Suspicious Minds by Rob Brotherton is an interest, slightly irreverent, study of what makes us believe what we all too often believe. From the harmless suspicious tendency to roll a pair of die gently in order to achieve a low number, to the paranoiac belief that the government is out to get you, to the all-encompassing conviction that interdimensional shape-shifting reptiles rule to the world - we all have some tendency towards superstition and belief in conspiracy theories. The why we believe what we believe can actually be more troubling and interesting than the what we believe. Unless it's dealing with interdimensional shape-shifting aliens. Those are probably the most creative.
See, the Queen's a reptilian. You can tell by the eyes.
Suspicious Minds may not have been as in-depth as I would have liked it to be, but it was still a very interesting book. The beginning is a brief history of conspiracy theories, meant to show that this style of thinking is endemic to the human condition rather than a more recent phenomenon bolstered by the internet and the now pervasive globalism. The history was fascinating, and at times mildly disturbing. I was especially thankful for the in-depth discussion of the Protocols of Zion after Dan Brown and Holy Blood, Holy Grail had popularized a new resurgence in belief that those are anything but a hoax. Hopefully this well-documented history of the forgery will put some of that to rest.
Following the history of conspiracy theories the book delves into what a conspiracy theory is exactly (and decides that an important facet of it is that it isn't and likely won't ever be proven) and then the hallmarks of conspiracy thinking. The bulk of the book is devoted to the hallmarks of conspiracy thinking and how every one of us is given to it to a certain extent.
The book is a good example of pop-science, without being erroneous. It's well-researched, intriguing, and would benefit greatly from a more in-depth bibliography in the back. I think that this is a good introduction to the subject overall - though perhaps the section regarding echo chambers was handled a bit more deftly by Jon Ronson in So, You've Been Publicly Shamed. It's still a valuable topic and an interesting book. I'm glad I read it....more
Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle by Douglas J. Emlen is a delightful enlightening read. Douglas J. Emlen focuses on many unusual animals, rather than focusing upon the typical big cats, wild dogs, and dinosaurs. The main thrust of his book is the insects - beetles, flies, and other such forgotten creatures litter the pages with their bizarre adaptations and startlingly complex behavior. The times when the author is writing about these are the best part of the book - he thrives in descriptions of the unusual, and the pages fly by.
The book never became boring, but the transitions were largely bizarre to me, which in turn affected some of my enjoyment. While I agree that there are rather clear parallels between human weapon development and animal evolution - and that the case presented was a good one - I think it was clumsily written. Transitions could have been handled better, but overall that wasn't so jarring as to heavily impact my rating of the book.
In spite of the small gripe in terms of transitions, the book was wonderful. The contents were fascinating, the arguments presented well thought out, and the illustrations provided by David J. Tuss truly stunning. The illustrations, two of which adorn the cover, are fantastic and playfully done without sacrificing detail or scientific accuracy.
I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book was phenomenal. M.R. O'Connor did an excellent job of eI received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book was phenomenal. M.R. O'Connor did an excellent job of examining not only the question of extinction and the controversial subject of de-extinction, but of asking the very uncomfortable question 'What is a species worth?' What is it that makes a person decide that one species is worth saving over another, and is saving a species from extinction truly a worthwhile endeavor? Does everything have an intrinsic value?
The book is divided into 8 chapters, each focusing upon a different species either going extinct, or possibly being revived. For those interested the subjects of the chapters are as follows: Spray Toads Florida Panthers White Sands Pupfish Northern Right Whales Hawaiian Crow Northern White Rhino Passenger Pigeon Neanderthal
Each species discussed raises a different question regarding the course of extinction and conservation. Should we save or protect a species if doing so hurts the human community around it? At what point of hybridization does a species stop being what it originally was? If human interference is largely responsible for the differences between a species that has been fragmented - are they still the original endangered species? What can we do to protect endangered species we know very little about? What if breeding a creature in captivity ends up erasing the very behaviors that were the hallmark of the species? Would reviving a species artificially result in the same species? Is conservation on the ground more worth it than rescuing the genetic data?
