What book are you reading?

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Skepchick
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What book are you reading?

Postby Skepchick » Thu Apr 07, 2005 7:49 pm

I always like some recommendations.

I have several dozen books I am planning to read. I tend to read several books at once, in different genres. Usually one each of good fiction and nonfiction, and a half dozen mysteries

Currently reading
Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. Excellent book, but I got stuck about 3/4 way through
Ellery Queen-various. I am a diehard mystery fan. I recently cleaned out a used book store of about 40 Queen novels. Conclusion thus far- books written in 30s- excellent. Books written after mid 40s- awful
Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. Good thus far.
Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole


Some of the books I bought, stole, borrowed or plan to buy, steal and borrow- in other words books that will be read soon

Dawkins, the Ancestor's Tale
Shermer Science Fricton and The Science of Good and Evil
When They Severed Earth from Sky by Elizabeth Wayland Barber
Diamond- Collapse
The Turk. DOn't now recall the author
Lizard.

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Postby jj » Thu Apr 07, 2005 8:07 pm

Right now I'm readling about 700 pages of MPEG Standards documents.

I'd rather be reading Pratchett.
Why does an infallable book have to be constantly revised?

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Postby Chanileslie » Thu Apr 07, 2005 9:18 pm

Let see: I just finished Alta by Mercedes Lackey - I really enjoyed it. It was the sequel to Joust.

I also just finished The Violet Eyes by an author whose name I don't recall - had the bleakest after life ever!! Of course they hinted at something more, but just hinted. Didn't really care for it.

I just picked up The Crimsom Petal and the White also by an author I can't recall, but my kids seem to have "misplaced" the book, so I have only read the first few pages. I will find where they stashed it in about a month or so, and then read it.

I am also thinking of picking up Neil Gaiman's American Gods - I read his Neverwhere a few months ago and really, really liked it.

I am also going to steal Jared Diamonds Guns, Germs and Steel from Nyarlathotep and read that as well.

I keep finding interesting books at my second job that I want to read, but I don't have time to write them down and don't remember them when I actually have time and money to purchase them. I do know that there is a book called Fluke by Moore (can't recall first name) that looked really interesting. He has written about 5 or 6 books in the same vein, and so I might pick them all up.

So many books and so little time. [deep sigh]
Chani

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xouper
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Postby xouper » Fri Apr 08, 2005 12:39 am

Currently reading:

Goodbye, Descartes - the end of logic and the search for a new cosmology of the mind
by Keith Devlin, 1997.

link to book on amazon.com

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Postby izittrue » Fri Apr 08, 2005 2:12 pm

demon haunted world
how we believe(again)
god against the gods
science/religion..b russell
Last edited by izittrue on Mon May 30, 2005 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby phildonnia » Fri Apr 08, 2005 6:05 pm

Currently wading through "The Silmarillion".

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Raskolnikov
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Postby Raskolnikov » Fri Apr 08, 2005 7:43 pm

Currently reading:

Why is Sex Fun, by Jared Diamond (evolution of human sexuality)

Collapse, by Jared Diamond

How the Mind Works, by Stephen Pinker (cognitive psychology)

Skepchick, as you may guess, I am a Diamond fan, and loved Guns, Germs, and Steel.

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Chaos
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Re: What book are you reading?

Postby Chaos » Fri Apr 08, 2005 9:09 pm

Skepchick wrote:*snip*
Dawkins, the Ancestor's Tale
Shermer *snip* The Science of Good and Evil
*snip*


By all means, read these. They are great! The Ancestor´s Tale starts off a little slow, but it gets better chapter by chapter.



Myself, I´m just reading Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco.
Once I´m done with that, I consider re-reading either Demon-Haunted World (which I´ve already worn out so much it´s almost falling apart) by Carl Sagan, Billions and Billions, also by Carl Sagan, or that book by Richard Feynman, the title of which escapes me right now.

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Postby Guitar » Sat Apr 09, 2005 12:32 am

Reading - Philosophy in the Flesh - The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought - by Lakoff and Johnson

On deck - How the Mind Works - by Stephen Pinker
The End of Faith - Sam Harris
Life being necessarily selfish, reasons from its own standpoint.
- John G Neihardt

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What book are you reading?

