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The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake

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An all-encompassing guide to skeptical thinking in the popular "The Skeptics Guide to the Universe" podcast's dryly humorous, accessible style.

It's intimidating to realize that we live in a world overflowing with misinformation, bias, myths, deception, and flawed knowledge. There really are no ultimate authority figures-no one has the secret and there is no place to look up the definitive answers to our questions (not even Google). But, by thinking skeptically and logically, we can combat sloppy reasoning, bad arguments and superstitious thinking. It's difficult, and takes a lot of vigilance, but it's worth the effort.

In this tie-in to their incredibly popular "The Skeptics Guide to the Universe" podcast, Steven Novella, MD along with "Skeptical Rogues" Bob Novella, Cara Santa Maria, Jay Novella, and Evan Bernstein will explain the tenets of skeptical thinking and debunk some of the biggest scientific myths, fallacies and conspiracy theories (Anti-vaccines, homeopathy, UFO sightings, etc.) They'll help us try to make sense of what seems like an increasingly crazy world using powerful tools like science and philosophy. THE SKEPTICS' GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE is your guide through this maze of modern life. It covers essential critical thinking skills, as well as giving insight into how your brain works and how to avoid common pitfalls in thinking. They discuss the difference between science and pseudoscience, how to recognize common science news tropes, how to discuss conspiracy theories with that crazy coworker of yours, and how to apply all of this to everyday life.

So, are you ready to join them on an epic scientific quest, one that has taken us from huddling in dark caves to stepping foot on the Moon? (Yes, we really did that.) Like all adventures, this one is foremost a journey of self discovery. The monsters you will slay and challenges you will face are mostly constructs of your own mind. With the SKEPTIC'S GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE, we can do this together.

448 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 2, 2018

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Steven Novella

23 books207 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 520 reviews
Profile Image for Diana Eckert.
1 review
October 12, 2018
Long-time listener here! I have been anticipating this book for a while, and it did not disappoint.
I enjoyed the audiobook - Steves narration is easy to listen to while also being engaging. However, the encyclopedia-like layout make the printed version a practical compendium for later reference. It is excellent for understanding how the mind works/doesn't work, and how we all deceive ourselves into thinking that we actually understand probability.

For people who are just getting into critical thinking and scientific skepticism and want to learn about "how to know what's really real", but don't want to do this whole podcast-nonsense:
This book is a great place to start! It is well written, with just the right balance between entertaining examples and compelling explanations.

For SGU-veterans:
If you have worked through every episode of the SGU, monitored a wide selection of skeptical science blogs, and memorized all 24 logical fallacies in their order of disgrace to the human intellect; there probably isn't a lot a new information for you here, you cocky little twit. Why haven't you bought it for everyone around you yet?
Profile Image for Isil Arican.
213 reviews179 followers
October 16, 2018
This was one of the books I waited with utmost anticipation and so glad to get a chance to read it finally. I have been a long time SGU listener (almost 10 years), and they have been a major inspiration for me to teach myself critical thinking (I still do) and initiate a grassroots skeptical movement in Turkey along with a website as well as a top podcast of our own. So naturally, when I heard the team was coming up with an actual book, I was very excited and pre-ordered it immediately.

Steve and SGU team did a great job of compiling the basic building blocks of scientific skepticism and critical thinking. The book starts with the introduction to scientific skepticism and why it is important, continues to explore the major factors that contribute and distort our understanding of the world, major reasoning and cognitive faults we all make/have, the science/pseudoscience demarcation problem. Then it goes on to give some real-world examples to allow the reader to practice what they learned about critical thinking skills in the earlier chapters. It talks about historical events that claimed to be "extraordinary" and turned out to be not so, some existing pseudoscience out there and why those claims do not hold water and personal experiences of the contributors in the domain of scientific skepticism and critical thinking.
In the last section, there is a very comprehensive reference list. The book has ALL the major references it mentions along the chapters in one place and in great detail, and even that is alone is such a great resource.

The language of the book is very clear, easy to read & understand with lots of examples. It is very well organized the earlier chapters prepare the reader for the later ones that provide more examples.

Overall this is a great book to introduce a person to critical thinking & scientific skepticism. it explains why this is an important topic, why people should be mindful of how they reach to conclusions, make decisions, even how they argue with each other and how to try to convince others.

