Saturday, March 8, 2003

The Pinball Effect, James Burke

It's a fun and easy read for someone who loves the history of science and technology. I think it would be terribly convoluted for someone who has little to no knowledge on the subject. As much as I like the The Pinball Effect it is fundamentally flawed book. I'm not talking about the few historical flaws, but nstead the books unstated and underlying premise that correlation equals causation.

James Burke is an educated man and would never argue that point but each chapter, while fun to read, implies that each discovery/invention led to the next and the next. It's tantamount to saying that the shooting of the Archduke Ferdinand led to WWI which led to the allies dismembering the Ottoman Empire, which led to Osama bin Laden and 9/11.

We all see the correlation but there is no causation. History is not so neat.