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POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

Help us pick our next NON-FICTION book for group discussion here. YOU MUST HAVE 5+ POSTS TO CONTRIBUTE IN THIS FORUM!
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Chris OConnor
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POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

OFFICIAL POLL: Feb. & Mar. 2010 Non-Fiction

READ THESE RULES BEFORE VOTING PLEASE

Poll Starts: Friday, January 15, 2010
Poll Ends: The poll ends when we have a clear winner, but it will run for a full 10 days at the minimum. So expect to see it up till at least till Sunday, January 24, 2010.

• 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 assumed that you wished to assign all 3 of your votes to the one book you selected.

Example:

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 BookTalk.org 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...
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Chris OConnor
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Re: POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

Book 1
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
by Annie Dillard
Paperback: 304 pages



Book Review
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is a series of essays that combines scientific observation, philosophy, daily thoughts, and deeper introspection with glorious prose. On the surface, Annie Dillard is simply exploring a place called Tinker Creek and its inhabitants: "It's a good place to live; there's lots to think about." But as her observations range well beyond the landscape into worlds of esoteric fact and metaphysical insight, each paragraph becomes suffused with images and ideas. Whether she is quoting the Koran or Albert Einstein, describing the universe of an Eskimo shaman or the mating of luna moths, Annie Dillard offers up her own knowledge with reverence for her material and respect for her reader. She observes her surroundings faithfully, intimately, sharing what can be shared with anyone willing to wait and watch with her. In the end, however, "No matter how quiet we are, the muskrats stay hidden. Maybe they sense the tense hum of consciousness, the buzz from two human beings who in silence cannot help but be aware of each other, and so of themselves." The precision of individual words, the vitality of metaphor, the sheer profusion of sources, the vivid sensory and cerebral impressions - all combine to make Pilgrim at Tinker Creek something extravagant and extraordinary.

Book Description
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is the story of a dramatic year in Virginia's Blue Ridge valley. Annie Dillard sets out to see what she can see. What she sees are astonishing incidents of "mystery, death, beauty, violence."

About the Author
Annie Dillard has written eleven books, including the memoir of her parents, An American Childhood; the Northwest pioneer epic The Living; and the nonfiction narrative Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. A gregarious recluse, she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
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Chris OConnor
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Re: POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

Book 2
The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Have Shaped Our World View
By Richard Tarnas
Paperback: 560 pages

From Publishers Weekly
Tarnas charts the development of Western thought from the ancient Greeks, throwing a sharp light on ideas central to the modern outlook.

Review
"The most lucid and concise presentation I have read of the grand lines of what every student should know about the history of Western thought." -- Joseph Campbell

Product Description
"[This] magnificent critical survey, with its inherent respect for both the 'Westt's mainstream high culture' and the 'radically changing world' of the 1990s, offers a new breakthrough for lay and scholarly readers alike....Allows readers to grasp the big picture of Western culture for the first time."

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
Here are the great minds of Western civilization and their pivotal ideas, from Plato to Hegel, from Augustine to Nietzsche, from Copernicus to Freud. Richard Tarnas performs the near-miracle of describing profound philosophical concepts simply but without simplifying them. Ten years in the making and already hailed as a classic, THE PASSION OF THE WESERN MIND is truly a complete liberal education in a single volume.

From the Publisher
"No other such overview provides, in equal compass, as clear and cogent a survey. Its scholarship is impeccable....For its length it is the best intellectual history of the West I have ever seen." --Huston Smith, Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley
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Chris OConnor
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Re: POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

Book 3
The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule
by Michael Shermer
Paperback: 368 pages

Product Description
From bestselling author Michael Shermer, an investigation of the evolution of morality
that is "a paragon of popularized science and philosophy" The Sun (Baltimore)

A century and a half after Darwin first proposed an "evolutionary ethics," science has begun to tackle the roots of morality. Just as evolutionary biologists study why we are hungry (to motivate us to eat) or why sex is enjoyable (to motivate us to procreate), they are now searching for the very nature of humanity.

