I love to seek out science history books that tell the stories of unsung heroes. Anything that doesn’t begin and end with Newton, that doesn’t praise Darwin’s work of genius, that doesn’t repeat the somber myth of Galileo’s persecution, is what I want. Clifford Conner’s 2005 book A People’s History of Science: Miners, Midwives, and “Low Mechanicks” exemplifies this worthy retelling of the story of science better than anything I’ve ever read.Read more
As I continue to examine the myths the circulate in the atheist community, it was inevitable that I would come across, and have my eyes opened by, God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science by James Hannam (which in the US goes by the title The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution).Read more
On the surface, Dick Teresi’s Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science—from the Babylonians to the Maya is an eye-opening and thought-provoking book on the history of non-Western science. It is a book I would recommend to anyone who believes in the “Greek miracle,” who takes Carl Sagan’s words about the Ionian birth of science at face value, and generally anyone who wants to take a less white, less Western perspective on both science and history as wholes. However, anyone who reads this must also be able to question what they are reading, ask for the author’s sources and motivation, and be ready to think for themselves despite the author’s biases.
“Whatever is inconsistent with the facts, no matter how fond of it we are, must be discarded or revised.” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos Episode 13: “Who Speaks for Earth?”
Since first reading Cosmos by Carl Sagan one year ago, I have revered him. I admire his worldview and his way of expressing it. I’ve dedicated many blog posts to him and to the curiosity that he has inspired in me. I’ve shared dozens of his quotes, many of which carry the same sentiment as the one above. This dedication to the truth, this unwillingness to accept facts only because they were propagated by an authority figure, is what brings me to write that Carl Sagan was wrong.Read more
I’ll be honest with you: Stamped from the Beginning is a very intimidating book in more ways than one. It’s a 511-page tome, which makes sense considering that it is, as the subtitle tells us, The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. It’s won several awards, and for good reason.Read more
Three weeks ago, I reviewed my first ever Ian Tattersall book, Masters of the Planet. As I said then, Ian Tattersall is the curator of the American Museum of Natural History’s Spitzer Hall of Human Origins. He’s been involved in paleoanthropology since the 60’s, and his books combine his undeniable expertise with just enough of his own evidence-based opinions and a dash of wit.Read more
I have been excited to write this post since last May. My husband and I were on a weekend trip in State College, PA celebrating our six-year dating anniversary by visiting all the local bookstores as we like to do. In a cute café and bookstore called Webster’s, I came across a uniquely rustic book called The A B C of Evolution by Joseph McCabe. It was $20 which is above the average price for a used book, but something told me I would never find a book like this again, so I bought it. Part of what sold me was the copyright date of 1920; at the time I thought to myself that that would soon be 100 years ago! Since then I’d been waiting for the perfect time in 2020 to look back at where the study of evolution was 100 years ago.Read more
The gifts I want most are typically books. My husband knows me best, so last Christmas he gave me a copy of science professor Lewis Dartnell’s Origins: How Earth’s History Shaped Human History. I always like to give special priority in my TBR list to books that John gives me, but I was intrigued by this book for several reasons, most of those reasons being the author’s tweets teasing fun facts from the book.Read more
Last month marks the three-year anniversary of my blog, but this week marks the end of not only a year, but a decade. I want to end this year with a little bit of introspection on who I am as an atheist.
I’ve made a few posts before on what type of atheist I am, my own personal evolution, and how my blog is changing. But I want to go into more detail about why I’m not your stereotypical atheist, even though perhaps I used to be.Read more