These questions and more abound, and are examined from all angles. The result is a book that looks at the ethical questions beyond conservation in a way that I've seldom seen discussed. This book is vitally important, engaging, and thought provoking. I would like nothing more than to see this book in the hands of everyone involved in the environmental movements. It asks uncomfortable questions and raises troubling points that need to be raised.
I can't emphasize enough how much I adored this text....more
This book was purchased as a surprise for my boyfriend, combined with Absolute Transmetropolitan as late birthday gifts. Only late due to their releaThis book was purchased as a surprise for my boyfriend, combined with Absolute Transmetropolitan as late birthday gifts. Only late due to their release dates, I should add. It's a signed copy, which means it has a pretty ridiculous squiggle in it. So. There's that.
The actual book proved quite surprising. I didn't expect it to offer as in-depth as sociological analysis as it did. The book was littered with interesting information, extensive references to studies and papers that had been done, and generally fun anecdotes from the experiments that Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg did themselves.
If anyone has looked into these topics before there won't be a terribly great deal of new information. Passionate vs Companionate love forms the basis of a lot of the books arguments, which at least to me is always quite interesting. The particular views of technology are interesting as well - as for once technology isn't viewed as either universally good or bad but rather as a tool that can be properly utilized to gain good results. Nice.
Some of the information in the book was in Ansari's most recent stand-up routine, but it hasn't gotten old for me yet. I enjoyed the humor, and think that it translated well to the page. It forced me to do a few double-takes as I was reading, when a humorous aside jumped into more serious text. It only became grating once or twice, and far more often got a real laugh from me. The full color pictures were beautifully printed and jumped off the page. It was nice to have a book that integrated them into the pages rather than having a few glossy pages in the middle. Well worth the money.
So, if you like Aziz Ansari's stand-up as well as sociological kind of pop-sci texts you'll like this. It's a weird niche, but I'm sure some people occupy it with me....more
When picking up Oliver Sacks it's important to realize that you're reading a medical text. The accountI kept getting strange looks while reading this.
When picking up Oliver Sacks it's important to realize that you're reading a medical text. The accounts you're looking at are medical cases, with only a marginal effort made to edit the language to something easier for the layman. Which is to say, these books can be rather dull. If you go in expecting that, however, they can be informative and interesting reads.
I learned a lot about the nature of hallucinations and the misconceptions that exist surrounding them. I learned that most people hallucinate, in one way or another, and that it's rather normal. I also learned how incredible complex our nervous systems are, and in particular our optical centers. Really, really interesting stuff. It's no wonder it breaks down now and again.
I also learned that it's incredibly unfair to introduce a Doctor fftych in a section dealing with textual hallucinations. How is that an actual name?...more
I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. The Eastern Coyote is a fascinating creature, and one well worth deeper study. This book, while poI wanted to like this book so much more than I did. The Eastern Coyote is a fascinating creature, and one well worth deeper study. This book, while portending to be about just that, in truth was more about the symbolic nature of the creature than anything else.
The book spent far too much time focusing on Catherine Reid and why she wanted to see a coyote, than what the actual coyotes were like. While, yes, she was an interesting person and the symbolic value of an animal is a beautiful thing... I would have much preferred a more scientific or anthropological study of the animal in question. In short, I wanted this book to be to coyotes what Barry Lopez's Of Wolves and Men was to wolves.
This book did manage a fair bit, though. Though in a less interesting way than Daily Coyote did. Catherine Reid did a good job of talking about the designation of Eastern Coyote as a species, and how wolves and coyotes have interbred to a degree in the past. She explained how they managed to carve out a niche and maintain it even in the territory of bigger better predators. I wish it had been a bigger bit of the book....more
Recently I attacked the non-fiction section of my library, focusing primarily upon the sections devoted to biology, zoology, and cognitive ethology. TRecently I attacked the non-fiction section of my library, focusing primarily upon the sections devoted to biology, zoology, and cognitive ethology. This was one of the stranger books I picked up there. It looked amusing enough, though not terribly indepth. The title made me laugh, and well, the cover left a bit be be desired... Unfortunately, so did the book.
