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The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread — and Why They Stop
A deadly virus suddenly explodes into the population. A political movement gathers pace, and then quickly vanishes. An idea takes off like wildfire, changing our world forever. We live in a world that’s more interconnected than ever before. Our lives are shaped by outbreaks – of disease, of misinformation, even of violence – that appear, spread, and fade away with bewildering speed.
To understand them, we need to learn the hidden laws that govern them. From ‘superspreaders’ who might spark a pandemic or bring down a financial system to the social dynamics that make loneliness catch on, The Rules of Contagion offers compelling insights into human behaviour and explains how we can get better at predicting what happens next.
Along the way, Adam Kucharski explores how innovations spread through friendship networks, what links computer viruses with folk stories – and why the most useful predictions aren’t necessarily the ones that come true.
About the Author
Adam Kucharski is an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, working on mathematical analysis of infectious disease outbreaks. He mostly writes about science, and his article has appeared in places like Wired, Financial Times, Scientific American, The Times, and The Observer.