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REVIEW: "The Predictors", Thomas A. Bass

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  • Rob Slade, doting grandpa of Ryan and Tr
    BKPRDCTR.RVW 20000319 The Predictors , Thomas A. Bass, 1999, 0-8050-5756-0, U$25.00/C$38.50 %A Thomas A. Bass %C 115 West 18th Street, New York, NY
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2000
      BKPRDCTR.RVW 20000319

      "The Predictors", Thomas A. Bass, 1999, 0-8050-5756-0, U$25.00/C$38.50
      %A Thomas A. Bass
      %C 115 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011-4195
      %D 1999
      %G 0-8050-5756-0
      %I Henry Holt
      %O U$25.00/C$38.50 212-886-9378 fax: 212-633-0748, 212-807-6654
      %P 309 p.
      %T "The Predictors: How a Band of Maverick Physicists Used Chaos
      Theory to Trade Their Way to a Fortune on Wall Street"

      This is not a technical book, so it would be unfair to say that it
      does not seriously cover the topic of chaos theory: that is not the
      book's intent. In fact, for those with no background in economics or
      chaos, the work does provide some decent explanations, although it
      would be difficult to call the material on either field anything of an
      introduction. Still, the story does outline what might be a working
      definition of the fields, a vague and hazy idea, to be sure, but one
      that is probably more solid than the mystical notions held by most of
      the general populace.

      Appropriately to the topic, the tale starts out in the midst of the
      chaos of the new startup, introducing the dramatis personae in a whirl
      of names and activities. The volume proceeds with chapters that
      alternately follow the company and the background, so that only slowly
      does a structure rise out of the confusion and do we realize who (and
      why) these people are. (And we don't learn much about some of them.)
      In fact, I was not entirely sure, as the work began, that I was not
      reading a rather banal piece of fiction, and only the lack of a
      dramatic catastrophe seems to lend credence to its claims for reality.

      Those who have worked in technical startup companies will recognize
      much of what does on, but I wonder if a general readership will.
      Bass's bare bones dialogue implies the feelings behind the debates,
      but doesn't completely explain them. Technical workers will recognize
      the egalitarian principles espoused by those coming from a primarily
      academic or theoretical background, and business leaders will
      recognize the frustration of trying to explain the concepts of value
      and marketability to a workforce used to judging people only by
      elegance of concepts. The condensation that allows day long meetings
      to be reduced to a few pages of dialogue also loses most of the nuance
      and social dynamic involved.

      It is possibly also important to note that Bass is not the
      dispassionate observer that one might, at first, think. He was a
      member of the group earlier involved with roulette prediction,
      although his role is not specified, and his fraternization is passed
      over very briefly. Still, his connection does not lend credibility to
      the book, and, particularly when dealing with some of the more
      significant claims, one is reminded of the old folk question, "if
      you're so smart, why ain't you rich?"

      At the end of the book, we seem to have a company that has produced a
      superior form of charting, and has been successful at selling it.
      This is nice, if not quite the story we were promised by the subtitle.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2000 BKPRDCTR.RVW 20000319

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
      Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
      - Albert Einstein
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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