social relationship, the kind of relationship that goes with knowing who they are and how they relate to us."

By staying under Dunbar's number, an organization can tap into the brain's natural social wiring, and prevent social cohesion from breaking down.

Section: 1, Chapter: 5

Book: The Tipping Point

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

The Looming Ozempic Eating Disorder Epidemic

Eating disorder experts are sounding the alarm about Ozempic. They warn the drug's staggering power to curb appetite is "rocket fuel" for those already prone to disordered eating. Key concerns include:

  • Anorexia-prone people abusing the drug to achieve dangerous thinness
  • Ozempic disrupting hard-won progress in intuitive eating and body acceptance
  • Inability to recover natural hunger cues after Ozempic dependence
  • Slippery line between "legitimate" medical use and eating disorder abuse

With Ozempic, the age-old pressure for women to shrink themselves now has a new chemical enforcer. As one expert put it: "Dieting is out, while elimination is in." Specialists fear an explosion of life-threatening eating disorders if the drug's use continues unchecked.

Section: 1, Chapter: 10

Book: Magic PIll

Author: Johann Hari

The Sexbot Makers Are Coming For Your Desires

Some futurists predict humans will be having more sex with robots than each other by 2050. Sexbot manufacturers are already mimicking human courtship and sexual desire in their products. As algorithms get better at predicting and shaping our wants, human agency is at risk.

However, desire can never be fully reduced to data. Thick desires will always exceed AI's grasp. By recognizing the mimetic nature of many fabricated desires, we can resist their creep. We must become the authors of our own desires. This starts with questioning the origin of our wants. Why do we really want what we want? With self-awareness, we can cultivate the thick desires that make us fully human.

Section: 1, Chapter: 8

Book: Wanting

Author: Luke Burgis

Gen Z: The Most Fearful Generation

Psychologist Jean Twenge's research shows Gen Z is radically different from prior generations. They are:

  • Far less likely to hit traditional milestones like dating, getting a driver's license, or holding a job
  • More obedient to authority and politically radical, favoring far-left positions
  • Deeply pessimistic about their personal potential and the world's trajectory; convinced of their own helplessness and an external locus of control
  • Uncomfortable with in-person interaction and spend less time socializing

Twenge posits constant monitoring by hovering parents and schools, exposure to an unrelenting stream of negativity, and lack of independence may all be factors in this generation's unprecedented fragility and external locus of control.

Section: 1, Chapter: 2

Book: Bad Therapy

Author: Abigail Shrier

We'd Rather Mess With Our Phones Than Engage With The Person In Front Of Us

Digital distractions are the new smoking - a compulsive escape from uncomfortable interactions. Phones have become adult pacifiers, promising soothing stimulation on demand. In another era, a lull in conversation might have prompted someone to light a cigarette. Now we light up our screens. But while a joint cigarette break could bond people in shared transgression, retreating into our devices splits us apart.

The cost is steep: a 2018 study found the mere presence of a phone on the table decreased trust, empathy, and relationship quality. We forfeit the deepest rewards of human connection when we keep one eye on our screens.

Section: 1, Chapter: 14

Book: You're Not Listening

Author: Kate Murphy

The Future Of Desire Will Be Shaped By Mimesis

The things we will want in the future depend on three factors:

  1. Past desires: Cultural desires are growing more mimetic and unstable, as evidenced by rising political polarization, social media mob dynamics, market volatility, etc.
  2. Present choices: We face a crisis of desire. Will we scapegoat others or do the hard work of transforming relationships and systems? Will we seek quick fixes or lasting fulfillment?
  3. Future influences: New social inventions will be needed to channel mimetic desire in healthy directions. Previous ones like ritual scapegoating and economic competition are losing their moderating power. What will replace them?

Section: 1, Chapter: 7

Book: Wanting

Author: Luke Burgis

Almonds As An Example Of Unconscious Domestication

Wild almonds contain bitter, poisonous chemicals called amygdalin. Occasionally, a wild almond tree will mutate to produce seeds without amygdalin. Those non-bitter almonds are perfectly edible, but the tree will leave no offspring, because birds and rodents preferentially eat all its seeds.

But if humans collect the non-bitter almonds and plant them, they will tend to produce offspring with non-bitter seeds as well. Early farmers, selecting almonds to plant, would naturally choose the non-bitter ones. So even without conscious effort, early farmers selected for non-poisonous almonds over generations until they became the norm under cultivation.

