Book picks similar to
The Edge of Reason: A Rational Skeptic in an Irrational World by Julian Baggini
What Philosophy Can Do
Gary Gutting - 2015
Along the way, he introduces readers to powerful philosophical tools, from inductive and deductive logic to the Principle of Charity, which they can use to make better sense of current debates. Interweaving his discussion of contemporary issues with philosophical concepts from Aristotle to Michel Foucault and John Rawls, Gutting shows how philosophy can enrich public discussions about our most urgent issues.
The Amateur: The Pleasures of Doing What You Love
Andy Merrifield - 2017
We have lost our amateur spirit and need to rediscover the radical and liberating pleasure of doing things we love. In The Amateur, thinker Andy Merrifield shows us how the many spheres of our lives work, knowledge, cities, politics have fallen into the hands of box tickers, bean counters and rule followers. In response, he corrals a team of independent thinkers, wayward poets, dabblers and square pegs who challenge the accepted wisdom. Such figures as Charles Baudelaire, Dostoevsky, Edward Said, Guy Debord, Hannah Arendt and Jane Jacobs show us the way. As we will see the amateur takes risks, thinks the unthinkable and seeks independence and changes the world. The Amateur is a passionate manifesto for the liberated life, one that questions authority and reclaims the non team player as a radical hero of our times."
Blunder: Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions
Zachary Shore - 2008
It's part of being human. The resulting mistakes can be valuable, the story goes, because we learn from them. But do we? Historian Zachary Shore says no, not always, and he has a long list of examples to prove his point.From colonialism to globalization, from gender wars to civil wars, or any circumstance for which our best solutions backfire, Shore demonstrates how rigid thinking can subtly lead us to undermine ourselves. In the process, he identifies seven cognition traps to avoid. These insidious yet unavoidable mind-sets include:-Exposure Anxiety: fear of being seen as weak-Causefusion: confusing the causes of complex events-Flat View: seeing the world in one dimension-Cure-Allism: thinking that one-size solutions can solve all problems-Infomania: an obsessive relationship to information-Mirror Imaging: thinking the other side thinks like you do-Static Cling: the refusal to accept that circumstances have changedDrawing on examples from history, politics, business and economics, health care, even folk tales and popular culture, Shore illustrates the profound impact blunders can have. But he also emphasizes how understanding these seven simple cognition traps can help us all make wiser judgments in our daily lives.For anyone whose best-laid plans have been foiled by faulty thinking, Blunder shines the penetrating spotlight of history on decision making and the patterns of thought that can lead us all astray.
The Art of Deception: An Introduction to Critical Thinking
Nicholas Capaldi - 1971
On the assumption that "it takes one to know one," the authors have written the book from the point of view of someone who wishes to deceive, mislead, or manipulate others. Having mastered the art of deception, readers will then be able to detect the misuse or abuse of logic when they encounter it in others — whether in a heated political debate or while trying to evaluate the claims of a persuasive sales person. Using a host of real-world examples, the authors show you how to win an argument, defend a case, recognize a fallacy, see through deception, persuade a skeptic, and turn defeat into victory. Not only do they discuss the fundamentals of logic (premises, conclusions, syllogisms, common fallacies, etc.), but they also consider important related issues often encountered in face-to-face debates, such as gaining a sympathetic audience, responding to audience reaction, using nonverbal devices, clearly presenting the facts, refutation, and driving home a concluding argument. Whether you’re preparing for law school or you just want to become more adept at making your points and analyzing others’ arguments, The Art of Deception will give you the intellectual tools to become a more effective thinker and speaker. Helpful exercises and discussion questions are also included.
