Sunday, November 26, 2023

Review of Norse Mythology: Gods, Heroes and the Nine Worlds of Norse Mythology by Stephan Weaver

This book review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Intriguing Connections = 1) What Is The Power Of Belief Systems?

Watch Short Review


“Despite him being the leader of Æsir and the lord of Asgard, Odin had a penchant for distant and solitary travels.  Although some of his quests were inspired by petty whims, most of them were undertaken in search of fulfilling lofty ambitions.  Odin was not always the omnipotent God he came to be; he started off as the God of Death, but the rest of his reign was hard won.” – Stephan Weaver, Chapter II, Page 9

“Norse society had three social strata over which the gods and goddesses ruled.  The upper class included the rulers and sovereignty; the middle class, the warriors; and the lower class, the farmers and peasants.  Odin and Tyr were the rulers of the upper class.  There were stark differences between Odin and Tyr.  Odin ruled by magic and cunning, while Tyr ruled by law and order.  Odin carried a rather discreditable imagery, depicted as the malicious, unfathomable one, whereas Tyr was perceived as the virtuous and sober ruler.” – Stephan Weaver, Chapter II, Page 9

“The Norsemen had quite a lot of heroes and legends, ones that were idolized and worshiped throughout the whole of Scandinavia.  And it was because of these extraordinary figures that Norse history has come to be this unceasing and timelessly captivating entity in human recordings.” – Stephan Weaver, Chapter IV, Page 27


Is This An Overview?

Norse mythology has been influential through the acts of historical leaders and fictional heroes.  Influencing many societies with their norms and customs.  The Norse pantheon contained many diverse characters, and usually part of a conflict.  It was a conflict that reduced the Ten Worlds, to Nine Worlds.  It was a death of a giant that made the middle earth, the land of humanity.  Worlds cosmically tied by a world-tree.  With conflict, there is also peace and how the different groups interacted with each other.  But that is not to forget the looming fate of Ragnarök.  This is a short book describing the power of the gods, the types of worlds, the different types of beings, and historic events and fiction that propagated the myths. 



This is a short introductory book to Norse Mythology.  It does not contain a systematic analysis.  Just a short description of the major gods, beings, heroes, and worlds.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest this book?
•Who are the Æsir? 
•Who are the Vanir?
•What happened to Æsir and Vanir?
•Who is Odin?
•How did Odin get Odin’s powers?
•Who is Tyr?
•Who is Thor?
•Who is Freya?
•Who is Loki?
•Who is Frigg?
•Who is Baldur?
•Who is Hel?
•Who is Heimdall?
•Who is Mimir?
•Why are there nine worlds?
•What is the Yggdrasil? 
•Who are some real Norse people that influenced society?
•What are some stories that came from Norse people?
•Who are the Valkyries?
•Who are the Norns?
•Who are the Jotuns?
•Who are the Dwarfs?
•Who are the Light Elves?
•Who are the Dark Elves?
•How did Norse Mythology influence other societies? 

Book Details
Publisher:               Stephan Weaver
Edition ISBN:         2940154933183
Pages to read:          40
Publication:             2017
1st Edition:              2015
Format:                    eBook 

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          2
Overall          2

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Review of Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein

This book review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Book Club Event = Book List (07/27/2024)

Watch Short Review


“The data showed that the price a customer is asked to pay depends to an uncomfortable extent on the lottery that picks the employee who will deal with that transaction.  To say the least, customers would not be pleased to hear that they were signed up for such a lottery without their consent.  More generally, people who deal with organizations expect a system that reliably delivers consistent judgments.  They do not expect system noise.” – Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein, Chapter 2: A Noisy System , Page 27

“These beliefs, which have been called naïve realism, are essential to the sense of a reality we share with other people.  We rarely question these beliefs.  We hold a single interpretation of the world around us at any one time, and we normally invest little effort in generating plausible alternatives to it.  One interpretation is enough, and we experience it as true.  We do not go through life imagining alternative ways of seeing what we see” – Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein, Chapter 2: A Noisy System , Page 31

“In other words, mood has a measurable influence on what you think: what you notice in your environment, what you retrieve from your memory, how you make sense of these signals.  But mood has another, more surprising effect: it also changes how you think.” – Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein, Chapter 7: Occasion Noise, Page 86


Is This An Overview?

