How to Think – A Survival Guide for a World at Odds (2017)
In this smart, endlessly entertaining book, Jacobs diagnoses the many forces that act on us to prevent thinking—forces that have only worsened in the age of Twitter, “alternative facts,” and information overload—and he also dispels the many myths we hold about what it means to think well. (For example: It’s impossible to “think for yourself.”)
Your Brain is Playing Tricks on You (2022)
In this book, filled with multiple examples from our daily lives and psychosocial experiments, Moukheiber explores the building blocks of our perception, cognition and behaviour, which are involved in acquiring knowledge or forming opinions.
Lessons From Critical Thinkers – Methods for Clear Thinking and Analysis in Everyday Situations from the Greatest Thinkers in History (2019)
Lessons from Critical Thinkers gives you a thorough presentation of the ideas and principles of critical thinking practiced by the greatest minds in history. Learn about the most important critical thinking methods to make better decisions in your personal life, career, and friendships.
Biological Anthropology – An Evolutionary Perspective (2013)
Barbara J. King
When we consider ourselves, not as static beings fixed in time but as dynamic, ever-changing creatures, our viewpoint of human history becomes different and captivating.
The crucial element of “time depth” has revolutionized the very questions we ask about ourselves. “Who are we?” has turned into “What have we become? What are we becoming?”
As Dr. King addresses these and other questions in this scientific story, you will come to see evolution as not simply a textbook theory but a vital force.
God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question – Why We Suffer (2008)
Bart D. Ehrman
In this sometimes provocative, often pedantic memoir of his own attempts to answer the great theological question about the persistence of evil in the world, Ehrman, a UNC–Chapel Hill religion professor, refuses to accept the standard theological answers. Through close readings of every section of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, he discovers that the Bible offers numerous answers that are often contradictory. The prophets think God sends pain and suffering as a punishment for sin and also that human beings who oppress others create such misery; the writers who tell the Jesus story and the Joseph stories think God works through suffering to achieve redemptive purposes; the writers of Job view pain as God’s test; and the writers of Job and Ecclesiastes conclude that we simply cannot know why we suffer.
The Missionary Position (2012)
Among his many books, perhaps none have sparked more outrage than The Missionary Position, Christopher Hitchens’s meticulous study of the life and deeds of Mother Teresa. A Nobel Peace Prize recipient beatified by the Catholic Church in 2003, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was celebrated by heads of state and adored by millions for her work on behalf of the poor. In his measured critique, Hitchens asks only that Mother Teresa’s reputation be judged by her actions – not the other way around.
With characteristic élan and rhetorical dexterity, Hitchens eviscerates the fawning cult of Teresa, recasting the Albanian missionary as a spurious, despotic, and megalomaniacal operative of the wealthy who long opposed measures to end poverty, and fraternized, for financial gain, with tyrants and white-collar criminals throughout the world.
God is Not Great – How Religion Poisons Everything (2007)
Hitchens contends that organised religion is “[v]iolent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children”, and that accordingly it “ought to have a great deal on its conscience.” Hitchens supports his position with a mixture of personal stories, documented historical anecdotes and critical analysis of religious texts. His commentary focuses mainly on the Abrahamic religions, although he also touches on other religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.
Arguably – Essays by Christopher Hitchens (2012)
ARGUABLY offers an indispensable key to understanding the passionate and skeptical spirit of one of our most dazzling writers, widely admired for the clarity of his style, a result of his disciplined and candid thinking. Topics range from ruminations on why Charles Dickens was among the best of writers and the worst of men to the haunting science fiction of J.G. Ballard; from the enduring legacies of Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell to the persistent agonies of anti-Semitism and jihad. Hitchens even looks at the recent financial crisis and argues for arthe enduring relevance of Karl Marx. The book forms a bridge between the two parallel enterprises of culture and politics. It reveals how politics justifies itself by culture, and how the latter prompts the former. In this fashion, ARGUABLY burnishes Christopher Hitchens’ credentials as-to quote Christopher Buckley-our “greatest living essayist in the English language.”
