Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My favorite books in 2014

IMPORTANT: All links below are "affiliate" links to Amazon.com. That means that I'm paid a small amount of money for the books you buy after clicking on them. I don't get any cash directly from Amazon, though, but gift cards that I use to buy more books. The average monthly payment I got last year was $75.

Last year it was a book about Humanism. This year it's one about cognitive biases, dissonance and motivated reasoning. Will Storr's The Unpersuadables: Adventures With the Enemies of Science is the best book I read in 2014 (see complete list.)

I know, there are many, many books about biases and mindbugs in the market I've read quite a few of them, actually but this one stands out because of how humane it is. Storr does make fun of silly beliefs, but then acknowledges that all of us fall victim to them all the time, no matter how hard we try not to. He also talks about the dangers of storytelling. I'm sharing some of my favorite passages at the bottom of this post.

Other 2014 highlights in no particular order:

Statistics Unplugged, by Sally Caldwell. A post about it.

Design and Truth, by Robert Grudin.

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, by Jordan Ellenberg. Mentioned here.

Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking), by Christian Rudder. Some notes.

Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away, by Rebecca Goldstein.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, by Ed Catmull.

Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic, by Matthew Stewart.

The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning, by Marcelo Gleiser.

Who Rules in Science: An Opinionated Guide to the Wars, by James Robert Brown.

Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us, and Them, by Joshua Greene. A post about it.

The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day, by David J. Hand.

33: Understanding Change & the Change in Understanding, by Richard Saul Wurman.

Continue reading to see some passages from The Unpersuadables.