Truth: How the Many Sides to Every Story Shape Our Reality
Hector Macdonald - 2018
The reality is far murkier.Hector Macdonald has spent much of his career exploring the ways that two completely true statements about the same thing can give wildly different impressions to the people listening. For instance, the Internet can be described as a tool to disseminate knowledge or a system that spreads misinformation and hatred. Both statements are true, but they would paint radically different pictures for a cyber-novice.Now, in Truth: A User's Guide, Macdonald explains how these so-called "competing truths" are used both constructively and misleadingly by businesses, media, politicians, advertisers, and even regular people having regular conversations. He shows how understanding competing truths makes us better at navigating the world and more influential within it. Combining great storytelling with practical takeaways and a litany of fascinating, funny, and insightful case studies, Truth is a sobering and engaging read about how profoundly our mindsets and actions are influenced by the truths that those around us choose to tell.
Skepticism 101: How to Think like a Scientist
Michael Shermer - 2013
But there is a method for avoiding such pitfalls of human nature, and it's called skepticism. By using rational inquiry and seeing subjects from a scientific perspective, we can approach even the most sensitive claims with clear eyes to ultimately arrive at the truth. During 18 lectures that will surprise, challenge, and entertain you, you will learn how to think, not just what to think-and you'll come to understand why extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.You'll discover how skepticism can help differentiate between real science and pseudoscience, as well as between "scientific" history and pseudohistory-distinctions that have serious educational and political implications.Fascinating case studies illustrate how you can apply the methods of skepticism to detect specious claims and faulty logic in any scenario you encounter such as:•The methodology employed by Holocaust deniers•Arguments made by proponents of creationism•The biology of near-death experiences and the sensed-presence effect•Psychic abilities and other "paranormal" phenomena.As you learn how our brains work to form beliefs, you'll examine the classic fallacies of thought that lead us to experience mistakes in thinking and to form bad arguments in favor of our beliefs.Is there a God? Is there life after death? Is there a basis for morality without God? Skepticism 101 doesn't shy away from controversial questions, nor does it give final answers. What it offers are methods and hard evidence for rationally evaluating various claims and positions, and an opportunity to understand why you believe what you believe.Listening Length: 9 hours and 10 minutes
The Systems Thinker: Essential Thinking Skills
Albert Rutherford - 2018
Gain a deep understanding of the “what, why, how, when, how much” questions of your life. Become a Systems Thinker and discover how to approach your life from a completely new perspective. What is systems thinking? Put it simply, thinking about how things interact with one another. Why should this matter to you? Because you are a system. You are a part of smaller and larger systems – your community, your country, your species. Understanding your role within these systems and how these systems affect, hinder, or aid the fulfillment of your life can lead you to better answers about yourself and the world. Information is the most precious asset these days. Evaluating that information correctly is almost priceless. Systems thinkers are some of the bests in collecting and assessing information, as well as creating impactful solutions in any context. The Systems Thinker will help you to implement systems thinking at your workplace, human relations, and everyday thinking habits. Boost your observation and analytical skills to find the real triggers and influencing forces behind contemporary politics, economics, health, and education changes. Systems thinking clears your vision by teaching you not only to find the differences between the elements but also the similarities. This bi-directional analyzing ability will give you a more complex worldview, deeper understanding of problems, and thus better solutions. The car stopped because its tank is empty – so it needs gas. Easy problem, easy solution, right? But could you explain just as easily why did the price of gas raise with 5% the past month? After becoming a systems thinker, you’ll be able to answer that question just as easily. Change your thoughts, change your results. •What are the main elements, questions and methods of thinking in systems? •The most widely used systems archetypes, maps, models, and analytical methods. •Learn to identify and provide solutions even the most complex system problems. •Deepen your understanding about human motivation with systems thinking. The past fifty years brought so many changes in our lives. The world has become more interconnected than ever. Old rules can’t explain the new world anymore. But systems thinking can. Embrace systems thinking and become a master of analytical, critical, and creative thinking.
The Uses of Pessimism: And the Danger of False Hope
Roger Scruton - 2010
Scruton's argument is nuanced, however, and his preference for pessimism is not a dark view of human nature; rather his is a 'hopeful pessimism' which urges that instead of utopian efforts to reform human society or human nature, we focus on the only reform that we can truly master -- the improvement of ourselves through the cultivation of our better instincts.Written in Scruton's trademark style-- erudite, sweeping in scope across centuries and cultures, and unafraid to offend-- this book is sure to intrigue and provoke readers concerned with the state of Western culture, the nature of human beings, and the question of whether social progress is truly possible.
