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Victor Villas

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Victor Villas's books

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2023 Reading Goal

20% complete! Victor Villas has read 6 of 30 books.

reviewed Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Factfulness (2018, Flatiron Books) 4 stars

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than …

Freakonomics for Humanitarians

3 stars

We need a more fact-based world view. You can probably find the 10 instincts and their respective solutions out there on the web and that greatly summarizes the good parts of the book. In a sense, this is the extrapolation of Thinking Fast and Slow applied to humanitarian progress. The bonus of reading the book instead of just looking up the list is getting showered with positive statistics about our progress in all kinds of important metrics regarding poverty, health, education and equality around the world. That was a healthy outcome and I appreciate the effects it had on me.

Still, for a book about resisting cognitive baits, every chapter will include a dozen. The author poses ill defined questions like "how many people have some access to electricity?", and of course the provided answers are set up in a way that you're blown away by the biggest number being …

Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World (2020, Riverhead Books) 4 stars

Incalculable Entertainment

4 stars

Matt Parker is a straight up funny guy, at least for those aligned with this kind of humor. I used to watch his calculator unboxing videos and the bamboo calculator is forever engraved on my mind, so I was primed to like this book.

No plot twist here. I had a great time with the book and it's one of those cases where it's the author who reads the audiobook and it works for the better. It's like a 10h playlist of his videos, but with more editorial and crafted storytelling.

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster (2021, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group) 4 stars


3 stars

It's a great thing that this book was written and it's heartening that it became a best seller. I'm thankful to the Vancouver Public Library for having it for free.

A dense and ambitious read for anyone who wants to have informed discussions on effective climate solutions. The book aims to provide a foundation of knowledge and facts to make those discussions productive, and I'd say it's pretty successful at that if the reader's attention survives the firehose of information.

The framing is the usual positivism about market forces being a potential force of good, as expected from a book written by a billionaire. But surprisingly and very thankfully, Bill Gates does pose that in the end it's just policy all the way down, because Chapter 11 states unambiguously that the plan is to get government leaders and policymakers to steer the market and Chapter 12 is about how individuals …

A Estranha Ordem das Coisas (Paperback, Portuguese language, 2018, Companhia das Letras) 1 star

Verbose, Unscientific and Pointless

1 star

The central thesis is broadening the definition of homeostasis to fit one more layer of biological marvel after another, until the concept is so amorphous and generic that pretty much anything can go into the pile. Like many other pop-sci books that came before, the strategy is simple: incrementally build the one true hammer, and nail all the screws the world has to offer.

Halfway through the book, homeostasis is already completely dissociated from what it's supposed to mean when described by a proper science communicator. Armed with the confidence of a bestselling author, Damasio arrives at the ultimate conclusion: life doesn't follow algorithms and artificial intelligence is condemned to be a lower form.

I'm sorry (not really) to burst the author's coacervate, but "algorithm" and "artificial intelligence" are as vague as the concept of homeostasis crafted throughout the book. It's pointless to argue that an irresistible force is impossible …