Dr Steven Novella has written an excellent series of lessons that really helps one understand why people believe strange things. More importantly though, he explains how our own brains can deceive us. Ever wondered how everyone else around you remembers something completely different to how you remember it? Or how someone can come to a completely different conclusion to something than you did, even though you both had the exact same data? This book is fascinating and helps one realise, just because you saw it/ heard it/ analysed it (etc.) doesn't mean you'll come to the correct conclusion unless you take steps to ensure you don't let personal bias get in the way.
His many years as a teacher at Yale and podcasting ensure it is very easy to listen to this series of lectures. Broken down into half hour sessions, you can go through it is small chunks (I listened to it in three large chunks though, I was enjoying it so much). The one criticism I would have, being an audiobook, the times Dr Novella mentions different visual phenomena that fool us becomes a little difficult, not having the picture in front of you (some are famous and probably don't need an accompanying picture, but some aren't). The same with the audio phenomena. It would have been easy to include them in the audiobook. There also appeared to be mention of a workbook, which I could not find out anything about.
Having said that, those few issues were not serious enough for me to take any marks off. This is a great book with some truly fascinating things to learn, read in a way that made the time pass by so quickly.
Thoroughly recommend it.
Phil Plait has written some great books. His Bad Astronomy blog is always entertaining and educational and he is a prolific Tweeter. The academic levels vary from post to post, book to book and tweet to tweet, so one could be a little apprehensive about what level of astronomy understanding one would need to appreciate this book. This book is pitched at those who are not overly knowledgeable about astronomy related facts. Having said that, it still threw up facts I did not know. His writing style is very easy going and I would have loved to have listened to Phil narrate the book himself. Kevin does an OK job, but Phil's exuberance would have lifted it another notch. I still gave it 5 stars, as the content is excellent.
This is a very interesting book. It follows the journey of Seth Andrews, a dyed in the wool Christian in the heart of the Bible belt. He has gone from Religious Broadcaster to starting up The Thinking Atheist website and podcast. This book demonstrates the difficulties one can have when leaving their faith behind in favor of reason. It was not an easy journey. Not just coming to the realization that everything you believed in as being wrong, but coping with the reactions of those closest to you. Some atheists can be quite denegrating of religious people, but Seth know there are a great many religious people who are wonderful people, who would be "the first to run into a burning building to get you out". He is however, very scathing of the indoctrination of children before they are able to think for themselves and the attempts by some in the religious community to impose their beliefs in places they don't belong (the science classroom being just one of them).
Being from a broadcasting background, there was only ever one choice for the job of narrating this story and Seth has been able to add a real passion to his writing by reading it himself.
An excellent book and an excellent listen.