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

I have just finished re-reading "Moondust: In search of the men who fell to Earth" by Andrew Smith. It includes a bit about conspiratorial thinking that might interest you.

The book, well worth reading, covers the author's spending some time with astronaut Charlie Duke in London in 1999, during which word arrives of the death of another Apollo astronaut, Pete Conrad. Duke's sad remark that "Now there are only nine of us," nine human beings who know what it felt like to walk on the moon, leads the author into a quest to talk to them all and try to learn whatever it is they took from that experience, an experience the rest of us have never had and likely never will.

As it happens, Smith's subsequent meeting with Buzz Aldrin happens just after the famous incident when moon-landing conspiracy theorist Bart Sibrel got up in Aldrin's face one time to many and Aldrin punched him in the jaw. This leads to a moment later in the book where Smith meets Sibrel, somewhat anticlimactically, (Sibrel does admit that Aldrin's punch hurt), and in a following conversation with space historian and author Jim Oberg the subject of conspiracy theorists comes up. I quote the book:

"...(Jim Oberg) talks ominously of hoax theory as 'excercise of the immune system,' calling it 'an intellectual bug that is attempting to infect the current culture...and the way that the culture handles it will tell us a great deal about the strength of the culture.' "

The first time I read that, a couple of years ago, it would have seemed a quaint concern, if I noticed it at all. Sure, there were folks on the fringe that believed all sorts of fringe things, but the civilization we inherited and have fostered seemed to have handled that particular "bug" well enough.

In 2021, it looks a bit different, doesn't it? Culture is not handling the "bug" of conspiratorial thinking well at all, and what might have seemed relatively harmless delusions about flat Earth or Apollo hoaxes have metastasized into widely held conspiracy theories about 5-G Nanobots in the Vaccines and Bamboo Fibers in Ballots that are killing a lot of people and threatening the foundations of the American republic.

I don't want y'all to get the swell-head, but the work done here, while a lot of fun, is also a part of how civilization and culture is trying to defend itself from its antagonists. That's important, and I salute you all and say "Keep up the good work!"
Currently reading ....
"Women Aren't Supposed to Fly"
Harriet A. Hall, ©2008

.....she does not pull any punches..

(from the back-cover overview....)
A somewhat warped sense of humor kept her afloat, and it spices the stories she tells about her own experiences and the patients and colleagues she encountered.
....my kinda gal.
If you don't like to read........ (but it's more fun to really read.)

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNzOOAiiaNs
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"Thinking, Fast and Slow" is a decent book. Kinda crosses into pop-science self-help territory though, but has good explanations of aspects of human decision making heuristics.

"A Thousand Brains: A New Theory Of Intelligence" has some interesting ideas, mostly neuroscience and machine learning structures. I follow the author Jeff Hawkins since he takes fairly recklessly positions about how (un)dangerous "AI" and ML algorithms could get for humanity. He's on a shortlist of people who run organizations that could feasibly start an apocalypse in my opinion. :)

"Where The Suckers Moon" has both the disturbing tidbits about advertising psychology that you'd expect from any advertising/selling/marketing book, but also interesting semi-historical retelling of USA advertising agency events in the late 80s and early 90s. Even old salesperson training content like Zig Ziglar is always interesting in its brutal take on how simple and manipulatable human decision making is.
"The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements" by Sam Keane, in which we learn, among many other things, about non-dissolving laxative pills that were a bit expensive, and so searched for among the... erm... aftereffects of their use, presumably rinsed off good, then saved to be used again, even being handed down to the next generation...


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I shouldn't just post a link and run away .
It's about that when thinking.... it does not stop at the point of determination... eg> It's not, "I thought that thought therefore the thought should stop thinking."
Maybe my interpretation.
Have you ever asked your mind the question: "what thought are you going to think next?"

Can be quite interesting.

Or had the experience of dwelling in the space between thoughts, where there are no thoughts, for a prolonged period of time?
My newest bathroom read..... "The Art of Worldly Wisdom" by Baltasar Gracian (a pocket oracle) 1601-1658 updated/translated in 1992.
It now sits (proudly) next to the toilet.
Lots of good quotes.... https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/510348-or-culo-manual-el-arte-de-la-prudencia
... just google "Baltasar quotes"...... there are so many.
In the book, the quotes are numbered, so you can reference #23 for instance.

But I found this....
https://books.google.com/books?id=n...can't spell the other one.” "number"&f=false
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Work was hard. Life was simple.
More like "Life was simply hard". I'm always hesitant to glamorize or romanticize the lives of people in the past. I'm just finishing up A World Lit Only by Fire, The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance on audio. Good Lord did life sound miserable! Just questioning things, like we do here, could be considered heretical and get you burned at the steak.