In The Science of Good and Evil, science historian Michael Shermer explores how humans evolved from social primates to moral primates; how and why morality motivates the human animal; and how the foundation of moral principles can be built upon empirical evidence.

Along the way he explains the implications of scientific findings for fate and free will, the existence of pure good and pure evil, and the development of early moral sentiments among the first humans. As he closes the divide between science and morality, Shermer draws on stories from the Yanamamö, infamously known as the "fierce people" of the tropical rain forest, to the Stanford studies on jailers' behavior in prisons. The Science of Good and Evil is ultimately a profound look at the moral animal, belief, and the scientific pursuit of truth.

About the Author
Michael Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic magazine, the founder and director of the Skeptics Society, and a monthly columnist for Scientific American. He is the author of the bestselling Why People Believe Weird Things, How We Believe, and Science Friction, which will be published in January 2005 (see page 35). He lives in Los Angeles, California.
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Robert Tulip
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Re: POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

Three votes for The Passion of the Western Mind.

Richard Tarnas is an intriguing thinker. Passion of the Western Mind is an accessible and illuminating walk through the history of transformation and stability in European intellectual culture. Ancient Greece, Christianity and Modernity each have chapters describing their stable outlook, separated by chapters on how these three main periods transformed when their consensus broke down and enabled the rise of the successor stable worldview. The pivotal thinkers who marked these periods of stability and change are described in simple terms, with a systematic presentation of the main movements of ideas. A brilliant book that identifies and describes the main paradigms in western history and how they rose and fell, opening important questions for the path to contemporary global transformation.
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oblivion
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Re: POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

My 3 votes go to Tarnas....a discussion on the history of Western Thought would be (uh, please forgive me for this :blush: )--thought-provoking. What we would actually be doing is using the direction, the influence of, this very line of thought in order to actually talk about it. This is part of our culture--how much of it do we recognize?
Gods and spirits are parasitic--Pascal Boyer

Religion is the only force in the world that lets a person have his prejudice or hatred and feel good about it --S C Hitchcock

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. --André Gide

Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes
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Chris OConnor
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Re: POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

Lawrence is the one that suggested the Tarnas book. :)
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seespotrun2008
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Re: POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

Wow, all of these look great! I think we should read them all. But if I have to choose I put my 3 votes to The Passion of the Western Mind as well. :)
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Saffron
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Re: POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

I will have a second try at this. If you missed my first attempt, good. You didn't miss much, just me making a fool of myself.

I will put in 3 votes for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
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Grim
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Re: POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

3 for book 2 :wink:
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Lawrence
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Re: POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

Thanks Chris, The Passion of the Western Mind gets my three votes. The discussion could be lively. That will be fun.
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tbarron
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Re: POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

Two votes for Shermer, one for Tarnas.

I'm most interested in the implications of recent science on the nature of consciousness, which is what it sounds like Shermer addresses. The Tarnas book sounds interesting too.
oblivion wrote:What we would actually be doing is using the direction, the influence of, this very line of thought in order to actually talk about it. This is part of our culture--how much of it do we recognize?
And to what extent is it possible to use the tools a culture provides to truly understand the culture? By defining what's matters and what doesn't, I suspect culture directs our attention, somewhat in the same way a magician does so that we fail to notice some features of our experience. I think understanding culture requires that we be able to step aside from it, at least momentarily, and develop the ability to look without preconceptions or judgements. I'm guessing some of what Shermer shares might help explain why doing this is so difficult.
Tom
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Chris OConnor
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Re: POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

I'll cast 1 vote for each so that brings the current tally to...

Book 1
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek - 4 votes

Book 2
The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Have Shaped Our World View - 17 votes

Book 3
The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule - 3 votes
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Chris OConnor
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Re: POLL: Help us pick our Feb. & Mar. 2010 NON-FICTION book

I'm ending this poll now as the winner is pretty clear. Thank you to everyone that contributed in this book selection process. I'll try to have the new book announced and the forum up as quickly as possible. :)
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