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121. Evolution : The Remarkable History
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122. Recirculating Aquaculture Systems,
123. We Have Never Been Modern
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121. Evolution : The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory (Modern Library Chronicles)
by Edward J. Larson
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Asin: 0679642889
Catlog: Book (2004-05-04)
Publisher: Modern Library
Sales Rank: 11592
Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good, up to the second half of the 20th century
Larson is quite competent at describing the history of evolutionary thought up until recent decades. Then he becomes obsessed with Wilson's pop-sci "sociobiology" and completely misses the much more significant Zukerkandl & Pauling, Kimura, Jukes & Cantor, Walter Fitch, and the whole revolution in molecular evolution which brought evolution out of the swamps of mere "naturalism" and into serious molecular and genomic studies.

1-0 out of 5 stars Much ado over nothing
Overblown worthless drivel. Much hype over an old idea

5-0 out of 5 stars A Litte of Everything
Edward J. Larson manages to pack this little book. The author goes beyond the usual small format of the Modern Library Chronicles series only a little in terms of page number but seems to cram much more information in than the readers of this dazzling series usually encounter. And the joy is that he does it so effortlessly, with scientific jargonize only sneaking in near the very end. The concept of evolution is covered from Cuvier in the Napoleonic era through Darwin and onto the modern 21st culture wars in America. Everything important is touched on in a manner that makes it relevant, understandable, and interesting, and the story flows quickly and intelligently. It is one of the better volumes of the series making the best use of the space allowed in order to introduce important historical ideas and events to the general reader. A highly recommended read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Evolution-- a history of delusion
This is a well-done and very succint history of the theory of evolution, or at least, Darwin's theory, from the eighteenth century to the present. Even a critic of Darwinism might find it interesting as far as it goes. Unfortunately the subject of evolution is so filled with confusion even, or especially, among Darwinists (and the Darwin book market no doubt so unforgiving)that any historical account is likely to mirror the standard hero myth and even a specialist is likely to follow the programmed theoretical 'pack of lies',unawares. The key moment, not for theory, but general paradigm fixation, was of course the publication of Darwin's Origin (with Wallace quietly squelched in the background in the famous Ternate letter episode ensuring Darwin's priority). One of the confusions of this history is that early researchers understood the complexity of the question, and would never have proposed an idea as simplistic as Darwin's, which however took over the field. As Larson points out, by the end of the nineteenth century, Darwin's theory of natural selection was in eclipse and only made a comeback with the rise of the Synthesis. The appearance of the new population genetics, with its mathematical veneer, and new twists seen in the work of such as Hamilton, took on the appearance of a final triumph, especially with its crackpot versions of the evolution of ethics, always the stumbling block for a theory like Darwin's. But it is as if the Darwinists have learned their lesson and won't let it be eclipsed again. Historians of the subject are at the mercy of this second round of delusion, often unable to see the limits of the math models which most definitely are not a full theory of evolution.
A complete history of the idea of evolution might as well point out that Lamarck was the real founder of evolution, despite his other confusions over adaptation for which he is mainly known. Or point to the teleomechanists working in the legacy of Kant, or the work of such as St. Hilaire in embryology, a contribution only now becoming known. Indeed, any history of evolution should be setting the record straight in the age of hox genes and dna. Instead, the paradigm is managing to survive a complete expose of itself. A work such as Soren Lovtrup's Darwinism: Refutation of a Myth does that up to a point.
The appearance of the idea of evolution was in some ways more insightfully considered, though entirely in premature fashion, in the eighteenth century, witness the work of Kant or the insight of Diderot who refects on the embryological aspects of the egg, as recounted by Ilya Prignone in his Order and Chaos. The generations just after Newton still had some who grasped the full implications and difficulty of theories of evolution, but such was the tide of scientism that the whole subject derailed at the start. So, in the sense of Kuhn, everyone seems in the grips of the phase of 'normal science' and unable to wrestle free of the tentacles of delusion. In many ways Lamarck still had the better idea (forgetting the red herring of his adapational confusions) with his insight into two levels of evolution. Lamarck was a radical discredited in the wake of the French Revolution, and rapidly deep sixed. Darwin a proper Whiggist estab type, and swiftly promo'ed. The connections to ideology seem to escape all parties, including the Marxists who bit on the hook and never managed to see the key instance of their own critiques.
The history of evolution is a corrupt subject, as one can see. Caveat lector.

5-0 out of 5 stars The trials of an idea
Edward Larson has capped a fine string of publications on evolution with this history. A study of the idea of evolution and consideration of the mechanisms driving it, this book introduces you to the major thinkers and researchers involved. Each chapter focuses on an individual or a concept, explaining the rationales behind the idea and its supporters. Larson's evocative prose style keeps the account moving smoothly, even when disputants over an idea grow disruptive and acrimonious.

Larson opens with consideration of the problem of deep time. With biblical authority decreeing a young earth and the immutability of species, the idea of change over time was deemed impossible, if not heretical. Ironically, the first scholar to open the notion of deep time was one of evolution's "staunchest foes" - Georges Cuvier. This French scientist was an early expert on comparative anatomy, stressing form resulted from functional use of an organ. His studies led him to argue that fossils truly represented extinct species. However, new species didn't evolve from the older ones, he argued, but were the result of an act of subsequent creation. Extinctions were due to some catastrophic event. The idea of species succession, however, introduced the notion of deep time - an Earth older than then supposed.

From Cuvier, Larson logically moves to the ideas of another French scientist, Jean Baptiste Lamarck. Today, Lamarck's ideas are blithely dismissed, but Larson shows the significance of his contributions. Although the paleontological record provided spotty support, Lamarck rejected Cuvier's "fixed species" sequences for a form of continuous change. Thinking that changes to the body would be reflected in later generations, Lamarck developed the thesis of "acquired characteristics". Larson makes clear that Lamarck's ideas, although denounced today, were a needed foundation for Darwin's great insight.

Larson's summary of Darwin's Beagle voyage and development of the concept of evolution by natural selection is clear and succinct. Except for Larson's insistence on calling it "evolutionism", thereby changing a scientific idea into an ideology, it's a fine synopsis. Larson is correct in concentrating on human evolution. No matter what Darwin wrote of pigeons or barnacles, people wanted to know how humans fit into the evolutionary scheme. More than one scientific and social issue depended on that pivotal point.

Larson describes the years of challenge to natural selection and the rise of Mendelian genetics leading the assault. Objectors to natural selection came from more than just the ranks of Christian dogmatists. Lord Kelvin's calculation of the sun's waning heat denied evolution sufficient time to operate. Others argued that breeding species blended traits instead of separating them into new species. Later, the most important student of heredity, Thomas Hunt Morgan, rejected natural selection in favour of a mutation-driven mechanism. The turning point came with J.B.S. Haldane, Sewall Wright and Ronald Fisher's new "biometric" studies in population genetics. The merging of Mendelian genetics with Darwin's natural selection is now known as the "new synthesis" or "neo-Darwinism". That combination has proven the most lasting and meaningful aspect of thought on the idea of evolution. From it, Larson explains, arose E. O. Wilson's innovative concept of sociobiology. The behaviour of social insects offer insight into group interaction and are applicable to human evolutionary history.

There are many books with information on the history of evolution as a concept. Why choose this one over any of them? The main reason is Larson's focus on evolution as an idea. The biological themes are discussed only briefly, keeping Larson free to relate the history of the concept. He describes some of the off-shoots of Darwin's original thesis, such as Gould and Eldredge's "punctuated equilibrium", but cautiously avoids any commitment to any of them. His purpose is relating how the idea came to dominate science. He also portrays its Christian opponents in the United States and how their strategies have been applied in driving education away from science to embrace religious themes, however disguised. As an overview, this book is an outstanding introduction. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada] ... Read more

122. Recirculating Aquaculture Systems, 2nd Edition
by M. B. Timmons, J. M. Ebeling, F. W. Wheaton, S. T. Summerfelt, B. J. Vinci
list price: $139.00
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Asin: 0971264619
Catlog: Book (2002-08-01)
Publisher: Cayuga Aqua Ventures Llc
Sales Rank: 523852
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Book Description

A complete reference book on recirculating aquaculture systems.Book also includes basic material on fish health management, fluid mechanics, economics, monitoring & control systems, waste management, ozonation, fish nutrition, and building heat transfer and moisture control.The 2nd edition has added a 40 page chapter on aquaponics.Extensive software is provided on a CD that performs most of the critical calculations used in aquaculture.

The text is generally applicable to all forms of aquaculture and can be used for a classroom text for several levels of instruction (from advanced highschool to graduate level courses).

The authors have extensive practical experience.Fred Wheaton wrote the defining text for aquacultural engineering in 1977; this text is a much needed update. ... Read more

123. We Have Never Been Modern
by Bruno Latour, Catherine Porter
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Asin: 0674948394
Catlog: Book (1993-11-01)
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Sales Rank: 104722
Average Customer Review: 3.75 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars of course some people wouldn't like this book
i loved this book: it questions the idea of repeatability, which means that it questions the religion of science (as practiced by amateurs)and it shows you how language has served the impulse towards duplicity. the book also has a certain tongue-in-cheek wit about it, and that makes the ideas more interesting to read.

i can see where latour would make people nervous if they were fully invested in a point of view not fully understood. but, until the government takes down the bill of rights, diversity in thinking is still allowed and maybe even encouraged.

enjoy this book. it is fun.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but hard to read
I'd like to think I'm not a dummy, but this was hard to read. It looks to me like the book was translated to English by someone who might know more about Anthropology than written communication. There were times when I felt that maybe it had been run through Babblefish.

