Books this Update:
- Why People Believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer
- The Knight in History, Frances Gies
- This I Believe, Jay Allison and Dan Gediman
It took an entire semester, but circumstances finally got the better of me and disrupted my weekly cycle. I began with a book on skepticism by Michael Shermer entitled Why People Believe Weird Things. The book addresses the scientific method: its origins, its premises, and its usefulness. After examining a score or so of number fallacies, Shermer then examines “pseudoscience, superstition, and other confusions of our time”. That phrase covers UFOs, Objectivisim, holocaust denial, evolution denial, and so on. He wraps the book up by looking at the basic biological and sociology reasons why people believe these things. I enjoyed it enormously.
Next I read The Knight in History by Frances Gies, which examines — as you might expect — the development of the mounted knight and its influence on European history. Gies does a good job of fitting the knight into its proper social, historical, and economic contexts. She does this week background chapters and then illustrates the various developments of knighthood through case-studies. I didn’t expect much from this book (I have no real military interest) but found it very enjoyable.
Lastly I read a collection of essays from the This I Believe program. In said program, ordinary individuals share their personal beliefs — the beliefs that tie their life together — in a short essay. 80 essays are in this first collection. The worldviews range widely, and there were a number I disagreed with. Yet the book helped me. There were many insightful and touching essays that moved me, and I am very glad that I took the time to read it. I reccommend it.
Pick of the Week: This I Believe
Quotation of the Week: “I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.” – Spinoza
– I don’t know. I will probably resume the Colonization series and perhaps begin Asimov’s Empire series.