Numbers Don't Lie: 71 Stories to Help Us Understand the Modern World (Paperback)
"Vaclav Smil is my favorite author… Numbers Don't Lie takes everything that makes his writing great and boils it down into an easy-to-read format. I unabashedly recommend this book to anyone who loves learning."--Bill Gates, GatesNotes
An essential guide to understanding how numbers reveal the true state of our world--exploring a wide range of topics including energy, the environment, technology, transportation, and food production.
Vaclav Smil's mission is to make facts matter. An environmental scientist, policy analyst, and a hugely prolific author, he is Bill Gates' go-to guy for making sense of our world. In Numbers Don't Lie, Smil answers questions such as: What's worse for the environment--your car or your phone? How much do the world's cows weigh (and what does it matter)? And what makes people happy?
From data about our societies and populations, through measures of the fuels and foods that energize them, to the impact of transportation and inventions of our modern world--and how all of this affects the planet itself--in Numbers Don't Lie, Vaclav Smil takes us on a fact-finding adventure, using surprising statistics and illuminating graphs to challenge conventional thinking. Packed with fascinating information and memorable examples, Numbers Don't Lie reveals how the US is leading a rising worldwide trend in chicken consumption, that vaccination yields the best return on investment, and why electric cars aren't as great as we think (yet). Urgent and essential, with a mix of science, history, and wit--all in bite-sized chapters on a broad range of topics--Numbers Don't Lie inspires readers to interrogate what they take to be true.
About the Author
Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of over forty books on topics including energy, environmental and population change, food production and nutrition, technical innovation, risk asssessment, and public policy. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Member of the Order of Canada.
“The human mind soaks up the images and narratives conveyed by the press, but they are a highly nonrandom sample of reality: the lurid, the sudden, the photogenic. Smil’s title says it all: to understand the world, you need to follow the trendlines, not the headlines. This is a compelling, fascinating, and most important, realistic portrait of the world and where it’s going.”—Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now
“[A] tidy, entertaining collection of brief inquiries into a host of hot-button topics… Throughout, Smil’s viewpoint is balanced, and each element of the text is fully backed by research as well as the author’s contagious curiosity. Even when examining dire circumstances, Smil keeps readers engaged. A fascinating book to be read straight through or consulted bit by bit.”—KIRKUS
“[Smil] presents a robust array of data, at times with devastating acuity.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Within an eclectic topical range encompassing energy production, transportation, machines and devices, food production and consumption, and demography, Smil uses numbers to pin down the facts… in each essay, his literary and numeric clarity guarantees that readers will learn new facts and gain new perspectives.”—BOOKLIST