Summary of The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World Kindle Edition by David Eagleman, Anthony Brandt

How the mind makes new ideas: Bending, breaking, blending

The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World Kindle Edition by David Eagleman, Anthony Brandt

The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World Kindle Edition
by David Eagleman, Anthony Brandt

David Eagleman: So what humans do that is special is we absorb all of these ideas, all these inputs, and we smoosh them up in various ways and come up with new things.

And so there are essentially three main ways that the brain does this, and we’ve summarized this as bending, breaking and blending.

So let’s start with bending. So bending is where you take something and you change it, you make it smaller, you make it bigger, you change something about it. When you look at statues across human culture you find that people bend the human form any which way, making it taller or skinnier or emphasizing certain portions over the other. They do that with all animal paintings and sculptures and so on.

You can bend lots of aspects of things. So the artist JR made a statue of the high jumper Mohammad Idris for the Olympics and he put that super huge and had him jumping over a building. And you have other sculptures that make extremely tiny little figurines.

And one of the arguments we make is that the exact same thing that’s happening in art, the same cognitive processes are happening in the sciences also.

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Summary of  THE MASTER ALGORITHM – How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos

THE MASTER ALGORITHM – How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos

THE MASTER ALGORITHM – How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos

Micro-summary: the ultimate master algorithm is an algorithm (or machine learning algorithm) that can learn anything (in minutes or seconds) given enough data, especially non-linear models or phenomenon. 

Everyone a coder
Currently, machine learning algorithms do two things: one, where they improve the existing processes in order to do them more accurately and faster and two, where machine learning can do entirely new things that never have been done before. For example, if you give a computer enough date about a particular health condition, it will learn in less than a minute how to diagnose a patient for that condition much better than any top doctor can do. In the future machine learning algorithms will be embedded in everything from day one, in the same way as your subconscious mind with its neural network, which works in a similar way, learns all the time. At the moment, in order to programme a computer, you need to know how to code or be a computer scientist. In the near future, anyone will be able to programme a computer without any knowledge of coding – because the machine learning is learning the natural language and will be able to understand your English or whatever language you choose to speak. You’ll just need to explain in plain English what you want your computer to do.

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Summary of Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy by Robert H Frank

Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy by Robert H Frank can be summarised that talent, hard work and skills are important but luck plays a huge role too. Interesting insights are that people who feel they’re lucky or have good fortune are more generous in charitable donations and being grateful makes people healthier, happier and more generous again. So start counting your blessings and good fortune. Can you think of a few examples of your good fortune or luck that you’ve experienced over the course of your life? Do it now and notice how you’ll feel.

Watch Robert H Frank summarising his book Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy

Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy by Robert H Frank

Also read: Summary of The Luck Factor by Dr Richard Wiseman and how to boost your luck with practical and scientific principles behind the luck factor

‘I increasingly suspect that the key to success isn’t talent, luck, nepotism or even showing up. It’s getting enough sleep.” Simon Kuper, FT

The top collections of summaries

Research suggests that reading summaries is a valid way of getting quality information and people who read summaries not only get more out of books but also remember the information for longer.

The best collection of summaries

Passing Time in the Loo volume 1, 2, 3 – each volume contains 150 summaries  which is an amazing deal for £5.87 or FREE on Amazon Kindle Prime

Book Summaries: Passing Time in the Loo - 150 summaries of classincs

Book Summaries: Passing Time in the Loo – 150 summaries of classincs

 

