Kindle David Sloan Wilson ☆ The Neighborhood Project eBook º The Neighborhood ☆

After decades studying creatures great and small evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson had an epiphany Darwin's theory won't fully prove itself until it improves the uality of human life in a practical sense And what better place to begin than his hometown of Binghamton New York? Making a difference in his own city would provide a model for cities everywhere which have become the habitat for over half of the people on earth Inspired to become an agent of change Wilson descended on Binghamton with a scientist's eye and looked at its toughest uestions such as how to empower neighborhoods and how best to teach our children He combined the latest research methods from experimental economics with studies of holiday decorations and garage sales Drawing upon examples from nature as diverse as water striders wasps and crows Wilson's scientific odyssey took him around the world from a cave in southern Africa that preserved the dawn of human culture to the Vatican in Rome Along the way he spoke with dozens of fellow scientists whose stories he relates along with his own Wilson's remarkable findings help us to understand how we must become wise managers of evolutionary processes to accomplish positive change at all scales from effective therapies for individuals to empowering neighborhoods to regulating the worldwide economy With an ambitious scope that spans biology sociology religion and economics The Neighborhood Project is a memoir a practical handbook for improving the uality of life and an exploration of the big uestions long pondered by religious sages philosophers and storytellers Approaching the same uestions from an evolutionary perspective shows as never before how places define us


10 thoughts on “The Neighborhood Project

  1. says:

    I had high hopes for this book in which the author tells the story of his attempt to describe and then to improve his home city of Binghamton New York by means of The Neighborhood Project I was soon disappointed Supposedly using evolutionary science as his guiding light Wilson tries to understand the complexities of the city and its citizens by using sloppy social science methodologies eg who decorates front yards for Halloween andor Christmas standardized tests of school children such as the Developmental Assets Profile etc to map the hills good parts and valleys bad parts of Binghamton His purpose in mapping is to identify those valleys that need to be raised to the level of the hills through the application of evolutionary science and common sense until that time when Binghamton will become the shining city on a hill which he envisions It was in the end neither the poor editing I actually began to feel the hammer blows of natural selection by the twentieth or thirtieth time I read that phrase nor the slipshod social science methodologies that made me want to throw the book across the room it was the sheer hubris of the author Apparently given a few weeks to read and have conversations with experts Wilson is not only able to master fields such as economics psychology and religious studies in which he has no formal training he is actually able to have insights inspired by evolutionary science that have eluded the greatest scholars in these fields and to then set the misguided disciplines on corrected courses in his effort to save not only Binghamton but also the world Comparing himself to Frodo in the Lord of the Rings he laments that he only wants to return to his shire of Binghamton but alas his destiny as the Ringbearer of Evolutionary Science leads him on from one academic conference to another with his heavy burden of sharing his brilliance with a world threatened by the evil forces of Mordor In describing his brainchild the Design Your Own Park competition in Binghamton a failed project apparently abandoned after the publication of the book Wilson comments on his own genius Brilliant as Watson said to Holmes One can only hope that the hammer blows of natural selection will not permit evolutionary science to follow the narcissisitic path Wilson has mapped out for himself


  2. says:

    As a biologist I have always been leery of sociological studies If you get large enough groups of people and find ways to identify and control some variables you might be able to get reproducible results But I am not often convinced At least the author David Sloan Wilson make a persuasive argument that our societies might have an evolutionary basis in that people who are members of successful societies have a better chance of surviving and reproducing And that societies are a genetic system of rapid response to changing conditions that the hard wired genome cannot move fast enough to keep up with There is a lot of interesting information in the book I like his deconstruction of the history of economics It certainly explains a lot I definitely agree with him that we should use the synergy of multiple disciplines to examine issues But I was busy muttering to myself on his take on education The Sudbury School which he seems to regard highly takes very involved and concerned parents He doesn't come up with a solution for those kids whose parents are absent or not involved or fighting their own demonsIt is very interesting to read this while watching the Occupy Wall Street movements coming together and establishing their communities in various cities and also watching the reaction of different city governments to the protests


  3. says:

    This was a recommended book from the bibliography and notes in the back of No Impact Man Although at times the writing got a bit bogged down there were many interesting parts that held my attention I enjoyed the chapters on the water striders and wasps and how his team designed the different data surveys for the Binghamton Project I also liked how he gave a mini bio on each person that plays a role in the Project My least favorite chapter was about the relating of evolution to religion it got confusing at times for me and I wasn't inspired to go back than once and figure my way through Which I was surprised by seeing as how I've taught religion and been closely related to religion and education for a number of yearsOverall I liked the book impressive enough to rack up a whole week's worth of overdue fines bad me