For me, this will be a great comprehensive resource to use when I need to explain someone a basic concept with great examples. I did not learn anything new by reading it since I knew pretty much every concept described in the book due to immersing myself into the literature of scientific skepticism and critical thinking in the past years, but despite that, I loved to book for its comprehensiveness, clarity and being an overall resource for every fundamental concept in scientific skepticism.

Actually, let me re-phrase myself: "I did not learn any new information from the book, but as usual I learned a lot on how to communicate and articulate these things from Steve and his narration style, as usual. He is such a great communicator, an aspiration for all of us."

I will keep this book as a fundamental resource in my library and definitely can see myself gifting to many people in the future. What a great tool to help us to spread the news!

Thank you SGU team, it has been a pleasure to read this!
Profile Image for Ryan Boissonneault.
185 reviews2,010 followers
October 15, 2018
This is one of the best books on critical thinking and skepticism since Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World. Although you would hope, in the 21st century, that it shouldn’t have to be explained why treating eczema with turmeric infusions is a bad idea, gullibility for pseudoscience is a recurring feature of human psychology and in need of constant debunking.

The first part of the book covers the unreliability of our senses, cognitive biases, logical fallacies, and the difference between science and pseudoscience. This part covers the core skills of critical thinking and skepticism and reminds us that we must be constantly vigilant against the plethora of ways we can delude ourselves. In fact, the running theme throughout the book is the concept of fallibilism, and how we are all wired to engage in biased and logical fallacious thinking (even self-proclaimed skeptics or critical thinkers). As the authors constantly remind us, this is a tendency we all have to perpetually work to overcome, and that no one is immune to bias just because they identify as a skeptic.

The rest of the book covers specific cases of pseudoscience, pseudo-journalism, and instances where pseudoscience can harm or kill. The book ends with some advice on the practical application of critical thinking skills and how to engage with others persuasively when debating pseudoscientific ideas.

My only complaint: in discussing the line of demarcation between science and pseudoscience and falsifiability, the authors never mention Karl Popper once. Popper is, of course, the most prominent early advocate of falsifiability and one of the greatest philosophers of science of the twentieth century. The authors discuss falsifiability, critical rationalism, error correction, and several other ideas that were popularized by Popper without, to my mind, giving appropriate credit.

Overall, if you’re new to skepticism, this book covers the full assortment of critical thinking, psychology, logic, and science needed to navigate complex issues and engage in independent thinking. If you’re not new to the subject, it will act as a nice refresher and a welcome escape from a world filled with superficial thinking, conspiracy theories, fraud, and outright stupidity.
Profile Image for Wick Welker.
Author 5 books338 followers
December 13, 2022
The ultimate guide to recognizing logical fallacies.

I've read a few books like this but this one definitely offered a lot of information and strategies to cut through the unbelievable amount of nonsense that surrounds us and helps us to put even footing on reality-based thinking. There is innumerable pitfalls, biases and logical fallacies that we call can and do fall victim through. We use imperfect senses and reasoning through the lens of culture, language and anecdote and grope wildly in the darkness to even being to understand what is truth and what is error. It's easy to fall into despair during our age of conspiracy theories becoming main stream, armchair pseudoscientists and hosts of disinformation machines. But there is hope and this book can give you that hope.

Novella and his friends will walk you through the very important ways in which someone uses logical fallacies to prove their point. Scroll onto any social media platform and you'll see the fallacies all over the place. From ad hominin, ad hoc, false analogy, false equivalency, false dichotomy, false continuum, appeal to authority, appeal to antiquity, appeal to nature, straw man arguments, the list goes on and on. It's really important to recognize these fallacies so you can easily cut them down in a debate. I have found one of the easiest ways to debate someone is not to argue with them but simply ask that they provide evidence and clarity to support their claims. A house of cards of faulty reasoning and debate fallacy will easily collapse with even the slightest interrogation.

Confirmation bias and short cut heuristics are a major source of error in our own thinking. We ourselves are an enormous source of bias and flawed thinking. We should doubt ourselves first. When we correct those who embrace science denialism and pseudoscience, we should do so humbly and with grace because all of us at times have fallen prey to our own biases and backwards thinking.