Passing Time in the Loo Vol 1

contains summaries of more than 200 books, including

Novels and plays, old and new, eg A Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne), A Farewell to the Arms (Ernest Hemingway), For Whom the Bell Tolls (Ernest Hemingway), Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy), Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck), The Faerie Queene (Edmund Spenser), Beowulf, Prometheus Bound (Aeschylus), Tales of King Arthur (Thomas Mallory), El Cid, A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens), The Lady of the Lake (Sir Walter Scott), The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck), The Travels of Marco Polo, The Last of the Mohicans (James Fenimore Cooper), The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Samuel Taylor Coleridge), Moby Dick (Herman Melville), The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway), Don Quixote de la Mancha (Miguel de Cervantes), Peer Gynt (Henrik Ibsen), Great Expectations (Charles Dickens), Silas Marner (George Eliot), Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Hardy), Little Women (Louisa May Alcott), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), The Maltese Falcon (Dashiell Hammett), Call of the Wild (Jack London), The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald), King Solomon’s Mines (Sir Henry Rider Haggard), Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe), The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde), Frankenstein (Mary Shelly), The Time Machine (H.G.Wells), The Turn of the Screw (Henry James), The Fall of the House of Usher (Edgar Allan Poe), The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck), To Kill a Mockingbird (Nelle Harper Lee), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriett Beecher Stowe), Candide (Voltaire), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Mark Twain), 1984 (George Orwell), I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou), One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez), Lord of the Flies (William Golding), Henderson the Rain King (Saul Bellow), Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison), The Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan), The Shell Seekers (Rosamunde Pilcher), The Sound of Waves (Yukio Mishima), Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (Anne Taylor), The Courtship of Miles Standish (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde), Our Town (Thornton Wilder), Death of a Salesman (Arthur Miller) … and plays by William Shakespeare, including Hamlet, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing … and many more

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Das Kapital by Karl Marx (1818-1883) – Summary

Das Kapital by Karl Marx (1818-1883) – Summary 

Summary of Das Kapital by Karl Marx

Summary of Das Kapital by Karl Marx

2017 and Das Kapital is in vogue again, as modern Marxists try to keep the revolution permanent. Since the financial crash, people’s thinking has changed and they are trying to understand if the capitalist system is going to destroy itself. Former Greek financial minister Yanis Yaroufakis, has described himself as an ‘erratic Marxist’ and Jeremy Corbyn described Karl Marx as a ‘great economist’ and even the shadow chancellor John McDonnell suggested that there was ‘a lot to learn’ from Marx’s most famous work, Das Kapital. Read this short summary of this classic to join the conversation…

Summary of Das Kapital by Karl Marx
In the mid-19th century when Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital – an exhaustive work of more than a thousand pages – factory conditions were often intolerable, wages were at best barely adequate, and there were few groups or governments who advocated reform. Therefore, Marx took it upon himself to define “Capitalism,” explain and condemn Capitalist methods, predict the inevitable doom of the system, and issue the rallying cry “Workers of the world, unite!”

When Marx simply describes what he sees, his analyses and criticisms appear most lucid. In contrast, his theories become confusing as he attempts to prove even the vaguest point using mathematics. He felt that these elaborate equations and proofs were necessary because his book does not purport to be merely a moral prescription for society’s ills, but a scientific description of the unavoidable course of history. It is, of course, actually not only a “prescription” but a passionate exhortation.

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Summary of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Summary of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

Get the message / summary of the book from popular highlights
One simple way of getting a quick summary of any ebook is to read the popular highlights on Kindle. Read all the popular highlights below and decide for yourself if that’s enough to get the message of the book and navigate yourself to a greater expertise. Crowd wisdom rocks.

10,000-hour rule
10,000-hour rule was the original Ericsson’s research on expert violinists which was popularised by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. In short, if you practice for 10,000 hours (about 3 hours a day for 10 years), you will become a world leading expert.

Three types of practice: naive, purposeful, deliberate
According to Ericsson there are three types of practice: naive (generic, with mindless repetition), purposeful ( well-defined, with specific goals) and deliberate (pushes you out of your comfort zone and involves feedback and focus). The key to expertise is deliberate practice: “Deliberate practice is purposeful practice that knows where it is going and how to get there.”

