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The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake
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The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake

4.57  ·  Rating details ·  204 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
An all-encompassing guide to skeptical thinking in the popular "The Skeptics Guide to the Universe" podcast's dryly humorous, accessible style.

It's intimidating to realize that we live in a world overflowing with misinformation, bias, myths, deception, and flawed knowledge. There really are no ultimate authority figures-no one has the secret and there is no place to look u
Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Grand Central Publishing
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Diana Eckert
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Long-time listener here! I have been anticipating this book for a while, and it did not disappoint.
I enjoyed the audiobook - Steves narration is easy to listen to while also being engaging. However, the encyclopedia-like layout make the printed version a practical compendium for later reference. It is excellent for understanding how the mind works/doesn't work, and how we all deceive ourselves into thinking that we actually understand probability.

For people who are just getting into critical t
Isil Arican
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the books I waited with utmost anticipation and so glad to get a chance to read it finally. I have been a long time SGU listener (almost 10 years), and they have been a major inspiration for me to teach myself critical thinking (I still do) and initiate a grassroots skeptical movement in Turkey along with a website as well as a top podcast of our own. So naturally, when I heard the team was coming up with an actual book, I was very excited and pre-ordered it immediately.

Steve and
Ryan Boissonneault
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books on critical thinking and skepticism since Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World. Although you would hope, in the 21st century, that it shouldn’t have to be explained why treating eczema with turmeric infusions is a bad idea, gullibility for pseudoscience is a recurring feature of human psychology and in need of constant debunking.

The first part of the book covers the unreliability of our senses, cognitive biases, logical fallacies, and the difference between science
Peter Mcloughlin
This is one of the better skeptic books. The author doesn't merely debunk the usual suspects of pseudoscience although there is plenty of debunking of UFOs, Ghosts, Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Astrology et al. The author goes into our cognitive biases and blind spots and illogical thought processes and provides tools for fighting ever new pseudoscience, fake news, hoaxes, and assorted nonsense which springs eternal in many forms. This book is a gem that will give you a fighting chance against lying ...more
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would describe this book as excellent tool for structuring your knowledge about science thinking. I like that most of chapters are quite short, because it was easy to read it on the go. At some paragraphs I had to really focus to uderstand the full meaning of it, but I put it on a blame of me not being perfect english speaker and, what is more important, who said that it must be an easy lecture ;)
Tomas Sedovic
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A huge caveat to this review: the authors of this book are hosting a weekly podcast (of the same name) I've been keenly listening to for 7 years. They feel like friends I've never met and this has certainly coloured my views of the book.

That said, it's fantastic. I love it.

The Skeptic's Guide is not about automatic doubt and dismissal of everything as the title might suggest. It is about the exploration of scientific scepticism -- how to approach claims and investigate whether (or how likely) th
Kyle Bunkers
I have followed Steven Novella's blog for quite a while and have found his analyses to be nicely balanced and reasoned. So I thought I may as well give his book a shot. I was expecting more of an overarching story about skepticism, but it was more like a bunch of entries in an encyclopedia (this is not meant to be a bad thing; I am just saying each chapter is more-or-less self-contained). This is not to say that this is a bad book, just that it was not what I expected. I considered giving it 4 s ...more
I've been listening to the SGU podcast for about five years, and this summer I have been catching up on all the episodes since the beginning. One of my favorite things about the podcast is having some of my own long-held beliefs debunked. I've been looking forward to this book for a long time. I'm always telling friends that the podcast is the best primer on critical thinking I've found, and it's so nice to have a format that I can easily share.

One of the topics I awaited most eagerly is GM. Eve
Tadas Talaikis
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: atheism
First half is excellent. People tend to believe (and this is inevitable) anything. Skepticism is a good way to get real, but I am still not sure if reality is better financially, because see, it is inevitable that you will end up selling some needless, "miraculous" shit. I'll smoke a ton of marijuana, DMT and will try to test it again, i.e. "the real is what you say it is", which way's better :-D I think I can find clients for almost anything. Send me ideas what can I do, materialize gold out fr ...more
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
To be fair, I'm a big fan of the podcast, but I do believe this book is well worth anyone's time. I learned a lot, and must also confess to having believed many of the Monsanto fake news stories that were covered. I listened to the audiobook version, and although I have no regrets, I intend to also read the Kindle version. There's really that much good stuff in there, that I also want the read through it myself. I'm highly "visual", and I'll end up with a much higher retention that way. Every ch ...more
Liz De Coster
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
An okay introduction to skepticism, but I'm wondering if the language will appeal to real "newbies". Certainly it's important to be specific and precise when possible, but if the basic terminology includes phrases like "neuropsychological humility" it might be difficult for some readers to engage with the material.
Pasquale Galati
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was highly anticipated and did not disappoint. If you're just starting out or well versed in skeptic thinking, this book makes sense. It's easy to read and easy to follow. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves science, wants to think more critically, or aid in knowledgeable discussion
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bilimsel skeptisizm ekolünün amiral cep yayını, "The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe" 2005'ten bu yana istikrarlı bir çizgide yayın yapıyor. Sonunda SGU ekibi Steven Novella'nın önderliğinde yılların birikimini bu kaynak kitapta toplamış, çok da güzel bir iş başarmışlar.

