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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Guide to Skepticism!
Think: Why You Should Question Everything by Guy P. Harrison

"Think" is a fantastic and inspirational book that will teach readers how to think like scientists. Question everything, embrace doubt is a recurring theme that accomplished author, historian, anthropologist Guy P. Harrison drives home with mastery and clarity. This is an entertaining and...
Published 13 months ago by Book Shark

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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good but..
This is the first book of Harrison's I've read - I'll first describe what I liked about Think. The strongest section was Chapter 2, in which Harrison discusses how the brain works. Namely, that it is not a video camera that faithfully records our visual reality, nor is it like a computer hard drive when it comes to recalling past events. As remarkable as it is, the...
Published 11 months ago by jdown


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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Guide to Skepticism!, November 7, 2013
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Think: Why You Should Question Everything by Guy P. Harrison

"Think" is a fantastic and inspirational book that will teach readers how to think like scientists. Question everything, embrace doubt is a recurring theme that accomplished author, historian, anthropologist Guy P. Harrison drives home with mastery and clarity. This is an entertaining and illuminating book that will empower you to avoid common pitfalls of bad thinking in a constructive way. This enlightening 300-page book includes the following five chapters: 1. Standing Tall on a Fantasy-prone Planet, 2. Pay a Visit to the Strange Thing That Lives Inside Your Head, 3. A Thinker's Guide to Unusual Claims and Weird Beliefs, 4. The Proper Care and Feeding of a Thinking Machine, and 5. So Little to Lose and a Universe to Gain.

Positives:
1. Beautifully written and researched book. Harrison has a passion for his topic that is palpable and admirable. A master at conveying clear and inspirational thoughts grounded in good science and sound thinking.
2. Skepticism is a great topic. This book is enlightening and fun to read.
3. Harrison always delivers! Quality critical thinking goes in before his books come out. He has earned my trust as an author that will consistently deliver a book worthy of my time and interest.
4. Drives home the need for skepticism. "Skepticism is an important issue for everyone. It's something we all need, regardless of intelligence, education, location, social status, or income."
5. This is a thought-provoking book and a quote fest, "Skepticism is just about having a healthy dose of doubt and using reason to figure out what is probably real from what is probably not real. It means not believing you know something before you can prove it or at least make a very good case for it. Skepticism is nothing more than thinking and withholding belief until enough evidence has been presented."
6. Harrison has a unique gift of giving intellectual beat downs in the nicest and most constructive ways. "Millions of people say that paranormal mind powers can move objects. Big deal; people can say anything. Let's wait until someone gets around to proving it before we get excited. In the meantime, why not check out how nature moves entire continents? It's called plate tectonics and scientists have plenty of evidence for it."
7. In defense of good science. "Science is best thought of as a tool. And, like most tools, it can be used to do something constructive or to whack somebody over the head. Science is a great way of thinking and discovering that helps us figure out much about the world and the universe."
8. Debunking common misconceptions. "Being smart, whatever that word means to you, doesn't automatically make someone a good skeptic."
9. Understanding the right approach to skepticism and it may involve just asking the right questions. "If believers refuse to think critically about their claims, then call them on it. Why are you reluctant to challenge a claim that you say is so important and obviously true? What are you afraid of?"
10. The value of being a good skeptic. "Weak skepticism is perhaps the greatest unrecognized global crisis of all. Every day, people waste time, throw away money, suffer, and even die because they failed to think like a scientist."
11. A great discussion on brain science and how it relates to skepticism. "The good news for you is that just being aware of how your brain goes about its business greatly improves your chances of keeping both feet planted in reality." A bonus quote, "We don't really see what we look at. Instead our brain tells us what we see, and it doesn't give us the complete and accurate picture." Great stuff!
12. One of the great strengths of this wonderful book: reasons to be skeptical. Harrison goes through a long list of reasons to be skeptical in an accessible and intelligible manner.
13. Sound scientific principles. "The best we can do is accept conclusions that are backed up by the best evidence we have today and agree to change our minds if better evidence ever comes along that says something different tomorrow."
14. Great examples of common biases/fallacies and how to recognize them. Base-rate fallacy. "We can readily find ourselves focusing on one tiny speck of information (a single story, for example) or on bad data that supports a claim while simultaneously ignoring more credible information or a larger body of data that goes against it."
15. Provides MANY great examples of bad claims. "The basic claim of homeopathic medicine is that water can "remember" an active ingredient in the original brew and that--contrary to logic--the more you dilute the solution, the more potent it becomes for treating diseases. Most homeopathic remedies are diluted to such extremes that there is nothing left of the original active ingredient!" "Complementary or alternative medicine is really just unproven medicine."
16. Find out Harrison's favorite end-time scenario.
17. Addressing the so called Moon-hoax, "The late Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon, summed it up nicely: "It would have been harder to fake it than to do it."
18. Good overall health, including brain health. "There is just something about flipping back and forth between languages that keeps a brain sharp and healthy. It even seems to delay for years the onset of Alzheimer's disease in elderly people."
19. The hard cold facts, "humankind currently spends hundreds of billions of dollars per year on fortunetellers, medical quackery, and other nonsense."
20. A sense of awe. "By the way, if your life ever seems too slow, just remember that the Earth is spinning at the equator at a rate of about a thousand miles per hour. We are also flying through space around the Sun at speeds of more than 65,000 miles per hour."
21. Excellent notes, Bibliography and even a section called Resources to Keep Learning.