Postby Pzomby » Sun Apr 10, 2005 12:11 am

I am also reading The End of Faith etc." by Sam Harris

L.A. Times article dated August 15, 2004

Holy Terror
Religion isn't the solution -- it's the problem
By Sam Harris
Sam Harris is the author of "The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason,"

http://www.howardlabs.com/8-04/Holy%20Terror.html
Last edited by Pzomby on Sun Apr 10, 2005 5:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Pyrrho » Sun Apr 10, 2005 5:04 am

Dean, our forum rules request that users do not post, in full, copyrighted material not of their authorship. Please edit your post to remove most of the article you've posted above and provide a link to the rest, which is available online here:

http://www.howardlabs.com/8-04/Holy%20Terror.html

edited to add: Thank you, Dean.

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How The Mind Works

Postby Sonnyw » Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:09 pm

By all means read Steven Pinker's, How the Mind Works, but it's difficult to extract some simple wisdom from it, and in the fast-moving science of neurobiology 1997 is getting pretty old.

I supplemented Pinker's lengthy volume with Gary Marcus', The Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexities of Human Thought, a 2004 publication. Marcus gives us the perfect combination of hard science (such as molecular biology and neurobiology) and "softer" versions, consistently avoiding excessive use of technical jargon; it's accessible to most readers. As a bonus, he includes an extensive glossary.

I'm now reading Christof Koch's, The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach, a 2004 publication of Roberts and Company Publishers, Englewood, Colorado. Koch is a Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Biology at CalTech, and offers this Preface, in part:

"If, for example, a temperature sensor coupled to a computer becomes really hot, the processor may turn on a red alarm light. Nobody would claim, however, that the flow of electrons onto the gate of the transistor that closes the light switch causes the machine to have a bad day. How is it, then that neural activity can give rise to the sensation of a burning pain?

"The matter becomes even more mysterious with the realization that much, if not most, of what happens inside my skull isn't accessible to introspection. Indeed, most of my daily actions - tying my shoes, driving, running, climbing, simple conversation - work on autopilot, while my mind is busy dealing with more important things. How do these behaviors differ neurologically from those that give rise to conscious sensations?

"In this book, I seek answers to these questions within a neuroscientific framework. I argue for a research program whose supreme aim is to discover the neuronal correlates of consciousness, the NCC. These are the smallest set of brain mechanisms and events sufficient for some specific conscious feelings, as elemental as the color red or as complex as the sensual, mysterious, and primeval sensation evoked when looking at the jungle scene on the book jacket. Characterizing the NCC is one of the ultimate scientific challenges of our times." (pg xv-xvi)

Koch then sets about laying the framework of the NCC, with compelling, scientific arguments supporting him at every step. Koch also gives us an extensive and very helpful glossary. It's a more difficult read than Marcus' book mentioned above, but it also includes more depth into the field of neuroscience.

Nexty on my reading list is Principles of Brain Evolution, 2005, by Georg F. Striedter (Sinauer Associates, Inc. Publishers, Sunderland, MA).

When I'm through with these, I expect to be able to exhibit perfect behavior at all times because I'll understand its derivation so well. :lol:
"The very purpose of the Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts." W. Va. State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943)

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Postby UnrepentantSinner » Tue Apr 12, 2005 3:24 pm

Guns, Germs and Steel currently. Next stop on my literary travels is The Killer Angels which has sat on my bookshelf neigh 6 years due to my Internet message board fixation. Thankfully my bosses are cracking down on downloading so it's allowing me to spend more time surfing "celuloseware."

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Postby Colonel Hogan » Wed Apr 13, 2005 3:38 pm

I'm reading:

"Sync" - Steven Strogatz
"Dumbth" - Steve Allen
"History of Philosophy" - Betrand Russell
"The Electric Meme" - Robert Aunger
"The Common Good" - Noam Chomsky

I actually read about 10-30 pages before zonking out at night. I don't have a lot of time to sit and read due to human interaction requirements of my children.

I get bored with a book after a few nights and switch to another one. Then I come back full circle. It might actually take me a year or two to finish a pile near by bedside.

