I’ll keep this review quite short – this is a great book.
With over a hundred interviews conducted for the Token Skeptic podcast, one question remains open: what makes a skeptic a skeptic? Award-winning educator and paranormal researcher Kylie Sturgess interviews an eclectic array of celebrities, personalities, politicians, activists, artists, scientists and “unsung” contributors, all with their own compelling stories to tell. – Goodreads
There’s a nice selection of interviews, ranging from names you’ll definitely recognise like Tim Minchin and Stephen Fry, to many that you might know as a skeptic like Hayley Stevens and Desiree Schell. Each one is short but informative and most importantly, interesting to read. I don’t normally go for collections of interviews but this one’s a good one.
It’s definitely worth getting for your eBook if you’ve got a journey and some time to spare. And while you’re at that, subscribe to the Token Skeptic podcast.
The Revisionaries is an interesting documentary (available on the US Netflix) about the Texas Education Board and their ability to influence the content of science textbooks. As a result, this has turned into a battle between scientists, who value the scientific method, and creationists, who are trying to push their beliefs into the education system. The movie also takes a look at the religious conservatives trying to introduce more religion into the social sciences.
“This documentary looks at the pitched cultural conflict over school textbook standards in Texas, as determined by the state’s Board of Education. For many, the creationist views of the board’s chairman turn counter to the findings of modern science.” – Netflix description.
I decided to splurge and treat myself to Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks. I must say, it was well worth the whole £2 I spend on the kindle edition.
Before reading this book I knew very, very little about hallucinations in general, so the book was rather enlightening. It covers quite the array of situations that might cause hallucinations, beginning with a chapter on visual hallucinations caused by Charles Bonnet Syndrome and another on hallucinations caused by sensory deprivation. Then there’s the chapter on hallucinatory smells, auditory hallucinations, hallucinations caused by migraines, Parkinsonism and even drug induced hallucinations – and that’s only half the book. It’s not lacking in content.
The Men Who Stare at Goats is the second Jon Ronson book that I’ve read and so I can’t help but compare it to The Psychopath Test (read my review of it here). I have to say that I preferred The Psychopath Test. Don’t get me wrong, The Men Who Stare at Goats is still a good book. I found it entertaining enough to read and I got through it quickly, but it took me a little bit longer to get through because it didn’t immediately catch my attention.
It started off well. I enjoy Ronson’s writing style and his ability to had humour to his writing. Also, the fact that he writes about such bizarre things is great. Reading the account of psychic warfare was fun, as well as the unorthodox methods planned by the First Earth Battalion. The idea of people being able to walk through walls and kill goats by staring at them just seem so odd that you can’t help but wonder how they were first thought up and whether people really believed they could do these things.
The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology by John Sweeney
This is quite a good book and I would recommend it. If you want something that shows both sides of the argument as being equal and lets you decide on the matter, then this book isn’t for you. Sweeney comes at the subject head on, attacking the ideas of the church and emphasising the cult aspects of it in a rather refreshing way. I would say that most people recognise that scientology has a lot of crazy beliefs and it was nice not to have to wade through a desperate attempt at making scientology sound plausible