BOOK REVIEW: Leaps of Faith: Science, Miracles, and the Search for Supernatural Consolation

In Leaps of Faith: Science, Miracles, and the Search for Supernatural Consolation, psychology professor Nicholas Humphrey accomplishes a brief but thorough debunking of psychics, mediums, spoon-benders, and a whole host of supposedly paranormal phenomena. This is not a detailed examination of attempts to test and measure such phenomena, but a broad and philosophical view, pointing out the ridiculousness of the whole psychic show. Humphrey writes, “I think the search for the paranormal is all a big mistake. Sad to say, […]

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BOOK REVIEW – Grandiose Delusion: Mike Huckabee’s God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy

I admit I had multiple prejudices before I even opened this book, based solely on the author and title. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t read a book by Mike Huckabee, one-time governor of Arkansas, Fox News bloviator, wannabe presidential candidate, and Baptist minister. Nor would I usually read a book with a title like God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy. But Huckabee is a notable public figure and has been a best-selling author before, so I decided to give it a try. At […]

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BOOK REVIEW: The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails

The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, edited by John W. Loftus, 2010 John W. Loftus has given us a number of volumes, most famously his monograph Why I Became an Atheist : A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity. Continuing the themes and arguments from that work, Loftus gathered a group of writers from different disciplines to expand on or respond to topics such as the relationship between Western society and Christianity, the psychology of religion, the relationship between world-view and reason, […]

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BOOK REVIEW: Psychic Mafia by M. Lamar Keene

If you spend time in bookstores, and if you’re of a skeptical bent of mind, you may have noticed that books debunking one or another kind of pseudoscientific nonsense are just not very popular. You’ll find a foot or more of shelf space occupied by books about ancient extraterrestrials, but at best an inch for the books that call such stuff nonsense (Wilson’s Crash Go the Chariots is a favorite of mine). You’ll find many feet of shelf space dedicated […]

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BOOK REVIEW: Ghost Hunting for Beginners

I’ve been interested for some time in the “ghost” industry in America, from books of ghost stories to New Orleans ghost tours to endless ghost hunting programs on television. One of details that make this social phenomenon so fascinating is its nearly total lack of explanatory theory. Exactly what do aficionados think a ghost really is? What evidence do they have? How do they test their hypotheses?  I’ve been looking for a good book that attempts to explain some of […]

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BOOK REVIEW: Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know — and Doesn’t

By Stephen Prothero For decades secular Americans have been painfully aware of an odd American phenomenon: secularists and unbelievers tend to know a great deal more about religion in general, Christianity in particular, and the contents of the Bible, than most of our neighbors who profess a faith. In Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know — and Doesn’t, author, professor of religion, and commentator Stephen Prothero tries to explain this phenomenon. A believer himself, Prothero acknowledges that Americans […]

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BOOK REVIEW: God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion

By Victor J. Stenger The latest (April 2012) from physicist and author Victor J. Stenger is God and the Folly of Faith. Those familiar with Stenger’s other books — I think there are 10 of them now — will not be surprised to learn that he believes science and religion are fundamentally incompatible. But in this volume he sharpens his focus on that point, firmly rejecting the notion that science and religion can function as non-overlapping magisteria, portraying them instead […]

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BOOK REVIEW: Dinosaurs of Eden: Tracing the Mystery Through History

By Ken Ham I hadn’t noticed this particular bit of creationist schlock until somebody posted a page of it on Facebook. I just couldn’t resist, and bought myself a used copy, purely for its entertainment value. Dinosaurs of Eden, is an attempt to assure young people that science has it all wrong. It was written by Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis and its subsidiary, the Creation Museum. The book is short and illustrated in order to appeal to […]

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BOOK REVIEW: Free Will

By Sam Harris The latest from Sam Harris is Free Will, a title that is self-explanatory. From his perspective as a neuroscientist, Harris examines the latest evidence regarding free will, and considers some of its social and political implications. This book is quite short, serving mostly as an introduction to a complex question that still needs a great deal of work. Harris’ key point is based on empirical tests. These show that the decisions we make moment by moment are […]

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BOOK REVIEW: The Grand Design

By Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow Perhaps you are one of the lucky few who is naturally gifted with mathematical genius or at least has advanced training in the field. No? Me either. I think I understand that our reliance on energies such as light to observe the universe around us places limits on what we can know about the sub-atomic realm, yet it often seems to me that physicists take a little too much pleasure in emphasizing the mysteriousness […]

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