Book Club Potluck - "The Better Angels of Our Natures"

  • May 17, 2013 · 7:00 PM
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Charley Haddox will host the May 17 discussion of Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Natures: Why Violence Has Declined. Here's a link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1455883115.

The other option for May is Shakti's pick The Aristotle Adventure by Burgess Laughlin. See the May 10 Meetup.

The June poll results are in, and the winners are: Russell's pick Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture by Alan Sokal and Karl's pick The Happiness of Pursuit by Shimon Edelman. Kit has volunteered to host the Edelman Meetup in June. Marc has agreed to host in July, and both Marc and Richard in August. Let me know if you'd be willing to host. I need two volunteers per month. My priority is finding someone to take the Sokal Meetup in June.

Since we are always planning ahead, I've started the poll for our July selections. You'll find that under the "More" menu at the top of this page. Anyone who is a member of this Meetup can submit a title for the poll. Just send me an email or post on this site, and I'll add your selection. However, I will only include one title from each member. If you submitted a title last month, I've rolled it over into the new poll. If you want to change your recommendation, just let me know.

As always, it's essential that everyone who comes to the meeting reads the book in its entirety. Please also bring a food or drink item for the potluck.

Happy reading!

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  • Orson

    YES caroline. This is interesting. But my immediate question for sorting out such a complex cause-and-effect claim is to look at controls. The EU did not ban it's in gasoline until 2000.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetraethyllead
    Has there been a commensurate decline in crime rates in those early ban adopting nations like Sweden or not? Without looking at other data sets, I'm suspicious of any mono-causal social explanation. So, maybe, maybe not...

    May 17, 2013

    • Russell B.

      Thanks Sally. It looks interesting. I just bought the audible book. Yet another audiobook I want to get to sometime. I have to move farther from work to keep up on my audiobook listening.

      May 18, 2013

    • Russell B.

      I finished the Rational Optimist audiobook. Really enjoyed it! Great little book! Thanks Sally!

      May 24, 2013

  • Russell B.

    I just want to add one thing. I know this is an optimistic upbeat book because of the recent decline in violence. But at times I found this book depressing because of all the stuff on torture and wars etc. Throughout most of our history humans have been so horribly mean to other humans and to animals.

    May 18, 2013

  • Caroline

    Thanks, Orson. There is also an interesting article in Mother Jones on the statistical connection between lead in the environment and crime rates and violence.

    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline

    May 17, 2013

    • Sally A L.

      this was an interesting article - I should start reading Mother Jones - thanks!

      May 18, 2013

  • Sally A L.

    great book

    May 18, 2013

  • Orson

    CORRECTION. On further review, the piece Caroline links to is answers my objections rather well. This theory is intriguing and leads to further testable implications that can can be measured. Thus, it's rather satisfying and fascinates. THANK YOU for sharing it!

    May 18, 2013

  • Orson

    In addition, the actual relevant indicator of lead is blood-level measurements - not gas produced per 1,000 people. Lot's of the stuff remained in farming rural areas, while it remained unavailable in cities. Which means blood levels of lead (actual exposure) dropped much earlier than production levels did. (Many farmers stockpiled gasoline for future use with aging, only seasonally used machines.)

    May 17, 2013

  • Orson

    VIDEO ONLINE: Steven Pinker and Robert D. Kaplan: "Is the World Becoming More Peaceful?" In this vigorous discussion two leading thinkers in global affairs, Harvard professor Steven Pinker and Atlantic correspondent Robert D. Kaplan, take on the subject of world peace a core interest of Carnegie Council.

    http://getmadcat.com/video/412808/Steven-Pinker-and-Robert-D-Kaplan-Is-the-World-Becoming-More-Peaceful.html

    ANOTHER SOURCE on Pinker's theme:
    HUMAN SECURITY REPORT 2005
    http://www.hsrgroup.org/human-security-reports/2005/overview.aspx

    May 17, 2013

  • Russell B.

    Cameron, I'd like to change the book I nominating for reading to "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican" by Galileo Galilei. So, if I'm allowed, please delete Ayn Rand contra Human Nature and put in the Galileo book. Thanks!

    May 12, 2013

    • Cameron K.

      You got it, Russell. Please update your votes everyone.

      May 12, 2013

  • Damian C.

    I am very much interested in the next book club meeting esp. if its a damned good book. As soon as May 18th rolls around I will be sure to check the meetup posting for a damned good book discussion.

    May 8, 2013

  • Russell B.

    I listened to this audio book in December 2011. I have kindle book and planned to read it but started listening to audio book again. But I will be ready when the potluck comes. This book is one of the most important book published recently - along with the Blank Slate. Thanks for nominating this book for reading and for voting it in!!

    April 26, 2013

  • Russell B.

    I'm so excited!! One of my favorite authors, Steven Pinker, this month. Again! Then next month my pick, Beyond the Hoax!

    April 21, 2013

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