You are here

Previously read books

Jefferson Center Book Group –BOOKS read

Jefferson Center Book Group –BOOKS read


20 14

Jan. 15, 2014 – Mark k Pagel's book Wired for Culture (2012)

Feb 19, 2014 - Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a
World that Can't Stop Talking

March 19, 2014 - The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution by Denis
Dutton (2009), which argues that human proclivities for art are evolutionary
traits, shaped by natural selection--inborn and in some ways universal.

April 16, 2014 – Peter Boghossian A Manual for Creating Atheists (2013.

May 21 Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall
of Everyone Else
by Chrystia Freeland (2013).  We know that income
inequality is increasing in America, but how much?  How Rich are these new
super-rich?  How do they justify their privilege?  Do they spend their money
creating jobs, or perhaps making charitable contributions to others?  What is
their politics?  Why do they profess to experience so much stress?  Should
we by sympathetic?  Apathetic?  Or what?

June 18









January 15, 2013 - What Intelligence Tests Miss: the psychology of rational thought,  by Keith Stanovich (2010)

 February 19, 2013 - 1491: New revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C. Mann  (2006)

 March 19, 2013 - The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion by Jonathan Haidt (2012)

April 16, 2013 - The  Belief Instinct: The psychology of souls, destiny, and the meaning of life by Jesse Bering (2011)

May 21, 2013 - Thomas Jefferson by Christopher Hitchens

June 18, 2013 - Collapse by Jared Diamond

July 16, 2013 Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel (1999)

August – cancelled

Sept 18, 2013: The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge (2007)

Oct 16, 2013- Why Does the World Exist by Jim Holt (2012; won't be published in paper until April 2013)

Nov. 20, 2013 - The Price of Inequality: how today's divided society endangers our future by Joseph E. Stiglitz (Nobel Prize economics) 2012.

Dec. 18, 2013 -  Lawrence Krause, physicist and former Jeff Center/SOU speaker:  "A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing" 2012




January 17, 2012 - Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America by John Avlon (2010)

February 21, 2012 - Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman  (to be published Oct. 25, 2011. If the book is not out in paperback soon, we may postpone reading it and choose another book for February.) We are group #17 at Bloomsbury’s if you choose to get your books there.

March 20, 2012  - The Moral Landscape: How Science can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris (2010)

 April 17, 2012 - Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond (1997 or 2005

 May 15, 2012 - With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful  by Glenn Greenwald (2011)

 June 19, 2012 - The Myth of the Rational Market:  A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street (2009) by Justin Fox

July 7, 2012 - The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, ed. Christopher Hitchens, 1997. We agreed to all try to read the second half, beginning page 207, plus whatever from the first half interested us.

August 21, 2012 - Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism by Richard Carrier (2005).

September 18, 2012 - The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering our Place in Nature by David Suzuki (1997).

October 16, 2012 - The Trial of Socrates by I. F. Stone (1989).

November 20, 2012 - All the Devils are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera (2010).

December 18, 2012 - Justice: What’s the Right Thing to do?  By Michael Sandel (2010)




Jan. 18, 2011 - Nonsense on Stilts by Massimo Pigliucci. “Why do people believe bunk? . . . cuts through the ambiguity surrounding science to look more closely at how science is conducted, how it is disseminated, how it is interpreted, and what it means to our society. The result is in many ways a 'taxonomy of bunk' . . . No one - not the public intellectuals in the culture wars between defenders and detractors of science nor the believers of pseudoscience themselves - is spared Pigliucci's incisive analysis.”

Feb. 15, 2011 -Society without God, by Phil Zuckerman (2008). (Zuckerman will be lecturing in Ashland on Feb. 17.)

March 15, 2011 - What is Emotion? History, Measures, and Meaning By Jerome Kagan (2007) “examines what exactly we do know about emotions, which popular assumptions about emotions are incorrect, and how scientific study must proceed if we are to uncover the answers to persistent and evasive questions . . . Integrating the findings of anthropological, psychological, and biological studies . . .”

April 19, 2011 - The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, by Drew Westen (2007)

May 17, 2011 - Descartes’ Error, by Antonio Damasio Since Descartes famously proclaimed, "I think, therefore I am," science has often overlooked emotions as the source of a person’s true being. Even modern neuroscience has tended, until recently, to concentrate on the cognitive aspects of brain function, disregarding emotions. This attitude began to change with the publication of Descartes’ Error in 1995.

June 21, 2011 - A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness, from Imposter Poodles to Purple Numbers, by V. S. Ramachandran. podcast: Ramachandran on mirror neurons video:

July 19, 2011 = canceled

August 16 - Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics after the Religious Right,  by E.J.  Dionne (2009)

Sept. 20 is Mistakes  Were  Made (but not by me):  Why we Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson (2007). 

Oct. 18, 2011 - The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule by Michael Shermer (2004)

November 15, 2011 -The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark Carl Sagan (1997)

December 13, 2011 - The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins (2009)




Jan. 12, 2010 - Readings: Declarations of Rights. All are available on the internet. The attachment has hot links.

Feb. 9 2010 - Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves, by Sharon Begley 2007

March 9 2010 - God, the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist, by Victor J. Stenger 2007

April 13 2010 - On Being Certain: Believing you are right even when you’re not, by Robert Burton 2008

May 11 2010 - What’s the Worst that could Happen? A Rational Response to the Climate Change Debate, by Greg Craven 2009 paperback

June 8, 2010 - The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution, by Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending (2009)

July 13, 2010 - The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, By Leonard Mlodinow (2009)

August 10, 2010 - Freedom Evolves, by Daniel Dennett (2003)

September 14, 2010 - Nudge : improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein, 2008.

October 12, 2010 -Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life,  By Dacher Keltner (2009) ) new examination of the surprising origins of human goodness. . . .demonstrates that humans are not hardwired to lead lives that are "nasty, brutish, and short"—we are in fact born to be good. . . .why have we evolved positive emotions like gratitude, amusement, awe, and compassion that promote ethical action and are the fabric of cooperative societies?”

Nov. 9, 2010 - No Contest by Alfie Kohn (1986/1992 “No Contest, which has been stirring up controversy since its publication in 1986, stands as the definitive critique of competition. . . .

December 14, 2010 at noon The Grand Design, by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow (2010) “the real meat of their book: the way theories about quantum mechanics and relativity came together to shape our understanding of how our universe (and possibly others) formed out of nothing. . . . It gets into the deepest questions of modern cosmology without a single equation. The reader will be able to get through it without bogging down in a lot of technical detail”



3/09 What is Your Dangerous Idea? edited by John Brockman

4/09 Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely (2008)

5/09 The Thirteen American Arguments by Howard Fineman (2008)

6/09 Ethics: several articles

7/09 The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein (2007)

8/09 Empires of Trust by Thomas F. Madden (2007)

9/09 Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman (2007)

10/09 Living Without God by Ronald Aronson (2008)

11/09 The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt (2006)

12/15/09  Physiology of Truth, by  Jean-Pierre Changeux (2009)


5/08-7/08 Susan Jacoby The Age of American Unreason

8/08 Richard Dawkins River Out of Eden: a Darwinian view of life

9/08 On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt

10/08 Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion

11/08 Virus of the mind by Richard Brodie

12/08-2/09 How to Think About Weird Things by Schick and Vaughn