Novella covers a slew of pseudoscience stuff out there like UFOs, ghosts, creationism, GMO safety and even consciousness. He does a little on fake news and journalism. He really leaves no stone unturned. For me skepticism is not cynicism but rather trying t do our best to support our beliefs with evidence that is derived by the scientific method. There is truth. We know this because many things are discovered by this established method. The truth is just a really, really, really difficult thing to demonstrate and we mostly show it by proving error first and honing in on the truth in the messy scientific way that is a hallmark of discovery. Now personally, I'm not a pure skeptic or empiricist. I enjoy my silly beliefs that have no evidence and that is perfectly okay as long as I don't use the lazy tactics of pseudoscience to try to prove that my beliefs are correct and impose them on others. I believe someone can have both skepticism and faith at the same time as long as they remain compartmentalized. This is sometimes a difficult task.
Profile Image for Hamid.
131 reviews9 followers
October 10, 2020
This is an all-encompassing guide to skeptical and critical thinking comparable to Carl Sagan's 'Demon-haunted World'. It has a very accessible and at times humorous style. It's thorough, informative and enlightening. In this age of real and fake information, your ability to reason, to think in scientifically skeptical fashion, is the most important skill you can have. Reading this book helps you get better at reasoning. The world is rife with misinformation and pseudoscience. This book will give you the tools to ferret out nonsense and confront your own biases-and hopefully change a few minds along the way.
Profile Image for cool breeze.
293 reviews18 followers
January 25, 2020
This book is a bit of a mixed bag. It contains a good introduction to, or refresher on, skeptical thinking and logical pitfalls and fallacies, although that part is long and drags after several hundred pages. The examples generally make for more enjoyable reading when they finally arrive.

When the book moves to examples, I agree with nearly all of its targets. Some are treated relatively gently and humorously (the Loch Ness monster, ghosts, UFOs and aliens). However, the authors beat certain topics well past death (intelligent design, antivaxxers, medical quackery). I can understand their outrage when medical quackery kills or injures people, but it still gets tedious if you got their point many pages back. I don’t think traditional religious beliefs deserve the same level of abuse, provided they are not injuring people, although I otherwise agree with the authors. Also, the authors largely ignore the fact that, as traditional religious beliefs have declined, they have been supplanted by new-age religious beliefs, particularly Gaia worship, which they don’t treat with the same level of hostility.

The few partial exceptions where I don’t completely agree with the book are anthropogenic global warming (AGW, discussed below), the alleged gender pay gap (barely mentioned, but uncritically accepted as due to discrimination) and, unimportantly, TWA flight 800 (briefly mentioned to dismiss the testimony of many eyewitnesses, but other evidence is ignored).

I think the authors have a huge blind spot with regard to AGW. The issue isn’t just whether the planet is warming, but include 1) how much, 2) how much human activity is contributing to that vs. solar and planetary cycles, ice age cycles and other factors, 3) whether that is something that warrants such alarm as to justify draconian changes to the national and world economy and probably a significant curtailment of freedom and lowering of living standards and 4) if so, whether China and other countries get a free pass to continue making the purported problem worse while Western countries shoulder nearly all of the burden of mitigation. The authors completely ignore the fact that the same AGW advocates have been sounding the same dire warnings with the same prescriptions (dramatic expansion of government control and restriction of private activity) for so long that they were within living memory once just as adamant that the threat was “global cooling”, then “global warming”, then “climate change”, then “climate crisis” and now “climate emergency”. Chicken Little has been screeching that the sky is falling for far too long.

The authors also ignore that fact that AGW embraces several logical pitfalls that the book otherwise criticizes: 1) its advocates refuse to disclose their data (the disgraceful Michael Mann, who embarrassingly contributed the first blurb to this book, was found in contempt of court), 2) there is evidence that the data is being cooked (“hide the decline”) and narratives being shaped by the selection of biased gatekeeper IPCC authors, 3) its advocates are not very good about making accurate or falsifiable predictions with their theory, 4) its advocates are notorious for moving the goal posts (the polar ice caps and glaciers were supposed to have melted long before now, snow was supposed to be a thing of the past, etc.), 5) there is a strong component of the “appeal to nature” fallacy (which has its own chapter), that whatever is “natural” is good and whatever is “man-made” is bad, and 6) many of the advocates are subject to enormous pressures of “motivated reasoning”, with tons of grant money, fame and fawning media coverage (Scoldilocks), gigantic economic winners and losers, and nearly unlimited government power at stake. I am aware that questioning the motives of AGW advocates has the potential to be a fallacy itself, but the financial and social pressures for motivated reasoning are much stronger with regard to AGW than in any other area.

