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Dallas Atheist Book Club Message Board › November book suggestions - Critical thinking, skepticism

November book suggestions - Critical thinking, skepticism

Jason H.
that_guy
Dallas, TX
Post #: 271
Please include the name and author of the book and a link on a website like Amazon.com.

The book you suggest should be readable in one month or less and be less than about 350 pages. Keep in mind cost and availability when recommending a book.
Skip K.
Skipkilmer
Carrollton, TX
Post #: 34
The Shallows. What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brain by Nicholas Carr.
http://www.amazon.com...­
A former member
Post #: 1
Letters from a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father's Questions about Christianity
Chris Irwin D.
chrisirwindavis
Group Organizer
Richardson, TX
Post #: 36
Why People Believe Weird Things
By Michael Shermer
http://www.amazon.com...­


In this age of supposed scientific enlightenment, many people still believe in mind reading, past-life regression theory, New Age hokum, and alien abduction. A no-holds-barred assault on popular superstitions and prejudices, with more than 80,000 copies in print, Why People Believe Weird Things debunks these nonsensical claims and explores the very human reasons people find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing. In an entirely new chapter, "Why Smart People Believe in Weird Things," Michael Shermer takes on science luminaries like physicist Frank Tippler and others, who hide their spiritual beliefs behind the trappings of science.

Chris Irwin D.
chrisirwindavis
Group Organizer
Richardson, TX
Post #: 37
Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk
By Massimo Pigliucci
http://www.amazon.com...­



Recent polls suggest that fewer than 40 percent of Americans believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, despite it being one of science’s best-established findings. More and more parents are refusing to vaccinate their children for fear it causes autism, though this link can been consistently disproved. And about 40 percent of Americans believe that the threat of global warming is exaggerated, despite near consensus in the scientific community that manmade climate change is real.

Why do people believe bunk? And what causes them to embrace such pseudoscientific beliefs and practices? Noted skeptic Massimo Pigliucci sets out to separate the fact from the fantasy in this entertaining exploration of the nature of science, the borderlands of fringe science, and—borrowing a famous phrase from philosopher Jeremy Bentham—the nonsense on stilts. Presenting case studies on a number of controversial topics, Pigliucci cuts through the ambiguity surrounding science to look more closely at how science is conducted, how it is disseminated, how it is interpreted, and what it means to our society. The result is in many ways a “taxonomy of bunk” that explores the intersection of science and culture at large.

Chris Irwin D.
chrisirwindavis
Group Organizer
Richardson, TX
Post #: 38
The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies — How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths
By Michael Shermer
http://www.amazon.com...­



In this work synthesizing thirty years of research, psychologist, historian of science, and the world's best-known skeptic Michael Shermer upends the traditional thinking about how humans form beliefs about the world. Simply put, beliefs come first and explanations for beliefs follow. The brain, Shermer argues, is a belief engine. From sensory data flowing in through the senses, the brain naturally begins to look for and find patterns, and then infuses those patterns with meaning. Our brains connect the dots of our world into meaningful patterns that explain why things happen, and these patterns become beliefs. Once beliefs are formed the brain begins to look for and find confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, which accelerates the process of reinforcing them, and round and round the process goes in a positive-feedback loop of belief confirmation. Shermer outlines the numerous cognitive tools our brains engage to reinforce our beliefs as truths.

Interlaced with his theory of belief, Shermer provides countless real-world examples of how this process operates, from politics, economics, and religion to conspiracy theories, the supernatural, and the paranormal. Ultimately, he demonstrates why science is the best tool ever devised to determine whether or not a belief matches reality.

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