Dissing of the translator aside, the author assumes the reader is completely knowlegable of all the apparently pretty divisions and differences in opinions between one group of scientists and another. Man I could care less, unless it leads to an advancement of a science, and I wasn't convinced. But maybe because I didn't care.

There were times where I felt that a greater service would have been done if the soap opera would have been skipped.

That said, the book contains some insightful and thought provoking ideas on how societies view each other and themselves. I found some concepts a powerful catalyst in my design efforts.

2-0 out of 5 stars It only takes a French accent...
Anglophone readers probably don't realise that Latour meant this book as a tongue-in-cheek exercise to capture the postmodern social theory market in his own country by using a postmodern style to show what an illusion postmodernism has always been. But, as fate would have it, when someone sneezes in Paris, an Anglophone is felled with pneumonia. It's hard to believe that anyone with a firm grasp of the history of the last 250 years of Western culture would find this book anything more than a diversion worthy of maybe a couple of arguments in the pub. It's telling that historians of science, who are really the people who are in a position to hold Latour accountable to anything he says here, have given the book a chilly reception. Classify this one under 'Pseud's Corner'.

5-0 out of 5 stars a great, new work; serious social theory for scientists too
For this reader, Bruno Latour's book is one of the most ambitious, original, and important reformulations of social theory since 1989. It is getting lots of attention among scholars, and deserves a wider public. The press reviews here don't do this book justice.

Latour, for those of you who don't know him, has been at the forefront of the emerging field of "science studies", the history and sociology of science, for the past 15 years. He's also a rather bizarre fellow. His "Aramis" is a book of real sociology that is told in the form of a novel, in which the metro car of a failed Parisian public transportation project becomes one of a series of narrators. In "We Have Never Been Modern," he conscisely summarizes the theoretical basis of his work, and stakes out ground that is genuinely new. The book should excite humanisitic academics, scientists, and intellectually adventurous people from all walks of life with a taste for theory.

The thesis -- the basis for the "we have never been modern" part -- is that the "great divide" between nature and human, subject and object, science and society, was never real. Instead, he says, this subject/object divide was the great dirty fiction of the "modern" world.

To give you the gist of the argument as briefly as possible: the separation of nature and human, that has marked Western intellectual life since the 17th century, allowed both science and the humanities to make their own claims for absolute truth. This divide was the basis for our image of "modern western man."

But these claims hid the fact that "hybrids" were springing up all the while. Modernity also spawned technological "quasi-objects" that blur the line between the natural and the human. The tremendous multiplication of these "quasi-objects" (Latour's neologism)in our times has finally forced us to the point where we are at a startling conclusion: the divorce of man from nature never really took place.

What we thought of as scientific Western man was never real. Latour wants us, the generation left with the consequences of this revelation, to exhume this past of hybridity, and seek out a new relationship between nature and culture. In short, he wants to both humanize science and render the humanities more scientific.

This brief bastardization does not do justice to the work. Latour elegantly and convincingly lays out his thesis, and the results are dazzling and compelling. He's also sharp and witty, and fans of the like of Baudrillard and Derrida will see their idols tossed about a bit.

On the other hand, the book is immensely ambitious in its theoretical claims, and has a tendency to pretend that complex and difficult ideas are obvious truth. One wonders at times if he is practicing the French intellectual's habit of making our heads spin for the sheer thrill of watching the confusion. But he's not, and most readers, I think, will finish the book that Latour is ultimately both a sensible man and a humane one.

As a graduate student in the humanities, I know that this book is getting a growing audience in academia. I hope that some non-academic visitors to (especially science buffs who enjoy the likes of Steven Pinker and Daniel Dennet) will treat themselves to this intellectual adventure. It's a truly original book, not much over 100 pages, reasonably priced, and well worth the experience. ... Read more

124. Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction
by Morton D. Davis
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Asin: 0486296725
Catlog: Book (1997-07-01)
Publisher: Dover Publications
Sales Rank: 20470
Average Customer Review: 3.89 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Fascinating, accessible introduction to enormously important intellectual system with numerous applications to social, economic, political problems. Newly revised edition offers overview of game theory, then lucid coverage of the two-person zero-sum game with equilibrium points; the general, two-person zero-sum game; utility theory; other topics. Problems at start of each chapter. Foreword to First Edition by Oskar Morgenstern. Bibliography.
... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars A must for beginner
This is an extremely well written book. It strikes a good balance between a mere book of giving skin deep introductory knowledge of game theory, and a book with too much technical stuff (esp. mathematical proof). The author made a good job almost like Stephen Hawking and Richard Feyman to explain difficult thing with an easy and friendly way. What's more, the author included also many varies paradoxes, theroms from many great leaders in the game theory's field. In beginning of each chapter, the author listed some questions for the reader to think about, before moving forward. I must say this is a very good book for those who are not very sophisticated and advance in mathematics, or as a very first entry for anyone who wants to pursuit and learn game theory.

4-0 out of 5 stars An easy to understand introduction to game theory
I found this book at a used book store and while I generally need little prodding to purchase a math book, in this case a quick glance through the first few pages convinced me to purchase it. Although human emotions are powerful forces in our lives, many of our decisions are still made based on rational thought and perceived benefit. This is the realm of game theory, which is an analysis of decision-making based on the interpretation of rewards and punishment.
The first games examined in this book are the standard ones of two-person zero-sum games, first with and then without equilibrium points. A two-person zero-sum game is one where the winnings of one player must match the losses of the other. In other words, the sum total of value held by the two players is a constant. This is followed by an examination of utility theory, which is a determination of the true value of the rewards and punishments. It is here where emotions and personal preference are the strongest. Something as simple as bragging rights can often have more value than large monetary payments. The next chapter deals with two-person non-zero-sum games, where the total value held by the two players is not a constant. The last chapter deals with n-person games, which are difficult to analyze, but are the most interesting because they are closest to life. Success in n-person games almost always requires the formation of a cooperative, in the sense that there is the potential for a coalition that can dominate everyone else.
What I enjoyed the most about this book was the examples and the problems. At the start of the chapters, there is a set of questions that introduce the material, and they are answered at the end of the chapter. In between, the explanations are clear, with a minimum of formulas. I also enjoyed the sections on the various "games" of voting, such as how does a body of legislators decides how to fund projects when each has their pet project that they want to acquire the funding for. It explains some of the labyrinthine features of the congressional process and why it is possible for a deadlock state to develop.
This is one of the best general introductions to game theory that I have seen, the worked problems take you through the features of the games in a step-by-step manner that is very easy to understand.

Published in the recreational mathematics e-mail newsletter, reprinted with permission.

3-0 out of 5 stars Recreational Read
There seems to be a whole cottage industry of books on Game Theory. Not many of them are non-technical, and this is probably the shortest of them. So this is a plus to those with no background and who may not go any further. This book suffers from being slightly out of date.

Game Theory is a subfield not of mathematics but of economics. This despite the fact that one of the greatest mathematicians, Von Neumann, had invented this and that at the advanced level it demands a good deal of higher math. This is a reason why John Nash won the Nobel for economics - and not a Fields Medal (for mathematics).

I think it's dangerous to make life-and-death decisions based on Game Theory. First, it's hardly a real science, only the application of mathematics to social questions. Second, you can easily make an error in your calculations.

This brings to mind Franklin's moral algebra. He advised a friend (Priestly, I think) on how to make intelligent decisions: by dividing the pros and cons into two columns, then giving a value to each in terms of importance (1-10, for example), adding up both columns and comparing the two sums. The larger sum should be the decision. And then he cautioned that real decisions are not necessarily made in this scientific way, although the exercise really sharpens your thinking. At a minimum it forces you to think of all possible pros and cons of a problem. In the end, though, one big pro/con (or two) may decide the matter. And even then, you can't be sure you've made the right decision because maybe you've forgotten something in the arithmetic. Still this is a rational way to think something through, especially on major questions.

The utility of Game Theory is likely to be much less than Franklin's scheme because PEOPLE IN THE REAL WORLD DON'T BOTHER USING IT. Would Roosevelt and Truman have done much better when dealing with Stalin if they had been acquainted with Game Theory? I doubt it, although Game Theory impressed some of the geeks in the Pentagon. (Nor vice versa. Stalin would have just laughed if somebody had tried to "sell" him this academic exercise. He relied on his own judgment.) To this day I have yet to hear that Game Theory is the secret of success of top managers like Jack Welch, Warren Buffett and Sandy Weill.

This book is a good intro to the field and teaches you the basic vocab specialists use. Read it like a book on recreational brainteasers, and you'll have lots of fun. I know I did.

4-0 out of 5 stars Recreational Read
Game Theory is worth a second look, a Nobel Prize having been awarded in 1994 to John Nash, et al. The official Nobel press release specifically cites Von Neumann and Morgenstern as its father. Had both been alive, they might have been the recipients of the prize.

There seems to be a whole cottage industry of books on Game Theory. Not many of them are non-technical, and this is probably the shortest of them. (Another is written by JD Williams: "The Compleat Strategyst" - note the spellings - also from Dover.) So this is a plus to those with no background and who may not go any further. This book suffers from being slightly out of date.

Game Theory is a subfield not of mathematics but of economics. This despite the fact that one of the greatest mathematicians, Von Neumann, had invented this and that at the advanced level it demands a good deal of higher math. This is a reason why John Nash won the Nobel for economics - and not a Fields Medal (for mathematics).

I think it's dangerous to make life-and-death decisions based on Game Theory. First, it's hardly a real science, only the application of mathematics to social questions. Second, you can easily make an error in your calculations.