This book was comprised of a series of lists of odd animal behaviors and why they might act that way. It was written in a conversational manner, each little tidbit followed by an incredulous explanation that tried just too hard to be funny. Let the animals speak for themselves, or their behavior do it for them. No need to throw in puns, amazed silences, or a shrug of the shoulders. Quite frankly, the book came off as mildly insulting. A bit like the friend who just doesn't know when to stop making jokes to fill in what otherwise would have been a companionable silence...
The book would be great for younger children. Maybe middle school or so? It'd probably cause them to want to read more about animals and their behavior, and they might be in a better range to appreciate the humor. As for me, well... Nil nole sub sole. Most of the facts I already knew, and what I did learn didn't particularly surprise me....more
I've previously read A Prickly Affair by Hugh Warwick, as well as a handful of articles on the animals by him. While A Prickly Affair focused primarily upon the habits of the European Hedgehog and the need for conservation, Hedgehog focuses far more upon the cultural significance of the animal. The book is organized into sections detailing the hedgehog in literature, in film, in music, in mythology, etc. In short, hedgehogs have been insinuated themselves into our lives in more ways that one might expect!
This book is notable for showing a change in heart in Hugh Warwick as well. Previously the author viewed African Pygmy Hedgehogs in the pet trade in a derisive manner, and this book definitely softened that harsh edge. It wasn't an apology, per se, but rather a clarification of his perspective on the manner that was easy to understand. As African Pygmy Hedgehogs get more and more popular as pets (and more and more domesticated) the European Hedgehogs get pushed aside. The lessening of focus on the European Hedgehog has lead to a lessening in their conservation efforts, which is problematic in places where they're soon to be extinct in urban areas - such as England, Denmark, and Norway. Understand also that urban areas are where hedgehogs tend to thrive and you'll see why this is worrisome, and why The Disappearing Hedgehog is an apt name for one of their conservation efforts.
While the future is still rather shaky for the European Hedgehog, this book is a wonderful testimony to the charm that they have and the love that they elicit from people. They're a truly wonderful species, and this book highlights that beautifully. ...more
Hugh Warwick has managed to write a book that is simultaneously informative and deeply entertaining. His passion for the humble hedgWhat a great book!
Hugh Warwick has managed to write a book that is simultaneously informative and deeply entertaining. His passion for the humble hedgehog shines through in every page, and it's impossible to not have some of that rub off on you while reading this book. Indeed, it's impossible not to fall a bit in love with the animal the second you 'do the nose to nose thing' with them.
The hedgehog is an inherently silly animal, but there's something in its industrious and utterly benign nature that attracts both passion and obsession. There's something fascinating in the tiny creature, and what a joy it is to witness that love ignite in everyone I introduce the spiny beasts o. To see those emotions beautifully highlighted in someone else's words is heartwarming. To see it paired with a deeper scientific understanding of the animal was plain beautiful.
I've already passed this book on to two other people, and I honestly can't wait to encourage still others to read it. Save the hedgehog, save the world as the author put it. Any way an animal can be better loved and understood is a good one, and I've seen firsthand how passion for one creature can extend to all the others in our lives....more
Jerry Langton decides to delve into why rats have been around for so long, how they coexist with us, and why people decide to have tOH NO, NOT RATS!!!
Jerry Langton decides to delve into why rats have been around for so long, how they coexist with us, and why people decide to have them as pets. He does so with a distinct anti-rat perspective on the world, and a disturbing unwillingness to ever waver in his opinion or seek out people who think differently than himself. That, my friend, is why the book failed for me. The inherent prejudice against rats and rat-owners that permeated every page and the outright disgust that just saturated his language. That was why it got the dreaded one-star.
Langton has some interesting history of rats, he follows the basic run down of "this is why rats are interesting" that any writer would. Their ribs can collapse being the main fact that seems to shock him. He discounts their inherent intelligence when just about all scientific papers rate them as among one of the most intelligent animals out there, and he counts them as viscous and ready to attack when even the rat hunters he talks to admit that they only do so when disturbed. It's disturbing, just not in the way he meant it to be.
