What we're about

This group is for dedicated readers and knowledge seekers who want to learn more about the world we live in. Knowledge is, after all, power, and having facts and figures to back up arguments is never a bad thing. Ideally this group will meet once a month to discuss a book of the month. We can read both fiction and non-fiction, and the literature we read need not be political. The overall aim of the group will be to enrich ourselves with knowledge and get together to share this knowledge.

Upcoming events (3)

Hardwired Harebrains: Behavioral Economics and Our Irrational Reasoning

You may never think about thinking the same way again. I consider "Thinking Fast and Slow" one of the most memorable books I've ever read. Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman readably and genially explains classic experiments that uncover the universal errors in human reasoning. Another included here is by Richard Thahler, also a Nobel Prize winner in Economics who, with Kahneman and a few others, defined the field today known as "Behavioral Economics." The truths this field reveals can be illustrated in ordinary everyday behavior that rings true to everyone. The area has spawned a spate of popular reading, enjoyable because as readers we sheepishly laugh as we recognize our own flaws and see confirmed to our glee that other people really ARE idiots (because it turns out WE ALL ARE). I've included a third title, which is a little shorter. Choose one or more. Daniel Kahneman Thinking Fast and Slow (2011) 499 pages (But chapters stand-alone so OK if you don''t finish in time) City: 4 holds on 38 copies; 0 available, County, 3 holds on 9 copies, none available Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/0374533555/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=thinking+fast+and+slow&qid=1599100219&sr=8-1 Richard Thaler Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics (2016) 432 pages City library, 8/16 available ; County, 1 hold on 4 copies, 0 available Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Misbehaving-Behavioral-Economics-Richard-Thaler/dp/039335279X Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions 380 pages City library, 5/12 available ; County, 0/1 available Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Predictably-Irrational-Revised-Expanded-Decisions/dp/0061353248

Epidemics vs. Humans: Two fights

Online event

Microbial foes don't look like much, but as we know too well they change lives and history. The coronavirus is our lifetime's challenge (polio, too, for some), but the same general story has played out in other times and places. Countless intriguing books cover the mystery and terror of epidemics--and our occasional triumph over them. Here are two choices for next month: Each is just over 300 pages (hope you can read by Nov. 21) and each is well reviewed, even described as page-turners. There are copies in the library. The first describes the birth of modern epidemiology and public health as a cholera epidemic sweeps through London in the 1850s. The prevailing view is it infects through "miasma," but a persistent scientist will reveal the disease's true aqueous conduct. Recent comments note parallels between our current epidemic and the reaction of the 19th C. London establishment and residents to their own mysterious plague. The second title reminds us that while massive global resources are being marshaled to defeat the novel coronavirus, Malaria still kills half a million people or more every single year. What has become of pushes to eradicate this pestilence third world countries? Steven Johnson The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World (2007) 336 Pages (Some readers say skip the epilogue, so potentially shorter). City library: 7 available of 10 copies, audiobook available; County, not available Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Map-Londons-Terrifying-Epidemic/dp/1594482691/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8 Sonia Shaw The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years (2011) 320 pages City Library: 2 of 3 available with one hold; County: None Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003R0LBT4/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i2

Can't Change the World? Change Your Mind!

Online event

Michael Pollen How to Change your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence (2018) 465 pages City: 36/60 copies Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Change-Your-Mind-Consciousness-Transcendence/dp/1594204225 Fair to say reality could be pretty stressful by December, with Covid for Christmas and maybe even a still unsettled presidential election! Seems like the perfect time to explore how to shift focus and feel better--through psychedelic drugs! While still illegal in most places, natural and synthetic psychedelics are being reconsidered by serious researchers, clinicians, and individuals for their reported mental health benefits. Readers and reviewers say this a fun and enlightening read. The library also has audio and e-book formats available. Google Michel Pollen for plenty of amusing interviews about his research for this book. Publisher's summary below. "When Michael Pollan set out to research how LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) are being used to provide relief to people suffering from difficult-to-treat conditions such as depression, addiction and anxiety, he did not intend to write what is undoubtedly his most personal book. But upon discovering how these remarkable substances are improving the lives not only of the mentally ill but also of healthy people coming to grips with the challenges of everyday life, he decided to explore the landscape of the mind in the first person as well as the third. Thus began a singular adventure into the experience of various altered states of consciousness, along with a dive deep into both the latest brain science and the thriving underground community of psychedelic therapists ...

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