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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone but a very amusing set of ramblings of a brilliant man, 16 Dec 2009
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This review is from: The Meaning of it All (Paperback)
The book is a transcript of the three Danz lectures Feynman gave in 1963. The basic assertion (as the other reviewers have noted) is that scepticism is the only really sound frame of mind and the only way towards progress. On top of that, Feynman brings across his belief that there are two kinds of questions man faces, questions of science and those of ethics / morality and that the two are completely separate - i.e. scientific progress is amoral and whether the advances are used as a force for good or bad is a decision of the people using it.

The first two lectures are quite well organised and up to the point, the final one less so, which the author acknowledges straight away. In my opinion the key draw of this book is less the ideas expressed (I agree with the fundamental scepticism value presented) but just to enjoy it as if going to the lectures themselves. It provided excellent entertainment for me and for the enjoyment factor alone (irrespective of the good points it is making) it deserves 5 stars in my opinion.

If you have had active interaction with physicists or scientists more broadly and enjoyed it, this book will be a highly worthwhile and pleasant read. If you do not share the views of the author, I can well understand how the book could be a fairly vexing experience, since Feynman often rides roughshod over beliefs some people might hold dear - not per se denying them or the value / corectness of such beliefs but first expressing some scepticism and subsequently waving them away as completely irrelevant, in a style quite typical for all the successful scientists I have had the pleasure of encountering. He's simply not particularly concerned about what people will think of his beliefs.

The comparison might not be perfect but in some ways this book reminds me of the Dexter's laboratory cartoons, take some of it with a grain of salt and it's excellent fun. On a final note - a man who attempted to poison his tutor and got away with it without even the slightest blemish is quite likely to have a way with words ;)
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Location: London

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