This Will Make You Smarter
, a book supposedly about "new scientific concepts"
that will "improve your thinking"
. Its an anthology of articles by "the world's leading thinkers"
, including Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, Michael Shermer, Lawrence Krauss, J. Craig Venter, Carl Zimmer, Sean M. Caroll, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett. Just from those list of authors I could tell it was going to me more of a philosophy book than a science book.
Reading the contents page, we see things like this...
PZ Myers, "The Mediocrity Principle"
Everything you as a human being consider cosmically important is an accident.
Sean M. Carroll, "The Pointless Universe"
Looking at the universe through our anthropocentric eyes, we can't help but view things in terms of causes, purposes and natural ways of being.
No. no. no! This is not science. This is philosophy. Science is a process of testing hypotheses against empirical observations. In what way are articles discussing the meaning of existence (or lack of meaning) scientific?
J. Craig Venter, "We Are Not Alone In The Universe"
There is a humancentric, Earthcentric view of life that permeates most cultural and societal thinking.
While it's true that we probably aren't alone in the universe, It's hardly scientific to state that as fact. Unless you have actual empirical evidence for alien life, you're relying on faith here.
Richard Dawkins, "The Double-Blind Control Experiment"
Nice scientific title.
Why do half of Americans believe in ghosts, three-quarters believe in angels, a third believe in astrology and three-quarters believe in hell.
... Oh. I thought science was supposed to be neutral to these questions.
Lawrence Krauss, "Uncertainty"
In public parlance, uncertainty is a bad thing, implying lack of rigor and predictability.
I agree with this. Nothing is ever certain in science, and that's good. Too bad this author is a militant singularitist who is certain computers will inevitably become conscious.
Michael Shermer, "Think Bottom Up, Not Top Down"
Almost everything important that happens in both nature and society happens from the bottom up, not the top down.
Michael Shermer, who once praised the Popular Mechanics article on 9/11 truth as "one of the best things ever done in the history of skepticism"
, talking about how politics, the economy and the internet are bottom-up constructs and therefore that somehow proves Darwinian evolution.
Daniel Dennett, "Cycles"
The secret ingredient of improvement is always the same: practise, practise, practise.
Famous atheist Daniel Dennett talking about "Darwinian cycles" and how they were somehow present before even the first cell arose.
Sam Harris, "We Are Lost in Thought"
Our relationship to our own thinking is strange to the point of paradox.
Famous atheist Sam Harris attacking religion, saying we must scrap it in favour of "science". Unfortunately these people have a rather warped definition of what science is.
Carl Zimmer, "Life As A Side Effect"
Everyone would do well to overcome that urge to see agents where there are none.
How does it feel being a "side effect"?!
Only two of these articles can reasonably be considered a promotion of science - the ones by Dawkins and Krauss. There are hundreds more articles in this book from people I've never heard of, many of them good, but some even worse. An example...
Daniel Goldman, "Anthropocene Thinking"
Beginning with cultivation and ending with the Industrial Revolution, our planet left the Holocene epoch and entered ... the anthropocene, in which humans erode the natural systems that support life.
DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNN!
The title promised me this book would make me smarter ... I want my money back. When did science get redefined to mean materialist, elitist intellectual circle-jerking? Newton, Galileo, Einstein and even Darwin - who frankly deserves better than these people - would be rolling in their graves.