Section: 2, Chapter: 7

Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond

The Parable Of Three Entrepreneurs

The authors use the historical example of the slow adoption of electricity to illustrate the challenges of deploying a new general purpose technology like AI. They describe three types of entrepreneurs that tried to exploit electricity in different ways in the late 19th/early 20th century:

  • Point solution entrepreneurs who simply replaced steam power with electric power with minimal factory redesign. This provided limited benefits.
  • Application solution entrepreneurs who redesigned individual machines and tools around electric motors. This enabled some new capabilities but still limited benefits without factory redesign.
  • System solution entrepreneurs who completely redesigned factories to fully exploit the unique advantages of electric power. This is what ultimately transformed manufacturing and the economy, but it took decades.

Section: 1, Chapter: 1

Book: Power and Prediction

Author: Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb

The False Promise of Meritocracy

Meritocracy is a myth. Despite companies increasingly using supposedly objective measures like performance reviews and scores to evaluate merit, gender bias still creeps in:

  • Women face gendered double standards, with qualities like assertiveness being penalized in women but rewarded in men
  • Women receive more subjective negative feedback about their personalities, while men receive more constructive feedback about their work
  • Women's performance ratings are more likely to be attributed to luck rather than skill
  • White men are judged as more competent than equally performing women and people of color

The reliance on merit metrics and "objective" algorithms can actually deepen inequality, by laundering human biases through a veneer of neutrality. True meritocracy requires an honest reckoning with bias.

Section: 2, Chapter: 4

Book: Invisible Women

Author: Caroline Criado Perez

The World Is On Track To End Extreme Poverty By 2030

Rosling uses the analogy of the world as a premature baby in an incubator to argue things are both bad and better: The baby's health is still critical, but on every measure, she is improving. It doesn't mean we should relax, but we should recognize the progress.

Similarly, the world still faces huge challenges with poverty. But the trend lines are all moving in the right direction. If progress continues, extreme poverty could be eliminated by 2030. We are in the last stretch of a 200-year journey from everyone in extreme poverty to almost no one.

Section: 1, Chapter: 3

Book: Factfulness

Author: Hans Rosling

The Pervasive Problem of Potty Parity

The lack of adequate public toilet facilities for women is a global issue. Women often have to wait in long lines because there are insufficient female toilets, while men rarely queue. This is due to several flawed assumptions in restroom design:

  1. Providing equal floor space for male and female restrooms, even though urinals allow more men to use the facility at once
  2. Not accounting for women's need to use the toilet more frequently and for longer durations, due to biological factors like menstruation, pregnancy, and higher risk of UTIs
  3. Ignoring that women are more likely to be accompanied by children or elderly/disabled people they are caring for

Section: 1, Chapter: 2

Book: Invisible Women

Author: Caroline Criado Perez

Mindset And Social Issues

A growth mindset can be a powerful force for social change:

  • Many societal inequities stem from the fixed mindset belief that certain groups have innately lower abilities. A growth mindset reveals the role of systemic barriers and unequal opportunities.
  • The fixed mindset creates a culture of judgment and blame toward disadvantaged groups. The growth mindset emphasizes potential and focuses on creating supportive environments.
  • Students from marginalized backgrounds often internalize societal fixed mindset messages, believing they are inferior. Teaching them a growth mindset can unleash their confidence and drive to succeed.
  • Growth mindset interventions have been shown to close achievement gaps between racial and socioeconomic groups. Fostering a growth mindset on a societal level could reduce prejudice, increase social mobility, and create a more equitable world.

Section: 1, Chapter: 8

Book: Mindset

Author: Carol Dweck

The Dark Side of the Sociometer

One reason social media is so compelling to teen girls is that it taps into their "sociometer" - an internal gauge of social value and status. The sociometer tracks:

  • Appearance: How pretty/thin am I compared to other girls?
  • Popularity: How many friends/likes/comments do I have?
  • Reputation: What are people saying about me? Any negative gossip?
    While girls have always been attuned to social comparison, social media has put the sociometer on steroids:

Quantified metrics mean popularity is always being ranked, whilst selfies and filters make everyone look unrealistically flawless. Performative posting means constant curation of your image For girls prone to insecurity, social media is like holding up a magnifying mirror to every flaw and fear. Many end up depressed and anxious from the 24/7 sociometer assault.

Section: 1, Chapter: 6

Book: The Anxious Generation

Author: Jonathan Haidt

Why Did Oral Sex Get So Cheap?

One of the starkest findings from the prostitution data is how the price of oral sex has fallen dramatically relative to vaginal sex compared to the early 1900s. While oral sex used to command a significant price premium, it now sells for a 20% discount. The authors propose two main hypotheses for why this might be:

  1. Oral sex carries lower risks of pregnancy and disease transmission for the prostitute, making it less costly to provide
  2. Social taboos around oral sex have diminished over time, increasing supply

This example illustrates how shifting technological realities (birth control/STD risk) and cultural norms (sexual taboos) can reshape the relative value of goods and services. Business leaders can apply this same framework of analyzing how macro trends will impact their industry. Anticipating such shifts allows companies to adapt their offerings, pricing, and positioning to stay ahead of the curve.