The true failing of this book, however, was the way that he wrote about rat owners. I've owned rats in my time. I found them to be very clean, very affectionate, curious and entertaining pets. I was only ever bit by a rat once, and that was when I startled him and truly deserved it. Langton puts rat owners into two groups: people owning a rat for the novelty and attention seeking deviant nature of it, and people owning rats as an apology to the species and taking it on as a burden. What the hell? What about people who just genuinely like the animal and what it offers...? Nevermind the fact he characterized the first group as being largely obese women with multiple piercings and or tattoos. Just... why?...more
I got this book through Netgalley for reviewing, and boy am I happy I did.
Fox Talk is a fantastic children's book that delves into the topic of domestI got this book through Netgalley for reviewing, and boy am I happy I did.
Fox Talk is a fantastic children's book that delves into the topic of domestication in a way that is easy for anyone to understand. They actually talk about the Russian Fox Experiment, how domestication affects not only behavior but actual genetics, and how you can assess these facts and animal intelligence for yourself.
The topic, while complex, is laid out very well and further resources are also offered throughout the book. The nature of exotic pet ownership is examined in a respectful way that acknowledges both the pros and cons and explains just why legality can come into question.
This is a book that I look forward to using someday for my own educational outreach, and is definitely one that I'll refer many people to while I work in the exotic animal field.
Five stars, no question. I'm so glad that this book came my way. :)...more
The Dead Sea Scrolls are something that truly fascinate me. There's so much speculation about the community that wrote them, so much sheer oddness wheThe Dead Sea Scrolls are something that truly fascinate me. There's so much speculation about the community that wrote them, so much sheer oddness when it comes to what the Essenes believed and preached. It sheds new lights about just how different the religious communities were then.
This book goes into the history of the scrolls discovery, and what was known at the time of publication about the community that wrote them. It was a fascinating read, though of course now a bit out of date. I still would recommend it to anyone interested in the scrolls, as any information is still good information in my estimation. It was by no means a dry read....more
Steven M. Wise lays out the case for increased rights for animals from a scientific standpoint. Bit by bit he examines the cognitive abilAmazing book.
Steven M. Wise lays out the case for increased rights for animals from a scientific standpoint. Bit by bit he examines the cognitive ability of various animals (honeybees, dogs, great apes, birds, and cetaceans) in a rather rigorous and thorough way. He doesn't shy away from controversy (though he failed to bring up some of the questionable claims involving Koko) where it arises (especially in the case of the care of dolphins) and meets a lot of the questions that would be raised head-on.
While Steven M. Wise makes an excellent case for animal rights, he also acknowledges the trouble it will take to put those rights in place. He acknowledges and even postulates why people find it hard to grant rights to animals, and compares it rather compellingly to the trouble America had in granting both slaves and women increased rights in their respective times of emancipation.
Fascinating read, highly recommended to anyone and everyone who has ever loved a pet....more
This is the sort of book I'd want to give to my future children. This book explains, bit by bit, the archaeological practice of unearthing lost citiesThis is the sort of book I'd want to give to my future children. This book explains, bit by bit, the archaeological practice of unearthing lost cities. Each section details a different ruin, how it was discovered, what processes allowed us to date it, translate languages (in the case of ancient Egyptian writing), and so forth.
This book, published in the early '60s, is outdated, but for a children's book it is still fantastic. There is no talking down to the child, and while the language is 'easier' it is still technical enough that a kid could go on to fully understand more complex books.
Going into this book I knew nothing about NMO and nothing about Victoria Jackson or Ali Guthy. LeavingI won this book through the first-reads program.
Going into this book I knew nothing about NMO and nothing about Victoria Jackson or Ali Guthy. Leaving this book, I knew a great deal more about all of the above topics.
I'm rather reluctant to give books that I received for free poor ratings, and generally all books begin as three star books for me. As I read the book, it either increases in rating or decreases in rating going along. For me, unfortunately, this book was mostly a one star book. I gave it two stars because at least I learned a decent amount about the disease and how foundations are formed.