Bugün Yalansavar sitesinde devam eden kritik düşünce ve bilimsel skeptisizm maceram çocuk yaşlarda okuduğum "Karanlık Bir Dünyada Bilimin Mum Işığı" (Carl Sagan) kitabıyla başlamıştı. Verdiği ilham bir yana, bilimsel düşünüşün te
Ram S
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book covers scientific skepticism as a way of approaching life. The most important section is the tools being laid out for the reader in order to evaluate things skeptically. These are neuropsychological humility, metacognition, promotion of science/reason/critical thinking, detecting pseudo science, free enquiry and consumer protection. These chapters provide scientific basis for why skeptical thought is necessary both as a means of self reflection as well as observing reality. I found the ...more
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, first-reads
I received an advance copy from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

This book was fantastic! I regularly read several science-based medicine blogs, and I've read many of Dr. Steven Novella's articles. When I heard that he was publishing a book, I knew it was a must-read. This book explains critical thinking, logical fallacies, problems with memory, biases, and other concepts to help readers learn how to examine a claim to determine its plausibility and (in)accuracy. I wish I had had a book like thi
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I've been a listener of the SGU Podcast for about a year and really enjoy their content, so when I saw that they had a book coming out, I had to read it. This book isn't quite what I'd expected, but was a pleasant surprise regardless. The first half or so of the book focuses not on science per se but rather logic, psychology, and fallacies in debate. I was about 20 pages in and was already thinking, "Holy crap, how to humans function AT ALL?!" But it was fascinating to learn about all of the dif ...more
Pontus Böckman
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Steven Novella is one of the smartest persons I know of, and he is smart because he assumes that he is not.
What you should always remind yourself is that the person most likely to fool you is yourself. Because of that you need to use a ton of logical tools to help yourself see through all the ways that you are likely to be wrong, whether it be through wishful thinking, logical fallacies, anecdotes or other things.
This book is an excellent starting point to understand how skepticism works and
Nov 05, 2018 rated it liked it
This book contains some unexpected, interesting ideas, like the opening quote:
"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another which states that this has already happened."

"Our real-time experience of the world is fleeting. The moment after we experience something, it becomes a memory.
Everything we personally know about
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have been a skeptic for several years and am also a listener to the SGU-podcast. I recognize most of the topics discussed in the book, some have been discussed many times on the show.
Still I enjoyed the book very much and read it rather quickly. Of course you don't have to be a seasoned skeptic to enjoy the book. I even envy readers wo read about this stuff for the first time.

You should be aware that this is not just one of those self-help books that gives you simple recepees.
This book really
Evan Moore
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As soon as I found out that one of my favorite podcasts was publishing a book, I bought it immediately. You can say that I have a positive bias for this kind of material.

Unsurprisingly, I loved it and if I had my way, everyone would read this. It is altogether humbling, yet empowering and liberating. If you're a skeptic already, hurry up and read this because you'll find how much more you have to learn. If you're not a skeptic, read it still and be charitable. It might be hard to stomach if you
Dave Butler
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although Novella sometimes wades too far into the weeds and can't resist getting into overly complex scientific details, this remains an indispensable guide to skepticism and critical thinking. The world would be a much better place if everyone read it and truly made an effort to question why they believe what they do. It is full of excellent and compelling stories of the harm magical belief and pseudoscience cause and models the skills a skeptical thinker needs - not least of which is questioni ...more
Mitchell Finnesgard
It is a great introduction in critical thinking and some of the basics about logical fallacies. It has good examples to see how they are used in poor arguments. The end felt more like short blogs instead of chapters in a book though. All in all it was a great book and am excited to see what they have planned next.
Matthew Jones
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: skeptical, nonfiction
The Skeptics Guide to the Universe is a great podcast and I've listened to them religiously (heh) for years. Their book just takes concepts they've seen and discussed for years and broke them down into clear clean explanations. It's a good book for anyone who wants to learn to become more scientifically rigorous and skeptical.
Mike Tuholski
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Certainly the most important book I have read in recent memory. I have been listening to the podcast for many many years and it has changed the way I think about the world. I certainly consider myself a skeptic and I am very excited to be starting a new AP Research class at our high school next year using many of the chapters from this book as the basic outline for my course.
Blair Hodgkinson
This was a great book to help sharpen up skeptical and critical thinking skills. I enjoyed it and found a number of the chapters to be educational. The material is well-organized and well-presented. Chapters on conspiracies and controversies dispel a lot of myths and faulty thinking. I'd definitely recommend it.
Cody Wolf
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Recommend to any one interested in understanding our own biases and how to communicate science in an effective manner. Absolutely a necessity for science and critical thinker fanatics who enjoy reading Neal deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and Carl Sagan.
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
A highly readable primer. Dr. Novella and his co-authors teach us how to spot the many ways “we can fool ourselves and be fooled by others.” And they provide the critical-thinking tools we all need to combat fakery.
Shannon Stumpf
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Required Reading

Excellent survey of logical fallacies and confirmation biases that we are all susceptible to. This book teaches us how to know what is really true in a world that is brimming with nonsense and bs.
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Good reference for when you get into an argument with your relatives who absolutely insist that vaccines cause autism, the fishmato is going to kill us all and that climate change is a hoax cooked up by shills for big solar.
Tai Tai
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
please teach critical / skeptical thinking skills in grade school
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“An ignorant mind is precisely not a spotless, empty vessel, but one that’s filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, theories, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the look and feel of useful and accurate knowledge.” 1 likes
“Respect for Knowledge and Truth—Skeptics value reality and what is true. We therefore endeavor to be as reality-based as possible in our beliefs and opinions. This means subjecting all claims to a well-founded process of evaluation. Skeptics believe that the world is knowable because it follows certain rules, or laws of nature. The only legitimate method for knowing anything empirical about the universe follows this naturalistic assumption. In other words, within the realm of the empirical (factual knowledge based on evidence), you don’t get to invoke magic or the supernatural.” 0 likes
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