This book effectively promotes skepticism as a force field that protects us from all sorts of onslaughts on the mind. It simultaneously hails the human brain as the magnificent machine that it is, while also cautioning against the cunning ways in which it routinely deceives its naive owner. Interestingly, the author interweaves many of the well known logical fallacies with the brain’s natural biases, inclinations and foibles.
As a minor niggle, I think the author sometimes relied too heavily on his own experiences, preferences and way of doing things as page fillers, especially in the chapter on how to properly care for your brain (nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc.). To his credit he does repeatedly state that the reader must make up her own mind about what she reads. Overall I liked the author’s attitude towards skepticism. Throughout the book it is clear that skepticism is to be viewed as a positive, constructive tool when examining our mysterious and interesting universe. Or as a time and money saving device at the very least. Or as a life saver at most.
True, the seasoned skeptic may find the book a bit light-weight with not too much new or surprising going on, but it is nevertheless a fun read in its chatty style. It’s in the presentation and marketing of skepticism where it shines. In a day and age where woo-woo books outnumber solid little publications such as this one by a thousand to one, I think it’s a worthwhile read, and especially suitable for teenagers or budding critical thinkers. I intend lending my copy out to both the persons I know who return borrowed books.
According to the dust jacket, Dr Donald Johanson (who was instrumental in naming an extinct hominid after a Beetles song) also liked the book. So there.