No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
If it can go wrong, it will--thus Murphy's Law. Science journalist Edward Tenner looks more closely at this eternal verity, named after a U.S. Air Force captain who, during a test of rocket-sled deceleration, noticed that critical gauges had been improperly set and concluded, "If there's more than one way to do a job and one of those ways will end in disaster, then somebody will do it that way." Tenner concurs, and he gives us myriad case studies of how technological fixes often create bigger problems than the ones they were meant to solve in the first place. The indiscriminate use of antibiotics, by way of example, has yielded hardier strains of bacteria and viruses that do not respond to pharmaceutical treatment; the wide-scale use of air conditioning in cities has raised the outdoor temperature in some places by as much as 10 degrees, adding stress to already-taxed cooling systems; the modern reliance on medical intervention to deal with simple illnesses, to say nothing of the rapidly growing number of elective surgeries, means that even a low percentage of error (one patient in twenty-five, by a recent estimate) can affect increasingly large numbers of people. Tenner examines what he deems the "unintended consequences" of technological innovation, drawing examples from everyday objects and situations. Although he recounts disaster after painful disaster, his book makes for curiously entertaining, if sometimes scary, reading. --Gregory McNamee
Even when used to better the world, technology fosters unforeseen, often unpleasant consequences that Tenner calls "revenge effects." For example, air-conditioned subways raise platform temperatures by as much as 10 degrees F; some computer users get painful, wrist-numbing carpal tunnel syndrome; flood control systems encourage settlement of flood-prone areas, inviting disaster; 6% of all hospital patients become infected with microbes they encounter during their stay. In a thought-provoking study, Tenner, a historian of science and visiting researcher at Princeton, looks at revenge effects that pop up in medicine, sports, the computerized office and the environment. Oil spills, erosion of beaches, back injuries, athletes' illegal use of steroids and mass extermination of bird species on the world's islands by ship-hopping rats mark this saga of bewildering, often frustrating change. Tenner's cautionary conclusion: revenge effects demand ingenuity and brainpower as technology continues to replace life-threatening problems with slower-acting, more persistent ones.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This book is slightly mistitled; it probably should have been called "HOW Things Bite Back", since there's not a lot of "why" until the last few pages of the... Read morePublished on Oct. 10 2002 by Gary Schroeder
This could more aptly be titled "Lots of Ways in Which Technological Improvements have Unexpected Consequences. Read morePublished on Aug. 26 2000 by Kevin W. Parker
In medicine we conquered (to some extent) the catastrophic only to succumb to the chronic. This is an example of what Tenner means by things biting back. Read morePublished on Aug. 9 2000 by Dennis Littrell
This book deserves a 5-Star rating for the depth of its research, the overall quality of descriptive analysis, and the scope of its coverage. Read morePublished on July 5 2000 by Richard Tyler
Maybe I had the wrong expectations from a book titled "Why Things Bite Back." I expected to read what it was about things and our relationships to them that create... Read morePublished on May 3 2000 by K. Mohnkern
This raises the idea that sometimes we, i.e., the common man has to be a bit weary with new inventions. DDT was seen at first as a god send. Read morePublished on April 23 2000
This book is a well researched and enjoyable examination of some of the most perplexing outcomes of technological innovation. Read morePublished on March 24 2000 by Craig Webster
I discovered Tenner's ideas on how technology bites back when I read a magazine article on the history of the chair-- how it was first a throne, for royalty, and how gradually,... Read morePublished on Jan. 23 2000 by Robert Kall
This is an excellent book that explores in a very interesting way the complex and often unforeseen consequences of "improved" technology. Read morePublished on Nov. 3 1999