I found the book difficult to get through, over all. The story was told through two POVs, the mother and daughter, and would switch as often as just after a few paragraphs. Both people wrote in either present tense or a very passive voice, which grated on me as I read. The very casual voice didn't help matters either, and the puns (and apologies for puns) also induced more eyerolls than chortles. I would have preferred a more honest voice, as these came off as rather put-on to me.
The final straw, for me, was how congratulatory the people were. Barely a page went by when someone wasn't talking about how amazing the other people were. Even when they were complaining about one another they were still saying "I know that ___ is a truly amazing person, a superhero even..." and that gets rather old rather fast. It's all right to be mad at someone, it's all right to hate someone for a while, everyone does. Just let it out!
Also, if you didn't get a college degree or graduate high school, you only need to point it out once. You don't need to keep reminding us of it and how it's amazing that you're digesting medical jargon. Your daughter is in trouble, we get that that is an amazing incentive....more
Once more, Jon Ronson delivers a well-researched, entertaining look at the world around us. This timeI won this book through the first-reads program.
Once more, Jon Ronson delivers a well-researched, entertaining look at the world around us. This time around the topics range from Indigo Children, to celebrities accused of pedophilia. There are essays on alien encounters, as well as people driven to murder-suicide, and the disparity between those in the highest economic bracket and those in the lowest. It's truly an amazing mix.
I found the ending of the book a bit abrupt, but aside from that the book was marvelous. Jon Ronson is a journalist, and a master at his craft. He makes the reader think, and question, and that is the most anyone could ever ask....more
I won this book through the GoodReads first-reads program.
I've read previous books on topics such as education reform, the work of Neil Postman comingI won this book through the GoodReads first-reads program.
I've read previous books on topics such as education reform, the work of Neil Postman coming most immediately to mind along with Daniel Pink, but none that quite looked at it the way that Paul Tough did. This book examined the importance of character and how good parents and good teachers can bring out the best attributes in the children they work with.
Examining low income schools and the way that poverty affects success Paul Tough lays out what he believes would be the best course to take to break the cycle that too many children get sucked into. While it's too in depth to truly examine in a review, I do believe that teachers should at least peruse this book to perhaps take some advice away from it all. This is a complex and contentious issue, and an ever increasing one.
At the very least, this book could start a conversation between teachers as to what is to be done, perhaps it could even point them towards a good solution?...more
I won this book from the GoodReads first-reads program.
Parmy Olson did a good job of summing up the social aspect of the Anonymous community. While thI won this book from the GoodReads first-reads program.
Parmy Olson did a good job of summing up the social aspect of the Anonymous community. While this book may not satisfy the desire for technical explorations of the internet and what goes into subverting it, for us non-technical folk I believe this book did a very fine job. The prose was quick and easy to read, the details intricate and interesting. All in all this played out rather not unlike a playful action film that in its second third began rushing towards the inevitable conclusion......more
I'm a fan of self-help books, generally because I enjoy improving myself. A good number of self-help bI won this book through the first-reads program.
I'm a fan of self-help books, generally because I enjoy improving myself. A good number of self-help books, though, tend to focus upon immediate improvement and immediate gratification. Well, immediate results tend to be rare, and don't last. Luckily, this book not only acknowledges that fact, but celebrates it.
This book is divided into 52 different short tips that you can execute fairly easily. Everything from napping (Einstein did it) to slowing down your practice is discussed, and in such short snippets that it never feels pedantic.
I, for one, know that I'll be taking these tips to heart... one at a time, and probably for 8 weeks at time waiting for it all to sink in. I think this is a helpful guide for just about anyone, though. Who doesn't enjoy improving their skill sets? :)...more
Well, if you enjoy Cracked.com articles you'll enjoy this book. All the book really is is just a collection of the articles from the website. WhetherWell, if you enjoy Cracked.com articles you'll enjoy this book. All the book really is is just a collection of the articles from the website. Whether or not the articles already appeared on the website, I've no idea, but they're entertaining and accurate so far as I know.
I liked the book, and found it amusing. There were a few places that made me go "hm" and a few that got me to crack a grin. All in all, this is a book that can be browsed through at will. It doesn't need to be read in any particular order, doesn't need to be read straight through in one sitting or anything. Take it as entertaining, and memorize a bit for bar trivia. ...more
I enjoy reading what the fringies write, and this was no exception to the rule. While a bit out of date, thisYeah, yeah, stop looking at me like that.
