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Writer's Block: A real eye opener
Which one book should everyone read, and why?

I have a little group of books that I believe everyone should be made to read in school.

The Magic of Uri Geller by James Randi

The Bermuda Triangle Mystery - Solved by Larry Kusche

and, Bad Science by Ben Goldacre.

If you get past those without becoming a sceptic then there is no hope for your ability to reason.

Then you can start on the good stuff like Richard Dawkins's The Blind Watchmaker.

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Also Jacques Monod's "Chance and Necessity" which looks at the way the world works through straight logic, statistics and Science.
It tends to make short work of the Bermuda triangle/Aliens did it/ancient gods/paranormal woo-woo stuff.
I made the mistake of picking up an Erich Von Donakin tome right afterwards and ooooh dear did the thing fall apart as I read it!
-This was before Erich was extensively debunked. *g*

Don't all these assume that people at school would have even heard of Uri Geller, the Bermuda Triangle and Erik van D and the like so you might be exposing them to ideas that could prove interesting if they were being fed a diet that didn't allow for 'extreme possibilities'. ;)

Edited at 2010-11-08 07:53 am (UTC)

I doubt anyone gets to 16 without having heard of the Bermuda Triangle!

Uri Geller, maybe not.

If you don't already know, I saw in Caitlin Kiernan's lj that yesterday was Carl Sagan Day in honor of his birthday on the 9th. (don't ask, I dunno why the split, either) Seemed like someone else you would like.

I'm with you on all of these. Also, The Greatest Show on Earth simply because, while nothing in it is new to a regular Dawkins reader, it brings together a very clear explanation of eveolution for someone who has no knowledge of the subject.

Bad Science is *so* good that Mr S (teaching fellow in Paediatric Nursing) is considering putting it on his core reading list for the research modules.

Also, David Attenborough's entire oeuvre should be required watching as you progress through school.

Yes, the world would be better if we ran it...

I am glad to hear Mr S's opinion of Bad Science.

Dawkins also does some serious woo-debunking (including a case study of How To Do It) in Unweaving the Rainbow.

Books everyone should read: I'd suggest The Ancestor's Tale as the obligatory Dawkins, along with The Blank Slate (Steven Pinker), and Guns, Germs and Steel (Jared Diamond).

Agree with you about Pinker and Diamond, but they, like Dawkins, can be a little difficult for people not used to reading dense factual books. (It's why the style in The God Delusion is noticeably simpler.)

Guns, Germs and Steel certainly changed the way I looked at history - and I heard someone put forward his Diamond's main thesis as their own 'new' discovery on the World Service the other day.

For me, the Pinker that really hit me was The Language Instinct but then it has always been obvious to me that children were not "blank slates."

Edited at 2010-11-09 08:53 am (UTC)

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