Sunday, October 2, 2011

2012-The Return to Critical Thought

We're only two-thirds of the way thru the KJV Bible, but I'm trying to think about what will be demanding too much of my time in the coming year.

The subject is easy.  Critical Thought.  While the KJV has been very interesting at times, my blood pressure is suffering from the contant acceptance of the super natural and magic.  I crave evidence.

I want to read 3 or 4 books, depending on when we finish up here.  I DON'T want to post every day.  Maybe once a week.  How and what I post about the books I haven't yet decided.  I don't how the dialogue will work.

The one book I will definitely do is Carl Sagan's The Demon Haunted World.  There isn't a better book on the subject of why science is important to mankind.
A strong contender is James Burke's Connections.  He does an incredible job of laying out how mankind builds on previous knowledge to advance civilization, and how quickly the world can change.
Burke did a great video series based on his Connections books.  You can probably find them at the library.
The other books will likely be ones that I own but haven't read yet.  These are only a few of the books on my shelf.
Michael Shermer's Why People Believe Weird Things
Thomas Gilovich's How We Know What isn't So
James Kakalios' The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics.  James makes tough science fun and easy to understand.  He also has a great book titled The Physics of Superheroes.

I was thinking of doing a book by Michio Kaku or Stephen Hawking but I think they may be a little heady and require that people have more then a passing knowledge of physics.  They are also theoretical physicists and I want to keep the reading grounded in evidence based knowledge.
I do recommend their books though.  They present some fun and compelling ideas.

So, what are your thoughts?  You in or out?  What books would you like to read?

As a bonus, are there any TV shows, movies or documentaries that we should try to tackle on the side?

You can enjoy Carl Sagan's Cosmos for free on Hulu.  Knowing the science of the universe makes it all the more beautiful and amazing.Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. I suggest Flatland. Learning how to think about more dimensions than you live with is one of the best ways I know to expand your thinking.

  2. I’m not suggesting it as a group read - really it’s straightforward enough just to gulp down, except for the bad effect it has on the blood pressure, but Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science ought in my opinion to be on everybody’s reading list. Think of it as an inoculation against the current epidemic of gross – and worse, wilful – stupidity which seems to be sweeping across the world.

    I’m not good with the heavy science, Bruce – I tried Stephen Hawking and managed about seven pages before my brain was full – but I’m willing to try, to come along for the ride, at least. I’m a non-scientist married to a scientist, and have long been of the opinion that if science students can be sneered at because they haven’t read Shakespeare/Dickens/Tolstoy etc., non-scientists should be sneered at just as severely for not being able to distinguish Galileo from Newton.

  3. @showinginterest,
    Good call on Bad Science. Haven't read the book yet but I like Ben.
    I just made suggestions from what was on my bookshelf.

  4. Voyage of the Beagle is quite good reading.

  5. Sorry for the late comment (and for lurking all year) -- I'm getting caught up on my chapters, and just made it to this post.

    First of all, I hope you'll consider continuing skeptically blogging about religious works after you finish the KJB -- there's always the Apocrypha, and SAB has both the Koran and Book of Mormon to go through...

    But I absolutely understand the need to get some rational thought in there before your brain melts! Demon-Haunted World is obviously an excellent choice (turned me atheist at 18), but so are Sagan's other books, especially Billions and Billions and Pale Blue Dot.

    Anything by Richard Feynman is amazing, especially Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (not precisely _about_ critical thinking, but certainly the biography of a critical thinker). And of course Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens are just about the sharpest critical thinkers currently writing.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Reeeaaallly late comment: "Life Ascending - the Ten Great Inventions of Evolution" by Nick Lane is another good read. The chapter on sight is memorable ... As well as on movement, warm blood and death.