Ironically, the book contains a chapter mocking the smorgasbord of trendy but fallacious beliefs in “Holly-woo” and the West coast. It also criticizes the widespread politically-correct but fallacious opposition to GMOs. Yet it ignores the fact that AGW is the ultimate sacred cow of trendy, politically-correct beliefs. The authors accept the dubious proposition that a meta-survey which found that 33% of scientists endorsed AGW constitutes a “97 % consensus” (of a few degrees warming), and peremptorily concludes ‘case closed’ - “deniers” are anti-science and should shut up and get with the program. There is no discussion of the quality of the evidence, faulty and unfalsifiable predictions, the relative contributions of non-anthropogenic effects, positive and negative consequences and their magnitude, the motivated reasoning of vehemently statist and anti-capitalist advocates, or mitigation strategies that minimize the oppressive expansion of government power and the impact on individual freedoms and living standards. The authors’ skepticism has its limits when it would really make them pariahs among their circle at Yale. Remember, the lead author is the guy who was taken in by Loose Change 9/11 conspiracy theories because Bush=Hitler, or something. This was before McCain=Hitler and Romney=Hitler and Trump=Hitler, for those keeping score at home.

The book would have benefited from more discussion of examples where the “scientific consensus” turned out to be wrong, for instance mad cow disease (BSE/vCJD) and prions. Galileo, bloodletting, relativity, and quantum mechanics are very briefly mentioned, but soft-pedaled. The book might also have benefited from some discussion of the social bias exemplified by Pauline Kael, who infamously couldn’t understand why Nixon won because “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them”. Scientists and skeptics are more susceptible to groupthink than they would like to admit.
Profile Image for Fred Forbes.
966 reviews49 followers
May 19, 2020
Some friends and family have called me annoying since whenever they post something on social media that is a crock, I call them on it and provide the relevant proof. I don't know why, but seeing crap like that posted just raises my ire. (Note opinions, religious, love messages, cute furpersons get a pass.) Despite the fact that some claim I am picking on them, I do note that the offender's postings tend to drop dramatically when they have been chastened a few times. (What are you, the sheriff of Facebook?)

Anyway, something I have pondered lies at the core of the issue, namely, why do people believe that stuff in the first place? So, this book was right up my alley and did not disappoint. The book is truly a guide as to why we think the way we do - and even as the sheriff, the true skeptic needs to realize they have some of those issues as well, we just need to try harder to stay as balanced and unbiased as possible.

So if you want to improve your critical thinking or perhaps understand why some folks seem incapable of it pick up a copy. The fun thing about the book is that though it is an easy read as it is irreverent , casual, full of humor and anecdotes at bottom it is a serious work, directed at correcting some serious issues.
Profile Image for Todd Martin.
Author 4 books74 followers
January 16, 2019
I’m a big fan of The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast, which is dedicated to the promotion of science and critical thinking. If you aren’t familiar with it, I would urge you check it out. As an outgrowth of the podcast the self-proclaimed ‘skeptical rogues’ produced a new book called The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake. The book covers many of the fundamentals upon which the podcast is based in that it delves into the multiplicity of ways that people can be fooled into believing things that simply aren’t true. As Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman once said “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

The first section of the book describes various errors in reasoning including such things as: the fallibility of memory, cognitive biases, logical fallacies, heuristics, data mining, the placebo effect, p-hacking, the law of large numbers, the Dunning-Kruger Effect, motivated reasoning, the ideomotor effect, and many others. Probably the overarching theme of this section (which represents more than 50% of the text) is that it’s not just those with whom we disagree that engage in sloppy reasoning, bad arguments and superstitious thinking, it’s all of us to a greater or lesser degree. Even the most ardent of critical thinkers needs to guard against falling into one of these cognitive traps.

