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Tag: skepticism

Review: Antonio Damasio’s “The Strange Order of Things”

Antonio Damasio’s impact on my intellectual development would be difficult to overstate. I first encountered his work when I was assigned The Feeling of What Happens for a philosophy of mind course in college. That book fundamentally transformed how I understood myself as a thinking, feeling being, and when I read Self Comes to Mind a few years later, [...]

Review: Steven Pinker’s “Enlightenment Now”

Steven Pinker was one of the first writers to kindle my passion for scientific thinking. When I read The Blank Slate in 2011, it exposed me to a host of intellectual disciplines that my undergraduate training in philosophy had neglected––most notably evolutionary psychology, skepticism, and the empirical foundations of human nature. Nearly a decade later, I am [...]

Review: Thomas Nagel’s “Mortal Questions”

The title of Thomas Nagel’s Mortal Questions may appear to promise a set of inquiries with reachable termination points, but in fact the opposite is true. This collection of short essays explores a slew of multifaceted and often-insouble problems surrounding the nature of human society and experiential life that Nagel pondered during the 1970s. Nagel is nobly [...]

Review: Robert M. Sapolsky’s “Behave”

Books that examine the relationship between science and morality have become ubiquitous, so readers interested in these important subjects need to choose carefully. It is not an overstatement to say that one could do no better than to alight on Robert M. Sapolsky’s Behave. This engrossing, encyclopedic examination of the causal mechanisms that determine human behavior is [...]

My Life as a Shepherd’s Dog: Iron & Wine’s Masterpiece Turns Ten

Introduction In fall 2007, I was beginning my sophomore year at the University of Oregon. Having made it through the growing pains of freshman year, I had begun to relax a little. I’d found a great group of friends to live with, and finally felt ready to embrace the college persona that made the most [...]

Review: Richard A. Clarke and R.P. Eddy’s “Warnings”

Even for those who fastidiously avoid the news, to live in the modern world is to be bombarded with visions of catastrophe. Our culture, our politics, our language––these have all become saturated with promises of impending doom. The psychological result of this predicament is among the most nefarious consequences of the global media’s invasion of [...]

Review: Daniel Suarez’s “Freedom”

When I give a book a top rating, it is usually because I think that book is perfect, or close to it. I will not make that claim about Daniel Suarez’s Freedom. No, this book has some very significant and undeniable flaws. Even so, it is perhaps the best technothriller I’ve ever read, and beyond that, [...]

Review: Peter Wohlleben’s “The Hidden Life of Trees”

Naturalists who write for a popular audience have a tough needle to thread. An acceptable work of popular naturalism provides readers with enough detailed research to convey and legitimize the author’s expertise, while simultaneously eschewing esoteric tangents and academic quibbles. A great work will also contain responsible speculation about the borders of human knowledge––just enough [...]

Review: Arlie Russell Hochschild’s “Strangers in Their Own Land”

No matter what part of the political spectrum you hail from, few Americans would deny that this moment in our nation’s history is shot through with alienation. At every turn, Americans are forsaking the public square in favor of familiar and increasingly insular communities––digital and physical––occupied by similarly-minded friends and family. Arlie Russell Hochschild’s Strangers in [...]

Review: Yuval Noah Harari’s “Homo Deus”

“Who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin Fighting for a system built to fail Spooning water from their broken vessels As far as I can see there is no land” So sings Ben Knox Miller in The Low Anthem’s “Charlie Darwin,” one of the best songs I discovered during my college years. The track [...]