Annotated Atheist Reading List

© Brooke Clarke 2009 - 2022

A Knock on the Door
Another Knock on the Door
Third Knock on the Door
Interfaith Gathering for Peace
Important Books & Videos
Books Read
    The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan
    The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
    The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins - Tree of Life
    The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design by Richard Dawkins
    Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment by Phil Zuckerman
    Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
    The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris   
    The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris
    God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens Challenge
    Breaking the Spell by Daniel C. Dennett
    The Ethical Brain by Michael S. Gazzaniga
    Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives by Michael Specter
    the blank slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker
    Trick or Treatment: The undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine  by Simon Singh & Edzrd Ernst MD
    The Post American World by Fareed Zakaria
    Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach
    Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) by Richard P. Feynman
    The Pleasure of Finding Things Out by Richard P. Feynman
    What Do You Care What Other People Think?: Further Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman
    Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free by Charles P. Pierce
    Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America by P.D. Gaubatz & P. Sperry
    The Road to Serfdom, by F.A. Hayek
    Monetary Regimes and Inflation: History, Economic and Political Relationships by Peter Bernholz
    Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led To Vietnam by H.R. McMaster
    The Girl with Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
    The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
    The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest by Stieg Larsson
    The Hydrogen Economy by Jeremy Rifkin
    The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis by: Jeremy Rifkin
    Blackwater: The rise of the world's most powerful mercenary army by Jeremy Scahill
    The United States of America Has Gone Mad
    God and his Demons, Michael Parenti
    What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures - Malcolm Gladwell
    Outliers: The Story of Success - Malcolm Gladwell
    Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (P.S.) - Steven D. Levitt
    Super Freakonomics Illustrated -
    The Men Who Stare at Goats, Jon Ronson
    Them: Adventures with Extremists, Jon Ronson
    Why People Believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer
    Love & Survival: The scientific basis for the healing power of intimiacy, Dean Ornish
    Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal by Rachel Naomi Remen
    The Great controversy by E.G. White ISBN 978-0-8163-1612-0
    Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality
    Spent! by Geoffrey F. Miller
    The Mating Mind by Geoffrey F. Miller
   The Grand Design by Steven Hawking
    The Great Derangment by Matt Taibbi
DVDs Watched
Now Reading
    Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam  by Michel Onfray
To Be Read
On Order
To Be Ordered
Intelligence Squared Debates
          My Great Men Idea
Charles Darwin
James Carroll
Michael Shermer
Jeremy Rifken
Vilayanur Ramachandran
Christopher deCharms
Srikumar S. Rao
George Carlin
Penn Jillette
James Randy
Bill Maher
The Four Horsemen
Richard Dawkins
Daniel Dennett
Sam Harris
Christopher Hitchens
A.J. Jacobs
June Cohen - book list for TED
Pat Condell - list of videos
Steven Pinker
Eva Vertes
William Li
Thomas Friedman
Bob Hazen
Robert Sapolsky (Class lecture at Stanford) - a very strong connection between OCD & religious ritual, Schizotypal and superstitious beliefs, etc.
Dr. Robert Sapolsky's lecture about Biological Underpinnings of Religiosity (1:22:46)
    1/6 - Biological underpinnings of religiosity.  mal adaptive trait/advantage:  Sickle-cell disease/protection from Malaria, Tay–Sachs disease/resistant to Tuberculosis,  Cystic fibrosis/protection against Cholera, Schizophrenia/Schizotypal (loos associations, social withdrawal, meta magical thinking (Wiki)  , ...Blog about this lecture, Why Sapolsky’s Take on Schizotypal Personality Disorder and Religion is Problematic
    2/6 - Gallop poll of Americans: 25% believe in ghosts, 36% mental telepathy, 47% UFOs, >50% Devil.  Newer irrationality: crystals & channeling, Older irrationality: Voices from burning bushes, conversations with dead people.  "Schizotypalism runs through all human history."  Bad timing: Wako. Tx, Jim Jones, Charles Manson all highly meta magical thinking (Schizotypal).
    3/6 - Religion as daily practice of ritual.  OCD (Cleanliness, Food, Enter & Leave buildings, numbers)/Religious Ritual (Cleanliness, Food, Enter & Leave buildings, numbers).
            Hindu Brahmin (6 hr/day cleansing, rules for entering/leaving temple, number of breaths, repetitions of prayers)
    4/6 - Judaism (many rules relating to food, dress, prayer shawl & numerology, 365 (prohibitions) + 248 (must be done daily) = 613, the numbers survive but not the things they represent.
            Christianity (counting rosaries, number of times saying prayers, rules for entering & leaving church, Lutheran prayers for even and odd years,
            Hindu: need to repeat the Gayatri Mantra means you can make a living doing only that.
    5/6 - Xenocide by Orson Scott Card who wrote Ender's Game... about a virus that causes OCD to pacify the population of a planet.
            Martin Luther:  "the more I wash the dirtier I get" and OCD marker also confessing for many hrs/day.
            Pigeons given random feeding inputs develop superstitious belief (Wiki: Skinner)  are prayers answered because the person asking did something wrong.
    6/6 - Temporal Lobe Epilepsy - some have Temporal Lobe Personality (Wiki) classic patient saint Paul from the Bible.