Section: 1, Chapter: 1

Book: Super Freakonomics

Author: Steven D. Levitt , Stephen J. Dubner

The Rise Of Victimhood Chic

Manson argues that in the modern "Feelings Economy," moral worth is increasingly measured by the degree to which someone can claim victimhood and oppression, conferring a perverse form of status and authority.

This creates a kind of arms race in which individuals and groups constantly try to one-up each other in displays of suffering and fragility. The goal is always to be the most aggrieved, to have endured the greatest injustice, to be the most in need of sympathy and protection.

Of course, this is not to deny that oppression and inequality are real problems that cause immense pain. The issue is that it fosters a sense of powerlessness and resentment rather than empowerment and resilience.

Manson believes we need a new moral framework based on respect for human dignity rather than glorification of human suffering. Only then can we hope to have productive conversations about how to move society forward and create a better world for everyone. We have to start by seeing each other as more than just our victim status.

Section: 2, Chapter: 8

Book: Everything is F*cked

Author: Mark Manson

Obesity Rates Have Skyrocketed As America Has Rebuilt Itself Around The Car

Over the past 40 years, the US has undergone an unprecedented obesity epidemic fueled largely by our development patterns:

  • In the mid-1970s, only 1 in 10 Americans was obese. By 2007, that number had risen to a shocking 1 in 3 adults, with another third clinically overweight.
  • The childhood obesity rate has more than tripled since 1980. 25% of young men and 40% of young women are now too overweight to enlist in the military.
  • As recently as 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20%. By 2007, only one state (Colorado) was still under 20%. Several states now exceed 30% of adults.
  • Numerous studies have directly linked time spent driving with increased risk of obesity. One study found a 6% rise in likelihood of obesity for each additional hour spent in a car per day.

Section: 1, Chapter: 2

Book: Walkable City

Author: Jeff Speck

How New York's Crime Epidemic Tipped

In the mid-1990s, crime in New York City plummeted rapidly and dramatically - the murder rate fell by 2/3 in 5 years. Gladwell argues this epidemic of crime reduction tipped due to a combination of small, subtle factors:

  • Fixing broken windows and cleaning up graffiti - sending a signal of order
  • Cracking down on fare-beating in the subways
  • Rebuilding the organizational structure and management of the police

These changes in environment and context made people more likely to obey the law. The decline was too rapid to be explained by big slow variables like the economy, drug use, etc. "The Power of Context says that human beings are a lot more sensitive to their environment than they may seem."

Section: 1, Chapter: 1

Book: The Tipping Point

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Eurasian Societies Had Many Advantages Over American Ones

By 1492, Eurasian societies enjoyed many advantages over Native American ones that enabled them to conquer the Americas:

  • Far more domesticated plants and animals, enabling denser populations
  • Technological advantages like ships, metal weapons, armor and horses
  • Epidemic diseases to which Europeans were resistant but Native Americans weren't
  • Writing allowed accumulation of knowledge and political organization These advantages stemmed ultimately from geographic differences between the continents that gave Eurasia a head start.

Section: 4, Chapter: 18

Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond

Gender-Sensitive Urban Planning Saves Lives and Money

Urban planners need to adopt a gender-sensitive approach that accounts for women's travel patterns and needs. Some ways to do this:

  • Collect sex-disaggregated data on transit usage to identify differing patterns
  • Prioritize pedestrian infrastructure like well-lit, obstacle-free sidewalks that make walking easier and safer
  • Invest in buses and intermediate public transit that are more flexible than rail
  • Develop mixed-use zoning that locates essential services, employment and childcare in proximity to shorten women's trips

Not only is this more equitable, but it has economic benefits in enabling women's workforce participation and reducing medical costs from injuries. It's a win-win to plan cities around women's lives.

Section: 1, Chapter: 1

Book: Invisible Women

Author: Caroline Criado Perez

Women Must Master The "Balancing Act"

Given the social penalties for successful, assertive women, many feel pressure to mute their accomplishments to be liked. But downplaying achievements at work doesn't serve anyone. Instead, women must master the "balancing act":

  • When sharing a success, give credit to the team as well as claiming it for yourself ("I'm so proud of what we accomplished together").
  • When asserting an opinion, do it with a smile and a friendly, collaborative tone.
  • When negotiating, emphasize your communal motivations ("A raise will allow me to better provide for my family").
  • When criticized, respond graciously ("I appreciate you taking the time to give me that feedback"). The goal is to find an authentic way to fulfill your potential without triggering the dislike that assertive women face.