Not to worry though, you would have been so busy trying to avoid starvation, disease, corrupt officials or getting conscripted by some noble to fight some other poor peasant, you had little time for thought.

My older son is in Bio-Arch and he studies the teeth and bones of 9th-16th century peasants from Italy and Portugal. I've seen pictures of some of the remains he's worked with and it's brutal. Assuming you could get to middle age you'd have arthritis, a bad back, shot knees, a host of parasites, badly healed injuries and most of your teeth would've been replaced with abscess or overgrown bone. You would've been in almost constant pain, not soreness, PAIN. The best looking skeletons came from young men (~14-24 years old) that had probably died of infectious disease before there bodies could be completely beat down by the lifestyle.

Even here where I live, I've had trouble clearing the rocks with a 30K# excavator, and yet, I can go around the corner and find olive trees that were planted by the early settlers around the turn of the 19th-20th century. They cleared and planted the land with hand tools and maybe a horse or mule. No thanks.

Sorry, I rambled. I love studying history, no desire to live it.

Also Paleofantasy by Zuk Marlene Zuk. Great job of debunking Paleo diet fads.
More like "Life was simply hard". I'm always hesitant to glamorize or romanticize the lives of people in the past.
I think they mentioned "work was hard". It sucked, by our standards.
In fact there was so much work and suck, that little (simple) time was left.
Largely how to recognize when somebody is massaging the data or presenting it misleadingly. maybe a bit dry, but I enjoyed reading it and will hopefully be better at spotting those dastardly tricks played with graphs, among other things.
Oooh - I'd actually like to see a thread on that issue. I know diet is a field full of well-established bunk.
We probably could use a section on diets. As you say, lot's of bunk.

In the Paleofantasy book, she does a good job of showing micro-evolution using the development of lactose-tolerance in adults and two different adaptations used by people in the Himalayas and the Andes for high altitude living as examples. Meaning 10k years or so is plenty of time for humans to adapt to different diets.

And my son and his fieance are in Bio-Arch, she studies dietary migration patterns in Southeast Asia. As they have told me, humans are like cockroaches, we'll eat anything that wont kill us, and if it will, we'll try to figure out how to eat it anyway.
As a vegetarian I'm glad I'm not in danger of that.
Yes, I now see my correctly spelled wrong word. Second time this week!

But sorry my friend, but being a vegetarian by choice when the Bible tells us God gave man dominion over the animals (Genisis 1:26) would be considered highly suspicious. Nevermind that you couldn't afford meat and if you hunted it yourself it would be considered poaching on a nobles land and the meat you didn't have was not allowed to be eaten on Fridays. I'm afraid the stake might be in your future.

Not to worry, we're headed to Baja Norte next month to see friends and I'll be bringing my homemade bacon. It'll make a convert out of you;) if your near by.

To stay on topic: The Unidentified by Colin Dickey. A nice overview of strange beliefs from Luminarians in Mt. Shasta to UFOs.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick (aka Blade Runner)

Time to grasp the handles, he said to himself, and crossed the living room to the black empathy box.

When he turned it on the usual faint smell of negative ions surged from the power supply; he breathed in eagerly, already buoyed up. Then the cathode-ray tube glowed like an imitation, feeble TV image; a collage formed, made of apparently random colors, trails, and configurations which, until the handles were grasped, amounted to nothing. So, taking a deep breath to steady himself, he grasped the twin handles.

The visual image congealed; he saw at once a famous landscape, the old, brown, barren ascent, with tufts of dried-out bonelike weeds poking slantedly into a dim and sunless sky. One single figure, more or less human in form, toiled its way up the hillside: an elderly man wearing a dull, featureless robe, covering as meager as if it had been snatched from the hostile emptiness of the sky. The man, Wilbur Mercer, plodded ahead, and, as he clutched the handles, John Isidore gradually experienced a waning of the living room in which he stood; the dilapidated furniture and walls ebbed out and he ceased to experience them at all. He found himself, instead, as always before, entering into the landscape of drab hill, drab sky. And at the same time he no longer witnessed the climb of the elderly man. His own feet now scraped, sought purchase, among the familiar loose stones; he felt the same old painful, irregular roughness beneath his feet and once again smelled the acrid haze of the sky - not Earth's sky but that of some place alien, distant, and yet, by means of the empathy box, instantly available.

