Why Things Bite Back has ratings and 48 reviews. Mero said: Edward Tenner’s book is rather dated by now (!), but in everything but its discussion.. . Edward Tenner’s Why Things Bite Back examines technology in medicine, agriculture and the environment, the computerized office, and sports. A historian of. “No one is safe from Mr. Tenner’s analytical eye. He has amassed a staggering amount of research in `Why Things Bite Back,’ all of it clearly and succinctly.

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Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. For instance, light cigarettes intend to reduce risk, but increase risk because the tendency is to smoke more of them to get the same nicotine – producing more exposure to other hazardous chemicals.

They were responding to immediate concerns. Just as a reminder of that “mice and men” bit. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. But it is the genius of Edward Tenner’s Why Things Bite Back to provide us with new tools to analyze our predicament–tools we can use, perhaps, to occupy our time while trapped in a traffic jam in the car that was supposed to speed us on our way, or while idled by carpal tunnel syndrome caused by the machines that substitute information for physical labor, or while keeping vigil by the bedside of a chronically and painfully ill relative who would long since have been dead thinge for the miracles of medicine.

A lot of what this book talks about is supposed to be revenge-effects, but are actually trade-offs. Though I bacm this book would take a deterministic stance based on how it is marketed? He looks at these effects in terms of medicine antibiotic resistant bacteriathe environment kudzu and killer beesthe computerization of the workplace carpal tunn Continuing with my interest in human factors and technology, I checked this out from the library.

One other very positive consequence of 20th century thinngs, though, was the way in which other kinds of calamities could lead to positive advances.

Not all change is progress, and sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who knows this. Think of the financial world, for example. Factually interesting, but so, so boring in its presentation. Why Things Bite Back really is a study of “unintended consequences”. Read it Forward Read it first. To ask other readers questions about Why Things Bite Backplease sign up. The fact that the Green Revolution averted mass starvation predicted by people like Paul Ehrlich shows that some solutions are preferable to their absence.

What I really appreciate is that Tenner is neither a “doom and gloomer” nor a Pollyanna chirping “technology will save us all. That’s not necessarily a bad unintended consequence. There are initiatives coming from both government and private sectors to create much documentation concerning patient information. But Eddward think from the point of view of a Neanderthal, there would have been a lot of disapproval of the wimpish choppers that we now have.

Why do these revenge effects matter and why do they happen? The details are sometimes quite surprising and even entertaining. So these things are kind of relative to where you or your ancestors deward to stand. Now let’s advance to 10, years before the present.

Why Things Bite Back

Tennef he learned meticulously from his mistakes. Tenner, a fellow at And my favorite example of that occurred beginning inwhen it was discovered that the bacteria causing Legionnaires disease had always been present in natural waters, but it was the precise temperature of the water in heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems that raised the right temperature for the maximum reproduction of Legionella bacillus.

This book is not at all anti-technology, or pessimistic about its potential to improve our lives. They commissioned a group of their best scientists to investigate, and what they found was that all these tape drives were located near ventilation ducts. You know the old saw.

And my favorite example of that — which tenneer not really widely known as a technological miracle, but it may be one of the greatest of all times, was the scaling up of penicillin in the Second World War.

And I could just imagine the committees reporting back to them on where agriculture was going to take humanity, at least in the next few hundred years.

Nearly pages are dedicated to further reading, footnotes and an index – the book is very well researched, and still quite readable without being too dry. Now if we look forward a bit to the 19th century, we find htings new style of technology. Looking for More Great Reads? Now there is something else, though, in the early 20th century that made things even more complicated. Dec 26, Ushan rated it liked it Shelves: And that again proves that when you’re talking about unintended consequences, it’s not that easy to know the right lessons to draw.

The Paige typesetter had 18, parts.

Why Things Bite Back ultimately never addresses the question posed by the book’s title in any satisfying way. For example, much of what it discusses is the increased vigilance so many technologies require, and yet technology is supposed to free us from toil.

And not only did they do it, but within two years, they scaled up penicillin from preparation in one-liter flasks to 10,gallon vats. Don’t invite the author of this book to your dinner party.

Dec 20, Rich rated it liked it. If there had been rational technology assessment then, I think bkte very well might have said, bavk call the whole thing off. Allergy and Medication list as well as comprehensive medical history record are some of the examples.

He had to have some errors. twnner

Why Things Bite Back – Wikipedia

All this has been told many times before Tenner; technophobic thought goes all the way to Plato, who argued in some dialogue that writing ruined memorization, if not earlier. Oct 27, Andrew rated it liked it.

Tenner cites temner across five broad areas: This is a book about the “revenge effects” of technology. This is a study of technology gone bad – a pastiche of Robert Sheckley’s “Watchbird”, Murphy’s Law and those ancient Greek stories about gods punishing mortals for their hubris.


Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences

That approach does show the ubiquity of the revenge effect, but it doesn’t help much in understanding it. The mentor of Warren Buffett, Benjamin Graham, developed his system of value investing as a result of his own losses in the crash. The lesson of the Titanic, for a lot of the contemporaries, was that you must have enough lifeboats for everyone on the ship.

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