“Leashed to Your Pussy: Toxoplasma gondii and Mind Control”  by Patrick House - an interesting tie between agriculture, rodents and cats - religion
How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy by Kathleen McAuliffe article referencing a number of investigators including Sapolsky.

Have Fun


Also see my web page Reality and Belief

It's becoming clear that the U.S. is being severely damaged by it's religious population.   It used to be that the religious people claimed that without religion the world would be much worse off, but the opposite is the case.  This is made clear in the newer books related to Atheism, most of which have been written post 9/11.  I see this as a positive benefit of the events of 9/11.

This is a part of a larger problem of people believing in what amounts to nonsense.  For example see the listing at:

A Knock on the Door - Jehovah's Witnesses

Jan 2010 - On the front porch were a couple of men in suits, one of them carrying a book with a black cover.  I invited them in and they said more people were in the car so I ask that they also come in.  The four men and myself talked for over an hour.  They were Jehovah's Witnesses (Wiki).  It turns out that they do NOT believe in evolution, but instead intelligent design.  They also:
They gave me a free copy of Awake! which I've read.  It has a number of misrepresented "facts".  One of them relates to William Paley (Wiki) who was the author of the Watchmaker Analogy (Wiki) in 1802.  Darwin published his theory of evolution in 1838.  After reading the Paley article in Awake! I see why Dawkins titled one of his books The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design and so now have it on order along with The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.

I asked that they come back in a month so I could do my homework on evolution.

About Jehovah's Witnesses (WTS) -

Policy on child abuse

"In the organization, you have to have two witnesses, and of course it's almost impossible to have two witnesses to a child molestation. So if a parent comes with their daughter to the elder, they ask and he says, no, I didn't do it, then that's the end of the matter. I would like to see them recognize it, take it to the civil authorities and professionals that are capable and qualified to help the victims." Joe Anderson, former Jehovah's Witness elder.

Policy on Blood Transfusions

"One of the most controversial practices by Jehovah's Witnesses is the ban on all types of blood transfusions-even if they are meant to save a life."

Policy on Evolution

The validity of a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation story and rejection of the theory of evolution

Policy on Sex

Pretty much aginst everything that's not missionary position between married couples.

Another Knock on the Door -Seventh Day Adventist

March 2011 - A young woman (Seventh Day Adventist (Wiki)) knocked on the door.  She was by herself (usually religious proselytizers come as pairs or more. She had a number of soft cover publications.  We talked for some time and she left me with "The Great Controversy" (see below) and a small pamphlet "Signs of the Times"

About Seventh-day Adventist

Policy on Women Pastors

The North American Division (NAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church proposed to the 1995 General Conference in Utrecht, Netherlands that each World Division be allowed to decide independently whether to ordain women to the pastorate. The proposal was defeated by a vote of 1481 to 673.

Policy on End Times

Jesus' return: The second coming of Christ is imminent. Believers should be ready at all times to be removed from earth to be with God in heaven. Others will be exterminated by Christ during what will be the most massive genocide in history. Righteous Christians who had previously died will be resurrected at that time and taken to heaven.

Policy on Alcohol, tobacco, bad habits

Diet: Members are expected to abstain from alcohol, tobacco, and every other "soul-defiling habit".

Policy on Evolution

Evolution: The Seventh-day Adventist church has been quite active in the promotion of Creation Science in opposition to the theory of evolution.

Policy on Sex

Pretty much against everything that's not missionary position between married couples.

