Numbers Dont Lie: 71 Things You Need to Know About the World By Vaclav Smil


Free read Numbers Dont Lie: 71 Things You Need to Know About the World

My favourite author has done it again. Numbers Dont Lie is by far his most accessible book to date, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is curious about the world. I unabashedly recommend this book to anyone who loves learning Bill Gates

Is flying dangerous? How much do the worlds cows weigh? And what makes people happy?

From Earths nations and inhabitants, through the fuels and foods that energize them, to the transportation and inventions of our modern world and how all of this affects the planet itself in Numbers Dont Lie, Professor Vaclav Smil takes us on a fact finding adventure, using surprising statistics and illuminating graphs to challenge lazy thinking. Smil is on a mission to make facts matter, because after all, numbers may not lie, but which truth do they convey?

Smils title says it all: to understand the world, you need to follow the trendlines, not the headlines. This is a compelling, fascinating, and most important, realistic portrait of the world and where its going Steven Pinker

The best book to read to better understand our world. It should be on every bookshelf! Linda Yueh

There is perhaps no other academic who paints pictures with numbers like Smil Guardian

Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of over forty books on topics including energy, environmental and population change, food production and nutrition, technical innovation, risk assessment and public policy. No other living scientist has had books (on a wide variety of topics) reviewed in Nature. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, in 2010 he was named by Foreign Policy as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. This is his first book for a general readership. Numbers Dont Lie: 71 Things You Need to Know About the World

This is a fantastic overview of data in a widely ranging areas of the world. Mostly topics are important areas and Smil does not shy away from some technical detail (many other overview books may omit good discussions on devices and manufacturing). I think the strength of the book and author is looking to past and present data, some extrapolations to the future and subjective views are questionable (however these are not frequent).

Overall, a great book that touches on an impressive range of areas with success, there will always be some disagreements when tackling such a broad area. However, that minor downside does not detract from the book and what it achieves, especially in comparison to books which try to do the same. Vaclav Smil A collection of facts waiting for a purpose, as though the author mistakenly published his working notes rather than the final draft.

The few areas in which I have any expertise disappointed. The chapter on insulation, for example, is founded on a specious comparison, shorn of context to reach a conclusion that is of no practical relevance.

Perhaps that was a one off, and the other arguments are great. Or perhaps not.

I bought the book on a whim, seduced by the quotes on the cover. How could such clever people be wrong I thought? Vaclav Smil Thank you, thank you, thank you Prof Smil for writing a book I can almost understand and for your humour!
This science of numbers is new to me and the few other books I have read by the same author were extremely hard to understand and very dry. I know science is hard..
It was so nice to find in the book the lively person that I could see in his presentations I could find on YouTube. Vaclav Smil This is a wonderfully interesting read and ordinarily I would have given such a book 4 or 5 stars.

My huge reservation is that the author does not just stick to numbers (unlike the engrossing book The Universe Speaks in Numbers by Graham Farmelo). He is especially vituperative about the UK, see quote below* where personal prejudice seems to show through, and he does not mention the massive advances, both in power contribution and much lowered costs, made in off shore wind by the UK contrary to many previous expectations by so called world experts.

Also, in his measure of countries' worth he does not think to consider the merits of countries simply willing to stand against tyranny: the UK would rate highly in this regard with its prolonged start to finish fights against both the Nazis and the Soviet Union. We were, history shows, a very minor player in the defeats of these twin evils but we at least did try and were there slinging a few stones as best we could well before other stronger players bravely entered the fight.
There may here be a current relevance with our small efforts to stand out against and call out the EU State, and that may be a reason for his particular animus, as Smil has been I think an adviser to the EU.

*The UK has become.a deindustrialized and worn out country; another has been power whose claim to uniqueness rests on having too many troubled princes and on exporting costumed TV series set in fading country mansions staffed with too many servants.

I in fact entirely agree with his withering assessments of both our ghastly princes and our TV series, but his bias shows bleakly though in such subjective statements.

Maybe Covid 19 adds an interesting aspect as well: the one vaccine both conceived and manufactured in the UK may well be the one to save the world. I am not referring to the financial delusions of a former prime minister here, but the fact that the result of the Oxford/Astra collaboration is by far the easiest to handle (will safely sit in a fridge in a small store in Chad beside the Coca Cola and root beer cans) and also by far the cheapest ($4 contra the $20 30 cost of the other leading sorts). Also the much maligned, utterly dreadful UK has agreed to make this available to the Developing World at zero profit for ever no other country has come near to promising that. This will no doubt all just be put down to a massive fluke, but perhaps the author might reasonably consider that the UK has 5 universities in the world's top rank of 20 [QS Rankings], then some balance might just prevail. The entire EU scores NULL points in this particular Eurovision category!

Perhaps Balfour's aphorism (slightly modified) that there are lies, a significantly higher order of lies, and then there are numbers, might merit further thought. Vaclav Smil I have no doubt the author knows his stuff, but the lack of depth caused by having too many topics means that the analysis lacks balance and sufficient information on which to base his conclusions. They started to sound like opinions, and with all due respect to the author, opinions are like belly buttons, everyone has one, but the serve no purpose.
One third of the topics well argued would, to me, have made sense. But that's just my opinion, and Vaclav Smil