I started the year with another ambitious goal of 100 books (using the Goodreads site to log and track), as last year I read 119. Through June, I’ve managed 58.
I’m grouping the books as I did in last year’s recap by the month in which I finished them (and fiction/nonfiction subgroups.) As the list is already quite long, and I’ve decided to tag all of the authors and titles, I’m publishing the first half of the year as a standalone.
Some quick stats for the BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front): heavier on the nonfiction (again) for the six months so far this year:
- 34 nonfiction
- 24 fiction
- 9 of the fiction were Arthur C. Clarke novels. The last of the Big Three (Asimov and Heinlein being the other two, though Heinlein doesn’t warrant the distinction…IMO), I think he did well with science fiction and not so well with things that involve people.
- I’ve rated 10 as five-star on Goodreads
- I gave 2 books a one-star rating (not-only-no-but-really-no)
- I’ve linked all of my Goodreads reviews (even if only one line) to each title, in case anyone is interested in what I thought.
And, now to the books of the first half of 2013…
Posted in Books
Tagged 2001: A Space Odyssey, 21st Century Dodos, A Fall of Moondust, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future, Andrew Keen, Arguing with Idiots, Arthur C. Clarke, Bernie Glassman, Calculating God, Childhood's End, Christina Perozzi, Daniel Coyle, Design, Easts Shoots and Leaves, Echoes of the Well of Souls, Edgar Allan Poe, Frd Collopy, Hallie Beaune, Islands in the Sky, J. G. Ballard, Jack Chalker, James C. Bradford, Jeff Bridges, Jen Campbell, Jim Holt, Jonathan Haidt, Jules Verne, Lynne Truss, Managing as Designing, Maria Konnikova, Marilyn Monroe, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, Max Brooks, Michael Avallone, Michael J. Fox, Mitch Alborn, My Story, Nate Silver, On a Pale Horse, Pierre Boulle, Piers Anthony, Planet of the Apes, Quarterdeck and Bridge, Rendezvous with Rama, Richard Boland, Right: A New Design Perspective for Business Innovation, Robert J. Sawyer, Scott Trent, Simon Zingerman, Steampunk Poe, Steve Sack, The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking, The Atrocity Exhibition, The Cult of the Amateur, The Deep Range, The Dude and the Zen Master, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, The Happiness Hypothesis, The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue EXCELLENCE, The Naked Brewer, The Signal and the Noise, The Songs of Distant Earth, The Talent Code, The Thousand Coffins Affair (The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #1), The Throwing Madonna, Tom Peters, We All Need Heroes, Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, Why Does the World Exist?, William H. Calvin, World War Z
One of the persistent search terms that leads outsiders to my blog seems to be Robert Anton Wilson. For whatever reason, people still read his stuff and google him…but then, the man had quite a cult following in his day.
I wrote a piece about him back in 2011 that gets some hits, but it’s usually my critiques of his books The New Inquisition and Quantum Psychology that garner the most traffic – and the most arguments from his defenders. Poor misunderstood genius. Aren’t they all?
Quantum Psychology is a mix of quantum mechanics overview and amateur psychobabble, and Wilson lays it on pretty thick with his psychobabble. That’s a shame because he did a pretty good job summarizing the physics. Despite the author’s stated purpose, The New Inquisition is really just a rant on skeptics and a long diatribe against CSICOP – the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, now just called CSI, or Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Wilson lays it on pretty thick in that one, too. Logical fallacies abound throughout, but the key thread in many of his arguments is the supposed dismissal of pseudoscience (not his term) out of hand as unscientific. I was rather harsh in my detailed criticism, but in my defense, little he said made sense.
Wilson argued that mainstream science fails to consider … acknowledge… out of the norm claims as valid science; that scientists dismiss them due to some massive fraternal conspiracy to exclude people and ideas …not … like … them. He, and other fringe defenders use the same, tired arguments – that mainstream science can’t disprove the claims, mainstream science is wrong, and out to get them. But the burden of proof is on the claimant, and as popularized by Carl Sagan, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Further, as Martin Gardner said in Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science:
…scientists cannot be expected to stop what they are working on and write detailed refutations of every theory and pseudo-theory that comes along.
No. They can’t. They’re doing real work. Work that can be predicted, tested, refuted, confirmed, refined.