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Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World by Nicholas Shaxson

This is the ugliest chapter in global economic affairs since slavery -- and secretive offshore tax havens are at the heart of the trouble.

 

Dirty money, tax havens and the offshore system describe the ugliest and most secretive chapter in the history of global economic affairs. The World Bank has reported that the flow of dirty money across borders, out of developing countries and into rich ones, is up to ten times the amount of foreign aid that flows the other way.

Most people regard tax havens as being relevant only to celebrities, crooks and spivs, and mistakenly believe that the main offshore problems are money laundering and terrorist financing. These are only small parts of the whole picture.

 

The offshore system has been (discreetly) responsible for the greatest ever shift of wealth from poor to rich. It also undermines our democracies by offering the wealthiest members of society escape routes from tax, financial regulation and other normal democratic controls.

 

The anti-globalisation movement tapped into an uneasiness, felt by millions, that something was rotten in the world economy. Treasure Islands brilliantly articulates the problem in a completely new way, and exposes the deep corruption that impacts on our daily lives.

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Popular Science Books
The latest and most interesting popular science books covering all areas from physics to psychology and from economics to ecology
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Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Williams

Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Williams | Popular Science Books | Scoop.it

Did you know that breast milk contains substances similar to cannabis? Or that it’s sold on the Internet for 262 times the price of oil? Feted and fetishized, the breast is an evolutionary masterpiece. But in the modern world, the breast is changing. Breasts are getting bigger, arriving earlier, and attracting newfangled chemicals. Increasingly, the odds are stacked against us in the struggle with breast cancer, even among men. What makes breasts so mercurial—and so vulnerable?

 

In this informative and highly entertaining account, intrepid science reporter Florence Williams sets out to uncover the latest scientific findings from the fields of anthropology, biology, and medicine. Her investigation follows the life cycle of the breast from puberty to pregnancy to menopause, taking her from a plastic surgeon’s office where she learns about the importance of cup size in Texas to the laboratory where she discovers the presence of environmental toxins in her own breast milk. The result is a fascinating exploration of where breasts came from, where they have ended up, and what we can do to save them.

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Nature's Compass: The Mystery of Animal Navigation by James L. Gould, Carol Grant Gould

Nature's Compass: The Mystery of Animal Navigation by James L. Gould, Carol Grant Gould | Popular Science Books | Scoop.it

We know that animals cross miles of water, land, and sky with pinpoint precision on a daily basis. But it is only in recent years that scientists have learned how these astounding feats of navigation are actually accomplished. With colorful and thorough detail, Nature's Compass explores the remarkable methods by which animals find their way both near home and around the globe. Noted biologist James Gould and popular science writer Carol Gould delve into the elegant strategies and fail-safe backup systems, the invisible sensitivities and mysterious forces, and incredible mental abilities used by familiar and rare species, as they investigate a multitude of navigation strategies, from the simple to the astonishing.

 

The Goulds discuss how animals navigate, without instruments and training, at a level far beyond human talents. They explain how animals measure time and show how the fragile monarch butterfly employs an internal clock, calendar, compass, and map to commence and measure the two-thousand-mile annual journey to Mexico--all with a brain that weighs only a few thousandths of an ounce. They look at honey bees and how they rely on the sun and mental maps to locate landmarks such as nests and flowers. And they examine whether long-distance migrants, such as the homing pigeon, depend on a global positioning system to let them know where they are. Ultimately, the authors ask if the disruption of migratory paths through habitat destruction and global warming is affecting and endangering animal species.

Providing a comprehensive picture of animal navigation and migration, Nature's Compass decodes the mysteries of this extraordinary aspect of natural behavior.

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In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World by Ian Stewart

In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World

~ Ian Stewart (author) More about this product
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In this book, celebrated mathematician Ian Stewart uses a handful of mathematical equations to explore the vitally important connections between math and human progress.

 

We often overlook the historical link between mathematics and technological advances, says Stewart—but this connection is integral to any complete understanding of human history.Equations are modeled on the patterns we find in the world around us, says Stewart, and it is through equations that we are able to make sense of, and in turn influence, our world. Stewart locates the origins of each equation he presents—from Pythagoras’s Theorem to Newton’s Law of Gravity to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity—within a particular historical moment, elucidating the development of mathematical and philosophical thought necessary for each equation’s discovery. None of these equations emerged in a vacuum, Stewart shows; each drew, in some way, on past equations and the thinking of the day. In turn, all of these equations paved the way for major developments in mathematics, science, philosophy, and technology. Without logarithms (invented in the early 17th century by John Napier and improved by Henry Briggs), scientists would not have been able to calculate the movement of the planets, and mathematicians would not have been able to develop fractal geometry. The Wave Equation is one of the most important equations in physics, and is crucial for engineers studying the vibrations in vehicles and the response of buildings to earthquakes. And the equation at the heart of Information Theory, devised by Claude Shannon, is the basis of digital communication today.

