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

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  2,759 ratings  ·  368 reviews
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 u
Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Grand Central Publishing
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Average rating 4.44  · 
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Diana Eckert
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 t
Isil Arican
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Ryan Boissonneault
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
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
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 giv ...more
This should be required reading for everyone--not just the choir of scientific skeptics.
Todd Martin
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 mu ...more
Fred Forbes
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ;)
Jeffrey Debris
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 e
cool breeze
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 topi
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 Spoiler alert there are some annotations in the review. ...more
Michael Compton
May 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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 t ...more
Liz De Coster
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 tal
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I wish I had read instead of listened to this one. It gave me a lot to think about, and I wish I could have made notes along the way.
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Great primer on how to know what is real. There is a lot of garbage out there, and it takes skill to filter through it. No one is born with the ability to think critically, and we continue to struggle against simple mistakes that are all to easy to make. This book gives insight into how our minds work against us in interpreting reality.
Bill Leach
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Four stars for the first section, slowly declining through the rest of the book.

This book has a great introductory section which reviews the mechanisms that underlie human perception, and how they can lead to incorrect assessments. This is followed by chapters on logical errors in argument and the effects of bias. Novella looks at the use of Occam's Razor to identify the most likely explanation in a set of alternatives. Conversely, he shows the effects of confirmation bias and p-hacking in arriv
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a very important book, but beware - this is not a book full of myths being busted. As soon as the basics of being a skeptic are explained, the book gives a few examples and wraps up. To learn what's true and false, you'll have to listen to their podcast. ...more
Steve Granger
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I would have enthusiatically ate up this book during my four horseman phase but have observed that I've levelled out a bit. This could just be luck, as I very rarely get confronted with the level of nonsense that I had been in the past (abandoning almost all social media helped with that). However, in disclosing that, I think educational books like this are important to have in your reading diet no matter who you are - even if it's just a friendly reminder to check your own biases and mispercept ...more
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was having lunch with a very dear friend of mine last summer and, as is often the case, our conversation turned towards religion, the supernatural, aliens, conspiracies and all sorts of fun topics like that. At one point in our conversation I was picking up on a theme in all of these topics, he believes in them all.

Alien ghosts conspiring with devil worshiping billionaires to put aborted fetuses into school lunches? Yeah, sounds legit.

And, to be clear, this guy is no dummy. I generally consi
Tomas Sedovic
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A huge caveat to this review: the authors of this book are hosting a weekly podcast (of the same name) I've been keenly listening to for 7 years. They feel like friends I've never met and this has certainly coloured my views of the book.

That said, it's fantastic. I love it.

The Skeptic's Guide is not about automatic doubt and dismissal of everything as the title might suggest. It is about the exploration of scientific scepticism -- how to approach claims and investigate whether (or how likely) th
Sam Homan
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read this book.
Ram S
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book covers scientific skepticism as a way of approaching life. The most important section is the tools being laid out for the reader in order to evaluate things skeptically. These are neuropsychological humility, metacognition, promotion of science/reason/critical thinking, detecting pseudo science, free enquiry and consumer protection. These chapters provide scientific basis for why skeptical thought is necessary both as a means of self reflection as well as observing reality. I found the ...more
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2020
3.5 stars. This is a book about how to critically/scientifically process the information we are confronted with. It touches on a wide range of topics such as biases, logical fallacies, conspiracy theories, witch hunts, homeopathy, pyramid schemes, GMOs, alternative medicine, paranormal activity, fake news, micro biome, epigenetics, among many others. Some topics they go into too much depth on, and others were too shallow. One problem I had is their complete disregard for any truth received from ...more
Mike Hardin
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book should be required reading for every person in America. In fact, it should be a part of every high school curriculum. Why? The subtitle says it all: "How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake." "The Sceptic's Guide" is a primer for developing the critical thinking and analytical skills that just may save us from the flood of pseudoscience, misinformation, and outright superstition that threatens centuries of hard-won enlightenment. It does not pretend to be an ...more
Boni Aditya
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: metacognition
A few years ago when I first came across Logical Fallacies, Biases, Pseudo Sciences, Frauds, and other errors in Science. I wanted to create an encyclopedia to capture all the errors in human judgement that have been made since time immemorial. Well, needless to say, i have not done it. But, this book can serve that purpose, it has a list of all such errors carefully codified, along with the type of error that was committed. This book has helped me shatter many nonsense claims in one go. In fact ...more
Tadas Talaikis
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: atheism
First half is excellent. People tend to believe (and this is inevitable) anything. Skepticism is a good way to get real, but I am still not sure if reality is better financially, because see, it is inevitable that you will end up selling some needless, "miraculous" shit. I'll smoke a ton of marijuana, DMT and will try to test it again, i.e. "the real is what you say it is", which way's better :-D I think I can find clients for almost anything. Send me ideas what can I do, materialize gold out fr ...more
Pasquale Galati
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was highly anticipated and did not disappoint. If you're just starting out or well versed in skeptic thinking, this book makes sense. It's easy to read and easy to follow. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves science, wants to think more critically, or aid in knowledgeable discussion ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
It never fails... I'm scrolling through social media, and I come across some piece of what is clearly pseudoscientific jargon about a miracle cure, or a badly fabricated piece of fake news. And while my immediate instinct is to jump into the comment section fray, ready to decimate all comers with a blast of pure logic and good common sense, this first thought is immediately followed by others: well, what's the blatantly obvious hole in their argument? If I were to put in my two cents, how could ...more
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