Negatives:
1. There is very little in this excellent book to complain about other than the feeling I get that Harrison wanted to go deeper into some of the topics and decided to go for quality and brevity over a more comprehensive approach.
2. On such an ambitious and broad topic like thinking and skepticism you can certainly question everything but it's too hard to cover everything. That is, some topics were left out: 911 conspiracy, Holocaust deniers, etc... understandably so.

In summary, what a wonderful and inspirational book this turned out to be. Skepticism is a fantastic topic that has real value for the individual and society. Harrison succeeds in showing how to put good thinking into practice by applying it to a number of fascinating and popular paranormal claims. But what set this book apart from most is the youthful glee for knowledge and the quest for wisdom. "I love knowing that I'll never run out of things to learn and experience." My sentiments exactly! You owe it to yourself to be a good skeptic, get this book and learn how.

Further recommendations: "50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True" and "50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God" by the same author, "Critical Thinking" by Wayne Bartz, "An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist" and "The Magic of Reality" by Richard Dawkins, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark" by Carl Sagan, "This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works" edited by John Brockman, "Nonsense: A Handbook of Logical Fallacies" by Robert J. Gula, "The Science of Miracles: Investigating the Incredible" by Joe Nickell, "Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine" by Paul A. Offit, "Tales of the Rational" by Massimo Pigliucci, "Voodoo Science" by Robert Park, "Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy" by Robert M. Hazen "Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science" by Shawn Lawrence, "Lies, Damned Lies, and Science" by Sherry Seethaler, and "Science Under Siege" by Kendrick Frazier.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really Well Done, November 30, 2013
By 
Book Fanatic (Houston, TX, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Think: Why You Should Question Everything (Paperback)
I'm a fan of Guy Harrison's books - the several 50 reasons type books he has written. He has a very non-confrontational style but it is very clear what he thinks. Rather than focus on a specific subject like his previous books this one is on general skepticism. The book is broken into several parts:

Part 1 - Standing Tall on a Fantasy-Prone Planet -- This part is what it means to be a skeptic in a world of strange beliefs.

Part 2 - Pay a Visit To That Strange Thing in Your Head -- This part is about how our brains fool us.

Part 3 - A Thinker's Guide to Unusual Claims and Weird Beliefs -- This part surveys the most common beliefs that the author thinks you should be skeptical about and gives his reasons.

Part 4 - The Proper Care and Feeding of a Thinking Machine -- This part is about how you should take care of your brain.

Part 5 - So Little to Lose and a Universe to Gain -- This part is an inspiring vision of skepticism.

This book has Amazon's "Look Inside" feature so be sure to review the table of contents and some of the text.

This book is very general and does an excellent job of introducing people to skepticism. For a die-hard skeptic like me there really wasn't anything new, but the book was thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring anyway. A nice treat for anyone who likes to *Think*.

Recommended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good entry-level guide to skepticism, December 30, 2013
By 
Karina Gronnvoll (Port Orchard, WA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Think: Why You Should Question Everything (Paperback)
This book is a short, entertaining, easy read. It isn't anything new to someone who has been a skeptic for years, but that isn't Guy Harrison's goal. He writes very plainly early in the book that he isn't out to teach people what to think, but rather, how to think like scientists. In the tradition of Carl Sagan, he writes in layman's terms in a very accessible, entertaining way, and without arrogance. Carl Sagan's book, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark", attempted the same thing, but with greater length and depth. The brevity of this book will probably make it somewhat less intimidating for people without a science background.