 

An approachable and informative guide to the equations upon which nearly every aspect of scientific and mathematical understanding depends, In Pursuit of the Unknown is also a reminder that equations have profoundly influenced our thinking and continue to make possible many of the advances that we take for granted.

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

~ Susan Cain (author) More about this product
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At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

 

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.

 

Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts--from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a "pretend extrovert."

 

This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.

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Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others by David Livingstone Smith

Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others

~ David Livingstone Smith (author) More about this product
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A revelatory look at why we dehumanize each other, with stunning examples from world history as well as today’s headlines.

 

“Brute.” “Cockroach.” “Lice.” “Vermin.” “Dog.” “Beast.” These and other monikers are constantly in use to refer to other humans—for political, religious, ethnic, or sexist reasons. Human beings have a tendency to regard members of their own kind as less than human. This tendency has made atrocities like the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and the slave trade possible, and yet we still find it in phenomena such as xenophobia, homophobia, military propaganda, and racism. Less Than Human draws on a rich mix of history, psychology, biology, anthropology and philosophy to document the pervasiveness of dehumanization, describe its forms, and explain why we so often resort to it.

 

David Livingstone Smith posits that this behavior is rooted in human nature, but gives us hope in also stating that biological traits are malleable, showing us that change is possible. Less Than Human is a chilling indictment of our nature, and is as timely as it is relevant.

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Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are by Sebastian Seung

Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are

~ Sebastian Seung (author) More about this product
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We know that each of us is unique, but science has struggled to pinpoint where, precisely, our uniqueness resides. Is it in our genes? The structure of our brains? Our genome may determine our eye color and even aspects of our personality. But our friendships, failures, and passions also shape who we are. The question is: how?

 

Sebastian Seung, a dynamic professor at MIT, is on a quest to discover the biological basis of identity. He believes it lies in the pattern of connections between the brain s neurons, which change slowly over time as we learn and grow. The connectome, as it s called, is where our genetic inheritance intersects with our life experience. It s where nature meets nurture. Seung introduces us to the dedicated researchers who are mapping the brain s connections, neuron by neuron, synapse by synapse. It is a monumental undertaking the scientific equivalent of climbing Mount Everest but if they succeed, it could reveal the basis of personality, intelligence, memory, and perhaps even mental disorders. Many scientists speculate that people with anorexia, autism, and schizophrenia are "wired differently," but nobody knows for sure. The brain s wiring has never been clearly seen.

 

In sparklingly clear prose, Seung reveals the amazing technological advances that will soon help us map connectomes. He also examines the evidence that these maps will someday allow humans to "upload" their minds into computers, achieving a kind of immortality. Connectome is a mind-bending adventure story, told with great passion and authority. It presents a daring scientific and technological vision for at last understanding what makes us who we are. Welcome to the future of neuroscience.

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The Social Conquest of Earth by Edward O. Wilson

The Social Conquest of Earth

~ Edward O. Wilson (author) More about this product
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From the most celebrated heir to Darwin comes a groundbreaking book on evolution, the summa work of Edward O. Wilson's legendary career.

 

Where did we come from? What are we? Where are we going? In a generational work of clarity and passion, one of our greatest living scientists directly addresses these three fundamental questions of religion, philosophy, and science while “overturning the famous theory that evolution naturally encourages creatures to put family first” (Discover magazine).

 

Refashioning the story of human evolution in a work that is certain to generate headlines, Wilson draws on his remarkable knowledge of biology and social behavior to show that group selection, not kin selection, is the primary driving force of human evolution. He proves that history makes no sense without prehistory, and prehistory makes no sense without biology. Demonstrating that the sources of morality, religion, and the creative arts are fundamentally biological in nature, Wilson presents us with the clearest explanation ever produced as to the origin of the human condition and why it resulted in our domination of the Earth’s biosphere.

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OK: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word by Allan Metcalf

OK: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word by Allan Metcalf | Popular Science Books | Scoop.it

It is said to be the most frequently spoken (or typed) word on the planet, more common than an infant's first word ma or the ever-present beverage Coke. It was even the first word spoken on the moon. It is "OK"--the most ubiquitous and invisible of American expressions, one used countless times every day. Yet few of us know the hidden history of OK--how it was coined, what it stood for, and the amazing extent of its influence.

 

Allan Metcalf, a renowned popular writer on language, here traces the evolution of America's most popular word, writing with brevity and wit, and ranging across American history with colorful portraits of the nooks and crannies in which OK survived and prospered.

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God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion by Victor J. Stenger

God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion

~ Victor J. Stenger (author) More about this product
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It has become the prevalent view among sociologists, historians, and some theistic scientists that religion and science have never been in serious conflict. Some even claim that Christianity was responsible for the development of science.