My wife is obsessed with the G0d damn TV so it's never quiet enough to read in the living room (I cant stand the distraction) so I can either be anti-social or just never read. *sigh*

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Postby Wyvern » Fri Apr 15, 2005 10:52 pm

I just recently read The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie. Finally. AWESOME. Hysterical. I loved it, and highly recommend it.


Some people have NO sense of humor :roll:

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Postby statisticool » Fri Apr 15, 2005 11:12 pm

Currently working through Sampling Techniques by W.G. Cochran.

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Postby Londinius » Sat Apr 16, 2005 10:51 am

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan, highly recommended for all skeptics.

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Postby JMurphy » Mon Apr 18, 2005 7:12 pm

officially too many to think of, but the only one I actually consider myself reading is Salt: A History, which is a really good book.

The other books I'm 'reading' are The Science of Good and Evil which I've barely put a dent in and In Darwin's Shadow, which I'm about a third of the way through.

funny, the other day I found a book I've been 'reading' for at least two years now, a history of the Goths in Spain, and I still have a bookmark in it. since I started working my reading time has evaporated.
Stop reading my signature.

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Postby Flash » Tue Apr 19, 2005 9:43 pm

I am reading "The Arrow of Time - A Voyage Through Science to Solve Time's Greatest Mystery" by Peter Coveney and Roger Highfield. Very Good.
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Postby MushMouth » Mon May 02, 2005 8:33 pm

Reading:
Doubt: A history - Jennifer Michael Hecht
The Worldly Philosophers - Robert L. Heilbroner
Meditations - Marcus Aurelius
Essays - Michael de Montaigne

Next up (probably):
Unfinished Tales - Tolkien
Manufacturing Consent - Noam Chomsky
Dreaming the Future - Cliff Pickover

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Postby orphia nay » Wed May 04, 2005 8:22 am

Tried reading 'Cryptonomicon' by Neal Stephenson for the second time but put it down again.

Just finished 'Tears of the Giraffe' by Alexander McCall Smith. It's the second of his novels I've read and they've both been great.

Am in the middle of Vikram Seth's verse novel 'The Golden Gate' and it's better than it might sound.

Am also in the middle of 'Mapping the Mind' by Rita Carter.

I tried reading Pinker a few years ago, but didn't get far. May pick it up again soon.

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Postby element » Sat May 07, 2005 12:41 pm

I am reading the KING JAMES BIBLE by GOD

It is the GREATEST book in the WORLD.

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Postby statisticool » Sat May 07, 2005 2:22 pm

And I'm only at page 30 of the same book I typed back in April. :)

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Postby Jeweliete » Sat May 07, 2005 3:11 pm

Hate to admit I got caught in the Dan Brown vortex, but I definitely did. I recommend Angels & Demons - very interesting and entertaining. :D
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Postby Moo » Tue May 10, 2005 11:41 am

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Taken me 10 years to read it so far. Not that I am slow it just I am never in the correct mood to read it.

Turmoil & Truth: by Philip Trower
The Historical Roots of the Modern Crisis in the Catholic Church
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Postby Ratbag » Tue May 10, 2005 1:54 pm

element wrote:I am reading the KING JAMES BIBLE by GOD

It is the GREATEST book in the WORLD.


I read it...all the way through...several times.
The plots predictable, the writing style is boring in the most part, and I am suspicious that many parts of it are plagiarised from other sources.

God? I am pretty sure that it had multiple authors?

currently, I am reading 'Fiesta; Readers wives'

Rat

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Postby Ratbag » Tue May 10, 2005 2:06 pm

If you enjoyed THE KING JAMES VERSION OF THE BIBLE by GOD

you may also enjoy these titles by the same author

THE BOOK OF MORMON by GOD
THE KORAN by GOD (writing as ALLAH)
THE GURU GRANTH SAHIB by GOD
THE BHAGAVAD GITA by GOD (various authors)

Rat

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Postby Bunk » Tue May 10, 2005 2:27 pm

I just finished "Huck Finn," an excellent book by Mark Twain in which Huck decides he'd rather go to hell than follow the tenets of that immoral book the bible and turn in his friend Jim, who was escaping slavery. I hadn't read it since I was 12 or 13.

I'm now reading "Robinson Crusoe," by Daniel Defoe.

