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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4954 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2007 :  09:24:11  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
Attention SFNers! We want to come up with a list or around ten books (but maybe more or fewer) that should be on any skeptic's reading list. These might address topics like creation/evolution, or junk science, or the paranormal, or even just general skepticism.

We'd like books that are for a general audience and that have had some staying power. However, they need not have been best-sellers, or written by famous skeptics.

As a starter, I think Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker is one of the best introductions to the great explanatory power of evolution. Moreover, in a subdued but compelling way, it answers some of the most common Creationist critiques of evolution.

Post your suggestions in this thread. You don't need to be fancy with links to Amazon or book reviews, but any comments as to why you think it should be read would be appreciated.

In addition, if you have no suggestions but think a book on particular aspect of skepticism should be included ("I think any skeptic reading list should have a book on X, but I don't know of a good one..."), feel free to comment on that, too.

There's no deadline, but the sooner the better. Thanks!

Edited by - Cuneiformist on 02/15/2007 09:26:44

moakley
SFN Regular

USA
1880 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2007 :  10:32:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send moakley a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Cuneiformist

As a starter, I think Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker is one of the best introductions to the great explanatory power of evolution. Moreover, in a subdued but compelling way, it answers some of the most common Creationist critiques of evolution.

Also by Dawkins, I enjoyed reading "Unweaving the Rainbow". His enthusiasm for science and the understanding it provides of our natural world made it a difficult book to put down.

Life is good

Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned. -Anonymous
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2007 :  12:32:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Becoming a Critical Thinker -- Robert Caroll




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13457 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2007 :  17:25:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan.

This book is at the top of my list of recommended reading for anyone interested in why skepticism is so important, and how to recognize baloney…

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2007 :  18:47:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil

Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan.

This book is at the top of my list of recommended reading for anyone interested in why skepticism is so important, and how to recognize baloney…

That's the book that set me on my path. It's the quintessential introduction to the worlds of skepticism and critical thinking. IMO, this book is the standard by which all others on this list should be judged.


edited to add: I would also like to nominate Michael Shermer's Why People Believe Weird Things to the list.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 02/15/2007 19:21:30
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Storm
SFN Regular

USA
708 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2007 :  19:43:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Storm's Homepage Send Storm a Private Message
Vampires,Burial,And,Death Folklore and Reality by Paul Barber

Storm
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Paulos23
Skeptic Friend

USA
446 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2007 :  19:56:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Paulos23's Homepage Send Paulos23 a Private Message
Debunking 9/11 Myths by David Dunbar & Brad Reagen
Bad Astronomy by Philip Plait

Both good for making you question junk science and conspiracy theories.

You can go wrong by being too skeptical as readily as by being too trusting. -- Robert A. Heinlein

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
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Hawks
SFN Regular

Canada
1383 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2007 :  20:17:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Hawks's Homepage Send Hawks a Private Message
Two Dawkins books have already been mentioned and I'd like to add a third - "The ancestor's tale". I've read all three of them and "The ancestor's tale" was definitely my favorite.

I'd also like to recommend The philosopher at the end of the universe by Mark Rowlands. As the cover states, it is about "philosophy explained through science fiction movies". It makes for entertaining reading about some of the fundamental philosophical problems that exist. (and it's worth reading for the simple reason that it claims that Arnold Schwarzenegger might be the greatest philosopher of all time)

METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL
It's a small, off-duty czechoslovakian traffic warden!
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2007 :  20:31:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Hawks
(and it's worth reading for the simple reason that it claims that Arnold Schwarzenegger might be the greatest philosopher of all time)

Ok, that comment requires explanation. Is it because he always vowed "I'll be back?"


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 02/15/2007 20:31:23
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Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2007 :  20:40:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message
Stranger in a Strange Land -- Robert Heinlien

Excellent story underscoring the modus operandi of extremist sects of religion using irony.


Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
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Hawks
SFN Regular

Canada
1383 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2007 :  22:41:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Hawks's Homepage Send Hawks a Private Message
quote:
Ok, that comment requires explanation. Is it because he always vowed "I'll be back?"

Nah. It's simply because he starred in a few movies that dealt with some fundamental philosophical problems: Terminator-can machines have minds?, Total recall-personal identity/what is reality? 6th day-personal identity.

The claim was obviously a bit tongue-in-cheek.

METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL
It's a small, off-duty czechoslovakian traffic warden!
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 02/16/2007 :  14:18:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
You have to include at least one book on media literacy.

Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back; Amy and David Goodman

Media Mythmakers; Benjamin Radford

Static is an excellent book but just the cover turns people off. They think it's all about anti-Bush stuff. But if they weren't so quick to judge they'd find the best investigative reporters of our time. The investigation in this case is about all the changes in mainstream media that have led to misleading the public (even skeptics in my opinion).

Media Mythmakers is probably more general so much as I hate to say it, should be the pick unless someone else has a better choice. The author spoke at TAM5 as one of the Sunday presenters and I believe he was a regular speaker at a previous TAM.

Mythmakers is more about the tricks of the trade and the current state of affairs, Static is more about how it got that way and what we need to do to change it back.

Edited by - beskeptigal on 02/16/2007 14:19:11
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McQ
Skeptic Friend

USA
258 Posts

Posted - 02/17/2007 :  13:06:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send McQ a Private Message
Flim Flam!, by James Randi (out of date and in need of updating, which it unfortunately won't get, because Randi and Prometheus Books had a falling out, and they own the rights)

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, by Richard Feynman
Not a "skeptics" book so much a an autobiography of a skeptic/atheist and amazing person. And it's fun to read.

A Physicists Guide to Skepticism, by Milton Rothman

Did Adam and Eve Have Navels?, by Martin Gardner
I love his stuff. That's why he's on my list.

Elvis didn't do no drugs!
--Penn Gillette
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