The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread - and Why They Stop (Paperback)Adam Kucharski (author)
Highly topical, accessible and endlessly fascinating, The Rules of Contagion peels off some of the mystery and apparent randomness of how things – ideas, trends, fake news and viruses alike – spread and proliferate, or die out.
Why do some ideas take off - and others fail to spread? Why are some diseases predictable, and others swamped in uncertainty? And what about the outbreaks that never happen at all?
We live in a world that's more connected than ever before. But even as we see our lives being shaped by the spread of ideas, trends - and even diseases - we sometimes struggle to grasp how it actually works. Outbreaks seem to be driven by randomness and hidden laws, and in order to understand them, we need to start thinking like mathematicians.
Here, epidemiologist Adam Kucharski reveals how new mathematical approaches are transforming what we know about contagion - from the revolutionary initiatives that helped tackle gun violence in Chicago to the truth behind the spread of fake news. And along the way, he'll explain how innovations and emotions can spread through our friendship networks, what STDs can tell us about banking, and why some outbreak predictions go badly wrong.
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 280 g
Dimensions: 194 x 128 x 20 mm
Astonishingly bold - Daily Mail
Perfect timing - Financial Times
Popular science at its best ... sparkling and clear. The subject is deeply fascinating and highly relevant ... Once you have read it, you will want to make sure others read it too. - Alex Bellos, author, Alex's Adventures in Numberland
An impressively fluent, fascinating and accessible introduction to how epidemics, trends, behaviours and ideas start, spread - and end ... a work of contemporary relevance that Malcolm Gladwell devotees would enjoy. - New Statesman
It is hard to imagine a more timely book ... much of the modern world will make more sense having read it. - The Times
Adam Kucharski [is] fast becoming a key voice of reason in the media circus surrounding the virus ... Here he gives a clear, calm, historical overview of the mathematical ideas at the forefront of our pandemic response, where they came from and how well they stand up when you put them to the test. - Hannah Fry, Guardian
This is a hell of a moment for a book like this to come out ... the principles of contagion, which, Kucharski argues, can be applied to everything from folk stories and financial crises to itching and loneliness, are suddenly of pressing interest to all of us. - Sunday Times
Rich in stories, The Rules of Contagion is a down-to-earth account of how mathematical approaches can help us better understand and, in turn, better respond to contagion in all its dynamic forms. Tackling issues from pandemics and gun violence, to financial crises and misinformation, Adam Kucharski inspires us all to think like mathematicians. A must read for anybody interested in epidemics and other crises. - Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
For anyone wanting to know how diseases spread, Adam Kucharski's book, The Rules of Contagion is a timely introduction. - Irish Independent
For now Adam Kucharski's The Rules of Contagion is the book you want to reach for ... interesting and topical - Laura Spinney, Guardian
Illuminating ... Coronavirus has prompted hot-headed public and media reaction; this book offers comfort in the form of cold, hard facts. - Prospect Magazine
One of the Economist's 'five books of science and history that cast light on covid-19': This book charts the history of this now-pivotal science, from its origins in understanding the spread of malaria at the turn of the 20th century, to its central role in predicting the dissemination of everything from diseases to fake news in the 21st. - Economist
The Rules of Contagion is a timely reminder of the importance of disease modelling. Without such models, we would be in far greater trouble battling COVID-19. - Lancet
Lively, intriguing and elegant - Spectator
A geeky but fascinating exploration of the mathematics of things that go viral-not least of them viruses ... Kucharski takes his readers down provocative detours, such as the use of public-health models of disease transmission to examine how social networks figure in urban gun violence, with algorithms that take into account such things as 'age, gang affiliations, and prior arrests.'... Utterly timely and readable. - Kirkus
Essential reading to truly process the pandemic - Anjana Ahuja, New Statesman
Perhaps no commentator has been in greater demand this year than Adam Kucharski ... The Rules of Contagion is an accessible guide to the mathematical rules that govern the spread of infectious diseases in populations ... [which] makes a convincing case that just as mathematics can predict the arc of an epidemic, so it can also help us understand how social contagions, from financial panics to vaccine conspiracy theories, "go viral". - Gaia Vince, winner of the Royal Society Prize and author of Adventures in the Anthropocene, Observer
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