This brings to mind Franklin's moral algebra. He advised a friend (Priestly, I think) on how to make intelligent decisions: by dividing the pros and cons into two columns, then giving a value to each in terms of importance (1-10, for example), adding up both columns and comparing the two sums. The larger sum should be the decision. And then he cautioned that real decisions are not necessarily made in this scientific way, although the exercise really sharpens your thinking. At a minimum it forces you to think of all possible pros and cons of a problem. In the end, though, one big pro/con (or two) may decide the matter. And even then, you can't be sure you've made the right decision because maybe you've forgotten something in the arithmetic. Still this is a rational way to think something through, especially on major questions.

The utility of Game Theory is likely to much less than Franklin's scheme because PEOPLE IN THE REAL WORLD DON'T BOTHER USING IT. Would Roosevelt and Truman have done much better when dealing with Stalin if they had been acquainted with Game Theory? I doubt it, although Game Theory impressed some of the geeks in the Pentagon. (Nor vice versa. Stalin would have just laughed if somebody had tried to "sell" him this academic exercise. He relied on his own judgment.) To this day I have yet to hear that Game Theory is the secret of success of top managers like Jack Welch, Warren Buffett and Sandy Weill.

Game Theorists themselves disagree on the finer points: Davis in this book points out errors by Anatol Rapoport, for example. This should be enough to give us pause about Game Theory itself.

This book is a good intro to the field and teaches you the basic vocab specialists use. Read it like a book on recreational brainteasers, and you'll have lots of fun. No higher math is required (not even simple algebra) - just a little patience and the motivation to think things through. This is the only low-math intro I know of that covers both 2-person and n-person games of the zero-sum and non-zero-sum varieties in one slim volume.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Introduction to Game Theory
As the name implies, this is a non-technical introduction to a very complex and technical subject. As such, the writer walks a very fine line between making the subject matter understandable to the lay-person and providing scientific support for his arguments. He is able to do this with a mixed level of success.

The first few chapters of the book deal with relatively simple subject matter, two person zero sum games. In these chapters, the author is easily able to explain the concepts and solutions without getting technical. However, as the book progresses, the author grapples with ever more complex problems, such as two person non-zero-sum games and with n-person games. As the problems become more complex, the author's explanations become less well organized and clear. It is obvious that behind the arguments stand solid mathematical reasoning, however since the book tries to avoid mathematics as much as possible, many of the explanations and assumptions remain vague.

Although I was familiar with many of the concepts in the book, this is the first book I have read on game theory. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Although I would have liked to receive more in-depth explanations in many cases, I felt that the book opened a window for me into this fascinating world. I was especially pleased with the many real world examples the author uses to illustrate the wide-ranging applications of game theory. These examples include an application of game theory to the evolution of species; and the use of game theory to determine who holds the power in a political system. More well known concepts, such as the Prisoners' Dilemma, are also comprehensively discussed.

Bottom line, this is a really enjoyable book that covers a very challenging subject. If a non-technical introduction to game theory is what you want, this is the book for you. However, if you are more mathematically inclined or have already read a book or two on the subject, you will probably want to pick up a more advanced book. ... Read more

125. The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense
by Michael Shermer
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Asin: 0195143264
Catlog: Book (2001-03-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 110903
Average Customer Review: 3.59 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

As author of the bestselling Why People Believe Weird Things How We Believe, and Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic magazine, Michael Shermer has emerged as the nation's number one scourg of superstition and bad science. Now, in The Borderlands of Science, he takes us to the place where real science (such as the big bang theory), borderland science (superstring theory) and just plain nonsense (Big Foot) collide with one another.

Shermer argues that science is the best lens through which to view the world, but he recognizes that it's often difficult for most of us to tell where valid science leaves off and borderland science begins. To help us, Shermer looks at a range of topics that put the boundary line in high relief. For instance, he discusses the many "theories of everything" that try to reduce the complexity of the world to a single principle, and shows how most fall into the category of pseudoscience. He examines the work of Darwin and Freud, explaining why one is among the great scientists in history, while the other has become nothing more than a historical curiosity. He also shows how Carl Sagan's life exemplified the struggle we all face to find a balance between being open-minded enough to recognize radical new ideas but not so open-minded that our brains fall out. And finally, he reveals how scientists themselves can be led astray, as seen in the infamous Piltdown Hoax.

Michael Shermer's enlightening volume will be a valuable a to anyone bewildered by the many scientific theories swirling about. It will help us stay grounded in common sense as we try to evaluate everything from SETI and acupuncture to hypnosis and cloning. ... Read more

Reviews (17)

4-0 out of 5 stars Not the Applied Skepticism book I wanted, but good anyway.
What I'm looking for is a detailed users' manual for a Baloney Detection Kit (as Carl Sagan called it.) I'd hoped to find this in one of Shermer's previous works, Why People Believe Weird Things, and I'd hoped to find it here. In both cases, the first part of the book did exactly this, but somewhere along the way it turned into case studies of debunking, rather than the process of debunking. (That's okay: they're well-written.)

Michael Shermer's background is psychology and ultra-long-distance cycling; he's written a number of books on cycling and analysis of (and refutation of) Holocaust deniers. He's also president (apparently for life) of the American Skeptics society and a reasonably good writer. In this book, Shermer spends a lot of time talking about the scientific method, its strengths and potential flaws -- and, more importantly, its system for dealing with its flaws (which he claims "sets science apart from all other knowledge systems and intellectual disciplines" -- a heady claim I wish he discussed more.)

Since this is supposed to be a review of Borderlands and not Weird Things, I'll just say that if you like this, you'll like the other as well. In The Borderlands Of Science, he analyzes beliefs that are at defensible, beliefs that could (or were once thought to) be scientifically accurate. Among these are, for instance, ramifications of cloning, confirmation bias in explaining racial differences in sports (about which Malcolm Gladwell has also written), and a whole, whole lot of discussion of Alfred Wallace. Wallace and Charles Darwin were both responsible for the theory of evolution. Wallace is not remembered as widely for a number of reasons, which are explored in frightening detail in roughly 3.5 of the 16 chapters of this book. Shermer did his doctoral thesis on Wallace, not coincidentally. The ratio of stuff-about-Wallace-or-Evolution to everything-else, by chapter, is 3:7; Shermer is pretty focussed on this specific discussion.
The book has four sections: a short introduction (which is quite heavy in skeptical theory, exactly what I wanted) and the main body, discussing borderlands theories, people, and history. In theories, he tends to stray a little from 'why people believe weird things' into 'why stupid people believe weird things' (as he did in the book of the same title) and that's fun. He covers a lot of quite current topics (like cloning, Wacky Unified Field Theories, the importance of Punctured Equilibrium in the evolution of evolutionary theory.)

In section two: people, he discusses the Copernican revolution and its effects, then goes off about Alfred Wallace. Here, he does something weird that needs more discussion. In analyzing Wallace, he constructs a psychological profile, which he derived by having a large number of Wallace experts fill out a survey of the "strongly agree, 9, 8,.. 3, 2, strongly disagree" sort, and then uses the results of these surveys to fill in his discussion of why Wallace became a scientific spiritualist, for instance. It's an interesting technique that he also uses with Steven Jay Gould and Carl Sagan. It is tempting to ask how much confirmation bias exists in a survey of this sort, though. Since I've already let the spoiler out of the bag, Shermer discusses Gould and Sagan, spends some time doing a statistical analysis of Sagan's greatness as a scientist (by comparing published papers by topic with a number of other contemporary, canonically great scientists) and pauses briefly to smack Freud upside the head in a somewhat snarky comparison of Freud and Darwin.

Finally, in section three: histories, he does a lovely discussion of the myth of pastoral tranquillity, including a quick summary of four ancient civilizations that probably managed to destroy themselves through environmental stupidity without (as he puts it) any need of Dead White European Males coming in and inflicting devastation from outside. Shermer then analyzes (and debunks) the theory of transcendent genius, the Mozart Myth, as he calls it, and goes back to two more chapters on Wallace and evolution, in a discussion of the Piltdown Man hoax and why that should (but doesn't seem to have) support the idea that science can be self-correcting and learn from its mistakes.

I like what Shermer is doing, and he writes well and readably. If I sound a bit impatient, it's because I want him to be writing about the application of critical thinking rather than case studies, and when he starts out writing just what I want to read, then goes off in a different direction, he leaves me standing at the intersection saying "hey, wait, this isn't the bus I wanted." The book could stand to be either edited down into two books: a Wallace analysis and a case studies in how science inspects itself discussion, or edited up with a clearer discussion of the math involved in his statistical analysis of Sagan or his psychological profiling of people. In the end, I liked it, I learned a fair bit from it, and I would recommend it to people who want to learn more about both critical thinking and science history.

2-0 out of 5 stars A World of Glasshouses
I'm a scientist, an astronomer specifically, and I'm not really the target audience here I suspect (even though in the line of work I have had to respond to a number of "Borderlands" claims). Objectively this is a 3-star book, but the sleight-of-hand marketing biases me against it.

This is a semi-scholarly work written by a science historian. Most of the essays revolve around Darwin, Wallace, and evolution. With these essays, and a handful of others, Shermer takes a historical approach to the "borderlands of science" to look at the process of how scientific theories develop to acceptance. He looks at very few cases of the current borderlands, and of those he does he makes generally weak arguments (and not scientific ones) with correspondingly weak conclusions. An early chapter on remote viewing is the exception.