The book then goes on to cover some specific anecdotal examples of skeptical lessons written by each of the rogues. This is followed by practical advice as to how to double check reporting performed by the news media and a few specific examples of pseudoscientific thinking. Finally … the book wraps up with some advice as to how to foster critical thinking in others.

On their podcast, the rogues billed the book as a skeptical primer that does a deep dive on the fundamentals of critical thinking and skepticism. As such, the book entirely succeeds. It was, for the most part, written by Steve Novella who is not only brilliant, but is an articulate and effective science communicator. The text is clearly and concisely written and does a thorough job explaining the common (and several uncommon) mechanisms of deception. I also appreciated the books short/manageable chapters and logical organization.

I do have a criticism however, though perhaps it’s not so much with the book itself as with my expectation of the book. The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast has great energy, and discusses various aspects of science and critical thinking in a fun and humorous manner. unfortunately, this book doesn’t possess these attributes to any appreciable degree (i.e. it’s not particularly fun or humorous). As science communicators, the first order of business isn’t to present the audience with a litany of dry facts, it’s to generate a sense of excitement and curiosity that primes the audience to learn. Improving the entertainment value would have helped in this regard and may have been achieved had there been more collaboration with the other (less ‘pendantic’) members of the group (Bob, Cara, Jay and Evan).

Good information … but rather dry and lacking in joy.
Profile Image for Viola.
350 reviews49 followers
July 29, 2019
Atmaskojošs pētījums par NLO, sencisma sludinātājiem, ekstrasensiem, pseidozinātniekiem, beidzot ar piemēriem no dzīves par to,kādu ļaunumu var izraisīt feiki pētījumi, neprofesionāļi,kuriem ir viedoklis par visu. Ieteiktu palasīt visiem sazverestības teoriju piekritējiem (kā reiz pieminama 5G epopeja) - noņemiet savas follija cepures un palasiet kaut ko vērtīgu! Vēl liels pluss ir grāmatas interesantā valoda, nav zinātniskas pārgudrības un sausuma.
Profile Image for Dovilė Stonė.
141 reviews71 followers
February 16, 2019
Šita knyga yra nuostabi. Optimali apimtis, nuosekli struktūra, labai mielas stilius ir savaip įkvepianti nuotaika.

Pradedama nuo pagrindų -- žmogaus mąstymo bug'ų, dažniausių logikos klaidų, -- ir judama link sudėtingesnių temų: pseudomokslo nagrinėjimo, mokslo žurnalistikos ydų aptarimo ir t. t.

Nuoširdžiai rekomenduoju perskaityti visiems. Tiesiog visiems. Ir viliuosi, kad ji bus išversta į lietuvių kalbą.

Platesnė apžvalga: https://siaiptai.blogspot.com/2019/02...
1 review1 follower
January 27, 2019
I would describe this book as excellent tool for structuring your knowledge about science thinking. I like that most of chapters are quite short, because it was easy to read it on the go. At some paragraphs I had to really focus to uderstand the full meaning of it, but I put it on a blame of me not being perfect english speaker and, what is more important, who said that it must be an easy lecture ;)
Profile Image for Hemen Kalita.
139 reviews18 followers
May 21, 2022
A nice basic introduction to rationality. Shorter than "Rationality - From AI to zombies" by Yudkowsky and easier than "Rationality" by Steven Pinker.

Two stars deducted, may be due to my own ad hominem bias, I don't know. But I didn't understand how the author being a skeptic is not an atheist? Apart from that, I also felt bias in some areas.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Debris.
Author 6 books31 followers
April 21, 2019
Sometimes you find a book that's just so good a 5* rating just doesn't quite feel right. The Skeptics'Guide to the Universe is one of those books for me and easily my best non-fiction read of the last couple of years. This book not only helps you to become a true skeptic, it will also help you to deal with people who don't believe in fact-based reasoning, something that seems to be an increasing trend these years.

Time to put on your critical thinking cap!

"Are you ready to put become part of an epic quest, one that has taken us from huddling in dark caves to stepping foot on the moon? (Yes, we really did that.) Like all adventures, this one is foremost a journey of self-discovery. The monsters you will slay and the challenges you will face are mostly constructs of your own mind. But if you can master them, the rewards are indeed epic."