I think this book has something for almost everyone. It's an excellent introduction for people just beginning to question their long-held assumptions. It is also an excellent reminder to skeptics that we have no vaild reason to be arrogant. People have always believed things that are unlikely to be true, because that is the way our human brains work. Harrison's reminders/revelations (depending on where you are coming from) are kindly phrased and scientifically accurate. "Think" is a great start in a scientific education, or a great reminder of what skepticism is up against in the world. I recommend it.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrison does it again, November 18, 2013
By 
Jay Young (Austin, TX USA) - See all my reviews
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I have been enjoying Guy Harrison's work ever since "50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a god" was published in 2008. His writing embodies what Carl Sagan urged, a "marriage of skepticism and wonder." His latest book continues to reflect that.

I think of "Think" as the basis for all of his previous books, even though this it's his latest. Or to put it another way, he elaborates and extrapolates all of the principles of skepticism, which were implicit in his previous books, but are made explicit here. Specifically, he delves into why there are many reasons why we can't take things at face value (flaws in memory, perception, etc.), and then applies those reasons to be skeptical of the many strange beliefs people hold, everything from Bigfoot to alternative medicine. But he does not stop at questioning "weird things"- he shares his wonder and appreciation for everything that the real world, as revealed by science, has to offer. For instance, after discussing cryptozoology, he offers an alternative to people who are interested in monsters- acual monsters that scientists are discovering all the time; at the bottom of the sea, in microscopic observations, and in extreme environments. To cite another example, after discussing alleged UFo visits, Harrison suggests looking into SETI, or possible parallel universes. Reality is never boring, in other words. This is how he embodies the marriage of skepticism and wonder.

Other great aspects of the book:
* He urges us all to take care of our brains. We've all heard of the necessity of sleep, nutrition and exercise for our bodies, but we need those things for well-functioning brains as well! (Of course, there is no "us" apart from our brains, and our minds are not seprate from our bodies, but there is not an exact way in the English language to communicate this)
* He elucidates on the "unacknowledged crisis" of weak skepticism around the world, and what we as a species have to gain if we embrace science and reason.

The naturalistic and science-based outlook is anything but dull. Indeed, it is exciting, and essential to us if we are to survive. Read it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll read it again and again., January 17, 2014
In an age when the vast ocean of mankind's knowledge is available at the click of a button, Mr. Harrison offers up an instructional, entertaining, and informative book to help any person navigate those perilous waters. Subjects, familiar and not- quite-so-familiar, are covered in his own unique style. Fun, interesting, and invaluable, it's the type of book you'll want to share with family and friends.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good but.., January 11, 2014
By 
jdown (Stillwater OK USA) - See all my reviews
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This is the first book of Harrison's I've read - I'll first describe what I liked about Think. The strongest section was Chapter 2, in which Harrison discusses how the brain works. Namely, that it is not a video camera that faithfully records our visual reality, nor is it like a computer hard drive when it comes to recalling past events. As remarkable as it is, the human brain is still quite fallable; it can and does make mistakes with regard to what we see and what we remember. People would be far more skeptical of the wild claims of ghost hunters, UFOlogist, and their ilk if they understood the workings of the brain and how it "creates" our reality.

The other strength of the book was Harrison's discussion of the many ways we become biased in our thinking: anchoring, argument from authority, argument from ignorance, false consensus, confirmational bias, and many other fallacies all prevent us from drawing accurate conclusions from observations and data we use to arrive at an objective view of phenomena. If Harrison is planning a revised version of Think, he should beef up this chapter. In fact, it would make a book in itself.

Less helpful was Chapter 3, in which Harrison describes the many odd, illogical beliefs people hold. Entire books can and have been written which thoroughly debunk, for example, JFK assassination conspiracy theories, ancient aliens, etc. Harrison's brief oveview added little to this.

Lastly, the book's major shortcomiing was, as others have remarked on, Harrison's verbosity. In Chapters 4 & 5 especially, he seemed to take the approach of, Why use 25 words to discuss something when 785 words will do just as well? It detracted from an otherwise well-done and thought-provoking book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars His case for scepticism is contradicted by his fundamentalist approach to the subject, February 16, 2014
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Due to good ratings at the time I brought this book from Amazon thinking it would be worthwhile, but boy was I disappointed. Harrison's style is far too immature and preachy. Why is he imploring me throughout to stop being afraid and accept scepticism? It feels like a fundamentalist trying to convince me of his world view.

One reviewer said eloquently that he writes like a kid who has recently discovered scepticism and rambles on about it without escalating the subject. I agree.

Let me state what I was expecting from this title to have made a more compelling argument.

