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Jan W. H. Schnupp (Oxford, England)
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The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain
The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain
by Daniel Gardner
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.55

5.0 out of 5 stars We have nothing to fear but manipulative politicians and fear-mongering tabloid media, 15 May 2014
I highly recommend this book as an antidote to the large and growing sectors of industry and politics who are manipulating you into giving them your money and your votes by scaring you into submission. Daniel Gardners extensive, very well researched and very readable account is full of little eye-openers which help you regain a sane perspective on things.

For example: did you know that you are more likely to drown in a bathtub than to come to harm as the consequence of terrorist activity? Does that mean bathtubs are terribly dangerous? Of course not. It means that politicians are prepared to waste billions of dollars on unwinable "wars on terror" and the associated security theater simply because it will cause an ill-informed and scared electorate to rally behind them.

The truth is that are things you should be scared of and probably aren't (diabetes, heart disease) and other things that you really don't need to be scared of, but quite possibly are (terrorism, ebola virus, immigrants). So why this disconnect between real threats and perceived threats? Daniel Gardner's book nicely explains how vested interests in the media and politics and the insurance industry exploit our natural biases - mental shortcuts which are hard-wired into our psychology - to make us scared in order to then take advantage of us. The side effect of this manipulation not only leaves us worse off in the short term, it also badly distorts the priorities in our society and in our own lives. Just imagine how many lives could be saved if only half the money wasted on silly NSA spy programs was instead invested in biomedical research to fight the real mass murderers of our age: cancer, malaria, MRSA, Alzheimers, cardiovascular disease, asthma ... all many thousands of times more deadly than terrorism, yet feared much less and grossly underfunded.

Read this book, then demand from your politicians and media outlets that they improve your life by dealing in facts and figures rather than scare stories.


13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Intriguing Scientific Mysteries of Our Time
13 Things That Don't Make Sense: The Most Intriguing Scientific Mysteries of Our Time
Price: 5.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed much of this, BUT..., 28 Oct 2013
What I liked about this book is it's wide-ranging scope, from cosmology to the origins of life to the problem of free will, it had all the makings of a lovely intellectual journey, but in a few places the author commits some serious mistakes of reasoning. The chapter on sexual reproduction has a few of those, but the worst offending bits, already remarked on by other reviewers, are in the last chapter - on homeopathy - where Michael Brooks really looses the plot. In his defense of homeopathy he writes, for example, that there are 1000s of homeopathic recipes, and if only scientists went to the trouble of testing each and every one of them, surely they might find at least one or two that produce a statistically significant effect. Now, if a school kid thinks that this is a good argument in defense of homeopathy then they might be forgiven, but someone with a science PhD really should know better! If you have to do 1000s of tests and hope that one or two may come out as a (false?) positive then your theory is as good as dead before you even start. Much of the argument against homeopathy stems from the simple fact that, unlike aspirin or the polio vaccine, it has failed to produce robust, reproducible results in the majority of cases. And the whole scientific edifice rests on the fact that the burden of providing ample and convincing proof is on the proponents of a theory, not on the skeptics. I may want to believe in fairies, but the fact that you cannot conclusively disprove the existence of fairies does not turn fairy-ology into a scientific theory worthy of consideration.

Dear Michael, I would have liked to be able to recommend your book, 90% of it are interesting and enjoyable, but the remaining 10% are terrible. Consider asking the publisher whether you can write a second edition (and get someone to proof it who understands medical statistics as you clearly have a blind spot there).


Dr Sludge Self Sealing Inner Tube 700 28-35c SV
Dr Sludge Self Sealing Inner Tube 700 28-35c SV
Offered by E-BikesDirect
Price: 4.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Terribly bad quality, 10 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I ordered a total of 3 of these tubes. (I commute on my bike, so do my kids). They are the worst quality inner tubes I've ever seen. In 2 out of 3 inner tubes the valves leaked. You could only keep air in if you screwed the valve cap down really hard. And one of them had a puncture after one week! Self-healing? Rubbish! They are worse than wasted money. Considering the amount of extra work, hassle and aggravation these terribly bad inner tubes have cost me, they should get a negative number of stars. Avoid at all cost.


Japanese Ninja Tabi Socks Black (Adult)
Japanese Ninja Tabi Socks Black (Adult)

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ninja socks for the color blind, 27 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I ordered a pair of black socks. I got a pair of dark blue ones. Not what I wanted. They are also rather plasticky. Given the low price it's not worth my while to send them back, but they were certainly a waste of money.


