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

4.55  ·  Rating details ·  794 ratings  ·  116 reviews
An all-encompassing guide to skeptical thinking from podcast host and academic neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine Steven Novella and his SGU co-hosts.

It is 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 th
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Grand Central Publishing
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4.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  794 ratings  ·  116 reviews

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Diana Eckert
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Peter Mcloughlin
This is one of the better skeptic books. The author doesn't merely debunk the usual suspects of pseudoscience although there is plenty of debunking of UFOs, Ghosts, Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Astrology et al. The author goes into our cognitive biases and blind spots and illogical thought processes and provides tools for fighting ever new pseudoscience, fake news, hoaxes, and assorted nonsense which springs eternal in many forms. This book is a gem that will give you a fighting chance against lying ...more
Dovilė Stonė
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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:
This should be required reading for everyone--not just the choir of scientific skeptics.
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
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, non-fiction
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
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
Ram S
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Liz De Coster
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.
Pasquale Galati
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Todd Martin
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it
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
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition Okay, so...back in 2006 I found a weekly podcast that was so consistently good that, even on a dial-up connection, I had no problem spending four or five hours every week downloading it, just for an hour of content. It was The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, hosted by several brothers and a couple of friends, sharing science, skeptic, and tech news, playing games, etc. It often featured scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins as interviewees, and was for a long time my a ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kyle Bunkers
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have followed Steven Novella's blog for quite a while and have found his analyses to be nicely balanced and reasoned. So I thought I may as well give his book a shot. I was expecting more of an overarching story about skepticism, but it was more like a bunch of entries in an encyclopedia (this is not meant to be a bad thing; I am just saying each chapter is more-or-less self-contained). This is not to say that this is a bad book, just that it was not what I expected. I considered giving it 4 s ...more
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the past, I’d often have arguments about whether I remembered a certain incident accurately or not. The brain does a better job of remembering the emotion associated with a memory rather than the actual details of the incident itself. Knowing this would have saved me some of those arguments 🙂 The first section on metacognition was a great compilation of mental calisthenics and how/why our brain tricks us easily. Having a vocabulary of cognitive biases is helpful in self awareness too.

I have n
I've been listening to the SGU podcast for about five years, and this summer I have been catching up on all the episodes since the beginning. One of my favorite things about the podcast is having some of my own long-held beliefs debunked. I've been looking forward to this book for a long time. I'm always telling friends that the podcast is the best primer on critical thinking I've found, and it's so nice to have a format that I can easily share.

One of the topics I awaited most eagerly is GM. Eve
John Wood
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Espousing the philosophy of the popular podcast of the same name, this book goes step by step through many scenarios that test the system for separating fake from real. After all that, I can't say that I feel much more armed against the misinformation, other than now having an increased awareness of how to face the overwhelming onslaught of ideas flying at me from all directions. Basically, the book says that if it doesn't withstand scientific scrutiny, it isn't true. We need to keep an open min ...more
Tadas Talaikis
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To be fair, I'm a big fan of the podcast, but I do believe this book is well worth anyone's time. I learned a lot, and must also confess to having believed many of the Monsanto fake news stories that were covered. I listened to the audiobook version, and although I have no regrets, I intend to also read the Kindle version. There's really that much good stuff in there, that I also want the read through it myself. I'm highly "visual", and I'll end up with a much higher retention that way. Every ch ...more
Ben Stack
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A heavy read

Took me ages to get through it but it was instructive without being preachy. A good reference I will revisit often for years to come.
John O’Connell
For anyone who wants to be a critical thinker, this book is for you. And for those who do not want to be critical thinkers this book is definitely for you.
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing book that lays the foundation for skeptic thinking. Properly illustrated with several supporting stories, it explains our tendency to believe in quackery and what can we do to overcome it. Greatly recommended.
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bilimsel skeptisizm ekolünün amiral cep yayını, "The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe" 2005'ten bu yana istikrarlı bir çizgide yayın yapıyor. Sonunda SGU ekibi Steven Novella'nın önderliğinde yılların birikimini bu kaynak kitapta toplamış, çok da güzel bir iş başarmışlar.

Bugün Yalansavar sitesinde devam eden kritik düşünce ve bilimsel skeptisizm maceram çocuk yaşlarda okuduğum "Karanlık Bir Dünyada Bilimin Mum Işığı" (Carl Sagan) kitabıyla başlamıştı. Verdiği ilham bir yana, bilimsel düşünüşün te
Ganesh Poomal
This has given me a lot. I was not expecting that I would find tools to improve critical thinking. But thinking back Critical thinking is at the core of being a skeptic.

This book talks about common cognitive biases which will directly affect what is perceived. Our beliefs shape what we perceive actively. This portion will help raise questions where the evidence rests on the perception of a few. Second, this book talks about common logical fallacies. This section helps us to find weakness in our
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, first-reads
I received an advance copy from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

This book was fantastic! I regularly read several science-based medicine blogs, and I've read many of Dr. Steven Novella's articles. When I heard that he was publishing a book, I knew it was a must-read. This book explains critical thinking, logical fallacies, problems with memory, biases, and other concepts to help readers learn how to examine a claim to determine its plausibility and (in)accuracy. I wish I had had a book like thi
Robert Starr
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I imagine this is a tough book to put together. It needs to be broad, yet complete, and detailed enough to satisfy pedantic readers. And it, above all, needs to be accurate. The SGU seems to want to have it all here, appealing to new skeptics without boring the show's long-time fans. Perhaps this was a mistake. No book can be everything, but in so much as this one tries, it achieves it.

The writing is clear, though I'd be interested in hearing how believers respond. The advantage of a book like t
Eric Wojciechowski
Being a long time listener to this podcast, and then finding out they were writing a "How To" book, I had to review this. This volume does not disappoint. I figured it would take the mantle from Carl Sagan's "Demon Haunted World" but instead of replacement, it sits next to it on equal grounds.

It's somewhat more of an encyclopedia of definitions, terms and concepts; all of which, are invaluable. And it was a bit trying to read through because of the style choice. Nevertheless, it gets five stars
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“This is the essence of skepticism: How do we know what to believe and what to doubt?
Once you begin to ask questions like “How do we actually know anything?” our beliefs start to fall one by one.”
“Anyone who engages in social media witnesses the attribution error on a regular basis. Not only is there a tendency to assume other people’s motivations; we hastily infer their arguments and positions, based upon the pigeonhole into which we think they fit. Without listening to what they are actually saying, charitably interpreting that, and giving them an opportunity to clarify their position, we risk attributing a position to them that they don’t have, attacking a straw man, and then looking foolish. I’ve seen these exchanges rapidly degrade into mutual accusations of being a troll. There are real trolls out there, but sometimes trolling is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes we can be the troll.” 1 likes
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