Section: 1, Chapter: 3

Book: Lean In

Author: Sheryl Sandberg

Why Are Some Countries Rich And Others Poor?

One of the biggest questions in economics is why some countries are rich and others poor. Traditional explanations focus on factors like natural resources, education levels, infrastructure, and property rights. But Levitt and Dubner argue another variable is often overlooked: trust.

They argue social trust is the hidden ingredient behind economic growth. In high-trust societies, people can conduct business and solve problems more efficiently vs. wasting time/money constantly verifying commitments. The authors cite survey data showing Scandinavian countries have some of the highest trust levels, while Latin America ranks low.

Levitt and Dubner call for more research into how to quantify and cultivate trust as an economic asset. Overall, it's an example of how "soft" social factors can shape "hard" fiscal realities.

Section: 1, Chapter: 4

Book: Super Freakonomics

Author: Steven D. Levitt , Stephen J. Dubner

Defend Institutions - They Require Constant Support

Lesson 2: Defend institutions: Actively work to protect and support the institutions that sustain a free and open society.

One must actively work to protect the institutions that are integral to a free and open society. This ranges from courts to media outlets to unions. The mistake is assuming institutions will defend themselves - in fact they require ongoing effort and vigilance from citizens to function properly. Tyrants seek to weaken institutions so they can consolidate power. The defense of institutions requires participation - whether that means subscribing to a newspaper to support the free press, joining a union, or getting involved with government at the local level. Don't take democratic institutions for granted.

Section: 1, Chapter: 2

Book:

Author:

Our Epidemic Of Loneliness Is Partly Due To Not Listening

The author argues that a key reason for the current epidemic of loneliness, isolation and alienation is that people have lost the ability to truly listen to one another. While we may talk to more people than ever before via social media and messaging, few people feel they have anyone who really listens to them in a deep way. This has led to widespread feelings of disconnection.

"Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak." - Epictetus

Section: 1, Chapter: 1

Book: You're Not Listening

Author: Kate Murphy

Religion Binds Individuals Into Cohesive, Cooperative Groups

Haidt examines religion through the lens of evolutionary psychology and cultural anthropology. He argues that religious practices emerged in part to solve the problem of group cohesion and cooperation.

Participation in sacred rituals, adoption of shared beliefs/norms, and subjugation to moral authorities allowed people to identificatify as part of a united whole, putting group interests above selfish interests. The experience of self-transcendence and ego-loss induced by certain practices also promotes a sense of connection and commitment.

While modern secular societies have found alternative sources of order and meaning, they continue to struggle with individualism, alienation and loss of community. Understanding religion's cultural evolutionary role is essential for addressing modern social challenges.

Section: 1, Chapter: 10

Book: The Happiness Hypothesis

Author: Jonathan Haidt

"Sinification" Made China Linguistically And Culturally Homogenous

China was once very diverse in language and culture. The current homogeneity is a result of the gradual spread of agricultural people speaking Sino-Tibetan languages and their absorption of other populations.

  • This process, called "Sinification," began in the Yellow River valley of north China
  • It took thousands of years for agricultural Sino-Tibetan speakers to absorb or displace hunter-gatherer populations
  • Mandarin and related languages spread at the expense of other language families China's cultural homogeneity is thus the result of a long, complex process of agricultural expansion and linguistic replacement.

Section: , Chapter: 16

Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond

Surviving in a Dataist World

Dataist principles are already implicit in the way data giants like Google and Facebook operate. And as they offer us more knowledge, convenience, health and power, the Dataist creed is spreading:

  • Governments are being asked to open more databases to the public
  • We increasingly see our lives through the lens of data - from the steps we track to the memories we post online

Yet Dataism brings its own risks:

  • The loss of human agency to algorithmic "black boxes"
  • The erosion of privacy and individual liberty
  • The specter of data-driven discrimination and oppression

To survive and thrive in a Dataist world, we must grapple with what makes us human in an age of intelligent machines. We will need to cultivate wisdom and ethics alongside tech - to become not just the most knowledgeable civilization in history, but also the most humane.

Section: 3, Chapter: 11

Book: Homo Deus

Author: Yuval Noah Harari

Environmental Influences On Polynesian Societies

Polynesian societies were shaped by factors like:

  • Island climate, geological type, marine resources, and area
  • Terrain fragmentation and isolation
  • Available indigenous flora and fauna

The most productive agricultural systems developed on large, high islands with rich volcanic soils and ample rainfall, such as Hawaii and Tonga. At the other extreme, small, dry islands with poor soil produced only hunter-gatherer societies.