The wordcount here is limited, but I wanted to point out some specific problem points. In the chapter asking if Sagan was "a great scientist," one questioning his rejection from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Shermer compares his publications to "the creme de le creme" of scientists: Gould, E. O. Wilson, Jared Diamond, and Mayr. The comparisons involve number of honorary degrees, popular articles, advisory groups, books, etc. There is NEVER a comparison of his scientific publication rate or citation rate versus NAS ASTRONOMERS, a primary criterion for the NAS membership who understands that publication practices vary from field to field. Shermer sets up a straw man and knocks it down, the same thing he accuses pseudoscientists of doing. He never comes close to making an argument about whether or not Sagan was a good scientist, merely that he was a well-known one who was highly regarded for his popularization.

I liked the idea of the chapter on the "Amadeus Myth," which is a topic worthy of comment, but not the execution. We like to make myths of our heroes. But here is another straw man, where Shermer's "genius" is equated to practicing math tricks and never very well characterized. Prodigies are not discussed.

Cosmology is noted as suffering from a bias against "historical science." This is far from true, I assure you. Origins programs in astronomy get funding far ABOVE their non-historical competitors.

A whole chapter is spent discussing whether or not punctuated equilibrium represents a "paradigm shift" of evolution. This is the semantic playing field of a science historian, and of little interest to actual scientists.

Shermer indeed would seem to have such a bias against what he calls "nonscience" topics that he gives them almost no mention. While he lumps, for instance, "Big Foot" in with some poor company, he later quotes anthropologist Krantz in another chapter on another subject; Krantz is one of a number of credible scientists who take the topic seriously. The same cannot be said for his other "nonscience" topics, yet all get rated equally at 0.1 with no discussion.

Indeed, despite Shermer's interesting discussion about a spectrum of "science," his spectrum seems to correspond to his idea of the ideas' correctness, NOT their scientific validity. What is validity (to play Shermer's word games)? All topics can be validly studied using the tools of science. Some are routinely, and some are not. He should have used a different term. I found myself losing trust in Shermer.

When Shermer finds that SETI pioneers are primarily first-born rather than later siblings as in most other scientific revolutions, he finds a way to argue it away in terms of their religion. I did not see this sort of multiple parameter analysis in the comparison sample, so should I believe it? Or did he just invoke the same kind of wishful thinking he criticizes in others?

I had many more problem points that kept my "doubt-o-meter" ringing at regular intervals.

What my criticisms mostly boil down to is that Shermer writes and acts as a science historian much better than he does as a scientist. He gives hints all too often that he doesn't think like a scientist, and this made me distrustful while reading.

This is a shame. I used to subscribe to the Skeptical Inquirer, but let that lapse since that magazine too often took lazy pot shots at the same easy targets again and again. Shermer, and Shermer's magazine the Skeptic, for the most part shoot at more interesting targets, but I'm afraid not as well as they should.

1-0 out of 5 stars Shermer Ruins the Book by Talking Too Much
I expected more of Mr. Shermer in this outing, given his excellent work in Why People Believe Weird Things. But then, in that book, Shermer took on and successfully skewered the easy targets, such as UFO nuts, believers in astrology and other New Age fantasies, revisionist Holocaust deniers and whatnot. However, his latest effort basically amounts to little more than a barely intelligible rant than thoughtful scholarship. Shermer begins with a bold objective- trying to lay down demarcation lines between generally accepted science (as is generally accepted by scientists themselves), iffy propositions which he calls borderlands science, and a large group of topics that he labels non-science and pseudo science. I must say without hesitation that he fails miserably in his objective, partly due to his poor choice of content, but mostly because of his even poorer writing style.

Although the book starts out well, the writing steadily devolves, and by the fifth chapter, the reader must set his or her shoulders and hunker down for some very painful reading. Like most PhD holders, Shermer has acquired an impressive amount of scholarly trivia over the course of his education, yet somehow did not the master the mechanics of good writing. This actually is not hard to believe, as too many people finishing PhD programs in engineering, science and to the dishonor of all liberal arts traditions, English and history programs can not string together a few decent words of prose. Honestly, many of these programs think that they can make up for a lack of erudite soul with an overdose of abstract quantitation and esoteric facts.

And boy oh boy does this approach show in Mr. Shermer's stilted and constipated text. Moreover, as someone who regards himself as a champion of the hypothesis test and the scientific method, he really should know when to appropriately use such methods, and when not to use them. In reading his text, I got the feeling that in his graduate training he only attended the lectures in his Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences having to do with hypothesis testing, and studiously skipped all the other lectures, particularly those having to do with measurement, validity, operational definition and level of trust in results.

I say this because in his chapter on Psuedoscience and Race, he utterly fails to lay down an operational definition, and merely assumes that everyone shares the same common definition of race and knows what he is referring to. He also fails to consider the history of race and the common knowledge that race is a social construct, not a biological phenomenon. Though he provides a context (U.S. race relations), he does not provide an operational definition. He also seems unaware of considerable population genetic and molecular genetic evidence which would make it impossible for most in America to claim, at least from a genetic standpoint, to be truly 'white' or truly 'black'. Thus, from this one would have to assume, especially when reading Mr. Shermer's screed, that he defines race based on physical appearance pretty much like everybody else. However, scientists would take a different point of view, much as many a bigotted proponent of eugenics have on many occasions.

A second bone of contention that I have with Mr. Shermer's overly scientific and inappropriately quantitative approach to everything is his use in Part II Borderlands People, of quantitative methods to evaluate purely subjective things. Some variables we measure are concrete and have meaning that is fixed, such as weight, temperature and volume, athough we can use metric or English units to evaluate them. However, as I recall from one statistics text (the actual text is Richard M. Jaeger's Statistics A Spectator Sport), things like intelligence or neuroticism are totally subjective because their meaning and their measurement can change depending on who is evaluating and measuring them. For such things, there can be no common agreement as to definition or even measurement.

Which I believe Shermer should have learned, thus invalidating the invocation of Sulloway's work in his exposition. A good educational regimen in statistics (which I believe should begin with Moore's Statistics: Concepts and Controversies) would emphasize the importance of looking behind the numbers, using the appropriate measurement methods, and taking into account information other than that in the test when drawing conclusions. None of this was done within this text.

Still, I did learn a few things, being quite surprised to learn that there was actually a black champion cyclist, and Mr. Shermer did make a number of correct points. I also give him credit for (grudgingly) admitting, in his last chapter, that scientists are people too, and are motivated by the same concerns and issues like everyone else. Yet, this does not make up for the overall bad writing and worse scholarship. I expect, no, I insist on better from a self-respecting skeptic.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Primer on Critical Thinking
Michael Shermer gives an open and honest account about the inner workings of scientific thought as well as exposing ideas that-even today-many take as fact. The above reviews criticize Shermer for presenting science as philosophy, but there is no question that science is a belief system-it is influenced by culture and opinion. It does not exist as some purely isolated set of truths, partitioned from reality. This is Shermer's point about many scientific ideas throughout the book, not a blunder or misstep. Yes, science uses a particular method to understand the world. But Shermer points out that there are culturally driven forces behind the things we chose to study. Anyone versed in scientific method understands this. Throughout the book, Shermer stresses the criteria for labeling something "science".
Using a textbook definition of science will get you nowhere if your intent is to understand how science truly works. If you want to find the true meaning of life, for instance, rarely would you use Webster's to find it.
This is a great book for anyone truly interested in science and scientific thought. Shermer uses interesting stories, facts and ideas to relay his message that science may not always be as cut and dry as we may think, but its the best method we have of interpreting the world around us.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very well arranged
The Borderlands of Science, like all good science books includes philosophy. When you are writing about the importance and big picture of science, writing about philosophy is inevitable and very much necessary to show the meaning. Because Shermer has so much experience in cricism it is only right that he debunk nonsciences such as remote viewing. I will be anxious for new literature. ... Read more

126. Elementary Survey Sampling (Statistics)
by Richard L. Scheaffer, William Mendenhall, Lyman Ott
list price: $123.95
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Asin: 0534243428
Catlog: Book (1995-09-15)
Publisher: Duxbury Press
Sales Rank: 130637
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Book Description

Focusing on the practical aspects of survey sampling, this introduction is intended for a one-term service course in survey sampling for students in the social sciences, business, and natural resources management (college algebra prerequisite). Appealing to the student with a limited background in math. ... Read more

127. The Mathematical Universe : An Alphabetical Journey Through the Great Proofs, Problems, and Personalities
by WilliamDunham
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
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Asin: 0471176613
Catlog: Book (1997-02)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 28722
Average Customer Review: 4.61 out of 5 stars
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The Mathematical Universe is a solid collection of short essays, with each addressing a particular mathematical topic. Titles range from "Isoperimetric Problem" to "Where Are the Women?" Author Dunham is unafraid to refer to diagrams, equations, and rigorous arguments throughout the book, yet he manages to maintain a conversational tone. ... Read more

Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Journey
As the book's subtitle suggests, it is a journey through some of the world's greatest mathematical achievements. It is a collection of quasi-independent essays, loosely patterned after children's ABC picture books.

For me there were two things that made this book a joy to read. One was that, as the preface states, "each chapter provides a strong dose of history." This way each topic was considered in some human context that revealed just how remarkable its development was. The other trait I liked was that while each chapter followed the same basic formula, i.e., some history and then some math, no two chapters were presented in the same way. Thus, Dr. Dunham was able to avoid predictability.

Though the mathematics in this book was not terribly challenging, the reader should be fairly mathematically inclined. The historical periods covered were weighted in favor of the classical Greeks and the 17th century Europeans, and the corresponding developments paralleled current curricula through lower division college math courses.

