What books are you reading ? (conspiracy related, science, etc...)

Leifer

Senior Member.
What books/authors have influenced you, or do you recommend ?
.......related to "debunking" or of the understanding of science, and related human tendencies - to believe ??
 

hemi

Senior Member.
Nice list Stupid. I'll dust off my Audible subscription and have a listen to some of those.

I already listen to the You are Not So Smart podcast that comes out intermittently, and, for other fellow listeners, you might like to try...

* Guardian Science Weekly
* Science Talk (Sci. American)
* BBC Science in Action
* Stuff to Blow Your Mind
* The Infinite Monkey Cage

Nearly all of them, at some point, touch on topics that are directly relevant to the sorts of things that get discussed around here. And even when they don't, they're still interesting. ;-)
 

Alhazred The Sane

Senior Member.
Just finished "The Quantum Universe" by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw, before that it was "Ignorance: How It Drives Science" by Stuart Firestein, and "Five Billion Years of Solitude" by Lee Billings.

Can't say I read too much on conspiracy theories.
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
5 credits on my Audible acct.
I've taken 4....not read (listened) yet....


"The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology" Robert Wright
"Them: Adventures with Extremists" Jon Ronson
"Proust Was a Neuroscientist" Jonah Lehrer
"What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained
" Robert L. Wolke

...the last one is because I like to cook.
 
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Strawman

Senior Member.
Here's my two recommendations on CT:
Mark Fenster "Conspiracy Theories"
Jack Z. Bratich: "Conspiracy Panics. Political Rationality and Popular Culture", while I would not agree with everything in there, I think debunkers should read this book to reflect on the meaning of debunking practice.
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
"Them: Adventures with Extremists" Jon Ronson...
....seems quite good, starts off with the author following David Icke on tour. Then jew and homosexual hating Muslim extremists hell-bent on disrupting British gov't, then Randy Weaver of "Ruby Ridge", Alex Jones.....then....(more).
(There's an interesting part on a KKK member personality test.)

It is an interesting chronicle of a real "embedded" witness journalist.

I'm trying to decipher what is the dirty truth in this book, vs. what is poetic embellishments of factual circumstance.

EDIT: Spoiler alert........conspiracies continue despite inner reporting.
 
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Alhazred The Sane

Senior Member.
"Them: Adventures with Extremists" Jon Ronson...
....seems quite good, starts off with the author following David Icke on tour.

Jaysis, what a way to earn a living. Bad enough to have to continually listen to the man, but to be surrounded by people who take him seriously ...

I couldn't do it.
 

Strawman

Senior Member.
Also conspiracy related: Cass Sunstein's new book (due next march) deals with conspiracy theories. As it is a collection of essays, it will probably feature the infamous cognitive infiltration article.

Definitely getting that.
 

Alhazred The Sane

Senior Member.
Also conspiracy related: Cass Sunstein's new book (due next march) deals with conspiracy theories. As it is a collection of essays, it will probably feature the infamous cognitive infiltration article.

Definitely getting that.
If you're looking for that essay in particular, you can download it here.
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
Two new books will enter my brain soon....
"Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think" by Viktor Mayer-Schöberger , Kenneth Cukier
Oxford professor and author Viktor Mayer-Schönberger joins Economist data editor and commentator Kenneth Cukier to deliver insight into the hottest trend in technology. "Big data" makes it possible to instantly analyze and draw conclusions from vast stores of information, enabling revolutionary breakthroughs in business, health, politics, and education. But big data also raises troubling social and privacy concerns sure to be a major talking point in the years ahead.
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and a not-yet released book by Richard Powers, titled, "Orfeo" (fiction)

In Orfeo, Powers tells the story of a man journeying into his past as he desperately flees the present. Composer (character) Peter Els opens the door one evening to find the police on his doorstep. His home microbiology lab - the latest experiment in his lifelong attempt to find music in surprising patterns - has aroused the suspicions of Homeland Security. Panicked by the raid, Els turns fugitive. As an Internet-fueled hysteria erupts, Els - the "Bioterrorist Bach" - pays a final visit to the people he loves, those who shaped his musical journey. Through the help of his ex-wife, his daughter, and his longtime collaborator, Els hatches a plan to turn this disastrous collision with the security state into a work of art that will reawaken its audience to the sounds all around them.