In between these extremes, island environments produced a range of societies differing in population density, political complexity, social stratification, and material culture. In general, the larger and more productive the environment, the more complex and stratified the resulting societies.

Section: 1, Chapter: 2

Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond

Make Conscious Choices About the Symbols and Aesthetics You Support

Lesson 4: Take responsibility for the face of the world: Be conscious of the symbols and imagery you promote and display.

The symbols, slogans and images that pervade society shape reality by setting norms and establishing what is acceptable. In 1930s Germany, symbols like swastikas and racial caricatures normalized the Nazis' hateful ideology and agenda. People went along with these symbols, which greased the path to much greater horrors. The lesson is to consciously choose what to display and partake in - from lapel pins to chants to posters. Don't just follow the crowd. Ask what the symbols really mean and where they may lead. Be willing to take a stand by rejecting hateful and exclusionary imagery. What you say, do and promote shapes the world around you.

Section: 1, Chapter: 4

Book: On Tyranny

Author: Timothy Snyder

The "Invisible" Labor of Women's Unpaid Work

In 1975, 90% of Iceland's women went on strike for a day, refusing to do any work - paid labor or housework and childcare. Chaos ensued as a result:

  • Offices and schools shut down, unable to operate
  • Fathers scrambled to find food and care for their children
  • Sausages, a common ready meal, sold out as men struggled to cook

This "Women's Day Off" demonstrated how much society depends on women's behind-the-scenes labor to function. Despite unpaid domestic and care work being essential, it is not recognized as "real" work because it is not included in economic measures like GDP. This renders women's contributions invisible.

Section: 2, Chapter: 3

Book: Invisible Women

Author: Caroline Criado Perez

We Like To Think We Value Individuality

"We tend to think that we value individuality, but all too often we admire one type of individual—the kind who's comfortable 'putting himself out there.' We like to think that we value individuality, but all too often we admire one narrow type. The pundits and politicians we hear from most are classic extroverts. Movie stars and news anchors smile and chat in front of cameras. We call for positive thinking and 'getting out there.' We admire to-do lists, measurable goals, and five-year plans."

Section: 1, Chapter: 1

Book: Quiet

Author: Susan Cain

Overvaluing Confidence, Undervaluing Competence

Several studies show that talkative people, even when they have nothing to say, are often perceived as smarter and better looking than quiet types. Fast talkers are rated as more capable and likable than slow talkers.

The same biases exist in group settings, where research shows that the voluble are seen as smarter than the reticent, even though there is no actual correlation between verbal output and intelligence. There are serious consequences to this bias towards talkativeness. People who talk a lot in a confident manner tend to do better in school and get higher ratings from their teachers, even when their actual knowledge is no greater. Similarly, a "good" job interview often has little relationship with job performance.

This is not to say that social skills are unimportant. But when people unconsciously conflate talkativeness with capability, there are dangers. We may fail to recognize ability where it counts. And we create a culture where people feel pressure to talk and act forcefully even when they have nothing of substance to say.

Section: 1, Chapter: 1

Book: Quiet

Author: Susan Cain

Be Reflective If You Must Be Armed

Lesson 7: Be reflective if you must be armed: If you work in law enforcement or security, be conscious of how your actions uphold or subvert justice.

If your professional role requires you to bear arms - whether as a soldier, police officer, or security guard - you have a special responsibility to be reflective and uphold democratic values. Snyder writes, "Know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no."

He cites the disturbing participation of supposed peacekeepers in atrocities throughout the 20th century. The antidote is to stay conscious, question commands, and refuse to use force in the service of injustice, even from a place of relative powerlessness. Maintain your moral compass.

Section: 1, Chapter: 7

Book: On Tyranny

Author: Timothy Snyder

Four Stages Of Human Societies

Human societies tend to progress through four main stages of organization:

  1. Bands: Groups of 5-80 people, mostly close relatives. Egalitarian.
  2. Tribes: Hundreds of people. Some social ranking and prestige but no formal leadership.
  3. Chiefdoms: Thousands of people. Centralized leadership, hereditary social classes.
  4. States: Over 50,000 people. Centralized authority, many levels of bureaucrats, laws, military. These stages are not rigid categories but reflect general trends in how societies become politically and socially organized as they grow.

Section: 3, Chapter: 14

Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond

Contribute to Worthy Causes to Sustain Civil Society

Lesson 15: Contribute to good causes: Support organizations and initiatives that advance the values you believe in.

