by Ted Christopher ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 6, 2015
An unusual combination of rigor and implausibility.
An unconventional reconsideration of the materialism that dominates modern science.
Debut author Christopher points out that the scientific community, despite its professed commitment to intellectual openness, has a fundamental prejudice: the idea that all human life can be explained on singularly materialistic grounds. He believes that such an explanation fails to account for some basic questions regarding the heritability of innate characteristics; for example, how precisely does DNA transmit cultural predilections? Analogously, how is it that some prodigies seem to be born with extraordinary, unlearned knowledge of a highly technical nature? Christopher persuasively suggests that a materialistic view falls short; the scientific establishment has refused to revise its views, he says, due in part to an irrational disdain for religion. He proposes an alternate theory that posits the existence of transcendental souls that have experienced multiple, reincarnated lives. He then focuses on ways in which the existence of such souls would explain previously irresolvable mysteries, including, he says, innate homosexuality. He then reexamines the relationship between science and religion; although science has been willfully blind to the explanatory power of religion, he says, religion has largely stopped interpreting itself through science: “In addition to their general and all-too-human tendencies toward rigidity,” he says, “I think the big problem facing religions in the modern world is simply their unwillingness to try to make objective sense of their beliefs.” This sentence is a good example of what’s right and wrong with Christopher’s effort: despite the book’s admirable philosophical thoughtfulness, its prose is often needlessly turgid. The author is at his best when exposing the scientific community’s stubborn reluctance to change course and the weaknesses of its regnant ideology. He cleverly employs transcendentalism as a response to these riddles, but his leap to reincarnation will strike most readers as going too far; one can criticize science’s blinkered prejudice and still extol the epistemological value of Occam’s razor. That said, it’s impossible not to be impressed with Christopher’s creativity or his command of scientific debates.An unusual combination of rigor and implausibility.
Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2015
Page Count: 174
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2016
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by David Grann ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2017
Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2017
New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Finalist
Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.
During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.
Pub Date: April 18, 2017
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017
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by Daniel Kahneman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 2011
Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...
A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.
The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011
Page Count: 512
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011
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