There are aspects of life in which people want diversity of views, with disagreement expected.  But, when the expectation is that the decision makers are supposed to provide a similar judgement within similar contexts, the diversity of views is harmful.  These are noisy judgements.  While biased judgements are systematically off, noisy judgements are those in which agreement is expected but not attained. 

Whether in a public or private organization, their representatives are meant to provide a similar product no matter who is using their service.  In practice, those using their services enter a lottery as to whom they receive as a representative.  The outcomes depend on who is asked, for the person can receive someone favorable or unfavorable to them.  Leading to very different outcomes for people within similar circumstances, rather than the expected reliable judgements. 

Noise is the unwanted divergent judgements.  Noise is more disagreement in a system than what is expected.  Noise leads to unfairness in society, and a loss of profit for firms.  Decision hygiene is meant to reducing noise which leads to better decision making.  There are practical steps that everyone can take to reduce the amount of noise in the system, and take a noise audit to find out how much noise there is. 


What Is An Example of Noise?

Judges are expected to deliver similar sentences to similar cases.  But, there is a lot of noise in the sentences that judges make.  Judges use their discretion to tailor the sentence with various factors.  Although this discretion is meant to enable better outcomes, the discretion also creates discrimination due to arbitrary cruelties. 

The noisy sentences received attention, leading to sentence guidelines.  The guidelines reduced noise, but judges objected due to their lack of discretion.  When the guidelines were removed, noise came back into sentences given.  This created law without order.


How To Understand Noise?

A judgement is the conclusion.  It is a process of mental activity and the product.  A judgement is never certain.  It includes reasonable disagreement.  A judgement has an expectation of bounded disagreement.  The amount of disagreement that is acceptable depends on the problem.  Large disagreement violates expectations of fairness and consistency when representatives of public or private institutions are meant to be interchangeable and assigned quasi-randomly.  Noise in the judgements are errors, and in a noisy system, the errors do not cancel each other out.

Organization and people tend to maintain an illusion of agreement, even though they disagree in their judgements.  People tend to think that others share their beliefs, that they understand reality the way the individual does.  With naïve realism, people assume that there is a single interpretation, which is rarely challenged.  Organizations prefer consensus and harmony over dissent and conflict.  Procedures are designed to minimize exposure to disagreement, and explain disagreement away. 

Noise is unwanted, and noise is not always unwanted.  Variability in judgement is acceptable when it comes to experiences with expected diverse views.  Such as innovative solutions to problems, in competition, and art.

Noise is undesirable variability in judgement to the same problem, which does not apply to singular problems that are not repeated.  But, there could be counterfactuals, as different decision makers with the same competencies could have made different decisions.


Why Is There Noise?

Noise can occur even with the same facts, as the same facts on different occasions produce different results.  It is not just different people that can have different judgements, but also the individual.  Mood affects what the individual thinks, and how the individual thinks.  Making people less consistent than they think. 

Overconfidence in predictions reduces the quality of the predictions.  Perfect predictions are impossible, but that does not prevent overconfidence in predictions.  Experts tend not to do much better than everyone else when making predictions.  What experts know is how to explain themselves and see the different issues involved, but not make better predictions.  Better forecasters tend to be those who continuously update their beliefs.

People jump to conclusions based on little information while believing that their views are based on appropriate evidence.  Building evidence when a conclusion has been made, rather than seek alternative explanations.  People reply on empty explanations to enable coherence of events.

People can have different views based on earlier impressions.  Judgements are affected by prior attitudes.  Interpretation of facts depends on prior impressions.  The affect heuristic, also known as the halo effect, occurs when people use their emotions to make decisions.  Applying the same favorable or unfavorable emotions to a person, even though the person is complex.


How To Reduce Noise?