He had crossed over in the usual perplexing fashion; physical merging - accompanied by mental and spiritual identification - with Wilbur Mercer had reoccurred. As it did for everyone who at this moment clutched the handles, either here on Earth or on one of the colony planets. He experienced them, the others, incorporated the babble of their thoughts, heard in his own brain the noise of their many individual existences. They - and he - cared about one thing; this fusion of their mentalities oriented their attention on the hill, the climb, the need to ascend. Step by step it evolved, so slowly as to be nearly imperceptible. But it was there. Higher, he thought as stones rattled downward under his feet. Today we are higher than yesterday, and tomorrow - he, the compound figure of Wilbur Mercer, glanced up to view the ascent ahead. Impossible to make out the end. Too far. But it would come.

A rock, hurled at him, struck his arm. He felt the pain. He half turned and another rock sailed past him, missing him; it collided with the earth and the sound startled him. Who? he wondered, peering to see his tormentor. The old antagonists, manifesting themselves at the periphery of his vision; it, or they, had followed him all the way up the hill and they would remain until at the top—

He remembered the top, the sudden leveling of the hill, when the climb ceased and the other part of it began. How many times had he done this? The several times blurred; future and past blurred; what he had already experienced and what he would eventually experience blended so that nothing remained but the moment, the standing still and resting during which he rubbed the cut on his arm which the stone had left. God, he thought in weariness. In what way is this fair? Why am I up here alone like this, being tormented by something I can't even see? And then, within him, the mutual babble of everyone else in fusion broke the illusion of aloneness.

You felt it, too, he thought. Yes, the voices answered. We got hit, on the left arm; it hurts like hell. Okay, he said. We better get started moving again. He resumed walking, and all of them
accompanied him immediately.

Once, he remembered, it had been different. Back before the curse had come, an earlier, happier part of life. They, his foster parents Frank and Cora Mercer, had found him floating on an inflated rubber air-rescue raft, off the coast of New England . . . or had it been Mexico, near the port of Tampico? He did not now remember the circumstances. Childhood had been nice; he had loved all life, especially the animals, had in fact been able for a time to bring dead animals back as they had been. He lived with rabbits and bugs, wherever it was, either on Earth or a colony world; now he had forgotten that, too. But he recalled the killers, because they had arrested him as a freak, more special than any of the other specials. And due to that everything had changed.

Local law prohibited the time-reversal faculty by which the dead returned to life; they had spelled it out to him during his sixteenth year. He continued for another year to do it secret , in the still remaining woods, but an old woman whom he had never seen or heard of had told. Without his parents' consent they - the killers - had bombarded the unique nodule which had formed in his brain, had attacked it with radioactive cobalt, and this had plunged him into a different world, one whose existence he had never suspected. It had been a pit of corpses and dead bones and he had struggled for years to get up from it. The donkey and especially the toad, the creatures most important to him, had vanished, had become extinct; only rotting fragments, an eyeless head here, part of a hand there, remained. At last a bird which had come there to die told him where he was. He had sunk down into the tomb world. He could not get out until the bones strewn around him grew back into living creatures; he had become joined to the metabolism of other lives and until they rose he could not rise either.

How long that part of the cycle had lasted he did not now know; nothing had happened, generally, so it had been measureless. But at last the bones had regained flesh; the empty eyepits had filled up and the new eyes had seen, while meantime the restored beaks and mouths had cackled, barked, and caterwauled. Possibly he had done it; perhaps the extrasensory node of his brain had finally grown back. Or maybe he hadn't accomplished it; very likely it could have been a natural process. Anyhow he was no longer sinking; he had begun to ascend, along with the others. Long ago he had lost sight of them. He found himself evidently climbing alone. But they were there. They still accompanied him; he felt them, strangely, inside him.

Isidore stood holding the two handles, experiencing himself as encompassing every other living thing, and then, reluctantly, he let go. It had to end, as always, and anyhow his arm ached and bled where the rock had struck it.

Releasing the handles he examined his arm, then made his way unsteadily to the bathroom of his apartment to wash the cut off was not the first wound he had received while in fusion with Mercer and it probably would not be the last. People, especially elderly ones, had died, particularly later on at the top of the hill alien the torment began in earnest. I wonder if I can go through that part again, he said to himself as he swabbed the injury. Chance of cardiac arrest; he better, he reflected, if I lived in town where those buildings have a doctor standing by with those electro-spark machines. Here, alone in this place, it's too risky.

But he knew he'd take the risk. He always had before. As did most people, even oldsters who
were physically fragile.

Using a Kleenex he dried his damaged arm.

Content from External Source

"—yes sir, folks; the time is now. This is Buster Friendly, who hopes and trusts you're as eager as I am to share the discovery which I've made and by the way had verified by top trained research workers working extra hours over the past weeks. Ho ho, folks; this is it!"

