It's an Exciting World

The life and times of David Geisert



Predictably Irrational

This was a pretty good intro book with some decent studies, but didn’t go nearly as deep as I would have liked.  That seems to be the case with most popular books in science or psychology.

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts

This book is way oversimplifying people.  It also is cherry picking some very bad studies.  I didn’t think it was terribly actionable nor informative.  I don’t think we’ll read it for book club.

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The Elegant Universe

This book was pretty interesting, although I do think that string theory needs some kind of testable hypothesis.  That the theory works great mathematically is fine and all, but it needs some real world grounding.  I liked the explanation and examples for the folded dimensions.  This puts electromagnetism in a new light for me.

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Scientific Secrets for Self-Control

This was a fantastic book, but I’ve heard most of the information in other articles and lecture series that I’ve listened to.  There were a few nuggets that I hadn’t heard before.  The exercising self control seemed to be an interesting concept, and one that I’ll take up soon.  The idea is to sit down at the end of the day and more or less meditate.  The purpose of the meditation is to do something that requires a lot of self control, like not thinking of a purple elephant.  When that is the purpose of the meditation it makes it quite hard to do anything else but think of a purple elephant.  Doing this early in the day can make your self control worse throughout the day, so doing it before bed is one of the best ways of going about it.

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Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever you are

This book was pretty good at explaining how to go about learning to interact with other cultures.  the most interesting part however was the grouping that the lecturer goes through at the end of the book.  I found the outliers the most interesting, like Ireland and Israel.  Some of the aspects of the groupings surprised me, like the Nordic countries not wanting to stand out, but still being very individualistic.

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The Great Ideas of Philosophy

This was a very nice listen, but I had to take it in chunks.  The fiction books that I listened too at the same time were very nice breaks from the depth and density of this lecture series.  The evolution of philosophy as described by this book seems to be full of reactionary thought, with the swings getting wider and wider.  I can identify most with the Aristotelian thought with everything being in the pursuit of Eudaimonia, which can be roughly thought of as happiness or well-being in a totally non-hedonistic sense.  I would put this as the basis of my thoughts in a utilitarian framework with a hierarchical anthropomorphic view of all life based on level of consciousness and sense.  I fully reject some of the later discussed views like reality being perception.  These views are wholly unusable for working life, and aren’t even practiced by the people that support them.  I very much hold that a philosophical position should be practiced by those that hold it and not just held in theory.  There is a funny story of an ancient Greek person (reality unknown) who believed and practiced in the thought being reality school, and his friends would have to constantly save him from being injured by these notions.  He would do things like believe that fire wasn’t hot and try to walk through it.  Even he didn’t fully follow this thought as he blamed his cook for making a bad meal; wouldn’t it only be bad because he thought it was so in his own philosophy?  I liked the thoughts presented here and can use the language to flush out my own ideas further, and discover what great people have thought before on the subjects.

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Lifelong Health

This book was very informative on the goods and bads of health.  There was a lot of science based evidence and good advice.  The only issue I have is the lack of science based evidence for the whole foods diet that is continually recommended.  I’m not saying that the diet is bad, and I agree with the logic they use (in most cases, i don’t care about fooling mother nature), but they don’t support the claims with evidence in this case.  I do like the rest of the evidence that is provided, and the caveats they give to each study they mention.  I am pretty sure I’m going to give up drinking alcohol altogether for the foreseeable future, as well as cutting out most meat.

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The Great Ideas of Psychology

This person has a very different view of science than most scientists I’ve known.  I think this is because he likes including more of what he does in the category of being science.  By his definition a lot more of art can be put into the category of science than I believe should be.  Working in the ‘soft’ sciences will do this, as much of what is trying to be shown is not universal laws, but instead deal with conventions and labels.  It is hard to describe the difference in a hard way, but politics would be another good example of something that follows a method, but isn’t science.  Same can be said for law and ethics.

The book is fantastic at breaking down the history of psychology and how some of the different theories are flawed when you take them to their ultimate conclusions.  This is very similar to what can be done with many ethical positions.  Even though I don’t agree with everything said in the book, I agree with most of what it implies.  I like to think that thinking has more to it than an electro-chemical process.  I like to think that I am; not that I am just a mass of mainly carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen, with other things mixed in, that happens to be doing what I’m doing.

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Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills

This was amazing.  I got to hear a full explanation of something that I’ve been hearing about for years on Skeptic’s Guide from the host himself.  Steven Novella is the man.  I really like the way he explained the biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies.  He does a good job of explaining how you can avoid the fallacies for yourself.

If there is one issue with the series it is that there is no good explanation on how to get other people to avoid these biases.  I guess the point is to just introduce them to this series and have them learn for themselves.

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