What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was one of my favorite reads of the year. Humor was the fabric that his book was written on. Every question and answer was interesting and entertaining, I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion.
This book has the ability to make science (and math) interesting and fun. Randall Munroe does a great job of explaining the answers using the science and math in a way that anyone can understand.
I would recommend this book to anyone especially young teens.
As mush as I enjoyed this book there is one story I would like to hear. The story about a NASA Roboticist (Randall Munroe) telling his friends and family that he is going to become an internet cartoonist, you know drawing stick figures and stuff… (after reading the book and visiting his internet cartoons site, I think he did the right thing).
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The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sam Harris believes that morals should advance the well-being of the people, and with that as a basis he puts forward, hard to deny, arguments that science can determine the moral landscape. Even though I would recommend this book to everyone, I know that it’s not something everyone will like or even agree with. The book is also a bit tough to get into, a lot of point and counterpoints (a bunch of big words and no pictures).
I found the examples and studies of how the brain works and how we think and make moral decisions surprising and interesting. The chapter on psychopaths was especially hard to put down. I was somewhat surprised that there are probably no more than 100 serial killers in the U.S. at any give time, but I was floored to find out that there are probably about 3 million psychopaths in the U.S. (1% of the population).
Sam Harris takes a few swipes at religion and scientists that try to combine or twist the “facts” that make science and religion get along perfectly. I’m sure that anyone (that I know) who reads this book, agreeing with it or not, will learn something and come away with a better understanding of minds and brains.
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