Crashes, Crises, and Calamities

How We Can Use Science to Read the Early-Warning Signs

Comments from Experts

Crashes, Crises and Calamities: How We Can Use Science to Read the Early-Warning SignsWhy do certain civilizations, societies, and ecosystems collapse? How does the domino effect relate to the credit crunch? When can mathematics help explain marriage? And how on earth do toads predict earthquakes? The future is uncertain. But science can help foretell what lies ahead.

Drawing on ecology and biology, math and physics, Crashes, Crises, and Calamities offers four fundamental tools that scientists and engineers use to forecast the likelihood of sudden change: stability, catastrophe, complexity, and game theories. In accessible prose, Len Fisher demonstrates how we can foresee and manage events that might otherwise catch us by surprise.

At the cutting edge of science, Fisher helps us find ways to act before a full-fledged catastrophe is upon us. Crashes, Crises, and Calamities is a witty and informative exploration of the chaos, complexity, and patterns of our daily lives.

“With this third book in his trilogy of exploration into how to address some of society’s most complex and vexing problems, Len Fisher challenges us to rethink how science and mathematics is used in what might be called ‘crisis prediction and management.’ This book is getting me to rethink some of my own work.”
Scott M. Cooper, MIT Research Affiliate, co-author of Coolhunting

“Fisher is a master story-teller, making difficult scientific concepts seem simple through elegant exposition. Crashes, Crises, and Calamities addresses the challenge of disaster prediction in socio-economic, ecological, and physical systems by a brilliant and engaging integration of diverse scientific perspectives.”
Simon A. Levin, Moffett Professor of Biology, Princeton University; author of Fragile Dominion

“Excellent discussion of the most important problem of our time.”
Yaneer Bar-Yam, Professor and President, New England Complex Systems Institute

“Len Fisher is a natural storyteller, and his tales about the mathematics of crashes, crises, and calamities keep the pages turning. A great way to find out what the world’s mathematicians are doing to forecast and prevent disasters of all kinds.”
Ian Stewart, author of Professor Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities

Extracts from Reviews

Crashes, Crises, and Calamities is a small book that opens its readers’ eyes to the big picture. The language is simple, even homey, and Fisher deftly illustrates complex mathematical concepts with familiar examples…. [T]he value in this work is the nudge it gives us to step back from our narrow interests and consider possible connections with other fields, perhaps even inducing a critical transition in our own thought processes.
David Ludden PsycCRITIQUES (American Psychological Association)

… a serious but fun tour of the science of prediction … Crashes, Crises, and Calamities may not have all the answers, but this book certainly gets you on a good path to asking the right questions.
Robert Schaefer “New York Journal of Books

Fisher has put together … an entertaining collection of interconnected threads, many of which weave together in an entertaining, though-provoking manner.
Jared Wade “Risk Management

Crashes, Crises and Calamities is well-suited for all readers who want to think creatively about their own and the world’s future.
Rick Docksai “The Futurist

The volume is remarkably well written and could be presented as a superb example of the English language. There are 46 pages of end-notes, themselves a stand-alone treasure. This book warrants universal popularity.
J.D. Ives “Choice” (American Library Association)

See also my interviews with Salon and Wired magazine

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