Decision hygiene is the term meant to indicate when there is an attempt to reduce noise.  This can include sequencing information, independent assessments, referencing the outside view, and aggregating various independent judgments.  A noise audit can be used to understand the amount of noise in the system.  Within a noise audit, the same case is evaluated by different individuals.

When making a collective decision, better to apply a wisdom of the crowd’s approach.  To gain a wisdom of the crowd, judgements need to be independent of others.  Individual judgement needs to not be influenced by other people’s judgements.  What influences judgement is popularity for popularity is self-reinforcing as people do what they see others doing.

Simple rules are better than human judgment.  Rules do worse when the person has decisive information that the model did not consider, which is called the broken-leg principle.  The reason why rules do better is due to the amount of noise in human judgement.  Rules do better but they are not perfect.  Models do better, but not by much.  Resistance to rules tend to be that humans are allowed to err, while machines are not given that permission.

Rules are complicated.  Rules try to eliminate discretion, while standards provide discretion.  Some rules restrict behavior without specifying the behavior.  This creates a problem of arbitrary decisions.  But if the behavior would be specified, then people would be able to behave in inappropriate manner with behavior not covered by the rule.

Not all noise needs to be removed.  Removing noise can be costly, create their own errors, reduce dignity, and noise can be needed for evolution of values.



Some parts of the book are related to the authors prior works.  The prior work is referenced, without going into detail.  There is a bit of statistics, which could be better understood by those who already have some knowledge of statistics.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest this book?
•What is noise?
•When is diversity of views unwanted?
•What lottery do users of public or private services enter? 
•What is decision hygiene? 
•How to reduce noise?
•What is a noise audit?
•Are judges noisy? 
•What is a judgement? 
•What culture to organizations want? 
•Can noise be wanted? 
•What creates noise?
•How well do people make predictions?
•What do experts know?
•Why do people jump to conclusions? 
•How do earlier impressions influence judgement? 
•What is the wisdom of the crowd? 
•Can rules help? 
•What is the MSE? 
•What is level noise?
•What is pattern noise? 
•What are the effects of mood? 

Book Details
Edition:                   First Little, Brown Spark paperback edition
Publisher:               Little, Brown Spark [Hachette Book Group]
Edition ISBN:         9780316451390
Pages to read:          384
Publication:             2022
1st Edition:              2011
Format:                    Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall          4

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Review of The Lessons of History by Will Durant, and Ariel Durant

This book review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Genre = History
Book Club Event = Book List (05/11/2024)
Intriguing Connections = 1) Get To Know The Peoples Of The World (World History), 

Watch Short Review


“History has a good word to say for all of them, and for government in general.  Since men love freedom, and the freedom of individuals in society requires some regulation of conduct, the first condition of freedom is its limitation; make it absolute and it dies in chaos.  So the prime task of government is to establish order; organized central force is the sole alternative to incalculable and disruptive force in private hands.” – Will Durant, and Ariel Durant, Chapter X: Government and History, Page 61

“So the services of aristocracy did not save it when it monopolized privilege and power too narrowly, when it oppressed the people with selfish and myopic exploitation, when it retarded the growth of the nation by a blind addiction to ancestral ways, when it consumed the men and resources of the state in the lordly sport of dynastic or territorial wars.  Then the excluded banded together in wild revolt; the new rich combined with the poor against obstruction and stagnation; the guillotine cut off a thousand noble heads; and democracy took its turn in the misgovernment of mankind.” – Will Durant, and Ariel Durant, Chapter X: Government and History, Page 63

“If education is the transmission of civilization, we are unquestionably progressing.  Civilization is not inherited; it has to be learned and earned by each generation anew; if the transmission should be interrupted for one century, civilization would die, and we should be savages again.  So our finest contemporary achievement is our unprecedented expenditure of wealth and toil in the provision of higher education for all.” – Will Durant, and Ariel Durant, Chapter XIII: Is Progress Real?, Page 93


Is This An Overview?

