Atlas Shrugged is a novel by Ayn Rand, first published in 1957 in the United States.The book explores a dystopian United States where many of society’s most productive citizens refuse to be exploited by increasing taxation and government regulations and disappear. They are led by John Galt. Galt describes the strike as “stopping the motor of the world” by withdrawing the minds that drive society’s growth and productivity. In their efforts, these people “of the mind” hope to demonstrate that a world in which the individual is not free to create is doomed, that civilization cannot exist where every person is a slave to society and government, and that the destruction of the profit motive leads to the collapse of society. The protagonist, Dagny Taggart, sees society collapse around her as the government increasingly asserts control over all industry.
The novel’s title is a reference to Atlas, a Titan of Greek mythology, who in the novel is described as “the giant who holds the world on his shoulders”. The significance of this reference is seen in a conversation between the characters Francisco d’Anconia and Hank Rearden, in which d’Anconia asks Rearden what sort of advice he would give to Atlas upon seeing that “the greater [the titan’s] effort, the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders”. With Rearden unable to answer, d’Anconia gives his own response: “To shrug”.
The theme of Atlas Shrugged, as Rand described it, is “the role of man’s mind in existence”. The book explores a number of philosophical themes that Rand would subsequently develop into the philosophy of Objectivism. It advocates the core tenets of Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and expresses her concept of human achievement. In doing so, it expresses many facets of Rand’s philosophy, such as the advocacy of reason, individualism, capitalism, and the failures of government coercion.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is a book by Malcolm Gladwell, first published by Little Brown in 2000. Gladwell defines a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” The book seeks to explain and describe the “mysterious” sociological changes that mark everyday life. As Gladwell states, “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do.” The examples of such changes in his book include the rise in popularity and sales of Hush Puppies shoes in the mid-1990s and the precipitous drop in the New York City crime rate after 1990.
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking is a 2005 book by Malcolm Gladwell.The author describes the main subject of his book as “thin-slicing”: our ability to gauge what is really important from a very narrow period of experience. In other words, this is an idea that spontaneous decisions are often as good as—or even better than—carefully planned and considered ones. Gladwell draws on examples from science, advertising, sales, medicine, andpopular music to reinforce his ideas. Gladwell also uses many examples of regular people’s experiences with “thin-slicing.”
Outliers: The Story of Success is a non-fiction book written by Malcolm Gladwell and published by Little, Brown and Company on November 18, 2008. In Outliers, Gladwell examines the factors that contribute to high levels of success. To support his thesis, he examines the causes of why the majority of Canadian ice hockey players are born in the first few months of the calendar year, how Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates achieved his extreme wealth, how The Beatles became one of the most successful musical acts in human history, how cultural differences play a large part in perceived intelligenceand rational decision making, and how two people with exceptional intelligence, Christopher Langan and J. Robert Oppenheimer, end up with such vastly different fortunes. Throughout the publication, Gladwell repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.
The publication debuted at number one on the bestseller lists for The New York Times and The Globe and Mail, holding the position on the former for eleven consecutive weeks. Generally well-received by critics, Outliers was considered more personal than Gladwell’s other works, and some reviews commented on how much Outliers felt like an autobiography. Reviews praised the connection that Gladwell draws between his own background and the rest of the publication to conclude the book. Reviewers also appreciated the questions posed by Outliers, finding it important to determine how much individual potential is ignored by society. However, the lessons learned were considered anticlimactic and dispiriting. The writing style, deemed easy to understand, was criticized for oversimplifying complex sociological phenomena.
What the Dog Saw is a compilation of 19 articles by Malcolm Gladwell that were originally published in The New Yorker which are categorized into three parts. The first part, Obsessives, Pioneers, and other varieties of Minor Genius, describes people who are very good at what they do, but are not necessarily well-known. Part two, Theories, Predictions, and Diagnoses, describes the problems of prediction. This section covers problems such as intelligence failure, and the fall of Enron. The third section, Personality, Character, and Intelligence, discusses a wide variety of psychological and sociological topics ranging from the difference between early and late bloomers and criminal profiling.
Consilience, or the unity of knowledge (literally a “jumping together” of knowledge), is the principle that calculating a result by two different methods should lead to the same answer. The word consilience was coined by William Whewell in The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, 1840.
In The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, Whewell explained that: “The Consilience of Inductions takes place when an Induction, obtained from one class of facts, coincides with an Induction obtained from another different class. Thus Consilience is a test of the truth of the Theory in which it occurs.”
Consilience has its roots in the ancient Greek concept of an intrinsic orderliness that governs our cosmos, inherently comprehensible by logical process, a vision at odds with mystical views in many cultures that surrounded the Hellenes. The rational view was recovered during the high Middle Ages, separated from theology during the Renaissance and found its apogee in the Age of Enlightenment.
Although the concept of consilience in Whewell’s sense was widely discussed by philosophers of science, the term was unfamiliar to the broader public until the end of the 20th century, when it was vividly revived in Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, a 1998 book by the humanist biologistEdward Osborne Wilson, as an attempt to bridge the culture gap between the sciences and the humanities that was the subject of C. P. Snow’s The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution (1959).
Wilson held that with the rise of the modern sciences, the sense of unity gradually was lost in the increasing fragmentation and specialization of knowledge in the last two centuries. He asserted that the sciences, humanities, and arts have a common goal: to give a purpose to understanding the details, to lend to all inquirers “a conviction, far deeper than a mere working proposition, that the world is orderly and can be explained by a small number of natural laws.” Wilson’s concept is a much broader notion of consilience than that of Whewell, who was merely pointing out that generalizations invented to account for one set of phenomena often account for others as well.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The introduction begins like this: “Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindboggingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space. Listen …” and so on.
(After a while the style settles down a bit and it begins to tell you things you really need to know, like the fact that the fabulously beautiful planet Bethselamin is now so worried about the cumulative erosion by ten billion visiting tourists a year that any net imbalance between the amount you eat and the amount you excrete whilst on the planet is surgically removed from your bodyweight when you leave: so every time you go to the lavatory it is vitally important to get a receipt.)
To be fair though, when confronted by the sheer enormity of distances between the stars, better minds than the one responsible for the Guide’s introduction have faltered. Some invite you to consider for a moment a peanut in reading and a small walnut in Johannesburg, and other such dizzying concepts.
The simple truth is that interstellar distances will not fit into the human imagination.
Even light, which travels so fast that it takes most races thousands of years to realize that it travels at all, takes time to journey between the stars. It takes eight minutes from the star Sol to the place where the Earth used to be, and four years more to arrive at Sol’s nearest stellar neighbour, Alpha Proxima.