Three Scientists and Their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information

ISBN: 0060972572
ISBN 13: 9780060972578
By: Robert Wright

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Reader's Thoughts

Kevin Baird

I gave it 4 stars, not because I walked away with a vast amount of new knowledge, but because I believe I only grasped about 3/4's of what was said. It's not that writing was poor (it wasn't) it was just that I felt at times my brain was saying, "Whoa, pal, you're getting into some strange territory here that I'm just not comfortable with," causing me to have to re-read things several times and finally just read on under the belief that it's better to keep moving along in hope that you can grasp and retain the broader points. Maybe that's what a really good book is. Maybe that's why you need to go back and read the great one's over and over again to pick out stuff you didn't see, or grasp, previously.What this book does do is make you think. Not only that, it makes you think about things that you thought you knew or had thought about before, only now you're thinking of them much more deeply and with much more awe. The universe is a computer simulation? Yes I've heard that. The universe is a computer simulation because "something" created it to try to figure out a problem? That "something" can't know for sure what the future holds without witnessing the future itself unfold? My mind went a hundred different directions at once trying to wrap itself around that one.It's like that through many parts of the book, but the first section on the universe being run by a computer was definitely my favorite.This is great writing, and great writing deserves to be read. Don't let the date of this book chase you away. It's worthy of a read...multiple readings, in fact.


This book provides a narrative description of individuals that I call "great white men of science". There is tendency within scientific historical content to glorify successful scientists or technically proficient individuals. The unrelenting praise in this book strikes me as likely to be less than full disclosure.


A highly readable and fascinating account of the philosophies of three scientists. There are some pretty unorthodox ideas in this book about the nature of the universe, the formation of human culture and identity, and the ways in which we communicate. It had me thinking pretty hard all the way through, and will surely challenge your ideas as well. Wright is a fantastic writer, able to make complex ideas understandable without much jargon, but not to dumb things down. In addition to extended interviews with the titular three scientists, there are also chapters with titles such as, "What is Information," "What is Meaning," "What is Communication," and "What is Complexity." As you can imagine, these questions prove exceeding difficult to answer. I completely enjoyed this book and look forward to reading Wright's other books, which also sound great.


Good early work by Robert Wright. You can read his online column on these days.


A profile of Edward Fredkin, inventor of the Fredkin gate, a jet fighter pilot and an early computer entrepreneur, Edward Wilson, entomologist and sociobiologist, and Kenneth Boulding, the only one of the three I haven't heard about before, who is some sort of New Age economist and political scientist. Fredkin is an enthusiast of the universe-as-a-cellular-automaton idea (later popularized by Stephen Wolfram), and he organized the translation of Konrad Zuse's Rechnender Raum (Calculating Space) into English. For me, Scott Aaronson's and Cosma Rohilla Shalizi's review of Wolfram's book have everything there is to know about the idea.


Definitely a book to make one think about thinking. Like to give this book to folks to who want to generalize about scientists and religion.

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