Always fascinated by astronomy and the history of science, I appreciate the addition of his personal views and reference to other thinkers. This makes it sound like an even more attractive read. Hi James - thanks for the good word. For any bone interested in science, or just in humankind's place in the Universe, this is indeed an attractive read.
This sounds fantastic. I would never pick up Dawkins because I don't like people who are as close-minded and condescending as he seems to be. This book has many ingredients I find interesting. Thanks a lot for this great post. Hi Caroline - It is too bad about Dawkins because I find many of his scientific and philosophic views brilliant. Hopefully less abrasive folks like Witherspoon will come to the fore. Ooh, we have a copy of this on our shelves though it has a different cover.
A book I would never have thought to read but having read your thoughts on it I now feel more inclined to do so. I love the variety of your books!
- “Optimism” and a Lonely Planet.
- Alien Culture () - IMDb?
- Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise, 2nd Edition: Five Steps to a Better Health Care System (Hoover Institution Press Publication).
- Stonehenge, Great Britain?
This actually does sound interesting; it's not one I would ever pick up on my own without a recommendation. I like your meaty reviews as most reviews are shorter. My reviews are sometimes surface reviews because I've just started exploring certain authors or ideas. I someday hope to become more adept at analysis. Thanks for the inspiration. Hi Heidi - Thanks! One problem that I run into is time. I am slow writer and these in depth reviews tend to slow down my reading. The ideas presented in this particular book are close to my heart so I spent some extra words on it.
Brian, you've got me interested in this book. I find that Witherspoon is even more casual and tied into popular culture. Sometimes he even goes a little too far as I found his humor a bit too silly sometimes. Overall however the effect was mostly positive and entertaining.
This does sound quite good especially for those of us who used to be amateur astronomers!
While I can understand Dawkins' acerbic approach - he is, after all, battling against people who'd like to see us return to the Dark Ages - it's always such a pleasure to encounter a sharp intelligence also capable of taking a more calm, engaging, and non-confrontational approach.
Hi Scott - Witherspoon's tone is indeed refreshing these days when so many seem so strident. Great review! This is definitely my type of book and I'm going to put it right on my TBR queue. Like you, I love to read philosophical discussions like these, regardless of whether they fit into my world-view. I'm especially interested in such discussions on science and religion, though I hesitate to read Dawkins because his style can be a bit rude. In fact, I listened to an NPR talk by Dawkins once, and was shocked at how he flippantly disregarded a creationist's question even though he could easily have provided a suitable scientific answer.
Some people need to step down off their ivory towers if they want to reach the public ears! Sorry about the rant. Point is, I'm going to look this book up. Hi Rachel - i think that you would really like this one and would love to think what you thought about it if you read it. It is really too bad about Dawkins. At his best he can be so insightful, but his abrasiveness and disrespect for others is getting more and more in the way. If you read one of his books I would recommend The Selfish Gene.
He really is mostly civil in the original It is full of original. Newer editions have updated notes and sections where he does exhibits some hostility. This sounds interesting Brian. I've caught a few programs on the science channel about this topic and it's always thought provoking.
See a Problem?
It gets you wondering. Hi Naida - It makes us wonder indeed. I think that it is one of the great mysteries of existence. I'd like to think that there are other worlds out there. I read this read line once about Science fiction--that it boils down to we got there or they come here. Anyway, I think about that line a lot. I'm fascinated by all the UFO sightings, alien kidnappings and space ship experiments allegedly conducted on people, but it's my impression that all those "things" aren't reported as much these days.
Hi Guy - I think that the entire issue is one of the most fascinating question that we can ponder. Personally I think that it is highly unlikely that we are currently being visited. I also think that it is likely that there is other intelligence out there.
Witherspoon does point out however, that until we learn more, these are educated guesses at best. Hi Stu - I think that you hit something on the head, Grinspoon displays a love of the wonder that is inherent in reality.
Fermi paradox - Wikipedia
This review has completely blown me away! What a fascinating book!! I love all the aspects of it that you've pointed out so well. As an ardent Star Trek fan, I think I owe it to myself to get this book and read it! I'm thrilled that Grinspoon brings in that great, timeless TV program, by the way! Indeed, from what you've written here, many of Grinspoon's thoughts are perfectly in line with those espoused by Starfleet and the crew of the U. It sounds as if Grinspoon is not only a very open-minded thinker, but one who is always ready to change his current point of view, if given new evidence that proves the truth of the opposite viewpoint.
Scientists above all must avoid a rigidly dogmatic way of thinking, since human knowledge, especially in the scientific field, is always expanding. I found it fascinating as well that Carl Sagan was a friend of this author, and of the author's parents. All the more reason to read this book as well as those authored by Sagan, which I must sheepishly confess I have not read The topic of extraterrestrial life has long fascinated me!
I've always thought, that, in a universe as immense as ours, it would be highly unlikely for us to be the ONLY intelligent, highly civilized well, relatively speaking, lol What a waste of planets that would be!! Thanks for putting this book on my radar, fellow Earthling, and thanks for your great commentary on it!!
Live long and prosper!! Bonus: she thought I was an Angel of Kindness. Which I am. The next morning I was boasting about my Angel of Kindness status to my friend Mary. A young woman she knows had trained as a physiotherapist, got a job in the geriatric ward of a hospital in an unfamiliar town, and shared a flat with older men with whom she had nothing in common. Without the means to break her contract and move, she became so lonely that it made her ill.
Lonely Planet on the Edge: Extreme Travel
She had to go home to be looked after by her parents. What these stories illustrate is the way in which the threat of loneliness is hardwired into modern life. Practical people doing practical things — travelling far for a job opportunity, opting for the accommodation they can afford, under unbending rules — learn the hard way that human beings can only take so much practical.
Loneliness always increases as societies modernise. Loneliness is an ailment of modernity. Many of the points made at the end of a year-long study are sound ones. Yet loneliness is a feeling.
Most people understand that loneliness is neither necessarily felt by people who are alone, nor alien to people who are always with others. The great prophylactic against loneliness is feeling that you are part of something bigger than yourself — a family, a friendship group, a community, a benign universe, whatever. Even a community with little in the way of material resources finds some contentment in being in a group of people who are all in it together. Individualism is the opposite of that. It demands that you represent only yourself.
It is an atomising philosophy, an ideological machine for creating loneliness, a wrong turn from the progress of humanity that makes people narcissistic and self-absorbed, and therefore isolated.
See a Problem?
For many, however, such a psychological goal is anathema. Inequality makes people lonely — even at the top. Even schools feel like high-pressure environments rather than places where people are nurtured and coaxed through childhood. Even corner shops have changed beyond recognition, more than once in my lifetime. My local shopkeepers, Mike and Reena, have known many of the adults in the community since they were babies. They have seen my kids grow up.