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Books That Will Make You Intelligent

Amazon Customer "Constant Reader"
The list author says: "This list is my attempt to compile some of the most important (in my humble opinion of course) books in various disciplines of study. I have listed them in the order that I think they ought to be read; that doesn't mean you can't skip around however. The list begins with Uncertainty, without which we could not exist. The first two are on Quantum Mechanics (Uncertainty and Entropy) which provide the two underlying 'problems' that everyone and everything faces. Then there is Science and History. After that, the next six books are in Philosophy and cover the five most important sub-fields: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Logic, Free Will and Neuroethics and Morality. The next three books involve the issue of how humans divide themselves. The next three books are on Complexity Theory; it provides an integral or holistic view of the Universe. Then followed by three books on Evolution. The next two books are about the Nature vs. Nurture debate which is integral to almost every issue humanity faces. The next nine books are on decision making and economic approaches that are based upon a Neuroscientific (and sometimes Computational Theory of Mind approach) look at how the Brain works. This addresses the Mind versus Body debate. The next four books are essentially about social inequality. The last two are the most important two books because they are the Futurology books. If I had to pick just two books from my own list that are THE most important, they would be both of Jared Diamond's books: Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse. Thanks for looking, and I hope this list helps you in some way."
The Blind Spot: Science and the Crisis of Uncertainty
The Blind Spot: Science and the Crisis of Uncertainty
"Best book on the Philosophy of Science and the topic of Uncertainty I have ever read."
Four Laws That Drive the Universe (Very Short Introductions)
Four Laws That Drive the Universe (Very Short Introductions)
"Science made simple."
Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science
Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science
""The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next." - Ursula K. Le Guin"
Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity
Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity
"Related to thermodynamics and the underlying structure of physical systems. A must read."
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
"#1 - This book spells out exactly how humanity has developed 'unequally' due to geographic forces. An absolute must read - Diamond is definitely one of the smartest men alive today."
The New Penguin History of the World: Fifth Edition
The New Penguin History of the World: Fifth Edition
"A comprehensive overview of human history - a truly massive book."
An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy)
An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy)
"Epistemology: "What is Knowledge?" "Can we even know anything at all?" If so, "How do we Know we Know?" My own view is a combination of Fallibilism, Perspectivism, Contextualism and Situationism; otherwise known as Pragmatism in general."
Metaphysics: An Anthology
Metaphysics: An Anthology
"Metaphysics: "What is Reality?" My own view is Physicalism - the only things that are 'real' are those things that physicist's describe: energy, atoms, matter, etc."
The Logic Book
The Logic Book
"There is nothing like being able to form a logical argument and being able to see through those that aren't."
A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will
A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will
"Free Will is actually one of the most important issues in Philosophy because it is pertinent to nearly any discussion of human causation. If you ever ask yourself, "Why did that person do that, it's against their own interests?" then you are entering into the realm of Free Will."
Defining Right and Wrong in Brain Science: Essential Readings in Neuroethics (Dana Foundation Series on Neuroethics)
Defining Right and Wrong in Brain Science: Essential Readings in Neuroethics (Dana Foundation Series on Neuroethics)
"Neuroethics is an exciting new area in Philosophy because just recently (relatively speaking) Psychologist's, Neuroscientist's and Philosopher's have been able to see what goes on in the human brain, thanks to the fMRI. Bold new discoveries are being made."
The Social Neuroscience of Empathy
The Social Neuroscience of Empathy
"Provides multiple views on the origins of empathy and morality."
Us and Them: The Science of Identity
Us and Them: The Science of Identity
"A great but often overlooked masterpiece of a book. Berreby does a great job of describing how racism, ethnocentrism or any of those other forms of self-segregation have absolutely no logical support. He puts an end to those 'race-realist' writers."
The Central Liberal Truth: How Politics Can Change a Culture and Save It from Itself
The Central Liberal Truth: How Politics Can Change a Culture and Save It from Itself
"The newer of the two books by Lawrence E. Harrison. He asks us to remember that culture does matter in relation to any particular societies development. A great compliment to Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel."
Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress
Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress
"The older of the two books by Lawrence E. Harrison. He asks us to remember that culture does matter in relation to any particular societies development. A great compliment to Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel."
Simply Complexity: A Clear Guide to Complexity Theory
Simply Complexity: A Clear Guide to Complexity Theory
"Complexity Theory - thinking that is based on systems. Provides a comprehensive view of nearly everything."