The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An important topic spoilt by a bad book, 21 Feb 2013
I had high hopes for this book. How best to deal with uncertainty is an intellectually challenging and interesting question with major implications for our daily lives. Estimating probabilities and weighing risks against benefits does not come easy to the human mind, but if you are good at it you will most likely live longer and end up richer. As a student of mathematics with experience in the financial markets ought to have been able to say a few interesting, useful or profound things about this topic. But all I got out of this was endless preaching, the author letting it hang out how much smarter he thinks himself to be than others, how he hangs out in New York cafes and Italian intellectual cocktail parties spouting quotes from obscure French renaissance philosophers. The whole thing is written with a degree of condescension that is only exacerbated by the fact that many of the insights are only "pseudo deep". The subject is uncertainty, but the tone of the author is one of absolute conviction that everything he says is superior knowledge and hence truth. If you are that preachy, at least make sure you are right all of the time.
Just a little example: the author suggests that it is an important insight that different groups of people might have very different narratives to describe the same events, but there can be only one true underlying reality and therefore either (and probably both) must be wrong. A) that's not terribly deep, and b) if you really think about it deeply you'd soon work out that it is not necessarily true either. Even in maths, where the "underlying truth" is never in dispute, two completely different "narratives" can give you two completely different versions of reality that can both be completely "true" at the same time. (If you are a maths buff, think of Taylor series vs Fourier series expansions of some function, and hey presto, three different equally true realities ready to go. Apologies to those who aren't math geeks).
In summary, this book offers no practical advice, little entertainment value, little truly deep mathematical or philosophical insight, the only things it seems to have in abundance is repetition and vanity by the author. Sorry to be quite so negative, but by writing this book so badly the author has done the world a disfavour. People who will have picked up this book will come away thinking that little worthwhile can be gleaned from books about this hugely important topic. The book is squatting in a place of the communal mind where a much better book should be.


Seagate Expansions 1TB External Desktop USB 2.0 Hard Drive for PC
Seagate Expansions 1TB External Desktop USB 2.0 Hard Drive for PC
Offered by AOT (VAT registered)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor quality hence poor value., 8 Oct 2012
Mine never worked. I opened it up, tried to connect the disk through another sata interface. That didn't work either. Disk faulty. Went in the bin. Disappointing quality! This is the 3rd Seagate drive I'm having trouble with in a row. It's wasting an enormous amount of my time. These disks look cheap if you think about GB/money spent, but the reliability is so poor, and the time wasted and lack of reliability is therefore so great, that they are very poor value.
No more seagate for me!


Garmin Forerunner 405 Sports Watch with USB ANT stick - Black
Garmin Forerunner 405 Sports Watch with USB ANT stick - Black

1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible battery life, 23 Sep 2012
The battery life on this watch is so poor that it is for all intents and purposes unusable. On more than one occasion I took it off the charger in the morning, traveled to an event in the afternoon and the watch stopped working due to an empty battery after only half an hour. Getting the communication with the USB stick working has also proved fiddly. Overall it's almost useless. Avoid.


Schaum's Outline of Probability, Random Variables, and Random Processes, Second Edition (Schaum's Outline Series)
Schaum's Outline of Probability, Random Variables, and Random Processes, Second Edition (Schaum's Outline Series)
by Hwei P Hsu
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Very well structured overview, 22 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is rather short on explanation, but it is very well structured, the topics covered and the worked examples are well chosen to build up a coherent and useful overview over this important topic. My copy was also remarkably cheap for such a well put together text! Highly recommended.


Sony MDRXB300 Extra Bass Headphones with 30mm Driver Unit
Sony MDRXB300 Extra Bass Headphones with 30mm Driver Unit

2.0 out of 5 stars false economy, 29 Jun 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this one after I had tried the Sony MDRXB500 and loved it, and thought this, the 300,might be just as good only a bit cheaper and a bit smaller. I have to say, in comparison to it's bigger brother, this one is a big disappointment. It's cheaper, yes, but also much less comfortable, less good at blocking out background noises, and the sound is quite a bit tinnier and not as rich. I hope I will be able to return this one and upgrade. Going for the cheaper model turned out to be a false economy.


Rich Dad's Conspiracy Of The Rich: The 8 New Rules of Money
Rich Dad's Conspiracy Of The Rich: The 8 New Rules of Money
by Robert T. Kiyosaki
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.16

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is *almost* a very important book, 9 Mar 2012
This is almost a very important book. I contains a number of crucial facts and observations, for example about the deeply worrying levels of incompetence and corrupt practice at the very head of the financial system, or about the troubled road ahead for many western economies. But while this book should be required reading, I sadly cannot recommend it. Why? Because it's written in a terribly repetitive, slow and preachy style. I repeat: it is repetitive. Did I say it was repetitive? And preachy. There is a potentially interesting musing about the gold standard and Nixon and now defunct former US currencies, but it never goes into much depth and rather than digging a little deeper the authr starts repeating himself. Then there was a bit of sensible advice about minding cash flow and not relying too much on government backed pensions, and then a lot more preaching. And we are back to moaning about Nixon a bit. And about Clinton. And a bit more preaching. Then a little, interesting but very much diluted, nugget about the history of the federal reserve system, but then more preaching. And repetition. Repeatedly. If some good copy editor took a major axe to this book, took out the 80% that are repetition, you'd be left with a very, very important book. But as it is, unless you require information to trickle into your brain at a glacially slow pace and much diluted with preachy, repetitive fluff, then, like me, you may struggle to sit through it nonetheless. I cannot honestly recommend it. Pity, really. Read something like Stieglitz' Freefall instead. I repeat. It's repetitive. And preachy.


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