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Postby Bunk » Tue May 10, 2005 2:47 pm

Ratbag wrote:If you enjoyed THE KING JAMES VERSION OF THE BIBLE by GOD

you may also enjoy these titles by the same author

THE BOOK OF MORMON by GOD
THE KORAN by GOD (writing as ALLAH)
THE GURU GRANTH SAHIB by GOD
THE BHAGAVAD GITA by GOD (various authors)

Rat


One might also read these other versions of the bible because apparently clarity is not next to godliness. If I were really concerned, I'd probably read the bible in god's own language, which is either Hebrew or Greek or maybe Latin. There might be something that was lost in translation.

American Standard Version by God, Amplified Bible by God, Bible in Basic English by God, Children's Bible by God, Contemporary English Version by God, Darby Bible by God, Douay-Rheims Bible (Catholic) by God, God's Word by God, Grail Psalter: The Book of Psalms by God, Message Bible by God, Net Bible by God, New American Bible (Catholic) by God, New American Standard Version by God, New English Translation by God, New International Version by God, New King James Version by God, New Living Translation by God, New Revised Standard Version by God, Revised Standard Version by God, Young's Literal Translation by God, World English Bible (Hebrew Names Version) by God, Wycliffe New Testament by God

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IceMonkey
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Postby IceMonkey » Mon May 23, 2005 1:22 am

Two books I've just finished this past week were The Corporation by Joel Bakan, and The End of Faith by Sam Harris. Both were excellent.

http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/item.asp? ... oks&zxac=1

http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/item.asp? ... oks&zxac=1

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Postby beowolf » Tue May 24, 2005 4:21 pm

THE FABRIC OF THE COSMOS
By Brian Greene

explains things very clearly for the non-phd


The Ionian Mission
Patrick O'Brian

listening to this one on the commute. There is a great place called
AUDIBLE.COM

For about 20.00 a month you get a MP3 player and any two books you want. They have Jerad Diamond as well as 1,000's of other titles

and no, I do not work for them
God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done."
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Postby VikingGrog » Tue May 24, 2005 8:54 pm

Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States.

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Only all I will ever need.

Postby Christoph » Wed May 25, 2005 12:51 am

THE BIBLE, of course! What a silly question.

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Postby b_sharp » Wed May 25, 2005 1:23 am

Like a few others here I am in the process of reading a number of books.
Currently:
The Art of Reasoning David Kelly
Tower of Babel Robert Pennock - second time.
Moral Animal Robert Wright


On Deck (in about 2 weeks(Yah, right))
The Blank Slate Steven Pinker
Nonzero Robert Wright

As for opinions, as usual I have none.

GB
Science rationally modifies a theory to fit evidence, creationism irrationally modifies evidence to fit the bible.

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Postby Robert F Dally » Wed May 25, 2005 5:05 pm

b_sharp wrote:Moral Animal Robert Wright

That was my introduction to evolutionary psychology back when I was in high school. It's definitely one of the clearest on the subject. If you like reading about evolutionary psychology and/or sociobiology (which it appears that you do), I would recommend The Pony Fish's Glow by G. C. Williams. Not only is Williams one of the top thinkers in the field, he writes very clearly.

b_sharp wrote:On Deck (in about 2 weeks(Yah, right))
The Blank Slate Steven Pinker
Nonzero Robert Wright

I enjoyed The Blank Slate, but it's too damn long. Pinker's all, "Look at me write! Blah, blah, blah," and it get's a little annoying. I much prefer it when writers just make their point. As for Nonzero, it doesn't match up to The Moral Animal, but it's decent nonetheless. I think I remember it getting a little fruity toward the end; it's been several years though, so I could be wrong. Maybe I'll have to get back to it at some point.

I'm currently reading Steven Stanley's The New Evolutionary Timetable. Unfortunately, at this point, "new" means 24 years old. I picked it up at a bookstore sale for a $1, so I can't complain too much. Stanley is really in to punctuated equilibrium, which I think is over-rated. He places too much emphasis on the role of "speciation events"--but I suppose I would think any emphasis on "speciation events" or even the use of the phrase "speciation events" to be too much--and he says positive things about Goldschmidt. It does have good diagrams, though.