Supporting good causes, from charities to advocacy groups, is a powerful way to affirm your values and build a bulwark against tyranny. A vibrant civil society - a web of voluntary associations and NGOs that exist independent of the state - provides vital civic space for developing ideas, social trust, and grassroots power. Pick some key organizations that reflect your views and set up regular donations, however small. Volunteer your time and talents.

This keeps precious civic space alive. As Snyder notes, "When Americans think of freedom, we usually imagine a contest between a lone individual and a powerful government...But one element of freedom is the choice of associates, and one defense of freedom is the activity of groups to sustain their members."

Section: 1, Chapter: 15

Book: On Tyranny

Author: Timothy Snyder

The Orientation Of Continents' Major Axes

The major axes of the continents vary:

  • The Americas are longest from north to south (9,000 miles vs only 3,000 miles east to west)
  • Africa is also longer from north to south than from east to west
  • Eurasia's major axis is east-west

These differences proved highly consequential. In general, it's easier for crops, livestock, knowledge and technologies to spread along the same latitude (east-west) than between different latitudes (north-south). That's because locations at the same latitude tend to have similar day lengths, seasons, and climates, suiting them for the same agricultural package.

Section: 2, Chapter: 10

Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond

Communities Empower Us, But Also Restrict Us

Humans have bodies, and throughout history we have depended on physical communities for our survival and wellbeing.

  • Communities provide us with meaning, support, and a sense of belonging. They are crucial for our physical and mental health.
  • However, communities also restrict our freedom, pressuring us to conform to social norms and traditions. They can be stifling and oppressive, especially to minorities and outliers.

In the 21st century, many of our physical interactions and dependencies are being replaced by virtual ones. More and more of life is moving onto cyberspace and online networks. This is liberating in many ways, but may leave our bodies and local communities neglected, making us feel unmoored and alienated.

Section: 2, Chapter: 5

Book: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Author: Yuval Noah Harari

"There Is Just One Civilization In The World"

"In recent generations the few remaining civilizations have been blending into a single global civilization. Political, ethnic, cultural and economic divisions endure, but they do not undermine the fundamental unity. If we take a long-term perspective of centuries and millennia, it becomes obvious that there is just one civilization in the world: global human civilization."

Section: 2, Chapter: 6

Book: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Author: Yuval Noah Harari

Five Global Risks We Should Worry About Based On Data, Not Fear

While Rosling urges us not to be ruled by irrational fears, he outlines five legitimate global risks we should focus on based on data rather than fear or media attention:

  1. Global pandemic - A serious worldwide flu outbreak could kill millions as in 1918
  2. Financial collapse - A major global financial crash could lead to a deep worldwide recession
  3. World War III - A war between superpowers would be catastrophic and must be avoided at all costs
  4. Climate change - Continued greenhouse gas emissions will lead to disastrous global warming
  5. Extreme poverty - Still traps 800 million in misery; solving it enables solving other risks

Section: 1, Chapter: 4

Book: Factfulness

Author: Hans Rosling

"Continuous Partial Attention" - The New Normal

"We have stretched our attention bandwidth to upper limits and continuously divide it between ever more activities and interruptions. We think nothing of emailing during a 'conversation' or texting during a lecture. We don't even notice anymore when everyone at the table is staring into their own screen. This is just the way we live now. The trouble is, when we live in a constant state of distraction and partial attention, full engagement becomes impossible."

Section: 3, Chapter: 5

Book: The Anxious Generation

Author: Jonathan Haidt

Africa's Linguistic Diversity Reflects Expansions Of Food-Producing Peoples

African languages belong to five major families. The distribution of these families reflects the spread of food-producing peoples over the last several thousand years:

  • Afroasiatic languages spread with animal herders and farmers from the Sahara and Ethiopia
  • Nilo-Saharan languages spread with herding and farming over the eastern Sahel
  • Niger-Congo languages spread with farmers out from Nigeria and Cameroon
  • The Bantu branch of Niger-Congo spread agriculture over most of subequatorial Africa
  • The Khoisan languages of hunter-gatherers were displaced by these expansions

Section: 4, Chapter: 19

Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond

Extreme Poverty Has Halved In The Past 20 Years

Many people still imagine most of the world lives in extreme poverty. However, the data shows the share in extreme poverty has halved in the past 20 years:

  • In 1997, 42% of the population of both India and China lived in extreme poverty. By 2017, this was down to 12% in India and under 1% in China.
  • Globally, those in extreme poverty fell from 29% in 1997 to 9% in 2017.
  • This is one of the "most important changes in the world in my lifetime," says Rosling, but most people are unaware of this incredible progress.

