Looking for books and other resources on skepticism and rational thinking? Look no further! (Disclosure: Book links are affiliate links, of course.)
|BOOKS ON CRITICAL REASONING AND RATIONALITY|
The Demon-Haunted World
by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan
A thorough and fun look at various forms of pseudoscience and intellectual flimflam, from alien abduction and crop circles to television psychics and the Loch Ness monster. This book debunks a number of popular superstitions and offers what it calls a “baloney detection kit”—a set of intellectual tools that can be used to separate the chaff of superstitious nonsense from the wheat.
Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World
by Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West
A primer to spotting misinformation, disinformation, and fake news. This book is a toolkit for developing the skills not to be manipulated by dodgy data, skewed statistics, and deliberate disinformation.
The Art of Thinking Clearly
by Rolf Dobelli
Simple, straightforward, and directly to the point, this book is a how-to guide for avoiding common errors in reasoning and decision-making, with a focus on learning to make thoughtful, intelligent choices in your personal life.
Critical Thinking: Your Guide to Effective Argument, Successful Analysis and Independent Study
by Tom Chatfield
This is a pragmatic toolkit designed to teach you to spot bogus arguments, evaluate evidence, become aware of your own biases and how they can be used to manipulate you, and think and write more clearly.
Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time
by Michael Shermer
This book is a survey of weird beliefs, from Creationism to Holocaust denial, from UFOs and alien abductions to television psychics. In it, Shermer explains the biological basis of the human brain, talks about how the wonderful flexibility that characterizes the human mind opens the door to erroneous beliefs, and presents a set of cognitive tools to help prevent adoption of untrue beliefs (such as psychics and alien abduction), and rejection of true beliefs (such as the Holocaust). This is one of my favorite books on rationality.
How We Know What Isn’t So
by Thomas Gilovich
As humans, we tend to believe things–athletes perform in “winning streaks,” morebabies are born during full moons, and so on–that simply aren’t so. There are many reasons for this: human brains are wired to seek out patterns even where none exist; we tend to remember things that confirm our beliefs and forget things which don’t; and so on. This lively book examines the reasons behind the things we believe, and explains how to avoid the most common pitfalls that can lead us astray.
Inevitable Illusions: How Mistakes of Reason Rule Our Minds
by Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini
Piattelli-Palmarini is the director of the Cognitive Science Institute in Milan and a research associate at MIT. In this book, he demonstrates how nonintuitive such basic things as probability can be, and how mistakes in understanding these principles can lead even intelligent, well-educated people astray. This book describes “seven deadly mental sins” and suggests ways to overcome bias and “mental sloth.”