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James Atkins

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What Makes People Tick: The Three Hidden Worlds of Settlers, Prospectors and Pioneers
What Makes People Tick: The Three Hidden Worlds of Settlers, Prospectors and Pioneers
by Chris Rose
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A short read but a giant leap in understanding people. Buy and read it, if you want to be cleverer about saving the world., 31 July 2014
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This book is brilliant because it solved some important mysteries I had.

Why is it a waste of time trying to present facts to climate change deniers? Think of the millions of hours wasted on this exercise and the megawatts of anger and fustration caused thereby. This books explains it.

How come two people who had the same schooling in the same country, use the same systems of reason and logic, can disagree fundamentally about something?

Why do some people identify themselves as left wing and some people right wing, when what they hold dear, what is important to them, is practically the same? Heck, why do we even bother with right and left when the bit in common so much more important?

Why do some people prefer team sports like football and others prefer individual sports like tennis?

Why is the truth an insufficient tool of persuasion?

Why do some people have very orderly gardens, devoid of any ecological value.

Why do some people need to own a Porsche, even though it's just a piece of fast metal painted red.

Why do Americans eat organic food because of health and Europeans because of the environment?

What would it take to get people to love the natural world?

Why are so many environmental campaigns useless?

Why do green products take so long to become mainstream?

How can we be effective if we want to make the world a bit better?

The book doesn't exactly present answers to these specific questions, but it equips you to think about these questions and then get a working explanation.

The book is also brilliant because it is deep and does all the above, but it is very readable and engaging. I have trouble getting through most non-fiction books because they get boring after they have said the main thing in the first few pages anyway. This is not one of those.

Anyone curious about how to make the world a bit better should read this first. It is not and does not claim to be an explanation of all human behaviour (obviously), but it provides a big chunk of that.

Green Philosophy: How to Think Seriously About the Planet
Green Philosophy: How to Think Seriously About the Planet
by Roger Scruton
Edition: Hardcover

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Green Philosophy, 5 Mar. 2012
This book is very important because it gives a "right-wingers" view on how to save the environment. It rejects global agreements as being socialistic in nature, and suggests that environmental policy should go with human nature rather than against it, if we want it to be successful. Scruton identifies the love of home and respect for ancestors and (thereby) our descendents as that instinct which can be harnessed to get people to protect nature. He doesn't go much further than that - it is about the philosophy rather than the politics of the problem, so it does not say how to turn that philosophical grounding into an alternative political approach.

I think there are some simplifications and there is definitely a lot more that could be said on the topic, but it lays out the groundwork for a right-wing philosophy. Perhaps if right-wing climate change deniers were to read this book, they would feel less uncomfortable about accepting the science of climate change. For it would give them a basis, consistent with their own beliefs, for addressing the predicament.

Scruton exaggerates the difference between right and left wing in this matter. A more germane distinction comes out from his book if you persevere: the distinction between people who want to think big and global, and people who want to think small and local. He favours the latter, for many sound reasons which I agree with. There is a strong tradition (Steiner, Kohr, Schumacher) which describes the folly of big schemes and the wisdom of local ones. Scruton unfortunately does not examine thoroughly whether the small and local approach is adequate in the urgent situation we find ourselves in with climate change.

Even if you don't agree with everything in the book, it is an important read for anyone interested in environmental philosophy and politics. Moreover, because it is written in appealing and natural English it is enjoyable to read. The wide spacing of lines means that the reading is easy and not a struggle, unlike many philosophical books.
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