The Social Atom by Mark Buchanan

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Mark Buchanan

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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.
 
Published December 5, 2008 by Bloomsbury USA. 260 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Buchanan (Ubiquity: The Science of History ) reaches out to the audience for pop social science like The Tipping Point and <EM

Mar 19 2007 | Read Full Review of The Social Atom

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