Hi All. A few book updates.
1) This month, a guest post by Jeff Mark, author of Christian No More.
2) April 2, a guest post by Eric Maisel, author of The Atheist’s Way.
Below the fold, some interesting books I saw in the book section of my local paper this morning.
Darwin’s Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin’s Views on Human Evolution by Adrian Desmond and James Moore. From Amazon:
An astonishing new portrait of a scientific icon
In this remarkable book, Adrian Desmond and James Moore restore the missing moral core of Darwinâ€™s evolutionary universe, providing a completely new account of how he came to his shattering theories about human origins.
There has always been a mystery surrounding Darwin: How did this quiet, respectable gentleman, a pillar of his parish, come to embrace one of the most radical ideas in the history of human thought? Itâ€™s difficult to overstate just what Darwin was risking in publishing his theory of evolution. So it must have been something very powerfulâ€”a moral fire, as Desmond and Moore put itâ€”that propelled him. And that moral fire, they argue, was a passionate hatred of slavery.
To make their case, they draw on a wealth of fresh manuscripts, unpublished family correspondence, notebooks, diaries, and even shipsâ€™ logs. They show how Darwinâ€™s abolitionism had deep roots in his motherâ€™s family and was reinforced by his voyage on the Beagle as well as by events in Americaâ€”from the rise of scientific racism at Harvard through the dark days of the Civil War.
Leading apologists for slavery in Darwinâ€™s time argued that blacks and whites had originated as separate species, with whites created superior. Darwin abhorred such “arrogance.” He believed that, far from being separate species, the races belonged to the same human family. Slavery was therefore a “sin,” and abolishing it became Darwinâ€™s “sacred cause.” His theory of evolution gave all the racesâ€”blacks and whites, animals and plantsâ€”an ancient common ancestor and freed them from creationist shackles. Evolution meant emancipation.
In this rich and illuminating work, Desmond and Moore recover Darwinâ€™s lost humanitarianism. They argue that only by acknowledging Darwinâ€™s Christian abolitionist heritage can we fully understand the development of his groundbreaking ideas. Compulsively readable and utterly persuasive, Darwinâ€™s Sacred Cause will revolutionize our view of the great naturalist.
Why We Make Mistakes will open your eyes to the reasons behind your mistakes–and have you vowing to do better the next time.
We forget our passwords. We pay too much to go to the gym. We think weâ€™d be happier if we lived in California (we wouldnâ€™t), and we think we should stick with our first answer on tests (we shouldnâ€™t). Why do we make mistakes? And could we do a little better?
We human beings have design flaws. Our eyes play tricks on us, our stories change in the retelling, and most of us are fairly sure weâ€™re way above average. In Why We Make Mistakes, journalist Joseph T. Hallinan sets out to explore the captivating science of human error–how we think, see, remember, and forget, and how this sets us up for wholly irresistible mistakes.
In his quest to understand our imperfections, Hallinan delves into psychology, neuroscience, and economics, with forays into aviation, consumer behavior, geography, football, stock picking, and more. He discovers that some of the same qualities that make us efficient also make us error prone. We learn to move rapidly through the world, quickly recognizing patterns–but overlooking details. Which is why thirteen-year-old boys discover errors that NASA scientists missâ€”and why you canâ€™t find the beer in your refrigerator.
Why We Make Mistakes is enlivened by real-life stories–of weathermen whose predictions are uncannily accurate and a witness who sent an innocent man to jail–and offers valuable advice, such as how to remember where youâ€™ve hidden something important. Youâ€™ll learn why multitasking is a bad idea, why men make errors women donâ€™t, and why most people think San Diego is west of Reno (itâ€™s not).
Mark Twain once observed, â€œA lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.â€ His observation rings true: Urban legends, conspiracy theories, and bogus public-health scares circulate effortlessly. Meanwhile, people with important ideasâ€“business people, teachers, politicians, journalists, and othersâ€“struggle to make their ideas â€œstick.â€
Why do some ideas thrive while others die? And how do we improve the chances of worthy ideas? In Made to Stick, accomplished educators and idea collectors Chip and Dan Heath tackle head-on these vexing questions. Inside, the brothers Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the â€œhuman scale principle,â€ using the â€œVelcro Theory of Memory,â€ and creating â€œcuriosity gaps.â€
In this indispensable guide, we discover that sticky messages of all kindsâ€“from the infamous â€œkidney theft ringâ€ hoax to a coachâ€™s lessons on sportsmanship to a vision for a new product at Sonyâ€“draw their power from the same six traits.
Made to Stick is a book that will transform the way you communicate ideas. Itâ€™s a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures)â€“the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of â€œthe Mother Teresa Effectâ€; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideasâ€“and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.