Section: 1, Chapter: 2

Book: Factfulness

Author: Hans Rosling

The Uneven Division of Unpaid Labor

Globally, women do significantly more unpaid work than men, and this disparity persists even as more women enter the paid workforce. On average, women do 4.5 hours of unpaid work per day compared to men's 1.5 hours.

  • In India, women spend 6 hours a day on housework compared to men's 13 minutes
  • American women do 4 hours of unpaid work per day vs 2.5 hours for men
  • Even in Norway, with a relatively gender-equal culture, women do more unpaid work

Time use data shows that when women reduce their unpaid work, it is usually because they are doing more paid work - not because men are contributing more. Men consistently fail to match women's unpaid contributions, regardless of employment status or income.

Section: 2, Chapter: 3

Book: Invisible Women

Author: Caroline Criado Perez

The Negative Health Impact Of Loneliness

The book cites epidemiological research showing that the health impact of feeling isolated and disconnected is worse than smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness increases the risk of premature death as much as obesity and alcoholism. It is also linked to heart disease, stroke, dementia, and weakened immunity.

Section: 1, Chapter: 1

Book: You're Not Listening

Author: Kate Murphy

Polynesian Expansion As A Natural Experiment

The Polynesian expansion across the Pacific islands provides a "natural experiment" for how environments shape societies. Starting from a common ancestral culture in the Bismarck Archipelago off New Guinea around 1200 BC, Polynesians spread over centuries to islands with vastly different environments - from large high islands to small, resource-poor atolls.

The divergent societies that emerged on different islands, from hunter-gatherers to proto-empires, show how environmental differences can lead to the development of very different cultures, even from a common starting point.

Section: 1, Chapter: 2

Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond

Hannah Arendt on Truth, Tyranny and the Importance of an Informed Citizenry

"In 1971, contemplating the lies told in the United States about the Vietnam War, the political theorist Hannah Arendt took comfort in the inherent power of facts to overcome falsehoods in a free society: 'Under normal circumstances the liar is defeated by reality, for which there is no substitute; no matter how large the tissue of falsehood that an experienced liar has to offer, it will never be large enough, even if he enlists the help of computers, to cover the immensity of factuality.' The part about computers is no longer true. In the 2016 presidential election, the two-dimensional world of the internet was more important than the three-dimensional world of human contact."

Section: 1, Chapter: 11

Book: On Tyranny

Author: Timothy Snyder

The Surprisingly Few Centers Of Domestication Worldwide

Food production arose independently in only a few regions of the world:

  • The Fertile Crescent in Southwest Asia
  • China
  • Mesoamerica
  • The Andes and possibly Amazonia
  • The Eastern United States

A few other areas - New Guinea, the Sahel, West Africa, and Ethiopia - may have also developed food production independently, but the evidence is less clear. All other regions acquired food production by the spread of crops and livestock from the independent regions.

Section: 2, Chapter: 5

Book: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Author: Jared Diamond

"We want autonomy for ourselves and safety for those we love."

"We want autonomy for ourselves and safety for those we love."

For ourselves, we prioritize independence and the freedom to make our own choices, even risky ones, over safety. But when it comes to our aging parents, safety often becomes the driving priority, even at the cost of their autonomy and quality of life.

This leads children to push for assisted living or nursing homes sooner than their parents want. And it shapes those facilities to be more like hospitals than homes. Resolving this tension will require a societal shift to truly prioritize quality of life over mere survival for the elderly. Otherwise, assisted living will continue to fall short of its promise to make life in old age a joy.

Section: 1, Chapter: 4

Book: Being Mortal

Author: Atul Gawande

The World Is Increasingly Moving To Extremistan

The world is becoming more unequal and unfair, moving deeper into Extremistan rather than Mediocristan. In Extremistan environments, a few people/entities reap a disproportionate share of rewards (wealth, success, fame, influence etc.). This results in extreme inequality, compared to the more even distributions seen in Mediocristan

One factor driving this shift is scalability and globalization - successful businesses/people can scale up rapidly and accrue outsized gains. Another factor is the "Matthew effect" where early success breeds more success in a positive feedback loop.

Section: 3, Chapter: 14

Book: The Black Swan

Author: Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The Decline Of Violence

Another major threat that humans have faced throughout history is violence. However, in recent decades, war and violence have been on the decline. Despite conflicts in places like Syria and Iraq, we are living in the most peaceful era in human history. More people die today from suicide or car accidents than from war and violent crime combined.