Next up is B. F. Skinner's Science and Human Behavior. I'm curious to see if Skinner actually denied the existence of mental phenomena, or just suggested that we limit scientific inquiry to behavioral phenomena for the time being. We shall see...

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Postby b_sharp » Wed May 25, 2005 5:40 pm

Robert F Dally wrote:
b_sharp wrote:Moral Animal Robert Wright

That was my introduction to evolutionary psychology back when I was in high school. It's definitely one of the clearest on the subject. If you like reading about evolutionary psychology and/or sociobiology (which it appears that you do), I would recommend The Pony Fish's Glow by G. C. Williams. Not only is Williams one of the top thinkers in the field, he writes very clearly.

I've just started to look into evolutionary psychology. I have training in Psychology that is 23 years old and I am deeply into evolution. It makes a good composite interest.
b_sharp wrote:On Deck (in about 2 weeks(Yah, right))
The Blank Slate Steven Pinker
Nonzero Robert Wright

I enjoyed The Blank Slate, but it's too damn long. Pinker's all, "Look at me write! Blah, blah, blah," and it get's a little annoying. I much prefer it when writers just make their point. As for Nonzero, it doesn't match up to The Moral Animal, but it's decent nonetheless. I think I remember it getting a little fruity toward the end; it's been several years though, so I could be wrong. Maybe I'll have to get back to it at some point.

I find that there are a number of ideas Wright postulates that seem to be a little questionable but much of what he says I agree with.
I'm currently reading Steven Stanley's The New Evolutionary Timetable. Unfortunately, at this point, "new" means 24 years old. I picked it up at a bookstore sale for a $1, so I can't complain too much. Stanley is really in to punctuated equilibrium, which I think is over-rated. He places too much emphasis on the role of "speciation events"--but I suppose I would think any emphasis on "speciation events" or even the use of the phrase "speciation events" to be too much--and he says positive things about Goldschmidt. It does have good diagrams, though.


Does he give any link between Punk Ek and genetic bottlenecks (eg. Founder Effect)?
Next up is B. F. Skinner's Science and Human Behavior. I'm curious to see if Skinner actually denied the existence of mental phenomena, or just suggested that we limit scientific inquiry to behavioral phenomena for the time being. We shall see...

Sorry I can't help you there, my reading of Skinner was more than 20 years ago.
Science rationally modifies a theory to fit evidence, creationism irrationally modifies evidence to fit the bible.

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Postby Robert F Dally » Thu May 26, 2005 12:24 am

b_sharp wrote:Does he [Steven Stanley] give any link between Punk Ek and genetic bottlenecks (eg. Founder Effect)?

He focuses on "small" population sizes (without ever really specifying how small he's talking about), but he specifically says he is not talking about bottlenecks. He says at one point that species are that reach a bottleneck are far more likely to not make it through; thus, their effect on the overall picture is negligible. Sort of small populations, on the other hand, apparently have large enough numbers to make it through tough times, but small enough numbers to allow gene frequencies to change in a meaningful way.

Do you by any chance know much about punctuated equilibrium? I know a little bit, and based on what I do know, I can't see why it is such a radical claim. I'd be interested in starting a discussion on the matter in another thread, but would like to know if there are any likely takers before waste time writing up my thoughts. Let me know.

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Postby SkepticBear » Sat May 28, 2005 5:32 am

On BS by Harry G. Frankfurt
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris
Freethinkers : A History of American Secularism by Susan Jacoby
The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice by Christopher Hitchens
Dialogues : A Novel of Suspense by Stephen J. Spignesi
When I Knew by Robert Trachtenberg

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Postby Wolverine » Sat May 28, 2005 5:54 am

Right now I'm into A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. Quite enjoyable thus far.
The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits.

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Postby IceMonkey » Sat May 28, 2005 5:57 am

SkepticBear wrote:On BS by Harry G. Frankfurt
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris
Freethinkers : A History of American Secularism by Susan Jacoby
The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice by Christopher Hitchens
Dialogues : A Novel of Suspense by Stephen J. Spignesi
When I Knew by Robert Trachtenberg


I enjoyed Harris's End Of Faith. The last chapter or two were a little weak, but for the most part I agreed with nearly everything he said.
"Be thankful that you have a life, and forsake your vain and presumputous desire for a second one." - Dawkins


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