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on 29 May 2017
Good
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on 1 March 2014
Harrison's book, while containing no original discoveries made by the author, provides a rock-solid original syntheses of basic knowledge in the field of knowledge about human bias.

One thing that concerns me about all such popular science books is that much of the knowledge authors convey in them is not supported with citations to the source of that knowledge. This can lead to problems when seemingly skeptical authors inadvertently disseminate unevidenced supermyths. Fortunately, Harrison appears to have avoided that most ironic problem. And he does, to be fair, provide many - but in my pedantic and idiosyncratic opinion - not enough citations to the original publications that form the knowledge base of this excellent little book. This is typical of successful popular science books, because publishers `know best' that it is a necessary evil to make them popular. Personally, I'm skeptical I THINK that it might, possibly, be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Obviously more research is required.

I particularly liked the author's heuristic device of using a fictional story line of the life of a bright child ruined by a downward spiral of bias when she sees a flock of birds and mistakes it for a UFO. This is positively Dickensian skepticism if there ever was. It sticks in the mind. Harrison's story telling glues the pages of this book together and that makes it a valuable edition to my skeptical library.

The author's ability to convey complex ideas such as natural selection with modern culture is brilliant. I'm not going to spoil your enjoyment of this book by revealing more. But will end this positive review with some words by Harrison that I intend to share with others on my my social media communications platform of websites, blogs and twitter accounts. And by such certain further dissemination by others, such as I, with smaller brains than our forebears, will this book most certainly become a best seller in a world full of people, who are, counter intuitively, more stupid as individuals than prehistoric cave-folk - but perhaps becoming more intelligent collectively like ants and bees:

`Interestingly, prehistoric people had slightly bigger brains than we do today and they might have been more intelligent. This makes sense when you consider how unforgiving life would have been for Stone Age dimwits. Most would have been selected out of the gene pool early by poisonous berries, falling rocks, and hungry predators. Today however, the dimmest not only survive at high rates, but some of them belong to an extremely successful subspecies known as "celebrities" and star in reality TV shows.'
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on 11 August 2014
Kind of OK if you've never ever thought about anything or ever challenged your own daft beliefs about astrology or ghosts before I suppose. Lots of repetition and direct addresses to the reader, presumably to reassure us poor bumbling idiots who can't be bothered to think for ourselves. But for anyone with half a brain or a half-decent education there is very little new or surprising or, frankly, interesting here. I thought scepticism (certainly in the Pyrrhonian tradition) was all about suspension of belief and emphasising the uncertainty of our supposed knowledge. Apparently, according to this book, it's actually about not believing quack doctors and astrologers and pouring scorn on religion. My recommendation -- get Carl Sagan's The Demon-haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark or pretty much anything else by Sagan, a much better writer and a far deeper thinker on these issues.
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