I enjoy reading what the fringies write, and this was no exception to the rule. While a bit out of date, this collection of essays still preached what one would expect: Childress, Schoch, Hancock, et al - while not writing there in force, were still being written about in force. While this book was light on the aliens, it was still very strong when it comes to the Mu civilization and the like.
Lego linguistics, poor understanding of physics, and more were to be found. I give the book credit for speaking out against Yonaguni and the Bimini Road, but take away a lot of that credit for their inability to understand why diamond saws aren't needed. I also take away points for them not understanding how Coral Castle was a man-made creation, nor even referencing it. Coral Castle proved that a single man could build something akin to the pyramids.
I wish that people would approach books like this in good humor, give them a chance, and then take away from them everything with a grain of salt. The articles within the book at times entirely contradicted one another: The Ice Age was a lie, but the Ice Age had to exist for the theory of catastrophism to triumph over uniformatarianism. I don't quite get it.
Well, today I learned that Einstein believed in Atlantis. I'm open to Atlantis having existed in some form or another back in the day, and I appreciate their debunking of Thera. While some of the facts they levied against Thera were inaccurate, it still was a decent effort.
So, yeah, I didn't like it. I had fun reading it all the same....more
While this book is horribly outdated now (it lists the thylacine as still being alive) it is a terribly interesting one. In particular, I enjoyed theWhile this book is horribly outdated now (it lists the thylacine as still being alive) it is a terribly interesting one. In particular, I enjoyed the chapter about the Cargo Cult and some of the religious rites of the Plains Indians....more
What an entertaining book. While I don't agree with all of Marvin Harris' conclusions, I can say that the scientific way that he approaches problems tWhat an entertaining book. While I don't agree with all of Marvin Harris' conclusions, I can say that the scientific way that he approaches problems typically viewed only in a just-so light was both informative and fascinating. His precise evaluation of each question was both thorough and scientific and offers much to anyone fascinated in anthropological (or even political) theory.
While the author is very much the product of the time in which the book was written (the 1970's) the methods that mark his conclusions are a very good introduction to a new way of thinking, and one not often enough used by many laypeople....more
This is an excellent history of both the thylacine and environmental conservation in Tasmania. While this is a reference book, it was far from boring,This is an excellent history of both the thylacine and environmental conservation in Tasmania. While this is a reference book, it was far from boring, and even delved into the cryptozoological question of the creatures continued existence into present day. I would highly recommend this book to people interested in the animal, as well as people with a passing interest in natural history and environmentalism. It is an excellent wake up call for modern day....more
This particular book of his I found of greater interest, personally, because it's a topic I've been curious about as well. thrGosh I adore Jon Ronson.
This particular book of his I found of greater interest, personally, because it's a topic I've been curious about as well. throughout the book Jon examines, among other things, what it means to be a psychopath, whether or not a psychopath is physiologically different from normal people, how the dsvm became what it is today, and whether or not the madness industry is over diagnosing its patients.
The book is fascinating, amusing, and altogether quite informative. Throughout the book the reader his or herself can follow the paranoia experienced by the author (what if you score highly on parts of the Hare test?) As well as the bewildering astonishment at just how imprecise some diagnoses can be.
Another great book by Ronson. I hope he releases yet another one soon!...more
I purchased this book years ago and never quite finished reading it. I'm glad I picked it up once more, and was surprised exactly how in-depth the booI purchased this book years ago and never quite finished reading it. I'm glad I picked it up once more, and was surprised exactly how in-depth the book proved to be. The first chapter, which was heavily into music theory, was difficult to get through. The neuroscience was well-defined, as were the musical terms, and each chapter broke down rather well the topic at hand.
This book was written for the layperson, but didn't sacrifice how detailed the science was as a result of such.
My favorite aspect of the book was the final chapter, which dealt with the evolutionary purpose of music. Both views were examined, though the author favored Darwin's conclusion in regards to it. Each theory was backed up with notes, details, and acknowledgement of contradictory views.