South African Skeptics

Recommended reading

bluegray · 92 · 51065

Offline Warm Lug

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Hawking's "Brief History of Time" was my first eye-opener.

Two more books with the same theme but from different perspectives:
- Timothy Ferris "The Whole Shebang" (I urge y'all to read it)
- Bill Bryson "Brief History of Almost Everything"
The latter being a particularly good read because it was written by a historian and storyteller.  The attention to personalities (I never knew Newton was such a jerk) provided fresh insights.

Any books by or of Feynman, especially the one compiled by his daughter, Michelle: "Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From The Beaten Path."
This is a valuable collection of Feynman's correspondence, providing wonderful humor and a special appreciation of how he dealt with his Nobel Prize.
"The Feynman Lectures" should be compulsory reading to any freshman.  At least then "Six Easy Pieces", followe by "Six Not So Easy Pieces".

John Horgan, ex staff writer for Scientific American.  His first book: "The End of Physics.", I particularly enjoyed. At about the time of its publication, Horgan disappeared off the S.A. staff writer list.  Could it be he upset too many scientists?

Hugh Eales: "Riddles In Stone. Controversies, Theories and Myths About Southern Africa's Geological Past"  Wits University Press.
Read it!!

And lastly:

William (not Bill) Nealy: "Kayak. The animated Manual of Intermediate and Advanced Whitewater Technique."  Menasha Ridge Press. 171pp. ;D
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Offline bluegray

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Thanks, looking for something to read right now, will start with some off your list ;)
- Bill Bryson "Brief History of Almost Everything"
The latter being a particularly good read because it was written by a historian and storyteller.  The attention to personalities (I never knew Newton was such a jerk) provided fresh insights.
I also recently read this book. Quite enjoyed it. On a similar subject, you might also want to read Science: A History 1543-2001 by John Gribbin. In my opinion, written with a bit more insight into the scientific world. For that matter any book by Gribbin is highly recommended.
I have terepace and then various pow


Offline Warm Lug

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Thanks, Bluegray.
I had a rare break for 5 days and my first stop was Exclusive Books.  A also visited two other branches and was disappointed not finding a "science" section in any of the three stores??!!

I'm back from my brief holiday during which time I read "Charlie Wilson's War" by George Crile (between glorious bouts with crayfish, kabeljou and dry white).

Its a rather startling account (at least, to me) of how a maverick Texas congressman wheeled and dealed the CIA into its biggest foreign adventure.  I'm referring to the CIA's "covert" backing of the Mujihadeen in Afghanistan against the occupying Russians in the 1980's. At 500-something pages of smallish print, it does go on a bit, but as far as I can make out, the author went to some lengths to verify his factual content. If even half of the anectdotes are true, its worth taking note of how dramatically world affairs can be influenced by just a few unknown, but powerful individuals.

Has anyone else noticed Exclusive Book's removal of their "science" sections?

I'll see if I can find John Gribbins work on Amazon or Loot. 
Three months of field research can save you three hours in the library.


Offline ArgumentumAdHominem

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Has anyone else noticed Exclusive Book's removal of their "science" sections?

Not the branches that I visit ???

I've been shopping in the science section at Greenstone, Eastgate and Village Walk (maybe that one's a Facts and Fiction).  Last year I bought a few books at those branches.

Actually, I went into a CNA at Sandton City in December and I saw the most laughable mis-categorisation ever!  In the Science section was Sylvia Browne's "Exploring the Levels of Creation".  I laughed, I took a picture (intending to blog about it at some stage) and then I became worried that the average believer of woo might be encouraged by seeing a book like that on the science shelves.  I tracked-down the section manager and pointed-out the obvious problem.  I suggested that it probably belonged in a section on religion (Sylvia has her own church after all and the book is about creation) or some-such similar section.  She took one of the books to her workstation where she looked-up the ISBN to see the publisher's info about the book.  At this point I wanted to chime in that it isn't important where the publisher thought that it belonged but rather what the subject was about.  Before I opened my mouth she said "You're right, the category is Self help and popular psychology".

On the way out of the shop I took a walk past the very long religion shelves and cast a look back at the science section, woefully under stocked (about ten titles including the Guinness Book ??? with multiple copies to fill the shelves of what should have been thirty or forty titles) and less than one third the size.

Perhaps that is why some branches of book stores are removing the section?

*sigh*
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Offline ArgumentumAdHominem

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TED.com
I absolutely love this resource  ;D

Cram-packed with quotable quotes ...
Quote from: Richard Dawkins on militant atheism - April 2007 http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/113
An atheist is just somebody who feels about Yahweh the way any decent Christian feels about Thor or Baal or the Golden Calf. As has been said before; we are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in, some of us just go one god further.
And the discussion by Daniel Dennett on dangerous memes is so full of brilliance I'd have to transcribe the whole video just to cover the bits I loved.

I found my way here last week when I heard about Gell-Mann's talk on the meaning of beauty in mathematics, the unified theory and more.
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Offline ArgumentumAdHominem

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Back to the topic of recommended reading ...

For a gentler introduction, I'd recommend the "Science of Discworld" series by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen.  With the observational humour of Pratchett and the clear explanation of scientific concepts by Stewart and Cohen, this is a book for thinkers from aged 15 to 105.

