Nahum, a physician, offers his first book, an ambitious tome that exhaustively explores the human capacity to make predictions.
As vice president and head of global clinical development for primary care and women’s health care at Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals in Berkeley, California, Stanford-educated Nahum researched models to predict birth weight. This scientific curiosity about our ability to forecast and Nahum’s deep and broad-reaching intellectual interests inform this book that draws from phenomenology, speculative theology, information theory, physics, cosmology, and other areas in an attempt to synthesize a complete theory of knowledge focused on the question: can we predict the future? This dense volume deals in minute detail, but it’s not a book for people who want to outplay the stock market or win at the racetrack. “…despite our best efforts, everything doesn’t always go according to plan,” Nahum says. “The question is why?” His exploration more often focuses not on the capacity to predict the future, but on the constraints, the knowledge holes, and gaps that frustrate attempts to accurately predict what the future holds. The book explores some fairly arcane and intellectually rich turf in excruciating detail. Yet Nahum doesn’t seem too invested in making the material as fascinating as possible. In fact, much of the writing is more focused on textbook explanation than on trying to provide access points that might make his argument more compelling to those unfamiliar with the diverse perspectives and disciplines that inform his exploration. There’s also not much in the way of citations, and a dearth of quotes makes the going somewhat ponderous. Still, Nahum reveals a mind of incredible reach as well as a great capacity for exceptionally detailed thinking about an intriguing problem.
A sometimes-difficult though rewarding journey through the possibilities and impossibilities of forecasting the future.