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Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed

Seeing like a State is psychoactive for many people, because it reflects a light against cultural structures that many people have never seen. In brief summary, Scott walks us through how human history has been defined by states gaining and managing power through legibility. It's a powerful concept, because once you've seen it, you see it everywhere.

It's a good book, abet long and not concise. I lean towards agreeing that much of the value of the book can be picked up from reading Scott Alexander's review (Nat's is also good, but is more of a summary than a review). So, I recommend you start there. If the idea resonates strongly with you, check out the book.


These are entirely subjective, and roughly try to capture my personal enjoyment and usefulness, and how likely I'd recommend it to others. Don't read too much into this unless you love my judgement. Rough guidelines:

A: Top quartile. Changed the way I think about something.

B: Worthwhile. I took away something useful.

C: Didn't hit, wouldn't directly recommend. Likely won't revisit.

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