Popular highlights from Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
“Purposeful practice requires getting out of one’s comfort zone. This is perhaps the most important part of purposeful practice.” 559 popular highlights (the number of popular highlights at the time of writing this blog summary)

“The right sort of practice carried out over a sufficient period of time leads to improvement. Nothing else.” 1616 popular highlights

“Purposeful practice is all about putting a bunch of baby steps together to reach a longer-term goal.” 1864 popular highlights

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Toby L’Estrange speed reading review of Harry Potter the Cursed Child

Toby L’Estrange speed reading review of Harry Potter the Cursed Child

10-year-old speed-reader Toby L’Estrange’s review of The Cursed Child

Speed reader Toby L’Estrange

Speed reader Toby L’Estrange

“Phew. Just finished speed reading the new Harry Potter book. My score on a scale of 1-10? I think it’s a 6. My favourite is still Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – it had lots of fun challenges and you got the best glimpse of Hogwarts).This one’s a bit different from all the others.

Firstly it’s the script for a play, so it’s quite different from reading a novel. The whole story is told through what the characters say to each other – plus some stage directions. But once you get over that, you read it just the same as the others – except the play is in two parts, so the book is too.

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Summary of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Summary Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
(from Passing Time in the Loo: Volume 1 – Summaries of All-Time Great Books)

Rome & JulietType of work Romantic tragedy
Setting Verona, Italy; 15th century
Principal characters
Romeo, son of the house of Montague
Juliet, daughter of the Capulet household
Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin
Mercutio, Romeo’s friend
Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin
Lady Montague, the clan’s matriarch
Lady Capulet, Juliet’s mother
Juliet’s ribald nurse
Friar Lawrence, a Franciscan Monk


Story overview
For a very long time the Capulets and the Montagues had been feuding. Harsh words often led to violence between the two houses, who were sworn as deadly enemies. Prince Escalus of Verona happened upon one such bloody brawl and angrily pronounced, “If ever you disturb our streets again, your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.”

Shortly after this, Romeo and his cousin Benvolio met on the street, and Romeo sadly confessed his unrequited love for an aloof and indifferent young woman. “[Give] liberty unto thine eyes; Examine other beauties,” was Benvolio’s curative. But Romeo was unmoved: “Thou canst not teach me to forget.”

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Summary of Does your Family Make You Smarter?: Nature, Nurture, and Human Autonomy by James R. Flynn

Summary of Does your Family Make You Smarter?: Nature, Nurture, and Human Autonomy by James R. Flynn 

Summary of Does your Family Make You Smarter?by James Flynn

Summary of Does your Family Make You Smarter?by James Flynn

James R Flynn in his book ‘Does your Family Make You Smarter?: Nature, Nurture, and Human Autonomy’ states that “Intelligence has always been thought to be static. However, the new evidence shows that this is wrong. The brain seems to be rather like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets. That means you can upgrade your own intelligence all through life.” And your environment, especially your family plays a big part in it. This summarises the whole premise of the book, ie you can improve yourself and your IQ, and the surrounding environment has a significant effect on your intelligence.

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Summaries of Shakespeare’s works

Passing Time in the Loo: Shakespeare - Summaries of Shakespeare's Greatest Sonnets and Plays (Comedies, Tragedies, Histories) (Passing Time in the Loo: ... Glimpse Of His World And Greatest Plays)

Passing Time in the Loo: Shakespeare – Summaries of Shakespeare’s Greatest Sonnets and Plays (Comedies, Tragedies, Histories) (Passing Time in the Loo: … Glimpse Of His World And Greatest Plays)

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” said William Shakespeare himself. So read summaries of all his works in this compact volume:

Passing Time in the Loo: Shakespeare – Summaries of Shakespeare’s Greatest Sonnets and Plays (Comedies, Tragedies, Histories) (Passing Time in the Loo: … Glimpse Of His World And Greatest Plays)

War and Peace – Book & Plot Summary – Read in 5 minutes

If you’re watching BBC One drama War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and want to get a quick overview or summary of the plot (to enjoy it more as research suggests), here it is 587,287 words of the book summarised in just 1,945 words (which is 0.33% of the total book which means you can read this summary in about 5-10 minutes as opposed to an average of 32 hours for the whole book):

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WAR AND PEACE – SUMMARY (from Passing Time in the Loo COMPACT CLASSICS – SUMMARIES OF ALL-TIME GREAT BOOKS)
by Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)

