This week, I finished 8 non-fiction books, and I enjoyed most of them. The books covered a wide range of topics from psychology, to biology, to social reform, and one of my new favorite subjects, effective altruism. As I continue to read, I’m starting to notice a lot of repeat information with some topics, so I’m currently reading a wide range of new books with some different subjects to see what else sparks my interest. If you have any subjects that you’d like to recommend I check out, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @TheRewiredSoul .
Each of the links to the books are affiliate links, so if you use my link to purchase any of these books, some comes back to support what I do (and it also helps fund my reading habit).
50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior by Scott Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio, and Barry Beyerstein
I saw some non-fiction science authors who I respect a ton express their sadness that Scott Lilienfeld had passed away recently. They called him a great thinker and skeptic who helped to debunk many misconceptions in the field of psychology. So, I decided to pick up this book, and it was great. If you’re interested in psychology and are a skeptic, I highly recommend this book. I’ve read many books on some of the myths they debunked in this book, but there were a lot I didn’t know about. If you want an easy read that goes through a lot of myths from popular psychology, this is the book for you.
My only criticism is there were maybe three or four myths in here that are still up for debate in the scientific community. But all that teaches us is that we need to do our own independent research even when we’re listening to skeptics. That’s what they encourage us to do as well.
Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth by Stuart Ritchie
The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe by Steven Novella
Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World by Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West
Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Help Others, Do Work that Matters, and Make Smarter Choices about Giving Back by William MacAskill
Although this world is a pretty whacky place, I truly believe that most people want to do good and help others. Whether we volunteer our time or donate to charities, most of us try to make this world a better place. But something I realized a while back is that often give our time and money in ineffective ways, and this is why I’ve become fascinated with effective altruism. Recently, I read The Most Good You Can Do by Peter Singer, which turned me onto the subject, and I kept seeing this book pop up by William MacAskill. After finally getting this book, I couldn’t put it down.
Which charities should we give money to? When we give money to that charity, could our dollars have saved more lives or helped more people elsewhere? Are the instances when volunteering is a bad idea? Is it ever okay for an effective altruist to take a high-paying job rather than committing a life to service? If you try to critically think about things like I do, you need to get this book because it helps answer all these questions and more. MacAskill breaks through some conventional wisdom and provides practical ways of thinking so we can all do good better.
The Most Good You Can Do by Peter Singer
I fell in love with the work of Chris Hayes after reading his first book Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy. After finishing it, I immediately checked to see if he had other books, and I picked up this one, and it didn’t disappoint. The premise of this book is that Black American’s have a completely different experience than white people, and as a half-black man, I’m glad to see someone like Chris Hayes breaking this topic down. Throughout the book, he compares the Black experience to the white experience when it comes to dealing with law enforcement. In current times, this book is extremely relevant.
I’m absolutely baffled that with all of the scientific research out there, we still have people who deny systemic racism exists. This book doesn’t dive into the research as much, but Hayes does a great job citing a few studies while also giving very useful stories and experiences along the way.
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer Eberdhart
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
What’s the most important aspect of finishing college: the education or the diploma? Answer: The diploma. As a college dropout who loves to learn, I’ve been extremely interested in how education is more about signaling than the education, and I finally found someone who wrote a book about it. Once I picked up this book by Bryan Caplan, I couldn’t stop reading it. As the title suggests, this is all about the case against education, and it’s an interesting perspective because Caplan is an academic at a well-respected university.
Not only does Caplan dive into numerous studies and statistics, but he also argues his point extremely well from a philosophical stance. I was also shocked at how much we actually spend on education because I thought it was massively underfunded. Now that I know how much we spend and how much teachers still struggle with school supplies and are underpaid, it’s even more apparent that the education system needs a massive overhaul.
On a final note, I’m definitely adding this to the list of books I’m having my son read when he gets to his 2nd or 3rd year of college to help him make a more well-informed decision about his future.
Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined by Scott Barry Kaufman
The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class by Elizabeth Currid Halkett
I absolutely loved this book. What a fun, unique book about philosophy. I always try to keep a philosophy book in my rotation to keep my mind going and thinking about questions from different angles, and I randomly had this book recommended to me. The author, Ian Olasov, set up an “Ask a Philosopher” table, and random people would just come up and ask him various questions. It’s a pretty straight forward idea, but I loved it. There are dozens of great questions in this book to ponder on, and I highly suggest checking it out.
A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton
On my Twitter account, I asked how many people have trouble making decisions, and over 50% of people said yes.
I fell in love with Annie Duke’s work after I read her last book Thinking in Bets, and I’ve been eagerly waiting for this book to come out for months. Annie is a former professional poker player who also studies psychology, so her perspective is extremely unique. At first, when I started reading this book, it felt like a lot of repeat information from her previous book, but I was extremely wrong. Annie not only presents a lot of new information, but she provides practical examples of when and how we make decisions, and the physical copy of the book comes with a lot of different exercises to try out.
Recently, I became interested in risk assessment, and it blends perfectly with learning about how to make better decisions. We make hundreds of small decisions a day, and there are opportunity costs to most of them. Then, we have to make bigger decisions about job changes and relationships, which can be extremely stressful. Annie sets the foundation by explaining how we don’t have control over the results, but we have a lot of strategies we can use to make the best decisions possible.
The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions by Gerd Gigerenzer
While the term “identity politics” is often used by the Right to describe tactics of the Left, the reality is that both sides play identity politics. As a millennial who only recently got into politics, polarization is all I know, but as Mason explains like many others, it wasn’t always like this. We’re more polarized than ever, and this book does a great job explaining how that looks on a psychological level. We’re more likely to agree with policies not because we like them, but because it’s part of our party’s identity. We’re more likely to dislike someone not because of their character, but because of their party affiliation. Lilliana Mason touched on many studies I didn’t know about, and she lays down some excellent practical solutions in the final chapter.
Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them by Joshua Greene
I’m someone who is mainly interested in psychology than biology, and typically, only neuroscience books keep my attention if it’s too biological. With that being said, I really enjoyed this book Unique from David Linden. The book dives into genetic traits of family, issues with our memories, sex, dreams, and so much more. I think one of my favorite chapters was on the differences with how we taste things because that’s a question I’ve had forever. Like why do I hate sushi, but so many people love it? I think I got some answers.
I bought this book because I think it’s important to know how similar we all are while also noticing some of our unique differences, and the book didn’t disappoint. Even if you’re not super into biology, David Linden does a great job simplifying some subjects that usually lose me in other books, so I highly recommend it if you’re interested in learning about what makes us unique.
Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert Sapolsky
The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity―and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race by Daniel Liberman and Michael Long
If you need help with your mental health, I highly recommend the service I use, BetterHelp. They’re an affordable online therapy service, and by using this affiliate link, you help support The Rewired Soul.