This is how the book introduction ends. I couldn't agree more. I have been challenged, and indeed, we are nothing more than bags of mostly water with an emotional flavour with our own biases and preferences. But knowing is half the battle!

The book starts off with the what the core concepts are of skepticism. The first section of the book gives you all the tools you need to learn the tricks of the trade to becoming a true skeptic. The most important lesson you will learn from the first section is that you are no better than anyone else, even if it's easy to think you are.

For instance; the Dunning-Kruger effect is one to always keep in mind. This effect describes the inability to evaluate one's own competency, leading to general tendency to overestimate one's abilities. It's not just about dumb people not realising how dumb they are, you should know that you are just as ignorant as the average person is in every area of knowledge that you are not an expert in.

Another thing that's very important to realise is our tendency to seek out or interpret information as support for previously held notions or beliefs. This is called confirmation bias and we're all guilty of this. We all have certain world views and beliefs and everything that supports it, we hold on firmly, to rationalise that we're a good, moral person. What's important to know is that this will differ from person to person, but once you see confirmation bias in action, you'll see it everywhere. I know this section in particular opened my eyes to some discussions on the internet and where people were coming from!

"Confirmation bias is the one bias to rule all biases, the mayor of Biastown, captain of the USS Bias, the Sith Lord of the bias side of the Force (okay, you get the idea)."

One thing I really liked about this book is that it tells you to always respect other people, because you never have all the information. You don't know where they're coming from and that's why you should withhold judgement and give other people the benefit of the doubt. This tendency to rationalise our own actions as being the result of external factors beyond our control, while ascribing other people's actions to internal factors is called Fundamental Attribution Error, and it's very easy to spot, although you should always remain vigilant when you're guilty of this bias.

The book is very thorough on its subjects and basically after you've finished the first section (which is also the largest, by far) you will have a Swiss Army Knife of skills and knowledge you can put to use to become the skeptic you want to be! From placebo effects, to conspiracy theories, to cold reading, to pseudosciences, to all the psychological aspects. You just keep wanting to read more and learn more!

People often say that science in itself is a "religion" as well, but what they tend to forget is that although science might seem to be the denial of the existence of God, or other supernatural things, science is not a religion, it's a method. The real beauty of science to me can be found in this quote:

"The scientific method consists of the use of procedures designed to show not that our predictions and hypothesis are right, but that they might be wrong. Scientific reasoning is useful to anyone in any job because it makes us face the possibility, even the dire reality, that we were mistaken"
—Carol Tavris

The Human race has a constant need to find answers and science is one of the best ways to find answers. And if a theory is found to be flawed, or that they simply don't hold up to extensive testing, then those theories and views will have to be altered. That's how I want to be as a person too. If people can show me my reasoning is wrong, even if it might go against everything I hold dear, I have to face the possibility that I may be wrong. That's the beauty of science. As the book itself states: If you learn new information, happily incorporate it into your assessment.

I really loved the first section of the book and I find it hard to shut up about this book. The other sections were equally interesting, but were mostly stories about how people put their skepticism into practice. They were lovely stories, and definitely worth reading, because they're cautionary tales and give you solid advice on how to deal with certain situations, such as antivaxers and climate change deniers.

This book is essential reading for anyone who wants to learn how to think more critically for themselves. Something we can all use in this time of fake news and science deniers. ;) This books deserves all the five stars I bestow upon it, although I would rather give it 6/5. It's just that awesome!

I will finish this review with one last quote:
"Science is a way to teach how something gets to be known, what is not known, to what extent things are known (for nothing is known absolutely), how to handle doubt and uncertainty, what the rules of evidence are, how think about things so that judgements can be made, how to distinguish truth from fraud, and from show."
—Richard Feynman

Final score:

Cover art: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (reminiscent of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ;) )
Paper smell: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Print/lettering: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Originality: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Information: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Overall: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Happy reading!

