Category Archives: Books

Summary of The Point of View of the Universe, by Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer

My university library has an electronic version of The Point of View of the Universe, by Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek and Peter Singer, which includes summaries of each of the book’s chapters. (These summaries are not included in the print or the Kindle versions.) Collated, they provide a good summary of the book as a whole. So here they are.

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Summary of The First 20 Hours, by Josh Kaufman

This post summarizes chapters one to three of The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast, by Josh Kaufman. These chapters introduce a number of general principles of rapid skill acquisition and effective learning. The remaining chapters, on yoga, programming, touch typing, go, ukelele and windsurfing, are meant to illustrate how the author applied those principles to learning each of these skills. As one reviewer has pointed out, however, there is “relatively little connection between what [the author] writes about (say) the history and practice of Yoga and the principles expounded in the first few chapters.” For this reason, these chapters are omitted in the summary below.

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Summary of Clear and Simple as the Truth, by Francis-Noël Thomas and Mark Turner

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a copy of Clear and Simple as the Truth, by Francis-Noël Thomas & Mark Turner.  The book was on top of one of the shelves of the Future of Humanity Institute, where I spend most of my working time these days.  I have been meaning to take a look at this work since 2009, when I read an enthusiastic blog post about it by Robin Hanson (“the best book I’ve read in years”).  Below is my summary of Part one of the book (the first 120 pages or so). Part two is a “museum” of classic texts and part three is a guide to further reading. The summary quotes liberally from the original; I restate a point made in the book with my own words only when I feel that this aids clarity or concision.

Update (September 14th, 2017): I just discovered that a second edition of this book was published in 2011. The summary below was made based on the first edition, published in 1994. The second edition includes an entire new section (“The studio”) with exercises for the reader. Continue reading