Human behavior is affected by many factors.  The values of the factors change, but the methods in history repeat, just with different details.  Not much has changed in the character of people, as the desires are the same but expressed differently.  Same strategies used but with different associations.  Humans are evolutionary trained to be competitive for resources, for even cooperation is a tool and form of competition.  Climate, geography, and nature can limit human capacity, but the limits were overcome by human ingenuity.  Knowledge can be used to improve society, or decimate it.  Making those who resist change as important as those who inspire change.  Religion and government have been used to enable cooperation between people.  Religion provides a moral code that is above even the most powerful people.  Government enforces laws that provide freedom by restricting absolute freedom’s destructive capacity.  Civilization is dependent on education, for civilization is not inherited.


What Are Some More Lessons Of History?

All historians are partial, for even those who think they are not, choose material and subjects based on their partiality.  What normally makes history are the exceptional events, rather than most of history which is more mundane.

Moral laxity is not a sign of moral decay, but of a transitioning moral code.  Religions rise and fall, only to be resurrected.  Moral life used to be aided by religion, but contemporary society does not use religion.

War is the norm, and it part of the competitive process.  The individual is restrained by morals and laws, but the state does not have such restraints. 

Inequality is cyclical.  An inevitable concentration of wealth, which can become intolerable that inspires the redistribution of wealth using various means.  Dictators rise when wealth distribution is inappropriate.  It was because power has been abused that lead to revolution that gave rise to democracy, which has taken its turn in misgovernance. 



The focus is on broad categories, and describing their trends over the course of history.  There is a lack of information on any specific society or era.  This book prompts the reader to search for that information, and provides a way to interpret the events.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest this book?
•What are the lessons of history?
•Is progress made?
•Did human behavior change?
•How does evolution effect humanity?
•How does climate, geography, and nature effect humanity?
•How does knowledge effect humanity?
•What is the effect of religion?
•What are moral codes?
•What is the effect of government?
•What is the purpose of education? 
•What are the trends in inequality?
•What gave rise to democracy? 
•What is the purpose of war? 
•How does reproduction effect power? 
•How does race effect civilization? 
•What theology is appears to be most effective? 

Book Details
Publisher:               Simon & Schuster Paperbacks [Simon & Schuster]
Edition ISBN:         9781439170199
Pages to read:          91
Publication:             2012
1st Edition:              1968
Format:                    eBook 

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall          5

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Review of Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl G. Jung

This book review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Genre = Psychology
Book Club Event = Book List (03/02/2024)

Watch Short Review


“During my first years at the university I made the discovery that while science opened the door to enormous quantities of knowledge, it provided genuine insights very sparingly, and these in the main were of a specialized nature.  I knew from my philosophical reading that the existence of the psyche was responsible for this situation.  Without the psyche there would be neither knowledge nor insight. Yet nothing was ever said about the psyche.” – Carl G. Jung, Chapter III: Student Years, Page 107

“I began with the preface, intending to find out how a psychiatrist introduced his subject or, indeed, justified his reason for existing at all.  By way of excuse for this high and mighty attitude I must make it clear that in the medical world at that time psychiatry was quite generally held in contempt.  No one really knew anything about it, and there was no psychology which regarded man as a whole and included his pathological variations in the total picture.” – Carl G. Jung, Chapter III: Student Years, Page 116

“In actual fact she was responsible for my local fame as a wizard, and since the story soon got around, I was indebted to her for my first private patients.  My psychotherapeutic practice began with a mother’s putting me in the place of her mentally ill son!  Naturally I explained the whole matter to her, in all its ramifications.  She took it very well, and did not again suffer a relapse.” – Carl G. Jung, Chapter IV: Psychiatric Activities, Page 126


Is This An Overview?

A life devoted to understanding the unconscious.  How the unconscious becomes manifest.  Jung recognized that the psyche was required for knowledge and insight, but not much was understood about the psyche.  Jung recounts many details of Jung’s life, and how they inspired what Jung did.  From personal childhood experience with neurosis, crisis of faith, what lead to fame, and profession conflicts.  Jung has been a doubtful, critical, and keen observer of events.  Jung was not willing to sacrifice intellectual independence.  Did not want to hide different interpretations or references even if it meant challenging a group of colleagues, or even highly regarded friends.  For Jung, therapy was about the whole person, not just the symptoms.  To enable the patient to change themselves and reach their own conclusions rather than to convert them. 

