What We Are Reading Today: Physical Intelligence by Scott Grafton

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Updated 13 February 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Physical Intelligence by Scott Grafton

Elegantly written and deeply grounded in personal experience —reminiscent of works by Oliver Sacks — this book gives us a clear, illuminating examination of action intelligence, the fundamental relationship between the physical world and the mind, according to a review published on goodreads.com.

Using behavioral neurology and cognitive neuroscience as a lens, Scott Grafton accounts for the workings and the design of the action-oriented brain, bringing to light the action intelligence inherent in all of us and which is always busy solving problems of physicality: Ever wonder why you don’t walk into walls or off cliffs? How do you decide if you can drive through a snowstorm? How high are you willing to climb up a ladder to change a lightbulb? 

Grafton draws from the insights and discoveries of engineers who have learned to emulate the sophisticated solutions that nature created for managing incredibly complex behavior, and demonstrates the relevance of action intelligence with examples that each of us might face.


What We Are Reading Today: Divided Armies

Updated 23 February 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Divided Armies

Author: Jason Lyall

How do armies fight and what makes them victorious on the modern battlefield? In Divided Armies, Jason Lyall challenges long-standing answers to this classic question by linking the fate of armies to their levels of inequality.
Introducing the concept of military inequality, Lyall demonstrates how a state’s prewar choices about the citizenship status of ethnic groups within its population determine subsequent battlefield performance.
Treating certain ethnic groups as second-class citizens, either by subjecting them to state-sanctioned discrimination or, worse, violence, undermines interethnic trust, fuels grievances, and leads victimized soldiers to subvert military authorities once war begins.
The higher an army’s inequality, Lyall finds, the greater its rates of desertion, side-switching, casualties, and use of coercion to force soldiers to fight, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.
In a sweeping historical investigation, Lyall draws on Project Mars, a new dataset of 250 conventional wars fought since 1800, to test this argument.