©2014 Richard Powers (P)2014 Recorded Books

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Plus one more.....http://www.audible.com/pd/Bios-Memo...Audiobook/B00H58TEF2?ref_=a_mycart_fi_c2_2_23
Undiluted Hocus-Pocus: The Autobiography of Martin Gardner
His informal, recreational approach to mathematics delighted countless readers and inspired many to pursue careers in mathematics and the sciences. Gardner's illuminating autobiography is a disarmingly candid self-portrait of the man evolutionary theorist Stephen Jay Gould called our "single brightest beacon" for the defense of rationality and good science against mysticism and anti-intellectualism.
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Geezer

New Member
Them: Adventures with Extremists. Pretty good, humanizes the extremists while showing how encompassing their beliefs are.
Abominable Science. A pretty complete look at several popular cryptids, going back to their first "appearance". Very entertaining and some great one star reviews, from true believers, on Amazon.
 

Bill

Senior Member.
"Countess Dracula" by Tony Thorne - An attempt to rewrite history by arguing Elizabeth Bathory was the victim of a conspiracy.
"Abominable Science" - History of selected cryptids.
 

Critical Thinker

Senior Member.
Okay... so I am not posting about a book I am reading, but since there was no thread about what movies you are watching....

12 Angry Men is a great film classic and provides a look at how evidence ought to be examined and the various biases that may prevent someone from objectively weighing facts and their relevance.
 

Bruno D.

Senior Member.
Actually there are lots of Sherlock Holmes' books and stories with fantastic quotes, like:

'It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.'

'I never guess. It is a shocking habit,—destructive to the logical faculty.'

'Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.'

'The emotional qualities are atagonistic to clear reasoning.'

"The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes."

'You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.'
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
I remember being impressed with The Assault on Reason by Al Gore
lol classic vapid "debunker" response

Phase 1: declare straw man!
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: profit.
Anyone who led you to think I'm getting cash for these comments is "false profit."

You're saying that injecting "conspiracists wouldn't talk among themselves"
as if that were Mr. West's position is somehow not a straw man? Please explain.

As to the length, most posts don't require an ISBN :p
 
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I remember being impressed with The Assault on Reason by Al Gore

Anyone who led you to think I'm getting cash for these comments is "false profit."

You're saying that injecting "conspiracists wouldn't talk among themselves"
as if that were Mr. West's position is somehow not a straw man? Please explain.

As to the length, most posts don't require an ISBN :p

A South Park joke clearly wasted you...

Anyway I was talking about the books' content. And having read a similar book by a Canadian author, I'm pretty confident the argument isn't strawman. These books open themselves up to that criticism.
 
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Jason

Senior Member
I love Carl Sagan, a great book about psuedoscience is "The Demon Haunted World-Science as a Candle in the Dark". Beautifully written, but then again I love all of his books....
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I love Carl Sagan, a great book about psuedoscience is "The Demon Haunted World-Science as a Candle in the Dark". Beautifully written, but then again I love all of his books....

The intro always struck me as rather timeless.

http://pharmacy.auburn.edu/barkebn/2004/Spring/PYPC7820/7820/7820-The Demon-Haunted World.htm


As I got off the plane, he was waiting for me, holding up a scrap of cardboard with my name scribbled on it. I was on my way to a conference of scientists and TV broadcasters devoted to the seemingly hopeless prospect of improving the presentation of science on commercial television. The organizers had kindly sent a driver.

"Do you mind if I ask you a question?" he said as we waited for my bag.

No, I didn't mind.

"Isn't it confusing to have the same name as that scientist guy?" It took me a moment to understand. Was he pulling my leg? Finally, it dawned on me.