Hitch-22: A Memoir (2011)
As contemptuous, digressive, righteous, and riotously funny as the rest of the author’s incessant output, this memoir is an effective coming-of-age story, regardless of what one may think of the resulting adult . . . Hitchens paints a credible and even affecting self-portrait.
Letters to a Young Contrarian (2005)
In the book that he was born to write, provocateur and best-selling author Christopher Hitchens inspires future generations of radicals, gadflies, mavericks, rebels, angry young (wo)men, and dissidents. Who better to speak to that person who finds him or herself in a contrarian position than Hitchens, who has made a career of disagreeing in profound and entertaining ways. This book explores the entire range of “contrary positions”-from noble dissident to gratuitous pain in the butt. In an age of overly polite debate bending over backward to reach a happy consensus within an increasingly centrist political dialogue, Hitchens pointedly pitches himself in contrast. He bemoans the loss of the skills of dialectical thinking evident in contemporary society. He understands the importance of disagreement-to personal integrity, to informed discussion, to true progress-heck, to democracy itself. Epigrammatic, spunky, witty, in your face, timeless and timely, this book is everything you would expect from a mentoring contrarian.
The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever (2007)
Hitchens, an avowed atheist and author of the bestseller God Is Not Great, is a formidable intellectual who finds the notion of belief in God to be utter nonsense. The author is clear in his introduction that religion has caused more than its fair share of world problems. “Religion invents a problem where none exists by describing the wicked as also made in the image of god and the sexually nonconformist as existing in a state of incurable mortal sin that can incidentally cause floods and earthquakes.” The readings Hitchens chooses to bolster his atheist argument are indeed engaging and important. Hobbes, Spinoza, Mill and Marx are some of the heavyweights representing a philosophical viewpoint. From the world of literature the author assembles excerpts from Shelley, Twain, Conrad, Orwell and Updike.
A Pocket History of Human Evolution: How We Became Sapiens (2019)
Silvana Condemi & François Savatier
Prehistory has never been more exciting: New discoveries are overturning long-held theories left and right. Stone tools in Australia date back 65,000 years -a time when, we once thought, the first Sapiens had barely left Africa. DNA sequencing has unearthed a new hominid group – the Denisovans – and confirmed that crossbreeding with them (and Neanderthals) made Homo sapiens who we are today. A Pocket History of Human Evolution brings us up-to-date on the exploits of all our ancient relatives. Paleoanthropologist Silvana Condemi and science journalist François Savatier consider what accelerated our evolution: Was it tools, our “large” brains, language, empathy, or something else entirely? And why are we the sole survivors among many early bipedal humans? Their conclusions reveal the various ways ancient humans live on today – from gossip as modern “grooming” to our gendered division of labor – and what the future might hold for our strange and unique species.
The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture (2009)
For thousands of years, religion has woven its way through societies and people as if it were part and parcel to that society or person. In large measure it was left unexplained and unchallenged, it simply existed. Those who attempted to challenge and expose religion were often persecuted, excommunicated, shunned, or even executed. It could be fatal to explain that which the church, priest, or imam said was unexplainable. Before the germ, viral, and parasite theory of disease, physicians had no tools to understand disease and its propagation.
Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All (2010)
Why would anyone think Jesus never existed? Isn’t it perfectly reasonable to accept that he was a real first century figure? As it turns out, no. NAILED sheds light on ten beloved Christian myths, and, with evidence gathered from historians across the theological spectrum, shows how they point to a Jesus Christ created solely through allegorical alchemy of hope and imagination; a messiah transformed from a purely literary, theological construct into the familiar figure of Jesus – in short, a purely mythic Christ.
The Improbability Principle
David J. Hand
Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World (2015)
Fighting God is a firebrand manifesto from one of the most recognizable faces of atheism. Silverman – a walking, talking atheist billboard known for his appearances on Fox News – discusses the effectiveness, ethics, and impact of the in-your-face-atheist who refuses to be silent.
Silverman argues that religion is more than just wrong: it is malevolent and does not deserve our respect. It is our duty to be outspoken and do what we can to bring religion down. Examining the mentality, methods, and issues facing the firebrand atheist, Silverman presents an overwhelming argument for firebrand atheism.
Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith (2015)
Dr. J Anderson Thomson & Clare Aukofer
Why We Believe In God(s) provides a brief and accessible guide to the exciting new discoveries that allow us to finally understand why and how the human mind generates, accepts, and spreads religious beliefs.
Dr. Andy Thomson is an American psychiatrist and writer, staff psychiatrist for Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Virginia Student Health Center, as well as the University of Virginia’s Institute for Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy.
Thomson has published papers on a variety of issues, including racism, narcissistic personality disorder, forensic psychiatry, depression and PTSD. He is known for his work on evolutionary psychology, as well as for his exploration of the cognitive and evolutionary basis of religious belief.
The Dawn of Everything – A New History of Humanity (2021)
Unfreezing the ice age: the truth about humanity’s deep past.
Archaeological discoveries are shattering scholars’ long-held beliefs about how the earliest humans organised their societies – and hint at possibilities for our own
For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike, either free and equal innocents, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or, alternatively, by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in the eighteenth century as a conservative reaction to powerful critiques of European society posed by Indigenous observers and intellectuals.
Revisiting this encounter has startling implications for how we make sense of human history today, including the origins of farming, property, cities, democracy, slavery, and civilization itself.
Visionary – The Origins of Human Consciousness (2022)
Discover the pathway to the gods.
Less than 50,000 years ago mankind had no art, no religion, no sophisticated symbolism, no innovative thinking. Then, in a dramatic and electrifying change, described by scientists as “the greatest riddle in human history,” all the skills and qualities that we value most highly in ourselves appeared already fully formed, as though bestowed on us by hidden powers.
In Visionary, Graham Hancock sets out to investigate this mysterious “before-and-after moment” and to discover the truth about the influences that gave birth to modern human mind. His quest takes him on a journey of adventure and detection from the stunningly beautiful painted caves of prehistoric France, Spain, and Italy to remote rock shelters in the mountains of South Africa, where he finds a treasure trove of extraordinary Stone Age art.
Think: Why You Should Question Everything (2013)
Guy P Harrison
Think more critically, learn to question everything, and don’t let your own brain trip you up.
This fresh and exciting approach to science, skepticism, and critical thinking will enlighten and inspire readers of all ages. With a mix of wit and wisdom, it challenges everyone to think like a scientist, embrace the skeptical life, and improve their critical thinking skills.
Think shows you how to better navigate through the maze of biases and traps that are standard features of every human brain. These innate pitfalls threaten to trick us into seeing, hearing, thinking, remembering, and believing things that are not real or true. Guy Harrison’s straightforward text will help you trim away the nonsense, deflect bad ideas, and keep both feet firmly planted in reality.
Unapologetic – Why Philosophy of Religion Must End (2016)
John W. Loftus
Just as intelligent design is not a legitimate branch of biology in public educational institutions, nor should the philosophy of religion be a legitimate branch of philosophy. So argues acclaimed author John W. Loftus in this forceful takedown of the very discipline in which he was trained. In his call for ending the philosophy of religion, he argues that, as it is presently being practiced, the main reason the discipline exists is to serve the faith claims of Christianity. Most of philosophy of religion has become little more than an effort to defend and rationalize preexisting Christian beliefs. If subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, and geology are all taught without reference to faith-based supernatural forces as explanations, faith-based teachings should not be acceptable in this discipline either.
One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (2015)
Kevin M. Kruse
Conventional wisdom holds that America has been a Christian nation since the Founding Fathers. But in One Nation Under God, historian Kevin M. Kruse argues that the idea of “Christian America” is nothing more than a myth – and a relatively recent one at that.
The assumption that America was, is, and always will be a Christian nation dates back no further than the 1930s, when a coalition of businessmen and religious leaders united in opposition to FDR’s New Deal. With the full support of Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s, these activists – the forerunners of the Religious Right – propelled religion into the public sphere. Church membership skyrocketed; Congress added the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance and made “In God We Trust” the country’s official motto. For the first time, America became a thoroughly religious nation.
Provocative and authoritative, One Nation Under God reveals how the comingling of money, religion, and politics created a false origin story that continues to define and divide American politics today.
