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Recent Reading

  • Susan Jacoby: Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism

    Susan Jacoby: Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism
    Excellent overview of the prominent role that freethinkers (atheists, agnostics, and deists) played in America's past, including the founding of our country, the abolition of slavery, and giving women the vote. (*****)

  • Sam Harris: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

    Sam Harris: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
    One of the most frightening books I've ever read. Among numerous other topics, Harris argues that it is almost inevitable that atomic weapons will fall into the hands of religious radicals -- if not terrorist, then perhaps a nation with religious radicals in charge. (****)

  • Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion

    Richard Dawkins: The God Delusion
    Highly recommended. Despite what you might have heard, Richard Dawkins does not spew venom in this book. Flames do not shoot out when you open it, nor does bile drip from the pages. Far from being an hysterical, rabid diatribe against religion, it is a quite measured, logical explanation of the evidence against God and why religion should not be treated with such reverence. (*****)

  • Daniel C. Dennett: Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

    Daniel C. Dennett: Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
    I highly recommend this book for anyone who is about to embark on studying religion and atheism. Why do people enjoy music? Why do we like to socialize? Why do we sometimes become violent? Science has attempted to answer each of these questions. Dennett proposes that science attempt to answer another: Why are people religious? Even if one of the religions is true, that still means that billions of people believe religions that are not true. Why? What is it about our evolutionary past that makes us willing to believe? (*****)

  • Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

    Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
    Why wasn't Europe invaded by ships carrying gun-wielding Native Americans or Africans, rather than the other way around? This is an excellent explanation of why some societies became quite advanced, while others remained primitive. (*****)

  • Richard P. Feynman: "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character

    Richard P. Feynman: "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character
    Very entertaining and thought-provoking collection of anecdates from the life of perhaps the best-known physicist of the 20th century. (****)

  • Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, Jack S. Cohen: The Science of Discworld
    You'll have to visit Amazon UK to locate this one. This book explains science concepts by comparing them to the decidedly different physical laws of the Discworld series. (****)
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Miscellaneous

August 25, 2007

Some Recent Reading

It's been months since I posted anything here. What can I say? I've been busy. Our local skeptics group, REALL, hosted a stop on Victor J. Stenger's book tour in June, which was cool.

My recent reading has included:

I highly recommend all three books, particularly the two by Jared Diamond.

Currently I'm reading Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, by Robert D. Putnam. So far I'm only about halfway through it, but it's been very interesting, so I recommend it, too. However, it came out in 2000, so for the full story I'll need to read his followup book, Better Together: Restoring the American Community.

Well, I'll try to write more later. I just wanted to confirm that I'm not dead yet!

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November 22, 2006

Catching up is hard to do

Okay, I am a very bad blogger. I plead being a new father with very little time. (The fact that the child is nearing his 2nd birthday doesn't make me any less of a new father. I'm a bit of a slow learner.)

The previous post was made in July 2005. I had a few "I ought to post about this" moments since then and filed away a few links to discuss later. Well, the discussion isn't going to happen, but I hate to see those links go unmentioned, so here they are.

(Religions, Cults, and Miracles) slacktivist on Hermeneutics

(Creation/Evolution) IMAX vs. the Fundamentalists

(Religions, Cults, and Miracles) Divorce Judge bans Wicca

(Religions, Cults, and Miracles) Survey of Doctors on Religion

(Creation/Evolution) Catholics debating meaning of Cardinal's op-ed on evolution

(UFOs and Aliens) Sleep paralysis at Science News Online

(Cryptozoology) Bigfoot

(Science and Technology) Shuttle Trouble - Where is the science?

(Creation/Evolution) Santorum says to teach the controversy

After this maybe I can start posting about stuff when it's still relevant!

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March 02, 2005

Catching Up is Hard to Do

Have I mentioned yet that being a new father chews up a lot of one's time? It's been a couple of weeks since I've posted anything. I had wanted to comment on these items, but at this point I've decided to admit that it's never going to happen. Just in case you'd missed them, though, here are the links. This will clear out the backlog and let me get back to posting on more current stuff.

Link: Newsweek - Doubting Darwin.

Link: BBC NEWS: 'Artificial life' comes step closer.

Link: Whiskey Bar: Scientific Method.

Link: Urban Legends Reference Pages: Politics (Vitamin See).

Link: The Panda's Thumb: Telling it straight.

Link: Evolutionblog: Washington Times Backs Sternberg.

Link: Eyes, Part One: Opening Up the Russian Doll: Corante > The Loom >.

Link: Trilobite Cookies.

Link: TheStar.com: Rapture awaits in the Florida Panhandle.

Link: The Evolution Project.
Link: The Non-Evolution Project.

Link: Space.com: NASA Researchers Claim Evidence of Present Life on Mars.

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January 27, 2005

Randi on Johnny Carson's Death

If you haven't already done so, you might want to read James Randi's thoughts on the death of Johnny Carson. Randi appeared on the Tonight Show numerous times, but was also involved in helping Carson successfully test Uri Gellar.

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September 29, 1998

Reality Check, September Issue

Reality Check, September Issue
The September issue of the newsletter of the Rationalists of East Tennessee is now on their web site. Topics include their proposed bylaws, an upcoming presentation by Michael Shermer, their book club, and an upcoming canoe trip. Wait ... canoe trip?! Are skeptics allowed to have fun?

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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
The Rationalists of East Tennessee have added a "Letters to the Editor" section to their site. The first entry is a letter from Massimo Pigliucci which begins, "It has been with trepidation that I picked up this week's 'Metro Pulse' and opened it at Mike Gibson's article 'Out there'." I think we've all felt that trepidation before, haven't we?

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September 27, 1998

Dave Palmer's Home Page Moves, Rest of Planet Stays Still; or Vice Versa if Einstein is Right

Dave Palmer's Home Page Moves, Rest of Planet Stays Still; or Vice Versa if Einstein is Right
Dave Palmer's home page has moved to http://members.xoom.com/dwpalmer/home.htm. Not much else to say about that!

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September 26, 1998

Proof that People Actually Read The Skeptic's Dictionary

Proof that People Actually Read The Skeptic's Dictionary
As if there was ever any doubt that such a useful site as the Skeptic's Dictionary is read. Two readers recently wrote about a couple of entries. The first is Reader Comments About "E-rays", the second is Reader Comments About "James Van Praagh".

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September 25, 1998

Selective Thinking

Selective Thinking
This entry on the Skeptic's Dictionary has been revised. "Selective thinking is the term used to describe the process whereby one selects out favorable evidence for remembrance and focus, while ignoring unfavorable evidence for a hypothesis."

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September 23, 1998

Several New Skeptic's Dictionary Entries

Several New Skeptic's Dictionary Entries
There are several new entries on the Skeptic's Dictionary.

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Good Reading

Who's Who

  • Joe McFaul
    Business Litigation (and litigation avoidance) on behalf of businesses and their insurance carriers
  • Eugenie Scott
    Director of NCSE
  • Paul Kurtz
    Founder of CSICOP
  • Michael Shermer
    Founder of Skeptics Society
  • James Randi
    Debunked Uri Geller; founded JREF; offers $1M to anyone who can prove any paranormal ability.

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