"I am that scientist guy," I answered.

He paused and then smiled. "Sorry. That's my problem. I thought it was yours too.

He put out his hand. “My name is William F. Buckley." (Well, he wasn't exactly William F. Buckley, but he did bear the name of a contentious and well-known TV interviewer, for which he doubtless took a lot of good-natured ribbing.)

As we settled into the car for the long drive, the windshield wipers rhythmically thwacking, he told me he was glad I was "that scientist guy" - he had so many questions to ask about science. Would I mind? No, I didn't mind.

And so we got to talking. But not, as it turned out, about science. He wanted to talk about frozen extraterrestrials languishing in an Air Force base near San Antonio, “channeling" (a way to hear what's on the minds of dead people-not much, it turns out), crystals, the prophecies of Nostradamus, astrology, the shroud of Turin. .. He introduced each portentous subject with buoyant enthusiasm. Each time I had to disappoint him:

“The evidence is crummy," I kept saying. “There's a much simpler explanation."

He was, in a way, widely read. He knew the various speculative nuances on, let's say, the "sunken continents" of Atlantis and Lemuria. He had at his fingertips what underwater expeditions were supposedly just setting out to find the tumbled columns and broken minarets of a once-great civilization whose remains were now visited only by deep sea luminescent fish and giant kraken. Except. . . while the ocean keeps many secrets, I knew that there isn't a trace of oceanographic or geophysical support. for Atlantis and Lemuria. As far as science can tell, they never existed. By now a little reluctantly, I told him so.

As we drove through the rain, I could see him getting glummer and glummer. I was dismissing not just some errant doctrine, but a precious facet of his inner life.

And yet there's so much in real science that's equally exciting, more mysterious, a greater intellectual challenge - as well as being a lot closer to the truth. Did he know about the molecular building blocks of life sitting out there in the cold, tenuous gas between the stars? Had he heard of the footprints of our ancestors found in 4-million-year-old volcanic ash? What about the raising of the Himalayas when India went crashing into Asia? Or how viruses, built like hypodermic syringes, slip their DNA past the host organism's defenses and subvert the reproductive machinery of cells; or the radio search for extraterrestrial intelligence; or the newly discovered ancient civilization of Ebla that advertised the virtues of Ebla beer? No, he hadn't heard. Nor did he know, even vaguely, about quantum indeterminacy, and he recognized DNA only as three frequently linked capital letters.

Mr. "Buckley" -well-spoken, intelligent, curious-had heard virtually nothing of modern science. He had a natural appetite for the wonders of the Universe. He wanted to know about science. It's just that all the science h d gotten filtered out before It reached him. Our cultural motifs, our educational system, our communications media had failed this man. What the society permitted to trickle through was mainly pretense and confusion. It had never taught him how to distinguish real science from the cheap imitation. He knew nothing about how science works.

There are hundreds of books about At1antis the mythical continent that is said to have existed something like 10,000 years ago in the Atlantic Ocean. (Or somewhere. A recent book locates it in Antarctica.) The story goes back to Plato, who reported it as hearsay coming down to him from remote ages.

Recent books authoritatively describe the high level of Atlantean technology, morals, and spirituality, and the great tragedy of an entire populated continent sinking beneath the waves. There is a "New Age" Atlantis, "the legendary civilization of advanced sciences," chiefly devoted to the "science" of crystals. In a trilogy called Crystal Enlightenment, by Katrina Raphaell-the books mainly responsible for the crystal craze in America - Atlantean crystals read minds, transmit thoughts, are the repositories of ancient history and the model and source of the pyramids of Egypt. Nothing approximating evidence is offered to support these assertions. (A resurgence of crystal mania may follow the recent finding by the real science of seismology that the inner core of the Earth may be composed of a single, huge, nearly perfect crystal- of iron.)

