Quotes by: Nicholas A. Christakis
|Nicholas A. Christakis
May 7, 1962 |
||New Haven, Connecticut, United States
||Sociology; Biosocial Science, Medicine
||University of Pennsylvania
University of Chicago
Harvard Medical School
Harvard Medical School
University of Pennsylvania
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.
Everyday interactions we have with other people are definitely contagious, in terms of happiness.
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.
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.
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.
It is time to create new social science departments that reflect the breadth and complexity of the problems we face as well as the novelty of 21st-century science. These would include departments of biosocial science, network science, neuroeconomics, behavioral genetics and computational social science.
I like to have met someone in real life before being their Facebook friend.
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.
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.
Whether we appreciate it or not, we live out our lives surrounded by an intricate pattern of social connections... We're all embedded in this network; it affects us profoundly and we may be unaware of its existence, of its effect on us.
We're not just social animals in the conventional way that people think. It's not just a bunch of us who hang out together. We have a very specific pattern of ties, and they have a particular shape and structure that is encoded in our genes. It means that human beings have evolved to live their lives embedded in social networks.
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.
We and others have done a bunch of work to show that if your real friends online say or do something, it affects you. But if your acquaintances online say or do something, it does not. People on average have about 106 Facebook friends, but only 5 or 6 real friends.
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.
Just because we say networks are important doesn't mean that networks explain everything. We're just adding additional information. Networks don't work like a match - they work like a magnifying glass.
I'm not suggesting that social scientists stop teaching and investigating classic topics like monopoly power, racial profiling and health inequality. But everyone knows that monopoly power is bad for markets, that people are racially biased and that illness is unequally distributed by social class.
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.
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.
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.
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.