On the minus side, I would like to have seen a bibliography in addition to the notes at the back of the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not too technical, but not to elementary.
Absolutely wonderful. This book should be titled "Obscure Math For Dummies," as it is always written so that a reader with basic mathematical background can understand it. I have read quite a bit of similar titles, but this is the ONLY one I would reccommend! The Mathematical Universe patches up holes of concepts that you never quite understood as well as introduces plenty of new math and its history. Loved the coverage of number theory.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent book that gives us a synopsis of the history of maths from early days. The only criticism I found (and no doubt other readers and the author) is that by virtue of the title, we are limited to one piece as per each letter of the alphabet. I personally would have liked to see the Z chapter written on Zero.

That apart, quite an entertaining read and highly recommended. Dunham should write some more.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining and informative
This book is perhaps the most entertaining popularization I ever came across.The book uses a minimum of mathematical technics to explain a lot of interesting problems and the genius of the men who first solved them.
Although the mathematical required is minimun , this is not a book for the complete mathematical illiterated reader

4-0 out of 5 stars A fun way to do ABCs
After reading this book, one wishes that the cardinality of the English alphabet was much larger. That way, there would have been more letters and hence more chapters. Each of the twenty-five chapters deals with a theme that begins with a letter of the alphabet (X- Y plane is one chapter). Some poetic license is taken here. For example, the K chapter has the title Knighted Newton, but that is just part of the fun.
The author takes an approach that differs from most popular expositions in that there is a good deal of emphasis on the personalities (sometimes cantankerous) of the characters. Mathematicians are often portrayed as brilliant air heads ignorant of the ways of humanity, but here they have all of the human foibles. It is sadly true that intellectual battles are among the most viscous of all. The cross-channel dispute over the origins of calculus lasted for decades and was extremely acrimonious. It took less time for nations to kiss and make up after wars that killed millions of people than it did for the mathematical communities of Britain and France to "resolve" the priority dispute between Newton and Liebniz.
Familial rivalry reached extreme heights (lows) in the Bernoulli family, as at times solving was placed in second position behind squabbling. However, many of the personalities were quite ordinary . Pierre Fermat was in many ways an ordinary member of the French bureaucracy whose life outside mathematics seems to have been quite dull. The most prolific mathematician of all time, Leonhard Euler, was a quite likable father of many children who managed to perform superb mathematics even after going blind.
There is a slithering humorous vein coursing throughout the book, occasionally good but most often a member of the groaner set. The author avoids using the title, "Here's Looking at Eu-Clid," but cannot resist mentioning it later. There is even speculation as to why 50 percent of male mathematicians have beards. Since this reviewer has one, he will offer his own solution. Shaving is boring!
A fascinating collection of essays that touch every facet of the history of mathematics, this is sure to be one of the largest of the crown jewels of popular mathematics.

Published in Journal of Recreational Mathematics, reprinted with permission. ... Read more

128. The Quantum World : Quantum Physics for Everyone
by Kenneth W. Ford
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
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Asin: 0674013425
Catlog: Book (2004-04-20)
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Sales Rank: 3756
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Common sense tells us that matter doesn't vanish into thin air, a particle and a wave have little in common, and good knowledge leads to good prediction. Yet when we move beyond the range of everyday experience and into the world of quantum physics, things prove to be very different: particles of matter can be annihilated, waves and particles are two faces of matter, and the outcome of some experiments is completely unpredictable.

As Kenneth W. Ford shows us in The Quantum World, the laws governing the very small and the very swift defy common sense and stretch our minds to the limit. Drawing on a deep familiarity with the discoveries of the twentieth century, Ford gives an appealing account of quantum physics that will help the serious reader make sense of a science that, for all its successes, remains mysterious. He tells a good story while depicting both the subatomic world and the world of physics research as lively places populated by highly interesting characters. At the core of this book are the "big ideas" of quantum physics, including granularity (matter and some of its properties, like energy, are "lumpy"), wave-particle duality, the uncertainty principle, the nature of bosons and fermions, and superposition and entanglement (an atom can be in two or more states of motion at once).

With strikingly clear writing, and with engaging illustrations by Paul Hewitt, The Quantum World imparts a sense of wonder and a knowledge of the strange laws governing the atoms, nuclei, and fundamental particles that inhabit the quantum world.

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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars The most readable description of quantum physics
This book is pure pleasure. It reads a bit like an adventure story as the author explains how the concepts of the quantum theory were developed to make sense of experimental results in the subatomic realm. The author's engaging style makes quantum theory seem almost easy! This book is by far the best effort to bring the meaning of quantum theory to the nonscientist that I have read ... Read more

129. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine
by Simon Mills, Kerry Bone
list price: $82.95
our price: $82.95
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Asin: 0443060169
Catlog: Book (1999-11-01)
Publisher: Churchill Livingstone
Sales Rank: 289576
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars This is THE text on contemporary herbal medicine
Kerry Bone, one of Australia's most eminent herbalists, and Simon Mills, a highly respected practitioner from the UK have joined forces to produce a text that was sorely needed by herbalists and naturopaths everywhere.

The information is concise, clear, up-to-date, gives clear scientific explanations for the actions of herbs, while acknowledging traditional usage and folklore.

This is not just another coffee table book about herbs - it's the real thing. I have completed five years of formal training in herbal medicine, and this has been the most extraordinary book I've encountered. If you are studying complementary medicine of any modality, I highly recommend you buy it. If you're a student or graduate naturopath or herbalist, it is essential.

5-0 out of 5 stars Textbook for Natural Health Professionals
This book is essential for those seiously interested in herbal medicine. The book begins by explaining various therapeutic systems and basic principles of treatment and safety for the health care professional. Plant compounds and their effects on the body are explained in a straight forward manner that helps one understand a subject that is usually quite difficult. The materia medica section (plant monographs) lists 45 herbs and the pertinent information necessary to use them with success and safety. I believe this book is as good as it gets in herbal medicine, I can't wait for more plant monograph information from Mills and Bone.

5-0 out of 5 stars from the Medical Herbalism journal
Principles and Practice is designed as a text that would accompany a college-level program in the fundamentals of herbal medicine as practiced in the modern British tradition. The authors are senior educators in that system, Mills in Britain and Bone in Australia. This textbook easily meets the scientific standards of a contemporary medical school. Yet it does not slight traditions, and the materia medica sections contain, in addition to an unusually complete scientific review, details of the plants' traditional uses. The therapeutics sections reflect traditional approaches rather than single-bullet modern "scientific" herbalism. The authors collective experience -- more than forty years between the two -- provides balance in the interpretation of the science and the relative importance of hypothetical aspects of toxicology and potential adverse effects. ... Read more

130. How We Believe : Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God (second edition)
by Michael Shermer
list price: $16.00
our price: $10.88
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Asin: 0805074791
Catlog: Book (2003-10-01)
Publisher: Owl Books
Sales Rank: 17984
Average Customer Review: 3.52 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A new edition covering the latest scientific research on how the brain makes us believers or skeptics

Recent polls report that 96 percent of Americans believe in God, and 73 percent believe that angels regularly visit Earth. Why is this? Why, despite the rise of science, technology, and secular education, are people turning to religion in greater numbers than ever before? Why do people believe in God at all?

These provocative questions lie at the heart of How We Believe , an illuminating study of God, faith, and religion. Bestselling author Michael Shermer offers fresh and often startling insights into age-old questions, including how and why humans put their faith in a higher power, even in the face of scientific skepticism. Shermer has updated the book to explore the latest research and theories of psychiatrists, neuroscientists, epidemiologists, and philosophers, as well as the role of faith in our increasingly diverse modern world.

Whether believers or nonbelievers, we are all driven by the need to understand the universe and our place in it. How We Believe is a brilliant scientific tour of this ancient and mysterious desire.
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Reviews (44)

4-0 out of 5 stars Does This Book Really Answer The Question
To me the title of this book suggested a treatise essentially on the psychology of belief systems. Indeed we are presented with quite interesting material in this regard. Mr. Schermer uses the fields of psychology, evolutionary biology, sociology, philosophy, and anthropology, amongst others, to help explain belief systems.

While I found that almost all the book held my interest, it seemed somewhat disjointed. Some of the material is also quite controversial. While such matters only serve to entertain me, others may get offended - Christians may take umbrage at having their beliefs repeatedly referred to as "myths".

The book presents intriguing survey results on why people believe in God. What is most fascinating is that respondents felt that other people believe in God for reasons that differ considerably from their own. Shermer moves on into a discussion of evolutionary biology and a "belief module" (more controversy). Then, surprisingly, we move into a section concerned with traditional philosophical arguments (primarily those of Thomas Aquinas) for belief in God. When you get right down to it, no one embraces religious belief purely on the basis of philosophical arguments. Creationists will be offended by a section on their beliefs. A chunk of the book is given to the Indian Ghost Dance of the 1890s, and we read a discussion on a mathematical refutation of the recent best seller The Bible Code. Good stuff, but its like reading a collection of essays that are not often obviously related to each other.

The final chapter had me scratching my head the most. It's a section discussing the controversy surrounding Stephen Jay Gould's theories of evolution regarding necessity/contingency/chance. While poring through this I kept wondering what it had to do with religion. My question was never answered satisfactorily. Shermer forces this subject into a paean to the wonders of living in a contingent universe. He states that his abandonment of religion allows him to bask in the beauty of our magnificent universe. I get annoyed with concept that if you are religious you can't appreciate science and nature. Not every religious believer is constrained by fundamentalist young earth/intelligent design theories. I am an agnostic who was brought up a Catholic. My intense curiosity and admiration of nature was as strong when I was a believer as it is as a non-believer today.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kudos for Shermer
I have just been introduced to Shermer's work. I think he is a beaon for clear and critical thinking. We need more like him in this world ruled by religious bigotry and irrationalism.