A few books-Dorothy Vitaliano's Legends of the Earth, for example-sympathetically interpret the original Atlantis legends in terms of a small island in the Mediterranean that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption, or an ancient city that slid into the Gulf of Corinth after an earthquake. This, for all we know, may be the source of the legend, but it is a far cry from the destruction of a continent on which had sprung forth a preternaturally advanced technical and mystical civilization.

What we almost never find - in public libraries or newsstand magazines or. prime time television programs - is the evidence from sea floor spreading and plate tectonics, and from mapping the ocean floor which shows quite unmistakably that there could have been no continent between Europe and the Americas on anything like the timescale proposed.

Spurious accounts that snare the gullible are readily available. Skeptical treatments are much harder to find. Skepticism does not sell well. A bright and curious person who relies entirely on popular culture to be informed about something like Atlantis is hundreds or thousands of times more likely to come upon a fable treated uncritically than a sober and balanced assessment. .

Maybe Mr. "Buckley" should know to be more skeptical about what's dished out to him by popular culture. But apart from that, it's hard to see how it's his fault. He simply accepted what the most widely available and accessible sources of information claimed was true. For his naiveté, he was systematically misled and bamboozled.

Science arouses a soaring sense of wonder. But so does pseudoscience. Sparse and poor popularizations of science abandon ecological niches that pseudoscience promptly fills. If it were widely understood that claims to knowledge require adequate evidence before they can be accepted, there would be no room for pseudoscience. But a kind of Gresham's Law prevails in popular culture by which bad science drives out good.

All over the world there are enormous numbers of smart, even gifted, people who harbor a passion for science. But that passion is unrequited. Surveys suggest that some 95 percent of Americans are "scientifically illiterate." That's just the same fraction as those African Americans, almost all of them slaves, who were illiterate just before the Civil War-when severe penalties were in force for anyone who taught a slave to read. Of course there's a degree of arbitrariness about any determination of illiteracy, whether it applies to language or to science. But anything like 95 percent illiteracy is extremely serious.

Every generation worries that educational standards are decaying. One of the oldest short essays in human history, dating from Sumer some 4,000 years ago, laments that the young are disastrously more ignorant than the generation immediately preceding. Twenty-four hundred years ago, the aging and grumpy Plato, in Book VII of the Laws, gave his definition of scientific illiteracy:

“Who is unable to count one, two, three, or to distinguish odd from even numbers, or is unable to count at all, or reckon night and day, and who is totally unacquainted with the revolution of the Sun and Moon, and the other stars. . . All freemen, I conceive, should learn as much of these branches of knowledge as every child in Egypt is taught when he learns the alphabet. In that country arithmetical games have been invented for the use of mere children, which they learn as pleasure and amusement. . . I . . . have late in life heard with amazement of our ignorance in these matters; to me we appear to be more like pigs than men, and I am quite ashamed, not only of myself, but of all Greeks.”

I don't know to what extent ignorance of science and mathematics contributed to the decline of ancient Athens, but I know that the consequences of scientific illiteracy are far more dangerous in our time than in any that has come before.
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
great read.....recommended for Metabunk readers.

I just read it ("Them - Adventures with Extremists"). Fascinating stuff - particularly his adventures with Alex Jones in the Bohemian Grove, and his discussions with the Bilderbergers.
 
What books/authors have influenced you, or do you recommend ?
.......related to "debunking" or of the understanding of science, and related human tendencies - to believe ??

Authors that have influenced me in relation to debunking, science, conspiracy etc...

Louis Theroux - his adventures in weird American subcultures and trying to get themselves to exlpain/justify their ideas.
Richard Dawkins - debunking God, pseudo science, alternative medicines, quacks
Christopher Hitchens - debunking God, and on not being afraid to challenge the left
Naomi Klein - debunking neo-liberalism
Michael Parenti - challenging accepted historical narratives
Noam Chomsky - challenging mainstream liberal media and politics
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
What do you mean by rather "timeless"?

Meaning it's the same now, it does not seem dated.

It was published nearly 20 years ago, in 1995, and he was talking about something that had happened years earlier. But the hopeful credulity of "Mr Buckley" seems very familiar.

