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    • New book just released October 2nd. I purchased it but haven't read it all yet. I'm a huge fan of Dr. Novella and his crew. I highly recommend this book and their podcast The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe. Has anyone read this book yet?

    • I wasn't familiar with the SGU podcast and the first I heard of Steven Novella was in a post @Chris made here on Cake the other day. But I have always been interested in science and have been a skeptic all my life, so this book seemed to be right up my alley. I was not disappointed.

      The first and longest section of the book is a comprehensive review of the many ways our thinking can go wrong. It manages to cover a wide range of topics in neurology, logic, psychology and scientific methodology without being overly technical or academic. It aims to provide a toolkit to improve our critical thinking skills. One of the things I liked best is that it stresses that we are all prone to the same cognitive failures--it's not just the other guy's problem. Novella calls this "neuropsychological humility." I know from experience that it's easier said than done to keep in mind.

      The remainder of the book consists of short examples of applying critical thinking to real-world situations. Recognizing and debunking pseudo-scientific claims--especially in medicine--can be a matter of life or death. He also touches on fake news and false balance in the media, but he avoids politics completely. Donald Trump never appears, though Deepak Chopra and Gwyneth Paltrow are duly skewered for their hopeless nonsense. The emphasis is not on the truth of any particular claim, but rather on the process we should all follow when trying to make sense of the world. It concludes with the admonition: "Don't trust us...if something is important, verify it as best you can." Seems like good advice and I thought it was a good read.