Complexity: A Guided Tour
Complexity: A Guided Tour
"Complexity Theory - thinking that is based on systems. Provides a comprehensive view of nearly everything."
Diversity and Complexity (Primers in Complex Systems)
Diversity and Complexity (Primers in Complex Systems)
"Another great book on Complexity."
What Darwin Got Wrong
What Darwin Got Wrong
"Jerry Fodor is a bit of a rogue - in this book he lays out his belief that Darwin's theory of Natural Selection is wrong."
Darwin's Conjecture: The Search for General Principles of Social and Economic Evolution
Darwin's Conjecture: The Search for General Principles of Social and Economic Evolution
"A follow up to What Darwin Got Wrong, and a great exposition on why Fodor is entirely wrong!"
Evolution - the Extended Synthesis
Evolution - the Extended Synthesis
"Contemporary look at Evolution and what scientist's who study Evolution talk about."
The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture
The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture
"Matt Ridley has a great grasp of the Nature vs. Nurture debate. He leans more towards a genetic explanation of human behavior."
Genes and Behavior: Nature-Nurture Interplay Explained
Genes and Behavior: Nature-Nurture Interplay Explained
"An up to date analysis of the Nature vs. Nurture debate."
Your Brain Is (Almost) Perfect: How We Make Decisions
Your Brain Is (Almost) Perfect: How We Make Decisions
"This is an excellent book - definitely a "best-of-the-best." Montague will be one of those big-name scientist's soon. He covers everything in this book with his new theory that can be called loosely, The Efficient Computational Theory of Mind (ECToM). Must read."
You Are What You Choose: The Habits of Mind That Really Determine How We Make Decisions
You Are What You Choose: The Habits of Mind That Really Determine How We Make Decisions
"In this book the authors (de Marchi & Hamilton) present a new way to study the way in which people make decisions. It is called the TRAITS model and it is very interesting. Highly recommended."
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
"Dan Ariely, like Read Montague, is going to be one of those big-name scientist's soon. His work in Behavioral Economics is crushing to the Rational Choice Theory of economics. I loved this book."
The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home
The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home
"Another awesome book by Dan Ariely. Brilliant!"
The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human
The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human
"An awesome book...Ramachandran makes learning about neuroscience so fun that you won't even realize you just gained 10 IQ points!"
Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind
Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind
"This superb book outlines the Modularity of the mind and how it explains a great deal about how people make decisions."
Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension (Philosophy of Mind Series)
Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension (Philosophy of Mind Series)
"A book about the brain, consciousness and Theory of Mind."
Neuroeconomics: Decision Making and the Brain
Neuroeconomics: Decision Making and the Brain
"Expensive, but well worth the money. Neuroeconomics is the new field that converges many disciplines (psychology, philosophy of mind, neuroscience, behavioral economics and economics). A must read really. This new field gives added weight to the Homo Sociologicus theory, which is in contrast to the traditional Homo Economicus theory of economics."
Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life (Economic Learning and Social Evolution)
Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life (Economic Learning and Social Evolution)
"Another good book about the emerging field of Neuroeconomics."
The Mind of the Market: How Biology and Psychology Shape Our Economic Lives
The Mind of the Market: How Biology and Psychology Shape Our Economic Lives
"A really, really good book that is too inter-disciplinary to pigeon hole. The title leads you to believe it is only about Economics, but it contains much more than that."
The Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free
The Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free
"This book might just change the way you look at money, the economy and capitalism forever - it did for me."
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
"I love every book Barbara Ehrenreich writes. She gives a voice to the overworked and underpaid."
Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free
Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free
"This book is very similar to Chris Hedge's Empire of Illusion, but is much funnier and has a less serious tone to it. It's great."
Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle
Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle
"One of the most poignant books about American culture I have read to this day. I really loved this book although it can make you a little depressed about America's future."
Rigging the Game: How Inequality Is Reproduced in Everyday Life
Rigging the Game: How Inequality Is Reproduced in Everyday Life
"I think the title says it all."
Living within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos
Living within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos
"Garrett Hardin, who is most famous for his "Tragedy of the Commons" essay, wrote this book to enlighten people about over-population and its' attending consequences. It is fantastic."
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
"#2 - Collapse is similar to Living Within Limits. Diamond covers just a handful of societies that have collapsed throughout history. The point is to look at where they went wrong and see if we are making some of those mistakes today. He draws the conclusion that if we do not change our ways soon, then we will be facing a tough, tough future. A must read."