Type of work Epic and romantic Russian novel
Setting Russia; the Napoleonic Era
Principal characters
Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, a cynical, intellectual soldier-prince
Pierre Bezuhov, a sensitive nobleman and seeker of truth
Natasha Rostov, Pierre’s beautiful and well-to-do lover
Nikolay Rostov, a soldier, Natasha’s older brother
Sonya, a relative of the Rostovs who falls in love with Nikolay
Anatole Kuragin, a womanizing, high-ranking officer

Commentary
Tolstoy’s purpose in writing his 1600-page War and Peace was to present a historical account of the French invasion of Russia and also to provide himself a forum for his own intellectual and spiritual insights and theories. He accomplishes this through the characters’ searches for identity as well as in the volume’s two extensive epilogues. 

Tolstoy fought in the Crimean War, adding to the realism of his accounts of the Napoleonic struggle. Soon after, he experienced a religious conversion, gave up all his material wealth, and lived out his remaining days in the simple life of a peasant.

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The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts by Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind – Summary of the book

The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts by Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind – Summary of the book in video format

If speed reading there are many ways to get the information in – usually from books but videos and audio presentations are valid ways of getting useful information (TED is a good example). If you don’t want to read the book (Kindle suggests that most non-speed readers will take 7 hours and 14 minutes to read this 362-page book) The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts by Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind watch this presentation (1 hour and 28 minutes – so you’re saving almost 6 hours) for Oxford Martin School and University of Oxford where they explain the key concepts behind their book. One line summary: whatever your profession is – it may not be safe – it can be automated, done by an algorithm or computers much better in the near future. Read about How computers are writing books and articles

Summary of The Brand Flip: Why customers now run companies and how to profit from it by Marty Neumeier

Summary of The Brand Flip: Why customers now run companies and how to profit from it by Marty Neumeier

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 23.06.32

Branding is evolving. Marty Neumeier’s new book (and previous ones) is a good testament of that. Marty starts with acknowledging (like all good writers) the function of any factual book – that is to communicate ideas in the most profound, efficient and direct way. To read The Brand Flip, using traditional reading methods, will take you about two hours to get the key messages. Unless you start at the end and read the key messages first – which is always a good idea to prime and give your mind a big picture – you can finish it in about 20 minutes. Read those key messages below. I do recommend going through the whole book though. If you’re new to branding, you’ll get a good understanding of how branding evolved over the last century and what branding is and isn’t. There are practical branding tips – for example, how much your logo is worth (a price of a good car – but you need to decide what kind of car). If you think branding doesn’t apply to your life, think again. We are all personal brands now and social media platforms are our market places.

“Any effort to get customers is marketing. Any effort to KEEP THEM is branding.”

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Summary of How We Learn: The Surprising Truth about When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey

Summary of How We Learn: The Surprising Truth about When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey

Summary of How We Learn by Benedict Carey

Summary of How We Learn by Benedict Carey

How We Learn, written by a science journalist Benedict Carey, promises to offer well-tested techniques that help us learn more effectively with less effort. It shatters some preconceptions about the ‘enemies of learning’, such as distraction, interruption, laziness, ignorance, restlessness, forgetfulness and even quitting – all of which can actually work in your favour.

For example, forgetting is good. You would think that remembering everything is a good skill. Not so. “Using memory changes memory— and for the better. Forgetting enables and deepens learning, by filtering out distracting information and by allowing some breakdown that, after reuse, drives retrieval and storage strength higher than they were originally,” states the book. Or, as the American psychologist William James noted, “If we remembered everything, we should on most occasions be as ill off as if we remembered nothing.”