  4. says:

    I enjoyed this book It is entertaining especially for those with a background in science The author takes an interesting approach to conducting research for the book I recommend this book


  5. says:

    Have you ever looked at a group or a city as an organisms? You may after reading thisThis eminently readable book is at once the story of a single initiative The Binghamton Neighborhood Project which is using evolutionary science to improve that city's uality of life More profoundly it's a survey of the state of that science as it is being applied to social and economic problems throughout the country As such it's also an excellent primer in applied evolutionary science This is an excellent resource for community organizers and anyone interested in making the place where they live into of a community


  6. says:

    Intriguing frame for conscious evolution Interesting to consider what circumstances catalyze people to make choices that benefit the whole rather than just their own interests I liked reading about the work he has done with the school and I particularly liked his two Ant Commandments1 To defy the authority of empirical evidence is to disualify oneself as someone worthy of critical engagement in a dialogue2 If you're undermining the commons then you're degrading your soulHow we move ourselves toward operating for the common good seems worth study


  7. says:

    Understanding in a time of confusion improves the human condition I want to thank Dr Wilson for taking the time to reseach and pen this work We should indeed avoid our bad habit of regarding ourselves as intelligent cultural and moral in every way so that we may recognize the most important and interesting differences among people arise when the mental modules that we share in common are triggered by different environmental stimuli


  8. says:

    This book was given to me by a friend but I had been interested in it for a while since the author is a professor at my alma mater and the topic combined two of my personal interests science and social change In addition I used to live in the city of Binghamton which is the focus of the book For these reasons I was excited about finally getting down to reading this title but was ultimately disappointedThe author begins by laying a theoretical foundation of evolutionary science which was the most interesting part to me Sloan Wilson primarily relies upon water striders though other species are also briefly explored as well to explain the means by which animals have learned and adapted to their environment to survive fundamentally through hunting avoiding being hunted and reproducing Growing up in the country I used to watch striders with great interest and the author's explanations were rather nostalgic However the language was often uite problematic The author apparently attempts to write about science for the non scientist but his approach delves into word choice and explanations that discredit his authority as a scientist referring to male animals as studs and attempting sociological studies that are based on severely subjective assumptions referred to as sloppy science by another reviewer For example he attempts to evaluate personal social ethics within communities by criteria such as whether a household puts up Christmas lights and the extent to which they do that evaluated through visual aesthetics Of course not everyone puts up lights or decorates their home for the holidays for various reasons and perhaps not doing so is also a decision based on social values and care such as not using natural resources to run all of those items and thereby not contributing to global climate changeReturning to the evolutionary theory presented at the beginning of the book I thought that would then leap logically into strategies for how to use such understanding to explore human behavior and thereby achieve social change and justice The author does make an attempt at this logical progression but it is tenuous not what I would expect from an established academic writer The rest of the book seems focused on promoting evolutionary studies as a catch all savior discipline that will connect all other disciplines from the Ivory Archipelago as he refers to it that is academic fields where specialists are isolated and separated from each other and not consulting communicating or collaborating Of course this is definitely a problem that if addressed could result in greater understanding in various fields However the author's belief that evolutionary studies and it seems at times he himself will be the saving grace of this problem is uite off putting The savior tone often reappears throughout the book such as when he approaches the local school district to conduct studies about student perceptions about themselves and othersAfter the initial exploration and explanation of evolutionary thinking comes a seuences of narratives and name dropping Sometimes the narrative descriptions seem rather personal and judgmental which makes me wonder not only whether there is a scientific foundation throughout the book but also how these people might feel about what the author writes about themI have a policy that I will finish any book that I start unless it is really wholly intolerable which is the only reason I completed this one However the I read the I thought that this book is really about the author and his personal pursuits than about science and social change a feeling that was confirmed at the end with the last sentence when the author wrote about his experience attending a public event that was within the site of inuiry I had been living in Binghamton for than twenty years but never before had I felt so much at homeThe idea of using evolutionary theory to explain contemporary human behavior and pursue social change is an excellent idea but unfortunately this book fails to present with such a logical connection or pragmatic measures to conduct such work It seems like an author's memoir interspersed with short biographies of the people he's worked with


  9. says:

    This book had some interesting insights and ideas but it was just far too rambling and incoherent and spent too much time talking about inconseuential parts of the author's career in ways that seemed like bragging


  10. says:

    I wasn’t too impressed