This is an autobiography, but a detached autobiography which enabled Jung to relate personal details that otherwise Jung would not have wanted to share.  Jung was resistant to having a biography, especially an autobiography done.  Jung thought that autobiographies tended to be self-deceptive, that there was no standard by which to judge the person, and no basis for comparison.    



This book included many interesting observations and experiences.  Jung referenced the poor understanding of psychology that influenced Jung to improve psychology.  But, psychology has further changed and improved since Jung.  Making many interpretations and methodologies used in the book, no longer appropriate.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest this book?
•What is the unconscious?
•Why seek to understand the psyche?
•What are myths?
•What did Jung think of religion and how did Jung interact with religion? 
•Where were Jung’s experiences with the dead? 
•How did Faust influence Jung? 
•How did Jung’s sister effect Jung?
•How did Jung behave in school? 
•What did Jung think about math?
•Why dd Jung become a serious child?  
•What were Jung’s two different personas as a child? 
•What happened in school?
•How did psychiatry teachers treat their patients? 
•What did Jung think about autobiographies? 
•What were Jung’s early personal experiences with neurosis? 
•How to be a helpful therapist? 
•How did Jung gain local fame? 
•Why do people become neurotic? 
•How did Freud influence Jung?
•Who was Freud to Jung? 
•What did Jung think of Freud’s interpretations? 
•What is the Tower?
•What did Jung think of rationalism? 
•What did Jung think of evil?

Book Details
Recorded and Edited by:   Aniela Jaffé
Translator:              Richard and Clara Winston
Original Language: German
Translated Into:       English
Edition:                   Vintage Books Edition
Publisher:                Vintage Books [Random House]
Edition ISBN:         9780307772718
Pages to read:          381
Publication:             1989
1st Edition:              1961
Format:                    eBook 

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    3
Content          2
Overall          1

Monday, November 6, 2023

Review of The Growing Stone by Albert Camus

This book review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Genre = Novel
Book Club Event = Book List (06/15/2024)

Watch Short Review


Is This An Overview?

D’Arrast is a French engineer in Brazil for a project, which would prevent flooding and provide the poor community with jobs.  For what the d’Arrast is going to do for the community, d’Arrast is received with gratitude and appreciation by the elite.  But d’Arrast is uncomfortable being deferred to.  While d’Arrast visits the locals, d’Arrast becomes immersed in the community.  Finding belonging with them.  D’Arrast meets a cook who during a life-threatening situation made a promise that should the cook survive, the cook would carry a heavy stone.  The night before the cook needed to carry the stone, there was a celebration.  The cook wanted d’Arrast to come to the celebration, in part to make sure the cook left early.  Otherwise the cook would not be able to carry out the promise.  But at the celebration, the cook did not want to leave.  This made carrying the stone a further struggle for the cook, who could not finish carrying the stone to its destination.  D’Arrast seeks to help the cook.  But, the cook belongs to a different community than those who have been deferring to d’Arrast.  What should d’Arrast do?

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest this book?
•Who is d’Arrast? 
•Why did d’Arrast come to Brazil?
•How is d’Arrast treated?
•What happens to the chief of police? 
•Who is Socrates?
•What miracle is taking place in the grotto that people celebrate as a holiday? 
•Who is the cook? 
•What promise did the cook make?
•Why did the cook want d’Arrast to come to the celebration? 
•What happened at the celebration?
•What happens when the cook carries the stone? 

Book Details
Translator:              Carol Cosman
Original Language: French
Translated Into:       English
Edition:                   First Vintage International Edition
Publisher:               Vintage Books [Random House]
Edition ISBN:         9780307278586
Pages to read:          42
Publication:             2007
1st Edition:              1957
Format:                    Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          3
Overall          3