1. I would have liked to see him at least pretend to explore the subject objectively i.e. he had to be critical of scepticism at some stage in his book. He could have explored some of the following
- Could and should you be sceptical of scepticism?
- What are the limitations and logical conclusions of being sceptical?
- What are the alternatives to scepticism (fundamentalism, positivism, optimism, pessimism, etc)?
- What do the alternatives adhere to and how are they different from scepticism?
- Why do you prefer scepticism to the alternatives?
- Are sceptical people better off... even in non-sceptical communities?
- In which cases/contexts could blind-belief be better than scepticism? e.g. a child should probably just blindly believe his parents until s/he is about 5 years old, instead of testing whether the stove plate is truly too hot to touch)
- and so on

There is no reason to be so threatened that you cannot be critical of your own views or show others the flaws in your own beliefs. As Eduard de Bono says "it should be an exploration of the subject, not a clash of egos". Which brings me to the next point...

2. Show, don't tell i.e. demonstrate the things you have based your conclusions on, do not tell me what to conclude. His combative narrative style does not leave enough room (permission) for one to be sceptical of his arguments. His style is contradicting his subject! His argumentative style (as charming as he might try to be, he is argumentative) will surely bring a clash of egos. It is better to assume an agnostic point of view to a subject when you start discussing it and lead the reader along your train of thought to where you have concluded.

3. Furthermore the story should be about the subject, not about the author (unless the author is the subject). The author is making multiple writing faux pas, by interfering with the narrative. He is drawing too much attention to himself.

I could not care to finish the book (i got about half-way) and would not recommend it to anyone. This book is not a good example of critical- or objective thinking (or good writing I'm afraid).

I refrain from one star, since he had a couple of good points and definitions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Value of Skepticism, January 20, 2014
By 
This review is from: Think: Why You Should Question Everything (Paperback)
Growing up in a religious household stymied my critical thought. This, unfortunately carried over into other aspects of my life: I believed in ghosts, aliens, and even bigfoot. Luckily for me, that all changed when I entered college. My skepticism became exceptionally fine-tuned when I became a police officer. I would even routinely doubt victim's stories. Reading Harrison's book "Think" affirms my strategy for life. This book should be required reading for anyone who doesn't take the time to question everything. It's primer for life, especially in a world full of miscreants trying to separate us from our money, to harm our health, and to alter our belief systems. With skeptical, scientific thinking as the endpoint, Harrison guides you along the way with a trip through skewed thought processes, extraterrestrials, non-existent creatures, and fantastical spiritual beliefs, in a humorous, sincere, and caring manner. It may actually change the way you "Think!"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Thinking, Mr. Harrison!, June 22, 2014
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This review is from: Think: Why You Should Question Everything (Paperback)
If I was wealthy, I'd buy several cartons of this book and give them away. Maybe at the local high school, maybe the local church. Frankly, I think everyone who is able to read English should read this book.

I was a philosophy major in college, I'm a subscriber to Skeptical Inquirer Magazine, and an atheist humanist. I started out thinking this book was too simple for me; I didn't have all that much to learn about skepticism that could be conveyed in this simple, readable and frankly amusing style. Or to put it another way, I was skeptical about the value of this book. I was wrong, I'm happy to say.

Guy P. Harrison is one of those people I love who are able to explain detailed and complex concepts in an accessible and entertaining way. He makes a completely convincing case for the philosophical position of skepticism, which he (and most skeptics) describes as essentially thinking like a scientist. Belief without evidence is just plain dangerous; as the subtitle says, we should question everything.

Chapter One is titled "Standing Tall on a Fantasy-Prone Planet," and makes the case for skepticism with a sense of humor and a lot of information. Chapter Two, "Pay a Visit to the Strange Thing That Lives Inside Your Head" provides a useful overview of what is currently known about how brains work. Chapter Three offers some specifics about all sorts of weird things many people believe, and what evidence there is (or is not) about whether or not they could possibly be true. Chapter Four, "The Proper Care and Feeding of a Thinking Machine", is exactly what it says it is: how diet, exercise, sleep, and basic care of the physical brain is so important. Chapter Five makes the case that we do not have to give up a sense of adventure and wonder when we give up unfounded beliefs.

I really, really love this book. It will not be showing up at the next book fair: this one is a keeper!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prepare Your Mind, March 28, 2014
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Interesting concepts to prepare or train your brain to think logically. The author suggests that it is desirable to exercise logic and also be able to have a belief system. Be an enthusiastic skeptic... always empowering yourself with a healthy balance of skepticism and beliefs. I enjoyed the examples of how/why people believe what they seem to believe... and, how skepticism can be liberating! I would recommend this reading for the knowledge of how healthy skepticism can, if applied properly, allow anyone to free themselves of groupthink on a multitude of subjects.
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Think: Why You Should Question Everything
Think: Why You Should Question Everything by Guy P. Harrison (Paperback - November 5, 2013)
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