 

In God and the Folly of Faith, physicist Victor J. Stenger shows that this conclusion flies in the face of the historical facts.In a sweeping historical survey that begins with ancient Greek science and proceeds through the Renaissance and Enlightenment to contemporary advances in physics and cosmology, Stenger makes a convincing case that Christianity held back the progress of science for one thousand years. It is significant, he notes, that the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century occurred only after the revolts against established ecclesiastic authorities in the Renaissance and Reformation opened up new avenues of thought.

 

The author goes on to detail how religion and science are fundamentally incompatible in several areas: the origin of the universe and its physical parameters, the origin of complexity, holism versus reductionism, the nature of mind and consciousness, and the source of morality.

 

In the end, Stenger is most troubled by the negative influence that organized religion often exerts on politics and society. He points out antiscientific attitudes embedded in popular religion that are being used to suppress scientific results on issues of global importance, such as overpopulation and environmental degradation. When religion fosters disrespect for science, it threatens the generations of humanity that will follow ours.

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What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite by David DiSalvo

What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite

~ David DiSalvo (author) More about this product
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Why do we routinely choose options that don't meet our short-term needs and undermine our long-term goals? Why do we willingly expose ourselves to temptations that undercut our hard-fought progress to overcome addictions? Why are we prone to assigning meaning to statistically common coincidences? Why do we insist we're right even when evidence contradicts us?

 

In What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite, science writer David DiSalvo reveals a remarkable paradox: what your brain wants is frequently not what your brain needs. In fact, much of what makes our brains "happy" leads to errors, biases, and distortions, which make getting out of our own way extremely difficult. DiSalvo's search includes forays into evolutionary and social psychology, cognitive science, neurology, and even marketing and economics—as well as interviews with many of the top thinkers in psychology and neuroscience today.

 

From this research-based platform, DiSalvo draws out insights that we can use to identify our brains' foibles and turn our awareness into edifying action. Ultimately, DiSalvo argues, the research does not serve up ready-made answers, but provides us with actionable clues for overcoming the plight of our advanced brains and, consequently, living more fulfilled lives.

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Best Popular Science Books of 2011

Best Popular Science Books of 2011 | Popular Science Books | Scoop.it
Based on 12 “science book lists” from different sources ranging from the Economist and the New York Times to the Washington Post and the New Scientist, we have created a list of popular science books that were most mentioned on any of these lists. Below is the outcome of that analysis, providing the best popular science books of 2011.
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Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World by Nicholas Shaxson

This is the ugliest chapter in global economic affairs since slavery -- and secretive offshore tax havens are at the heart of the trouble.

 

Dirty money, tax havens and the offshore system describe the ugliest and most secretive chapter in the history of global economic affairs. The World Bank has reported that the flow of dirty money across borders, out of developing countries and into rich ones, is up to ten times the amount of foreign aid that flows the other way.

Most people regard tax havens as being relevant only to celebrities, crooks and spivs, and mistakenly believe that the main offshore problems are money laundering and terrorist financing. These are only small parts of the whole picture.

 

The offshore system has been (discreetly) responsible for the greatest ever shift of wealth from poor to rich. It also undermines our democracies by offering the wealthiest members of society escape routes from tax, financial regulation and other normal democratic controls.

 

The anti-globalisation movement tapped into an uneasiness, felt by millions, that something was rotten in the world economy. Treasure Islands brilliantly articulates the problem in a completely new way, and exposes the deep corruption that impacts on our daily lives.

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An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies by Tyler Cowen

An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies

~ Tyler Cowen (author) More about this product
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One of the most influential economists of the decade-and the New York Times bestselling author of The Great Stagnation-boldly argues that just about everything you've heard about food is wrong.

 

Food snobbery is killing entrepreneurship and innovation, says economist, preeminent social commentator, and maverick dining guide blogger Tyler Cowen. Americans are becoming angry that our agricultural practices have led to global warming-but while food snobs are right that local food tastes better, they're wrong that it is better for the environment, and they are wrong that cheap food is bad food. The food world needs to know that you don't have to spend more to eat healthy, green, exciting meals. At last, some good news from an economist!

 

Tyler Cowen discusses everything from slow food to fast food, from agriculture to gourmet culture, from modernist cuisine to how to pick the best street vendor. He shows why airplane food is bad but airport food is good; why restaurants full of happy, attractive people serve mediocre meals; and why American food has improved as Americans drink more wine. And most important of all, he shows how to get good, cheap eats just about anywhere.

 

Just as The Great Stagnation was Cowen's response to all the fashionable thinking about the economic crisis, An Economist Gets Lunch is his response to all the fashionable thinking about food. Provocative, incisive, and as enjoyable as a juicy, grass-fed burger, it will influence what you'll choose to eat today and how we're going to feed the world tomorrow.

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