The Meaning of Life
The School of Life - 2020
It can seem like a topic on which ordinary mortals cannot make much progress. In truth, it is for all of us to wonder about, define and work towards a more meaningful existence.This book presents a range of areas in which we might seek the meaning of life, including love, family, friendship, work, self-knowledge and nature. We learn why certain things feel meaningful while others don't, and consider how we might introduce more meaning into our activities.
Inside the Nudge Unit: How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference
David Halpern - 2015
Behavioural scientist Dr David Halpern heads up Number 10’s ‘Nudge Unit’, the world’s first government institution that uses behavioural economics to examine and influence human behaviour, to ‘nudge’ us into making better decisions. Seemingly small and subtle solutions have led to huge improvements across tax, healthcare, pensions, employment, crime reduction, energy conservation and economic growth.Adding a crucial line to a tax reminder brought forward millions in extra revenue; refocusing the questions asked at the job centre helped an extra 10 per cent of people come off their benefits and back into work; prompting people to become organ donors while paying for their car tax added an extra 100,000 donors to the register in a single year. After two years and dozens of experiments in behavioural science, the results are undeniable. And now David Halpern and the Nudge Unit will help you to make better choices and improve your life.
The Scientific Attitude: Defending Science from Denial, Fraud, and Pseudoscience
Lee McIntyre - 2019
Claims that climate change isn't settled science, that evolution is "only a theory," and that scientists are conspiring to keep the truth about vaccines from the public are staples of some politicians' rhetorical repertoire. Defenders of science often point to its discoveries (penicillin! relativity!) without explaining exactly why scientific claims are superior. In this book, Lee McIntyre argues that what distinguishes science from its rivals is what he calls "the scientific attitude"--caring about evidence and being willing to change theories on the basis of new evidence. The history of science is littered with theories that were scientific but turned out to be wrong; the scientific attitude reveals why even a failed theory can help us to understand what is special about science.McIntyre offers examples that illustrate both scientific success (a reduction in childbed fever in the nineteenth century) and failure (the flawed "discovery" of cold fusion in the twentieth century). He describes the transformation of medicine from a practice based largely on hunches into a science based on evidence; considers scientific fraud; examines the positions of ideology-driven denialists, pseudoscientists, and "skeptics" who reject scientific findings; and argues that social science, no less than natural science, should embrace the scientific attitude. McIntyre argues that the scientific attitude--the grounding of science in evidence--offers a uniquely powerful tool in the defense of science.
Zygmunt Bauman - 1990
The authors elucidate key concepts in sociology: for example, individualism versus community, and privilege versus deprivation. While charting a course through sociology's main concerns, Bauman and May also examine the applicability of sociology to everyday life.This volume is a completely revised and expanded edition that includes new materials on health and fitness, intimacy, time, space and disorder, risk, globalization, identity, organizations, and new technologies. It was written for the benefit and enjoyment of students, professional sociologists and social scientists, and anyone else interested in the dynamics and issues that structure everyday life.
Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole
Stephen Law - 2011
The author suggests that, like the black holes of outer space, from which nothing, not even light, can escape, our contemporary cultural landscape contains numerous intellectual black-holes—belief systems constructed in such a way that unwary passers-by can similarly find themselves drawn in. While such self-sealing bubbles of belief will most easily trap the gullible or poorly educated, even the most intelligent and educated of us are potentially vulnerable. Some of the world’s greatest thinkers have fallen in, never to escape. This witty, insightful critique will help immunize readers against the wiles of cultists, religious and political zealots, conspiracy theorists, promoters of flaky alternative medicines, and various other nutcases by clearly setting out the tricks of the trade by which such insidious belief systems are created and maintained.