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Customer Review

on 14 February 2004
Gribbin's 'Deep Simplicity' was, for me, deeply meaningless. Despite the author's previous literary successes, and his obvious personal fascination for the material covered in this book (he'd have to have that to write so much), its presentation left me cold.
The ineffective rambling over already well-covered terrain, explained and contexualised far better elsewhere in a plethora of sources, made me happy I'd purchased a used copy of this book from Amazon at the knock down price of £9.99, but very annoyed that I'd bought it at all.
Gribbin rakes over what are quickly becoming tired cliches among readers in the complexity community; Newton and Galileo, Lorenz and Poincare, etc - all of which wouldn't be so bad if Gribbin actually *made* a point. But, alas, he doesn't.
Setting out to make chaos theory and complexity science accessible, the author fails miserably, and in relaying formulas and numbers with too many decimal places to be of meaning to anyone without a math's degree, he actually only succeeds to make this book a real 'page-turner' in the worst possible sense - i.e. you keep turning to the next page in the vain hope that there will be something to read that doesn't bore you, that you haven't read more well-written elsewhere before, or that actually tells you anything of significance at all.
Sadly, like a writer cashing in on the reputation resting on the glories of his past successes, Gribbin seems to have written this 235 pager (hardback ed.) in the hope of making a few quid out of a gullible audience.
Readers who are genuinely interested in 'the question of how life could have emerged from non-life', or in the fact that 'smaller-scale entities such as individual atoms behave in a relatively simple way in their one-to-one interactions, and that complicated and interesting things are produced when many atoms are linked together in complicated and interesting ways, to make things like people', or that 'some systems... are very sensitive to their starting conditions, so that a tiny difference in the initial 'push' you give them causes a big difference in where they end up, and there is feedback, so that what a system does affects its own behaviour'..., or that 'the complicated behaviour of the world we see around us - even the living world - is merely surface simplicity out of deep simplicity'... etc, etc... should not read this book.
These matters of interest, despite being outlined by Gribbin in his introduction, are not brought to any conclusion in this book. Instead, they are merely described in never-ending, waffly, pop-science, mathematical terms, in a string of clumsily-linked and badly-reported, historical anecdotes. Don't buy it!
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