OFFICIAL POLL: Sept. & Oct. 2009 Non-Fiction
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Author:  Chris OConnor [ Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:53 pm ]
Post subject:  OFFICIAL POLL: Sept. & Oct. 2009 Non-Fiction

OFFICIAL POLL: Sept. & Oct. 2009 Non-Fiction


Poll Starts: Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Poll Ends: Friday, July 31, 2009

• You MUST have 25 or more total posts to vote

• You can cast 3 votes and distribute your 3 votes however you like. If you don't assign all 3 votes it will be clear you didn't read these rules and you will be publicly flogged and humiliated. :tease: It will be assumed that you wished to assign all 3 of your votes to the one book you selected.


2 votes for Book #1
1 vote for Book #2

• You can try to convince other people to vote for your book choice by explaining why you're voting the way you're voting. You are doing a huge service by explaining a little about why you picked whatever book you picked, although this extra step is not required. People do read comments and you do stand to influence them if you make a passionate plea for your book, and the whole goal of our book selection process is to find a book that will stimulate discussion. So don't be shy about attempting to sell us on your book choice.

• Vote today! Please don't wait till you see other people voting because they're waiting for YOU to vote.

Now, on to our book choices...

Author:  Chris OConnor [ Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:55 pm ]
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Book 1:
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
by Tom Vanderbilt

Amazon Best of the Month, July 2008: How could no one have written this book before? These days we spend almost as much time driving as we do eating (in fact, we do a lot of our eating while driving), but I can't remember the last time I saw a book on all the time we spend stuck in our cars. It's a topic of nearly universal interest, though: everybody has a strategy for beating the traffic. Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) has plenty of advice for those shortcut schemers (Vanderbilt may well convince you to become, as he has, a dreaded "Late Merger"), but more than that it's the sort of wide-ranging contrarian compendium that makes a familiar subject new. I'm not the first or last to call Traffic the Freakonomics of cars, but it's true that it fits right in with the school of smart and popular recent books by Leavitt, Gladwell, Surowiecki, Ariely, and others that use the latest in economic, sociological, psychological, and in this case civil engineering research to make us rethink a topic we live with every day. Want to know how much city traffic is just people looking for parking? (It's a lot.) Or why street signs don't work (but congestion pricing does), why new cars crash more than old cars, and why Saturdays now have the worst traffic of the week? Read Traffic, or better yet, listen to the audio book on your endless commute.

From Publishers Weekly
Vanderbilt looks at the psychology of driving and the many false impressions drivers use to operate their vehicles. He also looks at other subjects potentially unconsidered by the average driver, such as traffic control centers and smart technology that improves driving decisions. David Slavin's diverse application of tone and personality make him a great choice for this production. Vanderbilt's writing is accessible, but it changes in tone depending on the context (ranging from life-and-death issues of accidents to reflecting about traffic controllers protesting during the Academy Awards). Slavin balances these shifting thoughts and maintains an overall energetic personality throughout the production. The big challenge of this audiobook is how much drivers who listen to audiobooks will adjust their habits while listening to it.

Author:  Chris OConnor [ Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:58 pm ]
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Book 2:
Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future
Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum

Product Description
In his famous 1959 Rede lecture at Cambridge University, the scientifically-trained novelist C.P. Snow described science and the humanities as "two cultures," separated by a "gulf of mutual incomprehension." And the humanists had all the cultural power—the low prestige of science, Snow argued, left Western leaders too little educated in scientific subjects that were increasingly central to world problems: the elementary physics behind nuclear weapons, for instance, or the basics of plant science needed to feed the world's growing population.

Now, Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum, a journalist-scientist team, offer an updated "two cultures" polemic for America in the 21st century. Just as in Snow's time, some of our gravest challenges—climate change, the energy crisis, national economic competitiveness—and gravest threats--global pandemics, nuclear proliferation—have fundamentally scientific underpinnings. Yet we still live in a culture that rarely takes science seriously or has it on the radar.

For every five hours of cable news, less than a minute is devoted to science; 46 percent of Americans reject evolution and think the Earth is less than 10,000 years old; the number of newspapers with weekly science sections has shrunken by two-thirds over the past several decades. The public is polarized over climate change—an issue where political party affiliation determines one's view of reality—and in dangerous retreat from childhood vaccinations. Meanwhile, only 18 percent of Americans have even met a scientist to begin with; more than half can't name a living scientist role model.

For this dismaying situation, Mooney and Kirshenbaum don't let anyone off the hook. They highlight the anti-intellectual tendencies of the American public (and particularly the politicians and journalists who are supposed to serve it), but also challenge the scientists themselves, who despite the best of intentions have often failed to communicate about their work effectively to a broad public—and so have ceded their critical place in the public sphere to religious and commercial propagandists.

A plea for enhanced scientific literacy, Unscientific America urges those who care about the place of science in our society to take unprecedented action. We must begin to train a small army of ambassadors who can translate science's message and make it relevant to the media, to politicians, and to the public in the broadest sense. An impassioned call to arms worthy of Snow's original manifesto, this book lays the groundwork for reintegrating science into the public discourse--before it's too late.

Author:  Chris OConnor [ Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:02 pm ]
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Book 3:
The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene
by Richard Dawkins

Book Review
The Extended Phenotype is a sequel to The Selfish Gene ... he writes so clearly it could be understood by anyone prepared to make the effort John Maynard Smith, LRB This entertaining and thought-provoking book is an excellent illustration of why the study of evolution is in such an exciting ferment these days. Science

Book Description
This is a revised edition with a new afterword by Daniel Dennett. The Extended Phenotype carries on from where The Selfish Gene takes off. It is a fascinating look at the evolution of life and natural selection. Dawkins's theory is that individual organisms are replicators that have extended phenotypic effects on society and the world at large, thus our genes have the ability to manipulate other individuals. A worldwide bestseller, this book has become a classic in popular science writing.

About the Author
Richard Dawkins is the first holder of Oxford's newly endowed Charles Simonyi Professorship of Public Understanding of Science. Born in Nairobi of British parents, Richard Dawkins was educated at Oxford and did his doctorate under the Nobel-prizewinning ethologist Niko Tinbergen. From 1967 he was an Assistant Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, then he returned to Oxford as University Lecturer (later Reader) and a Fellow of New College, before taking up his present position in 1995.

Richard Dawkins's bestselling books have played a significant role in the renaissance of science book publishing for a general audience. The Selfish Gene (1976; second edition 1989) was followed by The Extended Phenotype (1982), The Blind Watchmaker (1986), River Out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), and Unweaving the Rainbow (1998). He has won many literary and scientific awards.

Author:  Chris OConnor [ Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:05 pm ]
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The poll is now open and awaiting your vote!

Author:  Interbane [ Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:55 am ]
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I vote for book #3, the Extended Phenotype. I have it and will participate.

Author:  Chris OConnor [ Mon Jul 27, 2009 3:25 pm ]
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I cast 3 votes for The Extended Phenotype too.

Author:  tarav [ Mon Jul 27, 2009 5:59 pm ]
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3-Extended Phenotype

Author:  Chris OConnor [ Mon Jul 27, 2009 7:04 pm ]
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Author:  Chris OConnor [ Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:37 pm ]
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I'm closing this poll now.

Author:  Chris OConnor [ Fri Jul 31, 2009 5:30 pm ]
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Hardly anyone voted this poll. I'm not sure why this is, but "The Extended Phenotype" is the winner and the forum has already been created.

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