  • The first is a look at some fascinating modern theories of science.
  • The second (subtitled "The Globe") is a anthropological / psychological look at how humans became humans (the power of stories, bordering meme theory).
  • The third in the series (subtitled "Darwin's Watch") which is the story of the evolution of the theory of evolution and how easily it might not have come about (and yet was "an idea of it's time" - "destined" you could say).

But more on the side of serious reading, I am currently reading Professor Robert Winston's "The Human Mind" which is a neuropsychological exploration of where the mind emerges from. Professor Winston presents programmes on the BBC on a variety of topics in an entertaining way and this translates well to his book.  You may have seen him in documentaries like "The Human Body", "Child of Our Time", "Human Instinct" and "Walking with Cavemen".
I'm not a complete idiot ... there are parts missing.


Offline Rigil Kent

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Quote
Problem is, no-one I know says, "I'm a gay", using it as a noun.

How about Daffyd Thomas!
You know it's cold outside when you go outside and it's cold.


Offline Mefiante

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Alexander Cameron’s The New Age of Stupidity.  Impressively comprehensive and comprehensible at fewer than 30 pages, it covers the common elements of assorted New Age stupidities with a refreshing no-nonsense approach.  From the Introduction:
Quote from: <a href="http://www.azcameron.co.uk/The.New.Age.Of.Stupidity-Alex.Cameron.pdf">Alexander Cameron</a>
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the New Age. Where you can be as ignorant, stupid, vague, ridiculous, foolish, inaccurate, superstitious and open-ended as you like.

And, best of all, it’s free.

'Luthon64
"Sensitive" people are now carefully examining the entire universe, trying to find something to be "offended" at. It won't stop until such time as the "offenders" learn to stop apologizing, and saying "freck off" instead. — brianvds, The ShoutBox Classics, 02/07/2018.


Offline Rigil Kent

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Not so much a book, but for comedy thats thoroughly enjoyable, brilliantly irreverent, and strangely persuasive, you can't beat Pat Condell's series of video's available from Youtube. 

http://www.youtube.com/patcondell
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Offline ingwe

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I believe that everybody should read Charles Darwin - "The Origin of Species" and "The Voyage of the Beagle". If not both then The origin. Susan Blackmore's book  "The Meme Machine" was a facinating read.
Why should I fear death? If I am, death is not. If death
is, I am not. Why should I fear that which cannot exist
when I do?
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Offline OHA

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For the truly open minded person who is not afraid nor too proud to take a look at the other side.

You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can't Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Ray Comfort)
http://www.amazon.com/Lead-Atheist-Evidence-Cant-Think/dp/1935071068/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1234948215&sr=1-1

One Heartbeat Away, by Mark Cahill
http://www.amazon.com/One-Heartbeat-Away-Journey-Eternity/dp/0964366576/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1234948400&sr=1-1

Would appreciate any honest feedback on the above mentioned books.


Offline Mefiante

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Judging by his (mercifully short) book “Intelligent Design vs. Evolution - Letters to an Atheist” which I have read, Ray Comfort never actually answers any questions.  He merely evades them.

'Luthon64
"Sensitive" people are now carefully examining the entire universe, trying to find something to be "offended" at. It won't stop until such time as the "offenders" learn to stop apologizing, and saying "freck off" instead. — brianvds, The ShoutBox Classics, 02/07/2018.


Offline Rigil Kent

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Hi OHA,

Have just read the first few pages of Lead an Atheist to evidence etc. etc., compliments of Amazon's book preview. The author's argument against evolution seems to hinge on the fact that at the moment when the first human drew breath, there was already air of a suitable composition available. This is then, somewhat predictably, chalked up to God's thoughtfulness.

Please note that according to evolution theory, life will gradually, over several generations, adapt to its surroundings, not the other way around. In other words, the air composition would be an evolutionary driver, and the successive generations of organisms would adapt to the air composition over a very long period of time indeed.

This is an important point to grasp if you seriously seek to understand Darwinism.

Mintaka



 
« Last Edit: February 18, 2009, 19:00:35 pm by Mintaka »
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Offline Barryl

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Hi Everybody,
May I recommend the following book titles which I selected from my library:
Julian Jaynes - "The Origin of Consciousness in the Break Down of the Bicameral Mind"
Sam Harris - "The End of Faith"
Henrik Svensmark & Nigel Calder - "The Chilling Stars = A New Theory of Climate Change"
Paul Davies - "The Origin of Life"
Peter Atkins - "Galileos's Finger - The Ten Great Ideas of Science"
Peter Atkins - " The Creation"

Barryl
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Offline Jane of the Jungle

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Hi All and great to be on a SA site  :)

I would recommend to read an check out the following sites:

http://exreligious.com/exchristian.html 
(Be sure to watch the video clip at the bottom of the page ;))

and also visit:

http://www.evilbible.com/Biblical%20Contradictions.htm

Promise to not be disappointed  ;)

The above links a true eye opener!
(That is, if you didn't visit the sites before?

FEAR, Is a MotiVe for Establishing a God ....and man has
Worshipped at one time or Another, MOST of the Living Things he FEARS...