January 28, 2007

Nail on the head

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Take the quiz here (via Afarensis).

Posted by Will at 10:40 PM

December 01, 2006

Sam Harris Christmas ad campaign

I received an e-mail from Sam Harris today shamelessly promoting his latest book: the fantastic, timeless, classic Letter to a Christian Nation. Spread the word of reason with the following cleverly designed flier (larger version for printing available on Sam's website):

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Posted by Will at 02:51 PM

November 20, 2006

New Chris Mooney book

In perhaps the first instance of "breaking news" here on Nomadic Thoughts, a couple of hours ago Chris Mooney (author of the essential Republican War on Science) announced on his blog that his new book will be entiled "Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming." Don't expect it any time soon, though, he's still sort of writing it. Still exciting news, though.

Posted by Will at 04:02 PM

March 29, 2006

Stories in the Time of Cholera

Tonight I am beginning Stories in the Time of Cholera: Racial Profiling During a Medical Nightmare. From the U. of California Press website:

Cholera, although it can kill an adult through dehydration in half a day, is easily treated. Yet in 1992-93, some five hundred people died from cholera in the Orinoco Delta of eastern Venezuela. In some communities, a third of the adults died in a single night, as anthropologist Charles Briggs and Clara Mantini-Briggs, a Venezuelan public health physician, reveal in their frontline report. Why, they ask in this moving and thought-provoking account, did so many die near the end of the twentieth century from a bacterial infection associated with the premodern past?

Sounds like a barrel of monkeys, doesn’t it? This is the fourth and final book for Foundations of Applied Anthropology II and in the true spirit of the discipline, they’ve saved the most depressing for last. I haven’t really blogged about the other books we’ve read, but I’m going to try and do so for this one because I have a feeling it’s going to be quite a kick in the gut. The only book in the past couple of years that has had a profound impact on me has been Sam Harris’ The End of Faith (see my post here). Although about a completely different subject, I hope that Stories has just as much of an influence on the way I see the world around me. So far I’ve only read the preface and learned that the contributing author, Clara Mantini-Briggs, often distanced herself from the writing process because of her level of involvement on the front lines. It doesn’t promise to be a pretty picture of health and humanity, but one of my strongest beliefs is that one has to confront the ugliness of the world head on if change is to be realized. So I'm not sure how much I'll blog along the way, but I wanted to throw out a "before picture" and at least an "after picture" when I've finished. Welcome to Will's Book Club.

Posted by Will at 08:27 PM

November 25, 2005

New Book: Engaging Anthropology

There's a new book coming out called Engaging Anthropology, written by Thomas Hylland Eriksen. You can read the entire first chapter on his website here. The book is a critique of anthropology for not becoming the "universal intellectual discipline" that we should be. I tentatively agree with this, but I'll have to read the whole book before I see if he's accurate or completely off base. The price tag of $89.95 (Amazon.com price) will keep me waiting for the paperback. Ironic, isn't it? A book critiquing anthropology's lack of public discourse going for almost a hundred bucks...

Posted by Will at 11:44 PM | Comments (2)

August 08, 2005

"The Republican War on Science" Website Launch

Author and blogger Chris Mooney, a regular stop on my blog-reading rounds, has written a book called The Republican War on Science. It's set for an August 30th release date and Chris announced on his blog today that its slick new website has been launched. Go check it out and see if the book looks worth a read.

Posted by Will at 04:15 PM

July 27, 2005

Book: The End of Faith

For the past several days I have been devouring Sam Harris’ The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. I found out about this book through a review online and subsequently discovered that he’s been making the rounds promoting the book, which came out last year. I am impressed and humbled by the level on which Harris discusses the problem of religion and its detrimental effects on society; he’s not simply another ranting atheist out to remove every Ten Commandments monument in the United States. Rather, he logically and rationally dissects the problem of religion and many of its social implications. Miraculously (I know...) he manages to achieve this by not coming across as offensive to people of faith (as far as I can tell). I’m not quite half way through the book and I can already tell this is easily one of the best contemporary refutations of religious belief that I have come across. Harris argues that reason is being sacrificed for unfounded belief structures that have shown time and time again to be more harmful to society than most people realize. This is the book I’ve been waiting for. Not so I can blindly recite Harris’ theses when arguing with a Christian (or a Muslim or a Jew) but so I can have a better understanding of what it means to embrace reason and reject religion. I highly recommend it to both atheist and faithful alike. Full review to come.

The End of Faith/Sam Harris website

Posted by Will at 12:43 AM

June 18, 2005

New Books

I have acquired yet another set of books to keep me busy for at least the next decade. As a result, my current reading list has grown to around four or five books at any given time. I purchased these through my sister's Barnes and Noble employee discount (shhh...) so it ended up being a good deal and one of the few times I've purchased brand new books as opposed to used to save a few dollars. Most of you will have heard of these titles, so please leave your comments if you've read any of them:

Collapse by Jared Diamond

The "sequel" to Guns, Germs, and Steel, Collapse's tagline is "How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed." This one is unique in that it's the first book that I've ever looked forward to prior to its publication (I can remember when it was announced last year). The book is divided up into several chapters/themes with many sub-sections or what could be considered case studies. Diamond's overarching thesis is basically that the things that brought about the collapse of ancient societies (e.g. the Ancient Maya, Norse Greenland, Easter Island, the Anasazi) should be closely examined and considered because they can tell us much about the trajectories of present day societies, including the United States. Far from a doomsday prediction about our own fate, I predict Collapse to be an engrossing and enlightening lesson in how not to die.

The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins

Originally published almost two decades ago, The Blind Watchmaker is one of those books that everyone needs to read. Indeed, just after reading the intro to the 1996 edition and the original preface, Dawkins suggests that he intends to write a book for the general public that will help as much as it attempts to clarify. The tagline is "Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design." I was prompted to purchase this because of the many blogs I have come across dealing with the Evolution-Creation debate and the recent hearing in Kansas that have promted much heated discussion on the issue. I'm hoping this book will better enable me to counter Creationist arguments when (and if) confronted with them. Rather than just blindly repeating what Dawkins lays out in The Blind Watchmaker (as many Creationists do with their respective defenses), I hope to gain insight into evolutionary biology so I have more thorough understanding of its mechanisms.

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

Another Dawkins masterpiece, I got this one out of pure curiosity and reading pleasure. A few decades old, but its status will hopefully prove it to be timeless.

The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould

Another must-read, The Mismeasure of Man is the "definitive refutation to the argument of The Bell Curve." The Bell Curve was a book published in 1994 (Hernstein & Murray) that attempted to show evidence that supported a correlation between race, intelligence, and other biological characteristics. I bought this one for basically the same reason as I did The Blind Watchmaker and I anticipate it becoming one of those volumes that I come back to again and again over the years for some insight.

Posted by Will at 02:21 PM | Comments (3)