Becoming Human: A Theory of Ontogeny (2019)
A radical reconsideration of how we develop the qualities that make us human, based on decades of cutting-edge experimental work by the former director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
Virtually all theories of how humans have become such a distinctive species focus on evolution. Here, Michael Tomasello proposes a complementary theory of human uniqueness, focused on development. Building on the seminal ideas of Vygotsky, his data-driven model explains how those things that make us most human are constructed during the first years of a child’s life.
Tomasello assembles nearly three decades of experimental work with chimpanzees, bonobos, and human children to propose a new framework for psychological growth between birth and seven years of age. He identifies eight pathways that starkly differentiate humans from their closest primate relatives: social cognition, communication, cultural learning, cooperative thinking, collaboration, prosociality, social norms, and moral identity.
The Faith Instinct – How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures (2010)
Noted science writer Nicholas Wade offers for the first time a convincing case based on a broad range of scientific evidence for the evolutionary basis of religion.
The Brain and the Meaning of Life (2012)
Why is life worth living? What makes actions right or wrong? What is reality and how do we know it? The Brain and the Meaning of Life draws on research in philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to answer some of the most pressing questions about life’s nature and value. Paul Thagard argues that evidence requires the abandonment of many traditional ideas about the soul, free will, and immortality, and shows how brain science matters for fundamental issues about reality, morality, and the meaning of life. The ongoing Brain Revolution reveals how love, work, and play provide good reasons for living.
Defending the superiority of evidence-based reasoning over religious faith and philosophical thought experiments, Thagard argues that minds are brains and that reality is what science can discover.
The Rise of Humans: Great Scientific Debates (2011)
Trying to understand our human origins has always been a fundamental part of who we are. One of the core things we want to know is how we came to be. Thousands of years ago, human civilizations developed elaborate stories to explain the origins of humans. But today, with the help of dramatic archaeological discoveries and groundbreaking advancements in technology and scientific understanding, we are closer than ever before to learning the true story. In recent decades, paleo-anthropology has exploded, bringing us closer than ever before to making sense of this controversial subject and providing us with a richer understanding of our origins. It’s also sparked continued debate among the greatest minds in the field and prompted anthropologists to revise, update, and even, in some cases, overturn ideas and theories about key issues in human evolution.
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (2013)
“A lucid, intelligent page-turner” (Los Angeles Times) that challenges long-held assumptions about Jesus, from the host of Believer Two thousand years ago, an itinerant Jewish preacher walked across the Galilee, gathering followers to establish what he called the “Kingdom of God.” The revolutionary movement he launched was so threatening to the established order that he was executed as a state criminal. Within decades after his death, his followers would call him God. Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history’s most enigmatic figures by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived. Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Aslan describes a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction.
Not the Impossible Faith: Why Christianity Didn’t Need a Miracle to Succeed (2009)
Not the Impossible Faith is a tour de force in that genre, dissecting and refuting the oft-repeated claim that Christianity could not have succeeded in the ancient world unless it was true. Though framed as a detailed rebuttal to Christian apologist J.P. Holding (author of The Impossible Faith), Carrier takes a general approach that educates the listener on the history and sociology of the ancient world, answering many questions like: How did Christians approach evidence? Was there a widespread prejudice against the testimony of women? Was resurrection such a radical idea? Who would worship a crucified criminal? And much more.
On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt (2014)
The assumption that Jesus existed as a historical person has occasionally been questioned in the course of the last hundred years or so, but any doubts that have been raised have usually been put to rest in favor of imagining a blend of the historical, the mythical and the theological in the surviving records of Jesus. Carrier re-examines the whole question and finds compelling reasons to suspect the more daring assumption is correct. He lays out extensive research on the evidence for Jesus and the origins of Christianity and poses the key questions that must now be answered if the historicity of Jesus is to survive as a dominant paradigm. Carrier contrasts the most credible reconstruction of a historical Jesus with the most credible theory of Christian origins if a historical Jesus did not exist.
Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science (2015)
In this hugely entertaining sequel to the New York Times bestselling memoir An Appetite for Wonder, Richard Dawkins delves deeply into his intellectual life spent kick-starting new conversations about science, culture, and religion and writing yet another of the most audacious and widely read books of the twentieth century—The God Delusion.
