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  1. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

    by Steven Pinker
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    Readership: Very niche

    In The Blank Slate , Steven Pinker explores the idea of human nature and its moral, emotional, and political colorings. He shows how many intellectuals have denied the existence of human nature by embracing three linked dogmas: the Blank Slate (the mind has no innate traits), the Noble Savage (people are born good and corrupted by society), and the Ghost in the Machine (each of us has a soul that makes choices free from biology). Each dogma carries a moral burden, so their defenders have engaged in desperate tactics to discredit the scientists who are now challenging them. Pinker injects … (Goodreads)

  2. Thinking, Fast and Slow

    by Daniel Kahneman
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    Readership: Popular

    In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow , Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior. The impact of loss aversion and overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the challenges of properly framing risks at … (Goodreads)

  3. Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

    by Steven Pinker
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    If you think the world is coming to an end, think again: people are living longer, healthier, freer, and happier lives, and while our problems are formidable, the solutions lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science. 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 … (Goodreads)

  4. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

    by Jonathan Haidt
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    Readership: Eclectic

    An alternate cover edition of ISBN 9780307377906 can be found ,here., Why can’t our political leaders work together as threats loom and problems mount? Why do people so readily assume the worst about the motives of their fellow citizens? In The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding. His starting point is moral intuition—the nearly instantaneous perceptions we all have about other people and the things they do. These intuitions feel like self-evident truths, making us righteously certain that those who see things differently are … (Goodreads)

  5. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

    by Jared Diamond
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    "Diamond has written a book of remarkable scope ... one of the most important and readable works on the human past published in recent years." Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a national bestseller: the global account of the rise of civilization that is also a stunning refutation of ideas of human development based on race. In this "artful, informative, and delightful" (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then … (Goodreads)

  6. How the Mind Works

    by Steven Pinker
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    In this extraordinary bestseller, Steven Pinker, one of the world's leading cognitive scientists, does for the rest of the mind what he did for language in his 1994 book, The Language Instinct . He explains what the mind is, how it evolved, and how it allows us to see, think, feel, laugh, interact, enjoy the arts, and ponder the mysteries of life. And he does it with the wit that prompted Mark Ridley to write in the New York Times Book Review , "No other science writer makes me laugh so much. . . . [Pinker] deserves the superlatives that … (Goodreads)

  7. The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

    by Richard Dawkins
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    Readership: Eclectic

    Charles Darwin’s masterpiece, On the Origin of Species , shook society to its core on publication in 1859. Darwin was only too aware of the storm his theory of evolution would provoke but he would surely have raised an incredulous eyebrow at the controversy still raging a century and a half later. Evolution is accepted as scientific fact by all reputable scientists and indeed theologians, yet millions of people continue to question its veracity. In The Greatest Show on Earth Richard Dawkins takes on creationists, including followers of ‘Intelligent Design’ and all those who question the fact of evolution through … (Goodreads)

  8. The God Delusion

    by Richard Dawkins
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    A preeminent scientist - and the world's most prominent atheist - asserts the irrationality of belief in God, and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11. With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament, to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion, and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. … (Goodreads)

  9. The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design

    by Richard Dawkins
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    ***30th Anniversary Edition*** Cover note: Each copy of the anniversary edition of ,The Blind Watchmaker, features a unique biomorph. No two covers are exactly alike. Acclaimed as the most influential work on evolution written in the last hundred years, The Blind Watchmaker offers an inspiring and accessible introduction to one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. A brilliant and controversial book which demonstrates that evolution by natural selection - the unconscious, automatic, blind yet essentially non-random process discovered by Darwin - is the only answer to the biggest question of all: why do we exist? … (Goodreads)

  10. The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

    by Steven Pinker
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    Readership: Very niche

    The classic book on the development of human language by the world’s leading expert on language and the mind. In this classic, the world's expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution. The Language Instinct received the William James Book … (Goodreads)

  11. Free Will

    by Sam Harris
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    Belief in free will touches nearly everything that human beings value. It is difficult to think about law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships, morality—as well as feelings of remorse or personal achievement—without first imagining that every person is the true source of his or her thoughts and actions. And yet the facts tell us that free will is an illusion. In this enlightening book, Sam Harris argues that this truth about the human mind does not undermine morality or diminish the importance of social and political freedom, but it can and should change the way we think about some … (Goodreads)

  12. The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

    by Richard Dawkins
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    Readership: Very niche

    Magic takes many forms. Supernatural magic is what our ancestors used in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods’ bridge to earth. The Japanese used to explain earthquakes by conjuring a gigantic catfish that carried the world on its back—earthquakes occurred each time it flipped its tail. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It … (Goodreads)

  13. Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow

    by Yuval Noah Harari
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed ,New York Times, bestseller and international phenomenon ,Sapiens,, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods. Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much … (Goodreads)

  14. The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution

    by Richard Dawkins
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    The renowned biologist and thinker Richard Dawkins presents his most expansive work yet: a comprehensive look at evolution, ranging from the latest developments in the field to his own provocative views. Loosely based on the form of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Dawkins's Tale takes us modern humans back through four billion years of life on our planet. As the pilgrimage progresses, we join with other organisms at the forty "rendezvous points" where we find a common ancestor. The band of pilgrims swells into a vast crowd as we join first with other primates, then with other mammals, and so on back … (Barnes & Noble)

  15. Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life

    by Daniel C. Dennett
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    In a book that is both groundbreaking and accessible, Daniel C. Dennett, whom Chet Raymo of The Boston Globe calls "one of the most provocative thinkers on the planet," focuses his unerringly logical mind on the theory of natural selection, showing how Darwin's great idea transforms and illuminates our traditional view of humanity's place in the universe. Dennett vividly describes the theory itself and then extends Darwin's vision with impeccable arguments to their often surprising conclusions, challenging the views of some of the most famous scientists of our day. … (Goodreads)

  16. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

    by Jonathan Haidt
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    In his widely praised book, award-winning psychologist Jonathan Haidt examines the world’s philosophical wisdom through the lens of psychological science, showing how a deeper understanding of enduring maxims-like Do unto others as you would have others do unto you, or What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger-can enrich and even transform our lives. … (Goodreads)

  17. A Short History of Nearly Everything

    by Bill Bryson
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    In Bryson's biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself … (Goodreads)

  18. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

    by Daron Acemoğlu
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    ,Brilliant and engagingly written,, Why Nations Fail ,answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine? ,,,,, Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are? Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence? Daron Acemoglu and … (Goodreads)

  19. Cosmos

    by Carl Sagan
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    Cosmos has 13 heavily illustrated chapters, corresponding to the 13 episodes of the Cosmos television series. In the book, Sagan explores 15 billion years of cosmic evolution and the development of science and civilization. Cosmos traces the origins of knowledge and the scientific method, mixing science and philosophy, and speculates to the future of science. The book also discusses the underlying premises of science by providing biographical anecdotes about many prominent scientists throughout history, placing their contributions into the broader context of the development of modern science. The book covers a broad range of topics, comprising Sagan's reflections on anthropological, … (Goodreads)

  20. God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

    by Christopher Hitchens
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    With his unique brand of erudition and wit, Hitchens describes the ways in which religion is man-made. "God did not make us," he says. "We made God." He explains the ways in which religion is immoral: We damage our children by indoctrinating them. It is a cause of sexual repression, violence, and ignorance. It is a distortion of our origins and the cosmos. In the place of religion, Hitchens offers the promise of a new enlightenment through science and reason, a realm in which hope and wonder can be found through a strand of DNA or a gaze through the … (Goodreads)