Editor: Bruce J. West

Simplifying Complexity: Life is Uncertain, Unfair and Unequal

eBook: US $39 Special Offer (PDF + Printed Copy): US $138
Printed Copy: US $119
Library License: US $156
ISBN: 978-1-68108-218-9 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-68108-217-2 (Online)
Year of Publication: 2016
DOI: 10.2174/97816810821721160101


In life, we often face unavoidable complexities in terms of our ability to understand or influence outcomes. Some questions which arise due to these complexities are: Why can’t the future be made certain? Why do the some people or events always end up at the center of controversy? Why do only a select few get ahead of their peers? Each question pertains to three central elements of complexities and these elements are: uncertainty, inequality and unfairness.

Simplifying Complexity explains the scientific study of complex cognitive networks, as well as the methods scientists use to parse difficult problems into manageable pieces. Readers are introduced to scientific methodology and thought processes, followed by a discourse on perspectives on the three elements of complexity through concepts such as normal and non-normal statistics, scaling and complexity management.

Simplifying Complexity combines basic cognitive science and scientific philosophy for both advanced students (in the fields of sociology, cognitive science, complex networks and change management) and for general readers looking for a more scientific guide to understanding and managing the nature of change in a complex world.


The present book is an extensive revision of the previously published "Complex Worlds, Uncertain, Unequal and Unfair" and the title was changed to reflect that change. I believe an ebook publication will increase the likelihood of reaching an audience that is curious about what science can offer the first generation born into a mature information age.

A general polishing of the presentation has been made throughout the revision, but the most significant changes involve incorporating suggestions made by readers. One such change is the emphasis on using the powerful methodology of network science to guide the making of individual and corporate decisions in our complex society. There is also additional discussion on how a new way of thinking is required to fully utilize the results coming out of the new intellectual maps of the complex world of the 21st century.

Bruce J. West
Research Triangle Park
NC 27709

Conflict of Interest

The author confirms that author has no conflict of interest to declare for this publication.


The author wishes to thank the Army Research Office for supporting the research on which this essay is based and Sharon for her love, understanding and infinite patience.