The social sciences offer equal promise for improving human welfare; our lives can be greatly improved through a deeper understanding of individual and collective behavior. But to realize this promise, the social sciences, like the natural sciences, need to match their institutional structures to today's intellectual challenges.— Nicholas A. Christakis
The most tempting Nicholas A. Christakis quotes to discover and learn by heart
It is well to look around at whom, and not just what, surrounds us.
Population structure will change everything. Our health, wealth, and peace depend on it.
Social media and the Internet haven't changed our capacity for social interaction any more than the Internet has changed our ability to be in love or our basic propensity to violence, because those are such fundamental human attributes.
What constrains or enables the capacity of human beings to work in groups is not so much the technology, but rather the capacity of the human brain to have and monitor social interactions.
One reason citizens, politicians and university donors sometimes lack confidence in the social sciences is that social scientists too often miss the chance to declare victory and move on to new frontiers.
We discovered that if your friend's friend's friend gained weight, you gained weight. We discovered that if your friend's friend's friend stopped smoking, you stopped smoking. And we discovered that if your friend's friend's friend became happy, you became happy.
Realizing the ways in which we humans may have been inadvertently changing our genes for millennia provides a way for us to begin to think about the inevitable genetic revolution in medicine that is going to allow us to advertently change our genes over centuries and even decades.
My entire youth was spent with an incredibly ill parent.
.. I don't think you can grow up that way and not be marked by that experience.
Everyday interactions we have with other people are definitely contagious, in terms of happiness.
It used to be thought that our genes were historically immutable and that it was not possible to imagine a conversation between culture and genetics.
We will create life from inanimate compounds, and we will find life in space.
But the life that should more immediately interest us lies between these extremes, in the middle range we all inhabit between our genes and our stars.
I like to have met someone in real life before being their Facebook friend.
People have just assumed that... if we call our Facebook acquaintances our friends, we must be influenced by them, too. But we're not.
There are very fundamental reasons we live our lives in social networks and if we really understood the role they're playing in our society we would take better care of social networks and find ways to take advantage of their power to improve our society.
We cannot understand our humanity just by studying individuals.
Social networks are these intricate things of beauty, and they're so elaborate and so complex and so ubiquitous that one has to ask what purpose they serve.
The reason we form networks is because the benefits of a connected life outweigh the costs. It's to our advantage as individuals and a species to assemble ourselves in this fashion.
We are, first of all, not solitary creatures and second of all, we are deeply embedded in the lives of others. It's very easy to forget that and to engage in an atomistic fallacy - where we think that all we have to do is study the individual components of a system in order to understand the system. That's clearly not the case when it comes to social systems.
It is the spread of the good things that vindicates the whole reason we live our lives in networks. If I was always violent to you or gave you germs, you would cut the ties to me and the network would disintegrate. In a deep and fundamental way, networks are connected to goodness, and goodness is required for networks to emerge and spread.
It's fashionable to speak about vulnerable populations in medicine and public policy, but it's harder to find a more vulnerable population than those who are dying.
If your friends are obese, your risk of obesity is 45 percent higher.
... If your friend's friends are obese, your risk of obesity is 25 percent higher. ... If your friend's friend's friend, someone you probably don't even know, is obese, your risk of obesity is 10 percent higher. It's only when you get to your friend's friend's friend's friends that there's no longer a relationship between that person's body size and your own body size.