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Think: Why You Should Question Everything Paperback – November 5, 2013
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“Terrific, useful, well-written, and just plain entertaining. …Think is a book that should be on every skeptic’s bookshelf, and, more importantly, the bookshelf of anyone who is not yet convinced that science is the best way to know.”
“Harrison's upbeat style nicely conveys some of the latest scientific research on how the mind functions… [His] inviting style serves the interests of skeptics and scientists who face the onslaught of nonsense, delusion, ignorance, stupidity, and bias that dominates today's muddled culture… Highly recommended.”
“Very useful…. Harrison demonstrates the need for critical analysis in a world of conflicting stories and glib “facts.”’
“If you are happy being told what to think, don’t buy this book. However, if you want to learn how to think and be in control of your health, your investments, and your destiny, then read this book now. In lucid and unbiased writing, Harrison explains how you can enrich your life and that of your loved ones by simply using your brain to think critically.”
—Dr. Donald C. Johanson, discoverer of Lucy, the most famous fossil in history
“A clear and passionate book on skepticism, clear thinking, and a wide range of juicy paranormal claims. A great and fun read for everyone. Harrison succeeds at motivating, inspiring, and indeed haunting the reader. As he says, ‘Think before you believe.’ Required reading for anyone who doesn’t want to waste time, health, money, and dignity on things that probably are not real or true.”
—Jonathan C. Smith, Professor of psychology, Chicago’s Roosevelt University
“Think will provide you with the tools to protect yourself against being ripped off . . . by common beliefs that don’t stand up to scientific testing. Then, as an added bonus, it will clear the fog so you can better appreciate the awesomeness of reality. Highly recommended.”
—Lynne Kelly, author of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Paranormal
“Sometimes we want things to be true, but being able to tell the difference between fable and fact is not just a nice idea—it will save you money, tons of time, and possibly your life. Harrison’s wonderfully written reality check offers the most valuable education you can get this side of grad school.”
—Dr. Seth Shostak, Senior astronomer, SETI Institute
About the Author
GUY P. HARRISON (San Diego, CA) is an award-winning journalist and the author of 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian, 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True, 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God, and Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know about Our Biological Diversity. Find him on online at www.guypharrison.com, www.facebook.com/guypharrisonauthor, and on Twitter @Harrisonauthor.
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Top customer reviews
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"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.
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.
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.
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.
Inspired by reading 'Think', here are 21 reasons why thinking and being a good skeptic will benefit you, your family, and your world:
1) Economic benefits of skepticism
a. Reduces money you squander on crackpots, quacks, and shysters.
b. Decreases spend on dubious businesses: psychics, spiritual healers, alternative medicines, and miracle cures.
c. Increases dollars and tax revenues to fund scientific research and development of proven products backed by solid evidence, science, and medical effectiveness.
2) Intellectual benefits of skepticism
a. Avoids groups and organizations that discourage asking meaningful questions.
b. Starves out (from lack of support) groups that prey on the weak and suffering.
c. Stimulates creative-thinking, by encouraging questions rather than settling for simple, absolute answers.
3) Spiritual benefits of skepticism
a. Eliminates delusions and wishful-thinking, evaluates extraordinary claims using reason.
b. Avoids investing your time and energy on con-artists, false prophets, and faith healers.
c. Shrinks organizations that are based on dubious and supernatural claims.
4) Ethical/Moral benefits of skepticism
a. Questions exploitation of anyone, including women, children, and all minorities. (Examples: faith traditions that are unethical and immoral, includes beliefs that: women are subservient to men, gays are an abomination, masturbation is a sin).
b. Reduces hate crimes and murders (motivated by irrational beliefs and religious fanaticism).
c. Helps us treat others more fairly and justly (by reducing bigotry and self-righteousness).
5) Psychological/Emotional benefits of skepticism
a. Minimizes gullibility and shame in succumbing to quackery and religious guilt.
b. Clears thinking. Conducts our lives based on reality, not delusive wishful-thinking.
c. Generates personal responsibility for changing ourselves and our world (rather than waiting for or giving credit to a divine, mystical being to fix things).
6) Physical benefits of skepticism
a. Assesses health claims based on medical science, not pseudoscience (fake science), quack or homeopathic potions, energy healing, or crackpot medical treatments.
b. Saves lives based on using proven medicine (versus avoiding blood transfusions for religious reasons, overdosing on supplements or not getting proper medical care, or parents who don't take their children to doctors because of their faith).
c. Eliminates diseases and plaques (eg. recent resurgence of epidemics of measles in U.S. and HIV/AIDs in Africa due to bad thinking- "vaccines are harmful", "condoms are immoral").
7) Social/Cultural benefits of skepticism
a. Questions herd mentality, mass marketing, group think, and peer pressure. It's OK to say "no", to not buy it.
b. Reduces bad choices, embarrassment, and shame. (eg. You don't spend many years or thousands of dollars on bad products or programs, such as: ineffective abstinence only sex ed for teens, starting wars based on bad evidence, or blind following of leaders with corporate, political, or religious authority).
c. Improves individuals, families, and helps society progress. All of the above 20 benefits collectively make us better: as individuals, communities, and as a sane, healthier world.