Christakis’s Blueprint for Sanity

I’ve started reading Yale sociologist Nicholas Christakis’s book Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society.

Christakis is something of a hero not only of free speech, but of sanity itself.

His wife Erika, also on the faculty, was denounced for suggesting that students should be tolerant of Halloween costumes they dislike. He calmly faced down an angry mob of Yale enrollees who demanded an apology for her heretical thoughts.

In light of that incident, I had to chuckle at a statement he makes early in his book:

“Perhaps oddly for a man who has spent his adult life studying social phenomena, I have never liked crowds.”

Especially crowds of screaming lunatics, I thought.

Christakis’s book covers some of the same ground as I do in my own book, Why Sane People Believe Crazy Things, such as the ways that our biology influences our beliefs and communities. So far, it’s a terrific read.

He dedicated the book to his wife, in a way that was particularly beautiful:

“The world is better the closer you are to Erika.”

That dedication is so good that it’s the kind of thing “I wish I’d written,” though I’d naturally use a different name for the dedicatee.


Check out my book Why Sane People Believe Crazy Things. Kirkus Reviews called it an “impressively nuanced analysis.”

About N.S. Palmer

N.S. Palmer is an American mathematician.
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