5-0 out of 5 stars Two books in one...and both them very thought provoking
This is one of those excellent examples of getting something extra in the bargain.
For, when one buys this book, not only do they get a very thorough treatment of the psychological, social and historical factors which incline humans toward religion but they also get Mr. Shermer's own unique take on the matter in the form of his chapter 10 which suggests that we accept the miracle of humanity's chance existence and our own by trying to make the best of it.
If you expect by skepticism, either a cynical distance or dispassion, you will find yourself pleasantly surprised with Mr. Shermer's genuine command of the multiple disciplines he must - of needs - rely upon in building his thesis that religion is the simple byproduct of human behavior and history.
The most notable characteristic about these books is usually the invariable Rorshach quality in which the author reveals himself in his views on religion and the almighty. To the careful observer sometimes one can even see the seeds of childhood disfunction in the author's projected worldview.
Again fortunately, such is not the case here where Shermer not shows an appreciation for the outside view of religion but rather also its own subtle capacity to beauty and inspiration. Indeed, this subtle beauty informs Mr. Shermer's world view.
Don't get me wrong, if you begin this book from the vantage point of one religious world view, I would offer that that's where you'll end up. That being said, you'll arrive there a little better informed.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent analysis of a puzzling topic
Why people believe in the things they believe has always interested me. Shermer, who is the head of the Skeptics Society, takes a deep look into questions of "faith" and reason, and discovers answers that may surprise you.

Personally, I found this book both lucid and elegantly written... almost reminded me of Sagan. (And that is a huge complement coming from me.)

While Shermer treads lightly on religion, his message remains clear.

I highly recommend this book to anybody who either has an open mind, or wants one.

2-0 out of 5 stars Really disappointing.
I'm a great fan of Shermer's "Why People Believe Weird Things," so it's disheartening to have to review this book negatively. Sometimes the tone is . . . genuflectional? He does address truly novel ideas, citing Tooby & Cosmides and others, for evolutionary hypotheses for the universality of religious belief, but no unified view emerges in the book. Also, there is a completely superfluous chapter defending Stephen Gould, whom he declares as his "friend" at the beginning of the book, which reveals a probable bias: Gould hates adaptive/evolutionary points of view on social matters. No wonder Shermer drops the issue like a hot potato in this book. ... Read more

131. Science for All Children: Lessons for Constructing Understanding (2nd Edition)
by Ralph Martin, Colleen Sexton, Teresa Franklin
list price: $44.40
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Asin: 0205337554
Catlog: Book (2001-08-02)
Publisher: Allyn & Bacon
Sales Rank: 429529
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Book Description

This book is composed of lessons, activities, and teaching materials to meet the goals of elementary and middle school science. This book is derived from Part IV of the successful third edition of Teaching Science for All Children.Intended for both pre-service and practicing teachers, the book provides a wealth of lessons and activities that follow the learning cycle. The two introductory chapters provide information on the learning cycle, specifically the 4 "E"s - exploration, explanation, expansion, and evaluation - and on science safety. Each lesson is then matched to specific grade levels according to the National Science Education Standards. For pre-service and in-service teachers at the elementary and middle school levels. ... Read more

132. Vision Science: Photons to Phenomenology
by Stephen E. Palmer
list price: $80.00
our price: $80.00
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Asin: 0262161834
Catlog: Book (1999-05-07)
Publisher: Bradford Books
Sales Rank: 125322
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"This is a monumental work, covering a wide range of topics, both classical findings and recent approaches on the frontiers of research." -- Anne Treisman, Princeton University

This book revolutionizes how vision can be taught to undergraduate and graduate students in cognitive science, psychology, and optometry. It is the first comprehensive textbook on vision to reflect the integrated computational approach of modern research scientists. This new interdisciplinary approach, called "vision science," integrates psychological, computational, and neuroscientific perspectives.

The book covers all major topics related to vision, from early neural processing of image structure in the retina to high-level visual attention, memory, imagery, and awareness. The presentation throughout is theoretically sophisticated yet requires minimal knowledge of mathematics. There is also an extensive glossary, as well as appendices on psychophysical methods, connectionist modeling, and color technology. The book will serve not only as a comprehensive textbook on vision, but also as a valuable reference for researchers in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, computer science, optometry, and philosophy. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Psychology & Neurophysiology of Vision Science
Stephen Palmer has written a marvelous book. Its well organized and written. It is suitable as a reference & text for those beginning and advancing to higher levels in Vision Science. The pictures, diagrams, graphs, charts, photos, and outlines are well placed and explained in the body of the text. Because Dr. Palmer is first a Neuropsychologist, the approach is more geared toward psychological mechanisms & psychophysics. The emphasis is less on Biological Approaches to Visual Function. This & Chalupa's 2 Volume Set should get novice to intermediate scientists going further in Vision Science!

5-0 out of 5 stars I can't believe it's an one-author book
This book covers neuro, behavioral, computer science, almost everything about vision science, and very organized. at the bottom line, this book can be a good reference for vision science.

5-0 out of 5 stars A book that's as good as its cover
As an interested academic in a completely unrelated field (chemistry) Palmer's book was only the second cognitive psychology text that I had ever read. It was an "eye opener." There should be awards given to authors who commit themselves and succeed at the task of what Palmer has done here. The book was comprehensive and didn't pull any punches, but was still very readable. The quality of the writing and organization leads me to assume that the man is a gifted teacher as well. The layout, glossary, index, and organization of the text were clearly constructed with the reader in mind. Five star reviews at should be reserved for books of this quality.

5-0 out of 5 stars A unique text for students and researchers alike.
This is an excellent book! Steve Palmer is perhaps best known for his work on perceptual grouping and perceptual organization. With this text, however, Palmer proves that his interests extend beyond these boundaries into the domain of perception as a whole. Palmer also demonstrates that his interests are not confined by one methodology either. Presenting findings from a number of perspectives is one of the things that excites Palmer the most, and he does it like no other. By making use of relevant research in neuroscience, psychology, computer vision and linguistics, to name a few, Palmer develops a unified text for the emerging domain of "Vision Science", a subfield of the larger interdisciplinary enterprise of Cognitive Science.

Palmer's book differs from other books on visual perception in three major ways. First, Palmer introduces the major theoretical perspectives to visual perception--inferential, ecological and computational-- early in the text and then places empirical findings throughout the text in the context of these perspectives. Second, Palmer presents findings from a number of disciplines in an integrated fashion. As opposed to having separate sections for neuroscience, computer vision and perceptual development, for example, Palmer presents research from multiple disciplines as it relates to relevant areas of visual perception, such as perceptual organization or object recognition. Third, and perhaps most importantly, Palmer resists the temptation to dichotomize. The discussions of the literature are sophisticated, presenting both the pros and the cons of different approaches to phenomena in perception, even venturing to propose novel theoretical syntheses at various points in the book.

For anyone who is interested in visual perception, neuroscience, computer vision, or just Cognitive Science in general, this is a book that you must have on your book shelf. ... Read more

133. Data Analysis for Managers with Microsoft Excel (with CD-ROM and InfoTrac)
by S. Christian Albright, Wayne L. Winston, Christopher Zappe
list price: $127.95
our price: $99.80
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Asin: 0534383661
Catlog: Book (2003-02-19)
Publisher: Duxbury Press
Sales Rank: 440206
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134. Science for All Americans: Project 2061
by F. James Rutherford, Andrew Ahlgren
list price: $16.95
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Asin: 0195067711
Catlog: Book (1990-12-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 241441
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In order to compete in the modern world, any society today must rank education in science, mathematics, and technology as one of its highest priorities.It's a sad but true fact, however, that most Americans are not scientifically literate.International studies of educational performance reveal that U.S. students consistently rank near the bottom in science and mathematics. The latest study of the National Assessment of Educational Progress has found that despite some small gains recently, the average performance of seventeen-year-olds in 1986 remained substantially lower than it had been in 1969.As the world approaches the twenty-first century, American schools--when it comes to the advancement of scientific knowledge--seem to be stuck in the Victorian age.

In Science for All Americans, F. James Rutherford and Andrew Ahlgren brilliantly tackle this devastating problem.Based on Project 2061, a scientific literacy initiative sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, this wide-ranging, important volume explores what constitutes scientific literacy in a modern society; the knowledge, skills, and attitudes all students should acquire from their total school experience from kindergarten through high school; and what steps this country must take to begin reforming its system of education in science, mathematics, and technology.

Science for All Americans describes the scientifically literate person as one who knows that science, mathematics, and technology are interdependent enterprises with strengths and limitations; who understands key concepts and principles of science; who recognizes both the diversity and unity of the natural world; and who uses scientific knowledge and scientific ways of thinking for personal and social purposes.Its recommendations for educational reform downplay traditional subject categories and instead highlight the connections between them.It also emphasizes ideas and thinking skills over the memorization of specialized vocabulary.For instance, basic scientific literacy means knowing that the chief function of living cells is assembling protein molecules according to the instructions coded in DNA molecules, but does not mean necessarily knowing the terms "ribosome" or "deoxyribonucleic acid."

