Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less

Book review by Deane Barker tags: behavior

This book started promising, but got a bit scattered at the end.

The basic premise is that humans are hard-wired to add to every situation. The solution to every problem, it seems, is to add something to it. But maybe we should look at subtracting instead?

Some examples from the book:

  • The Embarcadaro Freeway was subtracted from the San Francisco waterfront
  • Dock workers in San Franciso refused to unload a South African ship to protest apartheid (they “subtracted their labor”)
  • A researcher discredited the “Tragedy of the Commons” theory (she “subtracted its validity”)

…I don’t know – things like that are pretty distant, and a lot of the book is held together pretty loosely.

I did like the scientific experiments to detail in the first part which explain that we are literally hard-wired to add things. In experiment after experiment, humans added something to a situation in an attempt to find a problem.

So, that got me thinking, but then in the second half, the book just goes all over the place. It starts digging into climate change, and I just couldn’t quite figure out what the author was getting at any more.

I don’t regret reading it, because the major point is a good one, but the second half of the book just didn’t come together for me.

Book Info

Leidy Klotz
  • I have read this book. According to my records, I completed it on .
  • A hardcover copy of this book is currently in my home library.

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