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5.0 out of 5 stars Technology is not your friend
Why is it that any step forward seems to be followed by three steps back ?
This guy knows, he also knows why:

* Bigger roads lead to more traffic jams

* New "cheaper" technique for gallbladder operations actually increased
the expenditures (more operations performed).

* Introduction of PC's in the office did not...
Published on 28 Jun 1997

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book, but it fell short of the goal
While Tenner presents a large number of cases that fall under the umbrella of his subject, he does not spend enough time examining lessons; what, beyond the obvious, was learned from each situation. I would rather have had been exposed to fewer incidents, and read more about what has (or has not) been done to keep these sorts of situations from reoccuring. On the...
Published on 4 Nov 1996


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4.0 out of 5 stars Good anecdotes, 3 Mar 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I got to understand revenge effects and can see them everywhere now, slightly out of date and wrong in a few predidctions but extrememly enlightnening
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4.0 out of 5 stars Examples of The Law of Unintended Consequences, 29 Sep 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences (Vintage) (Paperback)
Tenner's book is a short history of things going wrong -- from the introduction of carp and mollusks into the American great lakes to industrial accidents. A very good review of how things can go wrong in our complex world; very well researched.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but terminally repetitave., 26 Mar 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Why Things Bite Back (Hardcover)
This is a whole book built around a single premise, that once the simple problems have been solved the problems that remain are more difficult. This point is mode over and over again using medical, ecological, technical and social examples. In fact there are so many examples that after a while they all seem to merge into each other. You can only hammer a nail in so far, Mr Tenner.
Personally I would have liked to have seen slightly fewer examples examined in more depth but you cartainly can't complain about the choice.
Another problem with the book is that it is written with 20-20 hindsight. So many times whilst reading it I was tempted to say, "Well OK, given the limitations of knowledge and funds available to the protagonists in the examples, what would you have done instead?"
Despite all the examples the book is a little short on alternatives and solutions and that, perhaps, is its main failing. Nevertheless, it is still a good book and one I would be happy to recommend.
(c) Vince O'Sullivan.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unusually Well-Balanced Discussion of Technological Advances, 7 Mar 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences (Vintage) (Paperback)
I can't recall reading another book on technology that was as well-balanced as this is. For this reason alone, Why Things Bite Back is good reading.
But Tenner achieves much more than balance. He identifies useful categories, like revenge effects and reverse revenge effects. Within the former, Tenner identifies repeating effects (e.g., doing the same thing more often rather than gaining free time, as happened with time-saving devices like home clothes washers and dryers when we quit taking as many clothes to the laundry), recomplicating effects (e.g., being expected to remember more numbers as we go from rotary to push button telephone "dialing"), regenerating effects (e.g., Patriot missles breaking up Scuds into multiple, smaller projectiles), and recongesting effects (e.g., the transformation of apparently limitless electromagnetic bandwidth to congested, largely filled bandwidth).
Whew! When reading this, I wondered how Tenner would later use these categories, which he introduced at the beginning of the book. Well, he does return to them and, in doing so, seems to be taking a first pass at crafting a useful nomenclature.
My main problem with the book is that Tenner presses some of the arguments too hard, such as the perceived link between defeating TB and facilitating AIDS. I was disappointed to see this argument pop up again 260 pages after its first mention--this time in the book's conclusion.
Tenner concludes that we can best manage revenge effects by retreating from intensity through three means: diversification, dematerialization, and finesse. Tenner provides numerous examples of each strategy, such as fostering diversity in plant species, substituting brains for stuff, and allowing a fever to play its role in fighting infection.
Despite the presence of a few weak arguments, Why Things Bite Back is really remarkable and goes a long way toward preparing us to meet the challenge of continued, fast-paced technological progress.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly iconoclastic in the the age of progress..., 21 July 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Why Things Bite Back (Hardcover)
The author simply points out that progress is fraught with irony; however, mass consumer capitalism requires an uninformed, compulsive, infantile consumer and planned obsolescent gadgets and technological gizmos--that's all (ask any maketeer).

Although I'm impressed by the author's effort and considerable research; so what?

Skip this book and check it out from the library and lend to your literate friend(s) for future cocktail party discussions.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Technology is not your friend, 28 Jun 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Why Things Bite Back (Hardcover)
Why is it that any step forward seems to be followed by three steps back ?
This guy knows, he also knows why:

* Bigger roads lead to more traffic jams

* New "cheaper" technique for gallbladder operations actually increased
the expenditures (more operations performed).

* Introduction of PC's in the office did not actually lead to an overall
productivity increase.

* Mandatory use of gloves in professional boxing actually multiplied
cumulative, chronic damage.

Covering a broad variety of subjects like antibiotics, killer bees, DDT,
computers and zebra mussels.

Exceptionally well researched, did you know for example that good old Murphy
was a captain at Edwards Air Force Base ? or that during the American War of
Independence, 75% of American troops treated in hospitals did not survive
(disease, often not related to wounds caused nine out of ten casualties) ?

In his mission, the author occasionally (well, no make that often) loses the
concept of common sense: any flaw in any invention or technological advance
is made to be bigger than life. Something along the line of: since
airconditioning equipment raises the temperature outside, the net effect is
zero, duh.

If more thinkers like this man would be around, we certainly wouldn't use
cars, hospitals or pain killers and certainly would not want kids.

Notwithstanding the pessimistic tone, this definitely gives you something to
ponder.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great read for cynics, 21 Jan 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Why Things Bite Back (Hardcover)
After reading this book, it's hard not to see unintended consequences everywhere. A great insight into the fallability of man, and the need for an in-depth understanding of complex systems.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Kudos and two thumbs up ( this from a college senior ), 14 Dec 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: Why Things Bite Back (Hardcover)
Edward Tenner, author of Why things bite back: Technology
and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences, weaves an
interesting set of stories involving technology to show
that because of its unintended consequences technology
can "bite back." The subjects Tenner covers are based
upon topics in medicine, the environment, animal and
vegetable pests, the computerization of the workplace
and the area of sports. Tenner uses these areas to point
out that technology in many cases has led to unintended
consequences. I think that Edward Tenner has the ability
to make strong connections in his examples. His topics,
that range from medicine to sports, are not meant to
frighten the average reader with jargon from those fields.
His ability to capture my attention early and his ease
of reading, I believe, makes this the perfect gift for
this season.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book, but it fell short of the goal, 4 Nov 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: Why Things Bite Back (Hardcover)
While Tenner presents a large number of cases that fall under the umbrella of his subject, he does not spend enough time examining lessons; what, beyond the obvious, was learned from each situation. I would rather have had been exposed to fewer incidents, and read more about what has (or has not) been done to keep these sorts of situations from reoccuring. On the postive side, Tenner's writing does allow readers to easily understand complex situations, and his prose lends itself to easy visualization of each occurence.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Sheesh! Of course the world is screwed up, but..., 15 Aug 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: Why Things Bite Back (Hardcover)
Why not ignore the parts of the world that you dislike and enjoy the parts that are
agreeable? There are enough people who complain, dare to be different.
Our computers are fantastic! Never have we had more toys to play with!
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