Profile Image for David.
270 reviews5 followers
September 27, 2019
The author contributes reams of pages of jargon to describe the many logical fallacies to watch out for. He also appears to have a history of picking fights with many kooks and advocates of off beat or dangerous positions. These fights have left the author with a clear chip on his shoulder which comes across throughout the book. I give this book only two stars based on the ratio of useful info to vain arguments.
Profile Image for Corrado.
51 reviews
April 30, 2023
The world would be a better place if this book was mandatory in schools. This should be a must read for everyone, especially conspiracy theorists, even though I guess they would simply cling to their beliefs despite the evidences and say that this book is part of the conspiracy 🤔

It's a comprehensive guide to critical thinking that covers a wide range of topics, from pseudoscience and conspiracy theories to alternative medicine and more. It's like an enciclopedia that everyone should consult every time they have a doubt on one of these topics.

The book provides the tools to think critically and evaluate evidence for yourself. It's written in a funny and genuine way in my opinion and I can't recommend it highly enough.
Profile Image for Balhau.
59 reviews5 followers
October 2, 2019
In short, an amazing read. The book has lots of interesting points, as such I create a more dedicated and in depth review of this work here http://codecorner.balhau.net/skeptics.... Spoiler alert there are some annotations in the review.
Profile Image for Michael Compton.
Author 5 books154 followers
June 1, 2021
This should be a must-read on every college campus, if not in every high school. What Americans today need more than anything are the tools for critical thinking, and this book provides them, in an accessible and readable format. Many familiar concepts, but I was introduced to some new ones, too. I found the early chapter on p-hacking a bit daunting (I still don't really get it), but I'm glad I pressed on, because there is so much eye-opening, thought-provoking material, and it is presented in the best style of popular science writing. I would recommend this book to anyone who is open to sharpening their critical thinking.
Profile Image for Gilbert Stack.
Author 61 books52 followers
January 23, 2023
The first three-fifths or so of this book is a very interesting glossary of the various ways in which memory recalls things incorrectly and literally dozens of strategies that are commonly used to argue in favor of a position without supporting evidence. The point here is to empower the sceptic to understand ways in which misinformation can be promulgated and defended and of course, disproved. It’s quite simply great!

The rest of the book explores examples of how misinformation is promulgated and can be disproved. It also gives strategies both for getting along with people who believe things you know to be wrong and how to give them the tools over time to let them decide to change their opinions. (People do not like to be proved wrong and often resist direct evidence that their positions are false.) It is a fascinating book.
Profile Image for Liz De Coster.
1,439 reviews36 followers
October 4, 2018
An okay introduction to skepticism, but I'm wondering if the language will appeal to real "newbies". Certainly it's important to be specific and precise when possible, but if the basic terminology includes phrases like "neuropsychological humility" it might be difficult for some readers to engage with the material.
Profile Image for Stephanie Grant.
77 reviews3 followers
September 25, 2022
A must read. Learn (or remember) to think critically and to use a scientific approach to all of your important decisions. Encourage others to do the same. Spread logic and embrace being wrong.

Find the original source of any information. Focus on facts, evidence, and understand the limits of what is known.
Profile Image for Brad Jones.
15 reviews1 follower
April 16, 2019
The Skeptics Guide to the Universe - Lofty title but content didn't deliver the guide. I would have liked it had the author dissected some myths and revealed how truth was overturned. The booked lacked evidence. Disappointed.

Brad Jones
Scottsdale, AZ

Profile Image for Abraham.
6 reviews
March 5, 2023
Please, please, please make yourself a big favor and read this book. It's all I can say.

Thank you for this, Steve. It's a must for everyone as we're constantly dealing with a world full of fake.
Profile Image for Gary  Beauregard Bottomley.
977 reviews580 followers
January 30, 2023
There was nothing new in this book for me.

This book is a perfectly great introduction for the neophyte to Skepticism, but if you are like me, and growing up your holy trinity were Asimov, Sagan, and the Amazing Randi and in high school you started subscribing to the Skeptical Inquirer for about 20 years thereafter, you are definitely not the intended audience of this book.

Moreover, one would be better served by re-reading Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World’ than by reading this book. There was nothing new in this book that I hadn’t read or listened to previously. Sagan wrote better books than this one, Asimov’s science expositions are superior, and Randi demonstrated what to watch out for through practical demonstrations.