Science, mathematics, and technology will be at the center of the radical changes in the nature of human existence that will occur during the next life span; therefore, preparing today's children for tomorrow's world must entail a solid education in these areas.Science for All Americans will help pave the way for the necessary reforms in America's schools. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars The beginning book in Science reform for literacy.
We have now entered a second time of deep concern for the science, math, and technological education for everyone. The first one occurred after the Sputnik fiasco, when the Russians beat us in the race to reach space. The concern now has risen due to what science groups such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and educators saw in comparison of assessments made of students in the U.S. and those in other developed countries, such as Japan. The answer to this concern was for the AAAS along with other groups to put out a guideline as to what constitutes scientific literacy, and what the public in the U.S. should at least know to be scientifically literate. As usual, though the AAAS addressed the fact that certain groups in the U.S. were not being 'included' in the pursuit of science literacy, such as women and racial minorities, in this their first book they skipped over those of us with disabilities. Since this is a major concern of mine and the area in which I do research, I was appalled to see they neglected 'us' once again, especially as the AAAS has a separate department dealing with the Disabled/Deaf. In spite of this mistake, the writing of this book has laid the groundwork for universities and colleges as to what the teachers they train should know and be able to teach so that our country can be more scientifically literate. With new information being made available through newspapers and the Internet on a daily basis, it is absolutely imperative that all adults regardless of race, gender, or ability be able to glean the information they need from this outpouring of information to make decisions requiring informed consent in health care, decisions on employment (since health care is one of the top employers in the U.S. today), and to teach their children. This book was the beginning, but it isn't the end. More books have further elucidated what is required for science literacy from both the AAAS and other science groups. This is the place to start if you are an educator of any kind who wants their students to become scientifically literate. Karen Sadler, Science Education, University of Pittsburgh,

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent summary of science for nonscientists
"Science for All Americans" will appeal to two audiences: people who want to know something about science and science teachers. Written under the guidance of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the text describes what the average citizen or student needs to know to be reasonably scientifically literate. Science literacy is not knowing pages of facts, theories or equations. The book's organization helps define the basic components of science literacy. Chapters 1-3 describe what science is about. This includes defining the activity called science, introducing the language of science--mathematics, and the tools of science--technology. Chapters 4-9 present the fundamental base of scientific knowledge. The topics include: physical science (the universe, forces, motion), biological science (heridity, the cell, evolution), humans (the human organism, human society, technology), and mathematics. The information presented in these chapters is extremely well written in both a nontechnical and nonthreatening manner. If you've feared science or have forgotten all the science you have ever learned, you will still be able to enjoy and remember a surprising amount of the material presented. Chapter 10 summarizes the most fundamental discoveries of science. Finally, chapters 11-12 delve into the mind of a scientist. What patterns do we see in the world? And what type of mental habits should a scientist exhibit? The final 3 chapters of the book are on science teaching and reforming science education and so are of interest primarily to science teachers. The book achieves its aim of both defining science literacy and making the reader scientifically literate. In fact, the book does so well that I use it as the primary textbook in my college science class as part of the liberal arts education for nonscience majors. Speaking as a college instructor who spends most of my time teaching science to nonscientists, I emphasize again the organization, structure and writing of this book. Not only will you learn much from this book, you will develop a basis on which to increase your science literacy in the future. Science and technology are advancing rapidly--too rapidly for any one person to stay current in even one discipline. Yet citizens must make choices. This book will aid you in making informed choices when dealing with science and technology issues. As I try to explain to my students, it is not wrong to be feel discomfort at not knowing everything--no one does. The real error is to remain where you are now in your science literacy and not grow. This book will help you grow. ... Read more

135. The Mallis Handbook of Pest Control, Ninth Edition
by Arnold Mallis
list price: $135.00
our price: $135.00
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Asin: 1890561010
Catlog: Book (2004-03-01)
Publisher: Mallis Handbook & Technical
Sales Rank: 158738
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Book Description

The ninth editionof the Mallis Handbook of Pest Control - an industry standard in education for more than 55 years, is the leading reference source in the structural pest control industry. It is the scientific guide and practical aid for biology, behavior and control of structural pests.

The 1,400-page publication, often referred to as "The Bible of the Industry," provides pest control operators with the information needed to deliver effective, environmentally conscious pest management services in today's competitive business climate.

Written in easy-to-understand language, The Mallis Handbook of Pest Control features more than 1,000 photographs and insect illustrations, including comprehensive insect keys and a special color photo identification series.

The publication includes 24 chapters written by today's leading entomologists, consultants, pest management professionals and researchers. ... Read more

136. Spiking Neuron Models
by Wulfram Gerstner, Werner M. Kistler
list price: $45.00
our price: $45.00
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Asin: 0521890799
Catlog: Book (2002-08-15)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 222938
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Book Description

This introduction to spiking neurons can be used in advanced-level courses in computational neuroscience, theoretical biology, neural modeling, biophysics, or neural networks. It focuses on phenomenological approaches rather than detailed models in order to provide the reader with a conceptual framework. The authors formulate the theoretical concepts clearly without many mathematical details. While the book contains standard material for courses in computational neuroscience, neural modeling, or neural networks, it also provides an entry to current research. No prior knowledge beyond undergraduate mathematics is required. ... Read more

137. The Power of Persuasion : How We're Bought and Sold
by Robert V. Levine
list price: $24.95
our price: $17.46
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Asin: 0471266345
Catlog: Book (2003-02-07)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 104085
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A look behind the curtain of shilling and pitch to see how we are manipulated everyday

Robert Levine offers readers an incisive new take on the mindsets of those who prod, praise, debase, and manipulate others to do things they never thought they’d do—and are sometimes later sorry they did. He takes a hands-on approach by attending training sessions for magicians honing their craft and by taking jobs as a door-to-door salesman and a used car salesman. Levine explores the remarkable effect and power of subtlety on effective persuasion, the great illusion of personal vulnerability, and the unlikely similarities across a wide range of persuasive strategies, from parents to con men to lovers to religious leaders.

Robert Levine (Fresno, CA) is Professor and former chairperson of the Psychology Department at California State University, Fresno. He has published articles in Psychology Today, Discover, American Demographics, The New York Times, Utne Reader, and American Scientist. His book, A Geography of Time, was the subject of feature stories around the world, including Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, CNN, the BBC, ABC’s Primetime, and NPR’s All Things Considered and Marketplace. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars I'm sold!
I found this book via a reference from Slashdot, and decided to read it for myself. It's a useful primer on persuasion. Levine's insight and explanation of the mechanics of manipulation can serve as either inoculation against hucksters, or inspiration to try these tricks yourself. It's an engaging read. Levine lays out principles which are simple and practical (e.g., the triangle of trustworthiness: authority, honesty, likability), and he avoids the dry, academic tone that saddles many Ph.D.'s writing. You don't need a GED to enjoy this book.

I had two minor complaints, neither sufficient to reduce my rating from five to four stars. While the book is replete with fascinating anecdotes and synopses of various studies, Levine also peppers the text with tongue-in-cheek remarks. Most of them are funny, but he spends a few paragraphs too many chuckling at his own jokes (or his pal, Lenny). More significantly, Chapter Nine ("Jonestown") comes from left field. For 200 pages, Levine writes about sales and marketing -- and then suddenly he spends 20 pages pontificating about a religious cult. It's interesting, but misplaced. If I'd wanted to read a book about Jonestown, there are dozens. I wouldn't have picked Levine's.

That said, I recommend this book. There are no surprises (apart from Jonestown): If you're intrigued by the teaser, you'll like the book. Aside from a general education about impressionability, I took away several specific notes. Levine's comments about Matisse struck a chord with me, and I'm currently reading Paco Underhill's "Why We Buy" based on Levine's reference. This is a worthwhile book. I'm glad I bought it, and I expect to pick it up again in a few years.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Power of Persuasion : How We're Bought and Sold
A well-known social psychologist and experienced writer (A Geography of Time, 1997), Levine (California State Univ., Fresno) has produced an authoritative, entertaining, and perceptive analysis of persuasion in the marketplace. He examines the ways that people can be coaxed, prodded, seduced, or debased into taking actions they previously were not attracted to. The book is an engaging read, a real page-turner. Levine mixes an expert's knowledge of contemporary research in social psychology with real-world examples of situations where effective persuasion is in play. His analysis identifies a set of core psychological principles that are the basis for all forms of persuasion, from selling Tupperware to electing politicians. The book concludes with suggestions for resisting persuasion. The clear, entertaining writing style makes the books accessible to all mature readers, but it will have special relevance for those with backgrounds in the social sciences. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All libraries, academic and public; all levels.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superb!
I absolutely loved Power of Persuasion!
Levine writes and gives due credit to everyone from his students (by name) to the many researchers who make the field more fascinating and understood year by year.
I can't say enough about this book. When I wrote The Psychology of Persuasion in 1996, I knew that persuasion was a field that would become more fascinating and important as each year would come and go. This book is like a bible of persuasion,influence and contains an enormous amount of research about how you and I might not know each ourselves as well as we think. Get this book! You will get new ideas and tips that I had not seen prior to this book and that is rare indeed. Buy this book. It is one of the best in the field.
Kevin Hogan

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, eye-opening, and un-nerving
The first chapter is this book made me sweat. I thought I would read this book to continue my study in persuasion just to make me a better marketer, that I was in fact immune against most persuasion. Not so, says the author. His opening chapter about the illusion of invulnerability, shook me. It made me realize I'm just as easily swayed by ads and marketing as the next person. And so are you. This book is a great warning, a powerful education, and a great research tool. I'll use it to improve the marketing I create, but I'll also remember it the next time someone trys to market anything to me. Great book. Get it. Read it. Use it. - Joe Vitale, author of way too many books to list here ... ... Read more

138. As Nature Made Him : The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl
by John Colapinto
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
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Asin: 0060929596
Catlog: Book (2001-03-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 47377
Average Customer Review: 4.55 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In  1967, after a twin baby boy suffered a botched circumcision, his family agreed to a radical treatment that would alter his gender.  The case would become one of the most famous in modern medicine -- and a total failure.  As Nature Made Him tells the extraordinary story of David Reimer, who, when finally informed of his medical history, made the decision to live as a male.  A macabre tale of medical arrogance, it is first and foremost a human drama of one man's -- and one family's -- amazing survival in the face of terrible odds.