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The top (six or seven or three) basic plots of fiction in literature that can help to speed read novels

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 14.31.25According to different sources, there are only seven (or six, five, 20, 36… or three or one) basic plots (or themes) in all of literature. Here they are:

Seven basic plots in fiction

According to The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories (2004) by Christopher Booker (available on Kindle) there are seven types of stories or basic plots in literature:
1) rags to riches,
2) overcoming the monster,
3) the quest,
4) voyage and return,
5) comedy,
6) tragedy,
7) rebirth
Read the summary of The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories 

36 basic plots in fiction
In the 18th Century, Italian playwright Carlos Gozzi identified 36 plots or situations in fiction, which includes: 1) supplication (in which the supplicant must beg something from power in authority), 2) deliverance, 3) crime pursued by vengeance, 4) vengeance taken for kin upon kin, 5) pursuit, 6) disaster, 7) falling prey to cruelty/misfortune, 8) revolt, 9) daring enterprise, 10) abduction, 11) the enigma, 12) obtaining, 13) enmity of kin, 14) rivalry of kin, 15) murderous adultery, 16) madness, 17) fatal imprudence, 18) involuntary crimes of love (e.g.: discovery that one has married one’s mother, sister, etc), 19) slaying of kin unrecognised, 20) self-sacrifice for an ideal, 21) self-sacrifice for kin, 22) all sacrificed for passion, 23) necessity of sacrificing loved ones, 24) rivalry of superior vs. inferior, 25) adultery, 26) crimes of love, 27) discovery of the dishonour of a loved one, 28) obstacles to love, 29) an enemy loved, 30) ambition, 31) conflict with a god, 32) mistaken jealousy, 33) erroneous judgment, 34) remorse, 35) recovery of a lost one and 36) loss of loved ones.

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Summary of Anthony Robbins book Money: Master the Game – 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom

Summary of Anthony Robbins book Money: Master the Game – 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom

Anthony Robbins Money: Master the Game – 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Anthony Robbins

Money: Master the Game – 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Anthony Robbins

The latest book by Anthony Robbins Money: Master the Game – 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom, as the title promises, suggests that in 7 simple steps you can reach your financial freedom and become an investor as opposed to a consumer i.e. you won’t be trading your time for money but your money machine will work for you whether you’re working or not. Anthony Robbins (who is a great advocate of speed reading and photoreading) stresses that you should follow all those seven steps in sequence. For regular readers, this 689-page book might be a daunting task. Hence, my summary here to get you started. If you’re already a speed reader or even better a spd rdr, then you know that reading summaries has been validated as the best (and legitimate) way of getting information quickly and effectively. Anthony Robbins provides a seven step checklist for success at the end of the book which in a way summaries the book. Here it is but if you want a summary of the summary – read my final comments at the end of this blog.

7 SIMPLE STEPS: YOUR CHECKLIST FOR SUCCESS

STEP 1: Make the Most Important Financial Decision of Your Life
1. Did you make the decision to become an investor, not just a consumer?
2. Have you committed a specific percentage of savings that always goes toward your Freedom Fund?
3. Have you automated it? If not, do it now: www.tdameritrade.com or www.schwab.com.
4. If the amount you’re committing now is small, have you committed to your employer to use the Save More Tomorrow program? See http://befi.allianzgi.com/en/Topics/Pages/save-more-tomorrow.aspx

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Summary of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Harari’s international bestseller, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, is a brilliant account of humankind’s extraordinary history, from insignificant apes to rulers of the world. Bill Gates, Barak Obama and others rave about it.

Watch Yuval Noah Harari’s talk about how humans managed to dominate life on Earth. A short answer: through the power of myths, stories and fiction that they’ve created as well as their ability to cooperate in large groups.

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Summary of The Drugs Don’t Work by Professor Dame Sally Davies: The Drugs Don’t Work!

The Drugs Don't Work

The Drugs Don't Work

Some books are summarised with the title as this publication The Drugs Don’t Work by Professor Dame Sally Davies who is a chief medical adviser to the UK government on health issues. Her findings are very simple: “We are losing the battle against infections diseases. Bacteria are fighting back and are becoming resistant to modern medicine. In short, the drugs don’t work.” Hence the title “The Drugs Don’t Work.” Her best and most important advise is to wash your hands properly. (Her second tip is to stop demanding antimicrobial medicines when we have a viral infection and to raise awareness of the threat of antimicrobial resistance). Read more about the importance of reading summaries