... This yearning for universal mathematical laws to govern the behaviour of human beings has burdened the west with all sorts of harmless and less harmless nonsense, from phrenology to economics. It now finds a champion in Philip Ball in this long book.
Ball's argument is that this time, it's different, guv. In other words, mathematical and statistical physics has attained such a sophistication that its insights into the behaviour of particles of matter can be transferred to the mass behaviour of human beings, whether investing in the stock market or racing for the exits after a fire at a football ground.
In addition, and sotto voce, Ball tells us that society in mass has now become so mechanical that human beings really do resemble atoms of physical matter interacting with one another through forces of attraction and repulsion. ...
Posted (to stop trying to categorize everything) by pete at 7:27 AM on Tuesday, March 30, 2004
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