Several factors have contributed to this decline:

  • The development of nuclear weapons has made war between superpowers unthinkable
  • Global trade has made war less profitable
  • The rise of democracy and international organizations has provided alternatives to violence
  • Changing norms and values have made violence less acceptable

Section: 1, Chapter: 1

Book: Homo Deus

Author: Yuval Noah Harari

Importance of Social Dialogues

"Social dialogues—Who Are We? conversations—are gateways to deeper understanding and more meaningful connections. But we need to allow these discussions to become deep, to evoke our many identities and express our shared experiences and beliefs. The Who Are We? conversation is powerful not only because we bond over what we have in common, but because it lets us share who we really are."

Section: 3, Chapter: 7

Book: Supercommunicators

Author: Charles Duhigg

The Rise Of The Extrovert Ideal

In the early 20th century, America shifted from a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality. While 19th century self-help guides emphasized moral integrity, the new advice manuals focused on charming others through force of personality. The rise of big business, urbanization, mass immigration and advertising fueled this cultural evolution. Suddenly, people were interacting with more strangers and having to prove themselves quickly. Being bold, entertaining, and social became prized over being serious, disciplined, and honorable.

Section: 1, Chapter: 1

Book: Quiet

Author: Susan Cain

More Treatment Has Not Meant Less Mental Illness

Despite a 75-year surge in mental health treatment availability and sophistication, rates of anxiety and depression in young people have swelled. A "treatment-prevalence paradox" has emerged, where expanded access to therapy and medication has not reduced mental illness prevalence as expected.

Therapists argue this is because today's youth face unprecedented stressors compared to previous generations, such as smartphones, social media, the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, and climate change fears. But the author contends that adolescent mental health has been slipping since the 1950s, long before these modern issues existed. She suggests that perhaps the mental health complex itself, in pathologizing normal stress, inhibiting coping skills, and creating dependence, is part of the problem rather than the solution.

Section: 1, Chapter: 12

Book: Bad Therapy

Author: Abigail Shrier

Environmental Problems Require Global Collaboration

Consider the problem of vehicle emissions and air pollution:

  • The exhaust from a car in Mexico can impact air quality in Canada. The CO2 emitted by planes over the Pacific contributes to climate change in Africa. Pollutants don't stay within national borders.
  • Air pollution kills millions worldwide each year and is a major contributor to respiratory disease, cancer, acid rain, and climate change. Addressing it is one of the biggest public health and ecological challenges we face.
  • No nation can regulate all the world's vehicles and industries by itself. Even if the US passes strict emissions standards, those efforts will be undermined if China keeps polluting.

That's why countries have negotiated international agreements like the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement, trying to coordinate emission cuts. In our interconnected world, countries are realizing that cooperating is often essential to serving their national interests.

Section: 2, Chapter: 7

Book: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Author: Yuval Noah Harari

Books about Society

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Factulness Book Summary

Hans Rosling

Factfulness by Hans Rosling reveals the ten instincts that distort our perspective on the world, and provides a fact-based framework for understanding global progress and thinking more clearly about the future.

Factulness Book Summary

Language

Society

Culture

Cultish Book Summary

Amanda Montell

In "Cultish," Amanda Montell explores the fascinating world of cults and how their persuasive language and techniques permeate our everyday lives, from religious sects to fitness trends to multi-level marketing schemes.

Cultish Book Summary

Therapy

Parenting

Psychology

Society

Bad Therapy Book Summary

Abigail Shrier

In "Bad Therapy," journalist Abigail Shrier argues that today's pervasive "therapeutic" culture and overzealous mental health interventions are harming young people by promoting learned helplessness, pathologizing normal emotions, and inhibiting the development of resilience.

Bad Therapy Book Summary

Society

Feminism

Technology

Invisible Women Book Summary

Caroline Criado Perez

Invisible Women exposes the gender data gap that underlies our male-default world, revealing the hidden ways in which the failure to collect data on women's lives leads to bias, discrimination, and disadvantage in everything from healthcare to the workplace to public policy - and offers a roadmap for closing this gap to build a more equitable future for all.

Invisible Women Book Summary

History

Society

Economics

Guns, Germs and Steel Book Summary

Jared Diamond

In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond argues that the fates of human societies across history have been shaped not by innate differences between peoples, but by environmental differences in the wild plant and animal species available for domestication on each continent.

Guns, Germs and Steel Book Summary

History

Politics

Philosophy

On Tyranny Book Summary

Timothy Snyder

In "On Tyranny," Timothy Snyder draws urgent lessons from the 20th century's bitter experience with tyranny to equip ordinary citizens today with the tools to recognize encroaching authoritarianism and fight back before it's too late.

On Tyranny Book Summary

Cities

Design

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Walkable City Book Summary

Jeff Speck

"Walkable City" is an engaging and persuasive manifesto that shows how putting pedestrians first can make our cities safer, healthier, more sustainable, and more economically vibrant.

Walkable City Book Summary
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