And at the end he makes the ultimate comment on the timelessness of the issue by quoting Plato from 2,400 years ago.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I don't know to what extent ignorance of science and mathematics contributed to the decline of ancient Athens, but I know that the consequences of scientific illiteracy are far more dangerous in our time than in any that has come before
I liked this part. ; )
 

Jason

Senior Member
Meaning it's the same now, it does not seem dated.

It was published nearly 20 years ago, in 1995, and he was talking about something that had happened years earlier. But the hopeful credulity of "Mr Buckley" seems very familiar.

And at the end he makes the ultimate comment on the timelessness of the issue by quoting Plato from 2,400 years ago.
The word "rather" before timeless is what threw me off. I totally agree, and that's his brilliance. That's why this book hit me at my very core, because not that far off into the distant past, I could've easily been confused with "Mr Buckley". This book changed my life and how I perceived the world around me.
 

Leifer

Senior Member.
I just listened (again) to the narrated audible book "Contact" (Carl Sagan)....read by actress Jodie Foster.
Significantly different to the film.....
I could hear Carl's ideas expressed in fuller detail than the film.
While this was Carl's fiction novel......it incorporated the best reality of human responses to an alien contact, I have ever heard (or read).
 

Jason

Senior Member
For those of you who can remember the Cosmos by Carl Sagan, it will be airing on Fox this upcoming March, but with a twist. It's been updated to reflect modern times, and one of my favorite astrophysicist will be hosting the show; Neil deGrasse Tyson. Check it out, and if you have kids it will be a great opportunity for them to get familiar with the Universe and all its wonders.
 

Jason

Senior Member
I just listened (again) to the narrated audible book "Contact" (Carl Sagan)....read by actress Jodie Foster.
Significantly different to the film.....
I could hear Carl's ideas expressed in fuller detail than the film.
While this was Carl's fiction novel......it incorporated the best reality of human responses to an alien contact, I have ever heard (or read).
Totally agree with you.
 

Svartbjørn

Senior Member.
While this isnt a book (tho I will be getting the books)... I just sat through a documentary called Dirty Wars. Its.... interesting, to say the least. It takes a while to get started, and your first impressions will be that its just another anti-US, anti-Government type of deal. Its a bit different though and pretty thought provoking. Its one of those "this is a conspiracy but no one's listening" type of deals where it turns out there was something to it.. or at least thats what I took out of it. It's also good training material for all those OMG I TOLD YOU CT types.. shows you the lengths you really need to go to to prove your theory.. not just rely on Youtube Videos. Its currently on Netflix and worth the watch.
 

jaydeehess

Senior Member.
Not conspiracy, but science nonetheless, I just began reading "Weird Life" by David Toomey

The search for life very different from our own. Extremophiles and possible non-terrestrial life forms.
 

meganix

New Member
I am reading through the free books from Stefan Molyneux right now. Anarchy and 'atheism' related mostly. =)

http://www.freedomainradio.com/FreeBooks.aspx


I have "Everyday Anarchy" and "Practical Anarchy" on my shelf at home and don't know honestly what to think of it's content. The inherent logic appeals to me, but there are really not any emprical evidence to back it up. It's about Anarcho-Capitalism and mostly about the ethical case for it. It's more thoughtfully put together, than the fear based type of Government conspiracy "NWO" that wants you to run from or fight every authority you meet and in so make you apporach the Libertarian Ideology instead. It use strict logic as a primary base but there are some false Dilemma/black and white fallacy in it.

It's philosphical, kind of philsophical that reminds me most about the Old Greek's philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle. Moral Absolutism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_absolutism
instead of the more "modern" Moral Relativsm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_relativism
That started with the decline of relligion and seperation of state and church. It would actually quite help people understand what is so "pervasive" about the Libertarian/Capitalist apporach to society, and why it's on the rise through the internet

I think that holding this moral standard in your personal life is very healthy. If it can be used as a guide for society, I'm much more sceptical about
 
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