Saturday, December 07, 2013

Recent pop science or pop psychology books that Lili likes

The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science
by Will Storr
Storr travelled the world meeting all manner of crackpots, deniers and conspiracy theorists, including Lord Monckton and David Irving. I picked this book up thinking it was going to be another skeptical festival of condescention in which people who have eccentric and irrational beliefs are ridiculed, and there is a bit of that, but this book is clearly not a one-sided view of the skeptic versus eccentric war. The last chapter before the epilogue exposes the hero of the skeptics movement James Randi as a most unpleasant man who has displayed little regard for the truth. I was amazed to discover that evidently the skeptics couldn't be very skeptical at all, as they hold such an authority in high esteem. This book is worth your attention for that chapter alone, but I wish it had an index.

Blind Spot: Why We Fail to See the Solution Right in Front of Us
by Gordon Rugg and Joseph D'Agnese

I wrote a short review of this interesting book here:

Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life
by Allen Frances

Dr Frances was the head of the task force that produced the fourth DSM (the bible of American psychiatry), but he is now an outspoken and scathing critic of psychiatry as it is practiced in the US and around the world. Australians might know of Dr Frances as the most prominent critic of Prof Patrick McGorry. McGorry has influenced (some would say dictated) Australian federal government policy on mental health.

Will Mozart make my baby smart?
by Andrew Whitehouse

Associate Professor Andrew Whitehouse is the head of the Developmental Disorders Research Group at the prestigious Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, but don't be intimidated by that because this is a readable and enjoyable book for parents.

Far from the tree: Parents, Children And The Search For Identity
by Andrew Solomon

Solomon writes about families in which a child differs from the parents in some major way, and many interesting and complex states of being are discussed, including autism, being the child of rape and transgenderism. This book has a particular significance to me as this year I was saddened by the death of a young transgender woman who I knew and admired. This huge book is the ultimate compilation of true human interest stories. If this is to your taste it will keep you occupied for many hours. 

Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception
by Claudia Hammond

This book is one of the four winners of the 2013 book awards from the British Psychological Society. I like it because there's some interesting stuff in it about synaesthesia and it's written by a synaesthete who is a very capable science journalist and a psychologist. Claudia talks about her research on time-space synaesthesia in this podcast of the radio show Science for the People:

Daniel Tammet: the Boy with the Incredible Story
by Lili Marlene

Yes this is my book. I'm allowed to give my own book a plug, aren't I? Many people have known for a long time that the life story of the author, celebrity and performer of intellectual feats Daniel Tammet which has been told countless times in books, television and journal papers is incomplete in ways that matter and questionable in too many ways to count. Let me take you by the hand and show you the alternative story hiding in plain sight. Buy my book!

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