Try the Great Course Lecture on ‘The Science Wars’, or Curd’s ‘The Philosophy of Science’, or the James Randi documentary ‘An Honest Liar’ which shows how he stood between us and Oprah Winfrey with Barbara Walters trying to and almost succeeding to foist that charlatan Uri Geller upon a gullible public, and since I’ve mentioned movies try Ethan Hawkes’ film ‘Regression’ which subtly shows the craziness of the satanic panic, and this author mentions the travesty of the satanic panic in this book (to this day I still can’t stand Oprah Winfrey and Geraldo Rivera because what they did to the country by creating the satanic panic).

For me, this book was a dud since there was nothing new in it nor was their a compelling narrative that gave me a different way to think about the issues. I realize that others who are new to the topic can love this book.
Profile Image for Fawwaz.
195 reviews16 followers
August 31, 2019
Essential read. This book is probably in my top 5 non-fiction books. It basically teaches you all about critical thinking. It's dense with information but still manages to be easy to read. It contains around 60 chapters with very different topics and doesn't spend too long discussing one idea. It's also written like a guide that you could refer back to.

It talks about the limitations of our brain and how it can sometimes deceive us into seeing things that are not really there. Then it goes to talk about the biases and fallacies that we could fall into. It describes how science works and what differentiates it from pseudoscience with some enjoyable/scary tales from history.

This book is also based on a podcast that has been running for years (same name). They decided to collect all their ideas in one book. I will definitely be a listener now.
Profile Image for Tobias.
43 reviews
July 18, 2019
This book reaffirms what I learned from "Predictably Irrational" and similar books – humans suck. Our minds are unreliable, our thinking defaults to all kinds of logical fallacies, and we're naturally biased, hubristic, narrow-minded, unjust, and anything but how we love to portrait ourselves.

Thankfully, we have a set of methods to help us navigate this world; primarily logic and the scientific method.

Besides painting a bleak picture of our human nature, this handbook in skeptical thinking also educates on how to overcome our shortcomings. How to stay humble and first and foremost question what we think we know ourselves. It contains a plethora of tools for how to break down illogical arguments, how to recognize and debunk pseudoscience, and how to respond to quackery.

The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe should be required reading in all schools.
Profile Image for Ricardo Vladimiro.
106 reviews11 followers
May 26, 2019
Refiro-me muitas vezes à educação que dou à minha filha com a frase "não lhe digo o que pensar, ensino-a como pensar." Repeti esta frase vezes sem conta, com uma certa satisfação de ter encontrado, diria mesmo inventado, uma forma resumida para uma ideia profunda.

Qual não foi o meu espanto quando li esta frase no último capítulo do Skeptic's Guide to the Universe.

Este era um daqueles livros, juntamente com outros, por exemplo o Cosmos, que falhavam na minha lista de livros lidos. Quem me conhece e aos ditos livros, seria capaz de jurar que eu já os tinha lido, mas não. Coloquei como objectivo colmatar essa lacuna este ano e por isso li o SGU.

O problema é que o meu pensamento céptico, a minha forma de ver e ler o mundo, já leva anos e é bastante refinada. Por esse motivo não terei retirado nem o prazer, nem o conhecimento se o tivesse lido mais cedo. Daí as três estrelas do "I liked it", porque, sinceramente, é só mesmo isso, gostei. Quando o comparo a Demon-Haunted World e Cosmos, reconheço uma tremenda qualidade no que toca aos factos conhecidos da ciência, mas falta-lhe a grandiosidade das ideias de Sagan.

Tivesse eu lido este livro há 20 anos e seria um dos livros da minha vida. Agora, só gostei. No entanto recomendo, e muito, a sua leitura, principalmente a quem não está devidamente apresentado ao pensamento céptico e científico.
Profile Image for Chan Fry.
227 reviews6 followers
July 19, 2021

This is a thorough introduction for the budding or novice skeptic, full of explanations of the many cognitive biases we all have, as well as ways to spot and defeat logical fallacies. Further, it aims to fortify the reader against conspiracy thinking, pseudoscience, and woo of all sorts. It’s well done.

(I have published a longer review on my website.)

February 9, 2022
Detailed and compelling book exploring all the different ways we may fall for misinformation in various contexts. I love Dr. Novella’s creative style of writing. This is a great book for anyone who wants to better understand how to evaluate information and become more critical in general.
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