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Reviews (133)

5-0 out of 5 stars John Money the monster
I read As Nature Made Him several months ago and still think about the impact it had on me almost daily. There isn't a person that I don't recommend the book to. In short it really touched me and invoked such anger at how this boy's life began. I wept several times while reading this book for the pain that David Reimer and his family endured for a significant period of their lives. John Money can only be described as possessing a mental disorder and I am surprised he hasn't faced a court to answer for all the sordid behaviour he inflicted upon innocent children. He used David Reimer and his twin brother as his very own live human guinea pigs. He mentally, sexually and physically abused David Reimer, his twin and their parents. I felt that the author (amazingly) remained fairly objective and presented all the facts he was faced with. He is to be commended for the fabulous way he has brought David Reimer's story to light all over the world (I am in Australia) and so hopefully others who are going through similar experiences can know they are not alone and they are not the freaks but the doctors who perform these infantile gender assignment operations are the sickos. I will keep an eye out for other material by this author and probably reread As Nature Made Him another million times in my lifetime.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing story
This book tells the story of David Reimer, who was born a boy, but raised as a girl after a botched circumcision. The book explains much more than Reimer's story- -it explains the scientific controversy over the plasticity of sexual identity that had arisen just before Reimer's accident, and how Reimer's psychological development was central to the controversy.

Colapinto begins David's story with some background on his parents, how they met, married, and had their first children, identical twin boys named Bruce and Brian. He details the events that led to Bruce's catastrophic accident at the age of 8 months, and then how his parents were led to the decision to raise him as a girl named Brenda. Extensive interviews with all of the family members enabled Colapinto to present vivid images of Brenda's difficulties in adapting to life as a girl. Brenda was under the care of John Money, a psychologist who, in Colapinto's account, almost single handedly persuaded the world that children developed their sexual identity based on their genitalia and societal practices. The lone dissenter at the time was Milton Diamond, whose research studied the effects of prenatal exposure to sex hormones and later development of sexual behaviors- -in guinea pigs. Unfortunately for Brenda, Money turned out to be a abusive psychologist and dubious scientist, at best. Brenda endured enforced girlhood against all instincts for 14 years, until she finally discovered her birth gender and was allowed to return to it, this time with the name of David.

Colapinto does a masterful job at presenting the scientific aspects of the story. He explains Money's background, and how he opened the first transgender clinic in the US, and how well his hypothesis of gender plasticity was aligned with the behaviorist establishment in psychology. He describes how it was Diamond who posed the problem for Money of finding a normally developed infant to undergo an experimental sex change, and how vital it was for Money, his theories and reputation, for the experiment to be a success. Colapinto details how Money used the Reimers' story in his books and research as evidence supporting his theory, while the real facts went in exactly the opposite direction. Most significantly, Colapinto explains how David Reimer's case became an essential precedent for treatment of intersexuals, infants who are born with ambiguous genitalia or genitalia that are not in agreement with their chromosomal gender. Because Money claimed that Reimer was doing marvelously after his infant sex change, many other infants around the world were subjected to similar treatment, and were to suffer as Reimer did.

Money's claim that sexual identity and gender-related behaviors were driven primarily by societal mores was also heard by feminists, who demanded changes in child rearing practices to make them more unisex and less gender-biased. In light of Reimer's experience and Diamond's work, it might be good to rethink some of these ideas now. While it is wonderful to encourage all children, not just boys, to play with construction toys, and all children, not just girls, to play with dolls, it might be a good idea to draw the line at specifically discouraging boys from being rowdy, or trying to draw girls away from their social games. Instead of actively encouraging unisex behavior and agonizing over the appearance of gender-related behavior, it might be better to just observe who each child is by nature, and supply activities and toys accordingly.

3-0 out of 5 stars Tragic story, indeed...
Incredible book, and one wonders how something like this could happen, but truth is stranger than fiction, they say. What makes this story incredibly sadder is that David committed suicide in May of this year, two years after his twin brother, Brian, died of a drug overdose. I can't imagine the sorrow that is felt by their parents... :(

5-0 out of 5 stars Meeting David
Just sitting in the diner this morning, leafing through a local (...) newspaper, I saw the obituary for David Reimer, once Brenda, once Bruce. Vaguely familiar with the case, but not having read the book, I was still immediately saddened by his death. An hour later, book in hand, I sat to read a compelling book about the unfounded theories of a doctor that led to the tragic life of Reimer, "As Nature Made Him".

The book, penned by Rolling Stone scribe John Colapinto, recounts the horrific, and I mean horrific, childhood of Bruce Reimer, having survived a botched circumcision, only to be forced to live as a girl by two well-intentioned yet ill-informed parents. Now Brenda, his life bascially becomes a living hell, dressing and acting against his very nature. Even worse, he is forced to undergo bizarre and irrational questioning by supervising doctor John Money that literally made my stomach turn.

Colapinto's book moves fast, very fast, through David's life, making for a quick read. Yet the speed in which you can read this book in no way detracts from its central messages. David comes out of the whole ordeal a wounded survivor, possibly an inspiration to others who might befall the same fate. And yet, his demons caught up with him, causing his recent suicide.

Perhaps none of this would have happened if that one failed circumcision never occured. Or if his mother happened to miss a television special with the notorious Dr. Money on it. But it did, and the tragedy of it all loomed over this work. We simply cannot afford, as a society, to play with people's lives for the sake of advancing careers or prestige or fame. People are much too important for that. Let David's life and death be an example, so that this simply will never, ever happen again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gripping, Tragic
'As Nature Made Him' is the horrifying true story of David Reimer, who lost his penis as an infant after a botched circumcision. His parents, only under-educated teenagers at the time, believed in the expertise of John Money at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Money told them the best course was to castrate the baby and raise him as a girl, that nurture was more important than nature; gender could be changed with willpower, surgery and hormone treatments. The book recounts Brenda's lonely, mixed-up childhood and the devastating effect it had on the entire family. I was filled with rage at Dr. Money, who only wanted to promote his theories and stroke his own ego, no matter what the cost to patients or their families. This book is doubly devastating after hearing the news that David Reimer (formerly Brenda) had killed himself in May, 2004 at the age of 38. ... Read more

139. The Rarest of the Rare : Stories Behind the Treasures at the Harvard Museum of Natural History
by Nancy Pick, Mark Sloan
list price: $22.95
our price: $15.61
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Asin: 0060537183
Catlog: Book (2004-11-01)
Publisher: HarperResource
Sales Rank: 5572
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Book Description

Where do you find Nabokov's butterflies, George Washington's pheasants, and the only stuffed bird remaining from the Lewis and Clark expedition? The vast collections of animals, minerals, and plants at the Harvard Museum of Natural History are among the oldest in the country, dating back to the 1700s. In the words of Edward O. Wilson, the museum stands as both "cabinet of wonder and temple of science." Its rich and unlikely history involves literary figures, creationists, millionaires, and visionary scientists from Asa Gray to Stephen Jay Gould. Its mastodon skeleton -- still on display -- is even linked to one of the nineteenth century's most bizarre and notorious murders.

The Rarest of the Rare tells the fascinating stories behind the extinct butterflies, rare birds, lost plants, dazzling meteorites, and other scientific and historic specimens that fill the museum's halls. You'll learn about the painting that catches Audubon in a shameful lie, the sand dollar collected by Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle, and dozens of other treasures in this surprising, informative, and often amusing tour of the natural world.

... Read more

140. Statistics: A Bayesian Perspective
by Donald A. Berry
list price: $107.95
our price: $107.95
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Asin: 0534234720
Catlog: Book (1995-11-16)
Publisher: Duxbury Press
Sales Rank: 139427
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Appropriate for a one-term introductory statistics course, this text introduces statistical concepts and methods from a predominantly Bayesian perspective.It covers standard topics taking the Bayesian view that subjectivity is inevitable in science and that different conclusions from the same study are normal and stresses the advantages of this approach in scientific inference.It presents statistics as a means of integrating data into the scientific process and stresses data analysis and experimental design ideas early. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction.
This is a truly clear and thoughtful introduction to Bayesian statistics.Nothing is taken for granted as the author leads you through examples and concepts. This was my first introduction to Bayesian statistics, and Berry makes it seem so much more reasonable and closer to real research/real life than the artifice involved in other approaches.

5-0 out of 5 stars elementary statistics presented with the Bayesian approach
This is an excellent introductory text designed for a first course in statistics. It covers all the topics that are typically in a first course. However, all other texts at this level take the frequentist approach to inference. A few may have sections that introduce Bayesian ideas but the Bayesian approach is a paradigm for statistical inference and as such the approach should be incorporated in all statistical topics. Berry shows that this can be done without the student having to know calculus. To understand Bayesian methods the student mainly has to know that posterior probability = likelihood x prior probability. Berry provides a good list of references for those who want to pursue more advanced topics.

This book is unique. It demonstrate that statistics can be taught from the Bayesian approach in the very beginnning. This is much like what Noether did when he wrote an introductory text in statistics taking a strict nonparametric approach.

The text is loaded with exercises and the exposition is very clear. There are many useful and entertaining diagrams. Many examples are taken from real medical problems. Medicine is an area in which Berry has done a great deal of consulting and his experience shows in his examples. This should be the text to turn to if you want an introduction to the subject. If you know the basics and want more advanced treatment go to the references mentioned in Berry's preface.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction
This book completely fulfills its goals, one of which is not to be a definitive reference book. It provides a friendly, entertaining introduction into statistics from a Bayesian perspective.

2-0 out of 5 stars Introduction book
It is not too useful for people beyond college level. Not as a reference book. ... Read more

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