MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewThe book’s underlying theme: It is natural to want to read into the unexplainable and search for forces greater than ourselves — and yet, the more we want to believe, the more we need to enlist scientific inquiry on our side … I admit I was a bit taken aback by Shermer’s cavalier dismissal of one of the most long-lasting quests for immortality of them all. Rather than explore the nuance of religious experience, he resorts to glib comments … As Shermer concludes after reviewing the current state of science, it seems that our present best hope for immortality lies in ‘eating well, exercising regularly and sleeping soundly’ — a prosaic answer if there ever was one in the face of so much spiritual and technological brouhaha.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewRigidity disempowers people. In telling us to be messy, Harford urges us to recapture our autonomy. A less catchy, but perhaps more accurate, title for the book would be Control: The Power of Autonomy and Flexibility ... Harford’s argument goes beyond aesthetics, resurfacing over and over in his engrossing narrative, from music (Brian Eno’s oblique strategies defying all convention, which resulted in David Bowie’s album Heroes) to tweeting (the non-prescriptivist response of the British telecom company O2 to a power outage) ... Still, the most powerful part of the book isn’t in the examples of corporate or creative success, but in the realization that mess — the autonomy that comes from discarding inflexible rules and neat labels — is important even when we don’t actually want it. The mess with the greatest transformative edge may be the one that forces you out of your routine despite your certainty that what you’re doing works just fine already, thank you very much.