In the living room Buster Friendly on the TV screen said, "Take a look at this enlargement of a section of background. This is the sky you usually see. Wait, I'll have Earl Parameter, head of my research staff, explain their virtually world-shaking discovery to you."

"Blowups of the video pictures," a new voice from the TV said, "when subjected to rigorous laboratory scrutiny, reveal that the gray backdrop of sky and daytime moon against which Mercer moves is not only not Terran—it is artificial."

"You're missing it!" Irmgard called anxiously to Pris; she rushed to the kitchen door, saw what Pris had begun doing. "Oh, do that afterward," she said coaxingly. This is so important, what they're saying; it proves that everything we believed—"

"Be quiet," Roy Baty said.

"—is true," Irmgard finished.

The TV set continued, "The 'moon' is painted; in the enlargements, one of which you see now on your screen, brushstrokes show. And there is even some evidence that the scraggly weeds and dismal, sterile soil - perhaps even the stones hurled at Mercer by unseen alleged parties - are equally faked. It is quite possible in fact that the 'stones' are made of soft plastic, causing no authentic wounds."

"In other words," Buster Friendly broke in, "Wilbur Mercer is not suffering at all."

The research chief said, "We've at last managed, Mr. Friendly, to track down a former Hollywood special-effects man, a Mr. Wade Cortot, who flatly states, from his years of exerience, that the figure of 'Mercer' could well be merely some bit player marching across a sound stage. Cortot has gone so far as to declare that he recognizes the stage as one used by a now out-of-business minor moviemaker with whom Cortot had various dealings several decades ago.

"So according to Cortot," Buster Friendly said, "there can be virtually no doubt."

"Quite frankly we believed Cortot," the research chief said in his dry, pedantic voice, "and we spent a good deal of time examining publicity pictures of bit players once employed by the now defunct Hollywood movie industry."

"And you found—"

"We located, by means of thousands upon thousands of photographs, a very old man now, named Al Jarry, who played a number of bit parts in pre-war films. From our lab we sent a team to Jarry's home in East Harmony, Indiana. I'll let one of the members of that team describe what he found." Silence, then a new voice, equally pedestrian. "The house on Lark Avenue in East Harmony is tottering and shabby and at the edge of town, where no one, except Al Jarry, still lives. Invited amiably in, and seated in the stale-smelling, moldering, kipple-filled living room, I scanned by telepathic means the blurred, debris-cluttered, and hazy mind of Al Jarry seated across from me."

"Listen," Roy Baty said, on the edge of his seat, poised as if to pounce.

"I found," the technician continued, "that the old man did in actuality make a series of short fifteen minute video films, for an employer whom he never met. And, as we had theorized, the 'rocks' did consist of rubber-like plastic. The 'blood' shed was catsup, and "—the technician chuckled—"the only suffering Mr. Jarry underwent was having to go an entire day without a shot of whisky."

"Al Jarry," Buster Friendly said, his face returning to the screen. "Well, well. An old man who even in his prime never amounted to anything which either he or ourselves could respect. Al Jarry made a repetitious and dull film, a series of them in fact, for whom he knew not - and does not to this day. It has often been said by adherents of the experience of Mercerism that Wilbur Mercer is not a human being, that he is in fact an archetypal superior entity perhaps from another star. Well, in a sense this contention has proven correct. Wilbur Mercer is not human, does not in fact exist. The world in which he climbs is a cheap, Hollywood, commonplace sound stage which vanished into kipple years ago. And who, then, has spawned this hoax on the Sol System? Think about that for a time, folks."

"We may never know," Irmgard murmured.

Buster Friendly said, "We may never know. Nor can we fathom the peculiar purpose behind this swindle. Yes, folks, swindle. Mercerism is a swindle!"

"I think we know," Roy Baty said. "It's obvious. Mercerism came into existence—"

"But ponder this," Buster Friendly continued. "Ask yourselves what is it that Mercerism does.
Well, if we're to believe its many practitioners, the experience fuses—"

"It's that empathy that humans have," Irmgard said.

"—men and women throughout the Sol System into a single entity. But an entity which is manageable by the so called telepathic voice of 'Mercer.' Mark that. An ambitious politically minded would-be Hitler could—"

Roy Baty appeared at the doorway, inhaling deeply an expression of accomplishment on his face. "It's done. Buster said it out loud, and nearly every human in the system heard him say it. 'Mercerism is a swindle.' The whole experience of empathy is a swindle."
Content from External Source
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when the Bible tells us God gave man dominion over the animals (Genisis 1:26)
I have always had problems about this quote or idea. It relates to "the world is man's, and he can do what with it wants he wants. "
I don't think the 2000 yo bible had forseen the situatiin of the world now.
I have always had problems about this quote or idea. It relates to "the world is man's, and he can do what with it wants he wants. "
I don't think the 2000 yo bible had forseen the situatiin of the world now.
Agreed. As someone who lead Bible studies back in my high school/collage days I eventually came to realize it was just a collection of 2000-3000 year old stories and letters. It has some meaningful insights into being human, but so does The Epic of Gilgamesh or the Enuma Elish.