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (2009)
The Greatest Show on Earth is a stunning counterattack on advocates of “Intelligent Design”, explaining the evidence for evolution while exposing the absurdities of the creationist “argument”. Dawkins sifts through rich layers of scientific evidence: from living examples of natural selection to clues in the fossil record; from plate tectonics to molecular genetics. Combining these elements and many more, he makes the airtight case that “we find ourselves perched on one tiny twig in the midst of a blossoming and flourishing tree of life and it is no accident, but the direct consequence of evolution by non-random selection.”
The Selfish Gene (1976)
“Richard Dawkins’ brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands to rethink their beliefs about life.
In his internationally best-selling, now classic, volume, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins explains how the selfish gene can also be a subtle gene. The world of the selfish gene revolves around savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit, and yet, Dawkins argues, acts of apparent altruism do exist in nature. Bees, for example, will commit suicide when they sting to protect the hive, and birds will risk their lives to warn the flock of an approaching hawk.”
The Big Picture On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself (2016)
Already internationally acclaimed for his elegant, lucid writing on the most challenging notions in modern physics, Sean Carroll is emerging as one of the greatest humanist thinkers of his generation as he brings his extraordinary intellect to bear not only on Higgs bosons and extra dimensions but now also on our deepest personal questions. Where are we? Who are we? Are our emotions, our beliefs, and our hopes and dreams ultimately meaningless out there in the void? Does human purpose and meaning fit into a scientific worldview?
In short chapters filled with intriguing historical anecdotes, personal asides, and rigorous exposition, readers learn the difference between how the world works at the quantum level, the cosmic level, and the human level–and then how each connects to the other. Carroll’s presentation of the principles that have guided the scientific revolution from Darwin and Einstein to the origins of life, consciousness, and the universe is dazzlingly unique.
Carroll shows how an avalanche of discoveries in the past few hundred years has changed our world and what really matters to us. Our lives are dwarfed like never before by the immensity of space and time, but they are redeemed by our capacity to comprehend it and give it meaning.
Critical Thinking (2009)
Sharon M. Kaye
This guide will teach you how to analyse arguments, speeches, and newspaper articles. It will help you discern faults in reasoning from sound arguments. It looks at the structure of language in order to demonstrate rules by which you can identify good analytical thinking, and will help you to formulate clear, defensible arguments. With real life newspaper extracts, a glossary, exercises and answers, and a guide to essay writing, this is an invaluable tool for both students wanting to improve their grades and general readers wanting to boost their brainpower.
Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty (2011)
Borderline personality disorder, autism, narcissism, psychosis, Asperger’s: All of these syndromes have one thing in common–lack of empathy. In some cases, this absence can be dangerous, but in others it can simply mean a different way of seeing the world. In The Science of Evil Simon Baron-Cohen, an award-winning British researcher who has investigated psychology and autism for decades, develops a new brain-based theory of human cruelty. A true psychologist, however, he examines social and environmental factors that can erode empathy, including neglect and abuse.
The Grand Design (2010)
Stephen Hawking & Leonard Mlodinow
When and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the nature of reality? Why are the laws of nature so finely tuned as to allow for the existence of beings like ourselves? And, finally, is the apparent “grand design” of our universe evidence of a benevolent creator who set things in motion—or does science offer another explanation? The most fundamental questions about the origins of the universe and of life itself, once the province of philosophy, now occupy the territory where scientists, philosophers, and theologians meet—if only to disagree. In their new book, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow present the most recent scientific thinking about the mysteries of the universe, in nontechnical language marked by both brilliance and simplicity.
Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills (2013)
What should you think? Who should you believe? Could you be deceiving yourself? These are questions that all critical thinkers of any age must constantly ask themselves. There is no more important skill in today’s world than being able to think about, understand, and act on information in a way that is both effective and responsible. Critical thinking transforms you from a passive member of society into an active participant in the ideas and issues of the day. It empowers you to better understand nearly every single aspect of everyday life, from health and nutrition to science and technology to philosophical and spiritual belief systems.
Enlightenment Now – The case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress (2018)
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.