Simon Barron-Cohen, “Zero Degrees of Empathy”
How can we ever explain human cruelty? We have always struggled to understand why some people behave in the most evil way imaginable, while others are completely self-sacrificing. Is it possible that – rather than thinking in terms of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ – all of us instead lie somewhere on the empathy spectrum, and our position on that spectrum can be affected by both genes and our environments? How can we ever explain human cruelty? We have always struggled to understand why some people behave in the most evil way imaginable, while others are completely self-sacrificing. Is it possible that – rather than thinking in terms of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ – all of us instead lie somewhere on the empathy spectrum, and our position on that spectrum can be affected by both genes and our environments?
J.Richard Block & H.E. Yuker, Can You Believe Your Eyes?: Over 250 Illusions and Other Visual Oddities
Richard Dawkins, “The God Delusion”
The God Delusion caused a sensation when it was published in 2006. Within weeks it became the most hotly debated topic, with Dawkins himself branded as either saint or sinner for presenting his hard-hitting, impassioned rebuttal of religion of all types.
Richard Dawkins, “The Ancestor’s Tale:
A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life”
THE ANCESTOR’S TALE is a pilgrimage back through time; a journey on which we meet up with fellow pilgrims as we and they converge on our common ancestors. Chimpanzees join us at about 6 million years in the past, orang utans at 14 million years, as we stride on together, a growing band. The journey provides the setting for a collection of some 40 tales.
Richard Dawkins, “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution”
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 natural selection. He sifts through fascinating layers of scientific facts and disciplines to build a cast-iron case: from the living examples of natural selection in birds and insects; the ‘time clocks’ of trees and radioactive dating that calibrate a timescale for evolution; the fossil record and the traces of our earliest ancestors; to confirmation from molecular biology and genetics. All of this, and much more, bears witness to the truth of evolution.
Richard Dawkins, “The Magic of Reality: How we know what’s really true”
Magic takes many forms. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting that the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods’ bridge to earth. 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 is the magic of reality – science.
Daniel C. Dennett, “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life”
Adrian Desmond & James Moore, “Darwin’s Sacred Cause – race, slavery and the quest for human origins”
This book is based on intensive study of Darwin’s thinking from his unpublished notebooks and takes into account that his wife and uncle/father-in-law were the driving force behind the anti-slavery movement. Darwin’s arch enemy was creationist Professor Louis Agassiz (original from Switzerland but professor of zoology at Harvard from 1847) who justified slavery of the negro race because they were separately created as an inferior creature closer to animals than the civilized white man. The slave owners of North America loved it! However, the success of Darwin’s On The Origin of Species silenced him and dealt a mortal blow against the slavery movement. Perhaps Darwin’s rivalry with Agassiz was as important as that letter from Alfred Russell Wallace in prompting him to write On The Origin of Species?
Sam Harris, “The Moral Landscape”
In this highly controversial book, Sam Harris seeks to link morality to the rest of human knowledge. Defining morality in terms of human and animal well-being, Harris argues that science can do more than tell how we are; it can, in principle, tell us how we ought to be. In his view, moral relativism is simply false – and comes at an increasing cost to humanity. And the intrusions of religion into the sphere of human values can be finally repelled: for just as there is no such thing as Christian physics or Muslim algebra, there can be no Christian or Muslim morality.
Sam Harris, “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason”
This important and timely book delivers a startling analysis of the clash of faith and reason in today’s world. Sam Harris offers a vivid historical tour of mankind’s willingness to suspend reason in favour of religious beliefs, even when those beliefs are used to justify harmful behaviour and sometimes heinous crimes. He asserts that in the shadow of weapons of mass destruction, we can no longer tolerate views that pit one true god against another. Most controversially, he argues that we cannot afford moderate lip service to religion — an accommodation that only blinds us to the real perils of fundamentalism.
Christopher Hitchens, “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”
God Is Not Great is the ultimate case against religion. In a series of acute readings of the major religious texts, Christopher Hitchens demonstrates the ways in which religion is man-made, dangerously sexually repressive and distorts the very origins of the cosmos. Above all, Hitchens argues that the concept of an omniscient God has profoundly damaged humanity, and proposes that the world might be a great deal better off without ‘him’.
Daniel Kahneman, “Thinking, Fast and Slow”
Charlie Mackay, “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”
Whenever struck by campaigns, fads, cults and fashions, the reader may take some comfort that Charles Mackay can demonstrate historical parallels for almost every neurosis of our times. The South Sea Bubble, Witch Mania, Alchemy, the Crusades, Fortune-telling, Haunted Houses, and even ‘Tulipomania’ are only some of the subjects covered in this book.
James Randi, “Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions”
In this book, Randi explores and exposes what he believes to be the outrageous deception that has been promoted widely in the media. Unafraid to call researchers to account for their failures and impostures, Randi tells us that we have been badly served by scientists who have failed to follow the procedures required by their training and traditions. Here, he shows us how what he views as sloppy research has been followed by rationalizations of evident failures, and we see these errors and misrepresentations clearly pointed out.
Steven Pinker, “The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity”
Haruki Murakami, “1Q84: Books 1, 2 and 3”
The year is 1Q84. This is the real world, there is no doubt about that. But in this world, there are two moons in the sky. In this world, the fates of two people, Tengo and Aomame, are closely intertwined. They are each, in their own way, doing something very dangerous. And in this world, there seems no way to save them both.
Something extraordinary is starting.
Member comment: “Totally addictive, described as “a mind-bending ode to Orwell’s 1984” and as such is concerned with moral dilemmas and problems concerning Humanists.”
more to come soon..