On topic and on topic:

The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts

by Neil Asher Silberman and Israel Finkelstein

Basically, the further back chronologically one goes in the Old Testament, the less archaeological evidence there is for any of it. And when there is evidence, it's often contradictory.
I was last week - did the drive from Tijuana to Todos Santos - but back down south now.
Ah well. Friends bought a little house outside San Felipe, so going to spend a week down there hanging out, exploring with the RZRs and doing largely nothing.
Basically, the further back chronologically one goes in the Old Testament, the less archaeological evidence there is for any of it. And when there is evidence, it's often contradictory.
The bible isn't meant to be a science book. The first, orally transmitted part, contains answers to existential questions that people over generations have deemed important enough to pass on, and that have supported a culture over thousands of years that still exists.
I have always had problems about this quote or idea. It relates to "the world is man's, and he can do what with it wants he wants. "
I don't think the 2000 yo bible had forseen the situatiin of the world now.
Or, it foresaw accurately that we can, as we are demonstrating, do whstever we want... but we are not choosing what we want to do very wisely.
The bible isn't meant to be a science book. The first, orally transmitted part, contains answers to existential questions that people over generations have deemed important enough to pass on, and that have supported a culture over thousands of years that still exists.
Apparently you haven't been to an Evangelical church in the States, gone to the IRC (Institute for Creation Research) website or visited The Ark Encounter in Kentucky. It is almost comical the way they try to integrate science with scripture.

I will say that Ken Hamm, of Answers in Genesis, the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter kind of gets it, even if he's wrong. In essence, he realizes that if the Creation story is an allegory and Eve and the apple with the serpent is an allegory and The tower of Bable is an allegory and Noah's ark is an allegory, at some point some people will decide that God is just an allegory.

And for the record, I've only been to Kentucky once and skipped the Ark Encounter so that my wife, son and myself could go on the Burbon Trail.
Apparently you haven't been to an Evangelical church in the States, gone to the IRC (Institute for Creation Research) website or visited The Ark Encounter in Kentucky. It is almost comical the way they try to integrate science with scripture.
It's almost as if all the "kooky" faiths got kicked out of Europe at some point in history... :p

The spiritual truths could only be talked about allegorically before psychology was invented; that doesn't make them any less true. (And parts of psychology are still largely allegorical.)
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Maybe slightly dated but still quite useful. I had recently read a Klass book, and about halfway through the Sheaffer book I was thinking "this is like something Klass would write without the snark." But then he got extra snarky in the second half to male up for it. Has a bit of a digression into "End of the World" cults, some of which have a UFO component but some of which don't. That could have been omitted. But the book is still good, debunking various cases rather than the overarching concept....
An amazing book: I was gifted this from a friend two decades ago. I've read a lot of mountaineering and climbing (auto)-biographies - some of which are survival epics, but this tops the lot! A social commentary/snapshot of the class culture of the time, an example of leadership under extreme difficulties, and incredible feats of professional (sailing) skills in very adverse conditions; a ripping yarn.

I was also lucky enough to be home in New Zealand a couple of years later, and visited the Antarctic Centre in Christchurch (part museum, part tourist attraction: rides on the Hoglund tracked vehicles, sit in a blast chiller options), when they had an exhibition of the original photographs and plates (negatives) from the Shackleton expedition. To realise that the lives of the whole crew were in dire jeopardy, they were sailing single handedly in small dinghies across the Southern Ocean, aiming for a speck of an island with limited provisions, and they still took dozens of 12*18 inch glass plates with them?! Added a real sense of the importance of the expedition to science (and Empire) of the whole undertaking, and increased the richness of the images.

For me the most sobering part was the history of the crew: after the months of privation, upon return to England, it was the middle of World War 1, and duty continued to call....
An amazing book
It is indeed! Then I got a chance to see an exhibit some years ago, complete with views from their own glass-plate negatives, at the Cincinnati Natural History Museum. They had an excellent film describing the voyage shown on a huge wrap-around screen, which gives one a better sense of the enormous ice sheets they were faced with. As well as the still photos there were also portions of movies taken by their photographer, including their ship being crushed by the ice.