في المعنى

Book Reviews

A Podcast in Arabic Language and with an English script
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September 25, 2022

الذكاء العاطفي1/2

Review by Omar Al Saadi
The first formulation of the concept of "emotional intelligence" was offered in the beginning by Peter Salovey, a professor at Yale, and then his graduate student John Mayer, in one of the less popular psychology journals that no longer exist. Those were days when the claim that a high IQ is the standard of excellence in life was unquestioned; Salovey and Mayer offered a new way of thinking about the ingredients of life success. And as a science reporter at The New York Times, Daniel Goleman wrote an article in 1990 about how to be intelligent about emotions. He was fascinated by the term "emotional intelligence" and used it as the title of his 1994 book. Since the book was published, the phrase has become ubiquitous, spread to the far corners of our planet, and sometimes showed up in settings as unlikely as shampoo bottles. Goleman uses Emotional Intelligence to synthesize a vast domain of scientific findings and draw together what had been separated strands of research. He reviews and relies on various scientific developments, such as the first fruits of the new field of Affective neuroscience, which focuses on how emotions are regulated in the brain.
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June 20, 2022

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Review by Omar Al Saadi
Thinking Fast and Slow was written by Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize winner in economics, to integrate economic science with human behavior, judgment, and decision making. The book summarizes decades of Kahneman's research in cooperation with Amos Tversky. Kahneman was born in Tel Aviv in 1934 and emigrated with his parents to France. During World War II, his father was captured in Paris by the Nazis. His lawyer intervened, and he was one of the few lucky ones to escape the holocaust. After the war ended in 1945, psychologists started looking for an explanation for how humans could have the ability to commit all that ferocious violence. Kahneman himself had met a nazi soldier. The soldier stopped him, carried him, showed him his little son's picture, and gave him money. But, of course, the officer did not know that a seven-year-old boy running in the street was Jewish. The event shows Kahneman that the nazi soldier is another human being who loves his family and kids. The coincidence made him more curious to test the claim that we are rational agents regarding judgment and decision-making.
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February 11, 2022

The Black Swan

The Impact of the Highly Improbable.
One time people thought all swans were white. Then, after uncountable observations of white swans, the black swan was discovered, and the definition changed forever. In his 2007 book, Nassim Taleb explores the nature of uncertainty. What he calls black swans are highly improbable events that are unforeseen. These unexpected events often have extreme outliers, such as wars, financial crises, and natural disasters. The book examines the weaknesses in predicting events that constantly surprise us and have irreversible consequences. The way our brains process knowledge conjoined with the tradition of statistical modeling leads us to believe that the future resembles the past. We are great at explaining occurrences and making sense of almost everything. But, even if our beliefs, ideas, and stories about the world are logically coherent and devoid of contradiction, this does not necessarily mean that they are accurate and reflect reality. Taleb addresses the problem of epistemology; how do we know what we know? He establishes his argument on the work of earlier philosophers, mainly the 18th century David Hume and 20th century Karl Popper, who assumed that we don't know as much as we think we know. The central topic in the book is to criticize the misuse of prediction or forecasting the future based on past events, especially in the fields of finance and economics. The debates about the inductive method, or how and when we can generalize from limited data, have a long history with philosophy. The philosopher David Hume believed that the experiences of our senses are the substantial basis for acquiring knowledge and distinguished between the matter of fact and relations of ideas. Matter of fact is falsifiable; a statement like all swans are white can be refuted with a single factual observation. In contrast, the relational ideas, a relation such as one plus one equals two, can't be falsified by new evidence. The principle distinguishment made by Hume has a profound influence on the philosophical engagement in the causality argument; cause-and-effect are no longer forces embodied in nature but rather reflections of our expectations. A billiard ball striking another, no matter how intelligent we are, the only way to predict how the other ball will move depends on our experience. If we have never seen a billiards game before, we cannot know the effect of the collision.
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January 3, 2021

التزييف العميق ودستوبيا المعلومات

حلقة 10 كتاب "التزييف العميق" لـ نينا شيك
صحيح أن التكنولوجيا جعلت وباستمرار التلاعب في الصور والفيديوهات أكثر سهولة (من خلال عدد من البرامج مثل الفوتوشوب أو الفلاتر على إنستغرام وسناب تشات على سبيل المثال) ولكن مع التقدّم الذي طرأ مؤخرًا على الذكاء الاصطناعي، فالأمور لن تبقى عند ذلك المستوى من التلاعب. وعندما تصير الماكينات قويّة لدرجة تستطيع معها توليد ميديا مركّبة بالكامل ومن دون تدخّل بشري، سيكون لذلك آثار كبيرة على كيفيّة إنتاج المحتوى والتواصل وتفسير العالم…. صحيح أن هذه التكنولوجيا لا تزال في بداياتها لكن في غضون سنوات قليلة، سيكون أي شخص، بحوزته هاتف ذكي، قادرًا على إنتاج أفلام بمؤثرات من مستوى مؤثرات هوليود… وبتكلفة تكاد تكون صفرًا والحد الأدنى من المهارة والجهد
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December 12, 2020

ما بين البحث العلمي والتأمل الميتافيزيقي

حلقة 9 نقاش "كتاب الأنقليس" لمؤلفه باتريك سفينسون
عنوان كتاب اليوم "كتاب الأنقليس" لمؤلفه باتريك سفينسون، والأنقليس لمن لا يعرف هو نوع من سمك ثعبان البحر…. وباتريك سفينسون يعمل في مجال الصحافة الثقافيّة والفنيّة، ويعيش مع عائلته في مدينة مالمو السويديّة، وكتاب الأنقليس هو كتابه الأول. والمميز في الكتاب هو الأسلوب القصصي المشوق.. وما ساعد الكاتب أنّ جهود البحث العلمي حول الأنقليس تصلح أن تكون بالفعل قصة مثيرة. وعندما نشر سفينسون كتابه العام الماضي، لم يتوقّع أن يترجم إلى ما يقرب من 40 لغة بعد مضي أقل من سنة على نشره، واعتقد أنّه كان يكتب في موضوع يهم شريحة محدودة من الناس المهتمّين ولن ينال اهتمامًا واسعًا.
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