Third Knock on the Door - Jehovah's Witnesses

Two young women with Jehovah's Witnesses (Wiki). 
Both women knew about Constantine's Sword and neither of them was wearing a cross, they got it that it would be like wearing a miniature sniper rifle for Jackie Kennedy.
They did not want to discuss my ideas, and left shortly after leaving (These are both 32 page booklets):
"The Watchtower" (Wiki)Apr 1, 2011 - ... the good news that God's Kingdom, which is a real government in heaven, will soon bring an end to all wickedness and transform the earth into a paradise.
 "Awake!" (Wiki) April 2011.  -  End times are near.

Interfaith Gathering for Peace

This was a meetingon 15 Jan 2011 in a local church that was a part of a larger movement sponsered by the Winter Feast for the Soul.  I listened on the radio and then went to the meeting, but was no allowed to speak, although another man who showed up was allowed to.  The reason is that I wanted to talk about religion as being the problem.
The subtitle of the meeting, as shown on the founding web page is "Is Faith a vehicle for Eternal Peace or the cause of endless war?".

Skepticism101 - Welcome (with  Google custom search box)- syllabi - each pdf document is filled with great information including links, books, etc.
Note:  The table of contents is on the left of all the pages.

Important Books & Videos

Feb 2012 - adding this section.  Most of these came out of my political readings (


Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality - this book is about a lot more than it's key idea that humans are not monogamous by nature.
With Liberty and Justice for Some by Glenn Greenwald
The Authoritarians (published as a free on line book) - This is a concept that goes beyond religion and looks at a deeper personal world view
That reminds me of the idea of overlapping disciplines.  It's not uncommon that when studying one thing something I've learned somewhere else shows up.

That was the case when I was watching the TED Talk:  Richard Wilkinson: How economic inequality harms societies

I noticed that on some of his slides there was a group of countries that included Denmark.  This was the "good" end.  He makes the claim that the "bad" end corresponds to countries with high income inequality, but because I'd read the book Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment by Phil Zuckerman, I knew that the "good" end corresponded to countries that were non religious. 

Combine that with "The Authoritarians" and there's a new metric.  To test that I checked some on line data and found this:

Authoritarian Inequality

Life Expectancy 0.52 0.26
Obesity 0.49 0.01
Infant Mortality 0.40 0.27
Hi School Grad 0.40 0.30
Teen Birth Rate 0.37 0.21
Murder 0.25 0.32
Abortion 0.07 0.31
Suicide 0.00 0.28
Prisoners 0.25 0.12
0.22 0.20
Army Recruiting
0.03 0.15
Economic Growth 0.07 0.00
Rape 0.03 0.04
As a proxy for Authoritarian I use the percentage of a state that is Evangelical Christian, income inequality by state is available.  Notice that Life Expectancy, Obesity, Infant Mortality, High School Graduation rate, Teen Birth Rate have a higher correlation with authoritarianism than with income inequality.  The rest of the items do not seem to correlate with either variable.  I've emailed Richard Wilkinson who claims that income equality is more fundamental, but he can't explain why Evangelical Christian (authoritarianism) has a higher correlation.

The procedure was for each dependent variable (Life Expectancy for example) two plots were made, one vs. percent
Evangelical Christian and the other vs. an income inequality metric.  Then a straight line was fitted to the data and the value of R squared was compared for the two lines.

Rather than using just Evangelical Christian as a proxy for authoritarianism, it would be better to come up with a combination of factors using something like multiple regression that was based on the authoritarian test.  This is an exercise for someone with a much better knowledge of statistics than I have.


2014 - TAM2014 - Daniel Dennett - Can Churches Survive the New Transparency? - this video he seems to be marking the end of religion and the beginning of figuring out how to continue the good things that churches do, only without the religion.
Sean Carroll - "From Particles to People" - TAM 2012 - book promotion, but also interesting in that woo-woo ideas now have no physical basis because of physics because they are at person size scale where physics is now a closed system with no unknown mechanisms. 
Sean Carroll - The Particle at the End of the Universe 2013 - Human scale particle Physics is closed, but cosmological particle physics is still very much in the learning phase.
God is not a Good Theory (Sean Carroll) - 2013 - interesting in that predictions based on using God are falsefied by experimental observations.  For example if the Solar System was made to allow for man then the rest of the Milky Galaxy would have no purpose, or if the Galaxy was made just for man then all the other galaxies would have no purpose, plus a number of similar arguments.

Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire - an excellent account of what went on.
Constructing Public Opinion: How Politicians and the Media Misrepresent the Public a documentary by Media Education Fund

Wiki Pages

Catholic Church and the Age of DiscoveryAge of Discovery - Discovery doctrine - Romanus Pontifex 1455 - Along with encouraging the seizure of the lands of Saracen Turks and pagans, it repeated the earlier bull's permission for the enslavement of such peoples. The bull's primary purpose was to forbid other Christian nations from infringing the King of Portugal's rights of trade and colonization in these regions.

Books Read

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan, ( , Wiki book, author)

Hardcover: Random House; Later Printing edition January 1, 1995
Paperback: Ballantine Books, February 25, 1997 ISBN-13: 978-0345409461
Carl Sagan (Wiki Carl) "(November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer, astrochemist, author, and highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics and other natural sciences. He pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

This is the first book that's easy to read and makes a logical case for atheism that I found.

Wiki: "He is world-famous for writing popular science books and for co-writing and presenting the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which has been seen by more than 500 million people in over 60 countries.[2] A book to accompany the program was also published. He also wrote the novel Contact, the basis for the 1997 film of the same name. One of the last books he wrote was Pale Blue Dot. During his lifetime, Sagan published more than 600 scientific papers and popular articles and was author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books. In his works, he frequently advocated skeptical inquiry, secular humanism, and the scientific method."

May 27, 1996 on Charlie Rose Show -

Part 1, We live in an age based on science and technology with formidable technological powers.  ... There's no more than a handful of members of congress with any background in science at all. The Republican congress has just abolished it's own Office of Technology Assessment. ... CR: What's the danger of all this? 
There's two kinds of danger, 1) One is what I just talked about.  We've arranged this society based on science and technology in which nobody understands anything about science and technology.  And this combustible mixture of ignorance and power are sooner or later is going to blow up in our faces.  . . . 2) And the second reason that I'm worried about this is that science is more than a body of knowledge, it's a way of thinking.  A way of skeptically interrogating the universe, with a fine understanding of human fallibility.  If we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to interrogate those who tell us that something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then we're up for grabs for the next charlatan, political or religious, who comes along.

CR: There are millions of people that understand that science does not prove religion because religion is faith based and therefore you should not deny the value of it because it is faith based and not scientific. 
Let's look a little more deeply into that.  What is faith, it's belief in the absence of evidence.  I don't propose to tell anybody what to believe, but for me believing when there's no compelling evidence is a mistake.  The idea is to withhold belief until there's compelling evidence.  .... Where religion gets into trouble is in those cases where it pretends to know something about science.  The science in the Bible for example was acquired from the Jews by the Babylonians during the Babylon captivity of 600 BC.  That was the best science on the planet then, but we've learned something since then.  Roman Catholicism, reformed Judaism, most of the mainstream Protestant denominations have no difficulty with the idea that humans have evolved from other creatures, that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old, the big bang.  They don't have any trouble with that.  The trouble comes with people who are biblical literalistists who believe that the bible is dictated by the creator of the universe to an unerring stenographer and has no metaphor or allegory in it. ...

Part 2,
CR: You seem to say it's growing, this pseudo science.  ...
CS: The problem is that today the technology has reached formidable, maybe even awesome, proportions and so the dangers of thinking this way are larger.  Not that this is a new kind of thing.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (his web page) (WiKi on Richard)

Paperback: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (January 16, 2008) ISBN-13: 978-0618918249
Richard sets out to make a case for atheism in this book but does not include the arguments for Evolution here.  By using evolution Richard explains the development of complex life forms. 
This book was very well received, prompting two books written to try and refute Richard's arguments, they are:
God is No Delusion: A Refutation of Richard Dawkins by Thomas Crean (Paperback - Oct 31, 2007)
The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine by Alister E. McGrath and Joanna Collicutt Mcgrath (Hardcover - Jun 8, 2007)
There is an hour and 10 minute where Dawkins and McGrath "debate" the issues, but in many cases McGrath will not answer Richard's questions.

" And I thought and thought and thought.  But I just didn't have enough to go on, so I didn't really come to any resolution.  I was extremely doubtful about the idea of god, but I just didn't know enough about anything to have a good working model of any other explanation for, well lift, the universe, and everything to put in its place.  But I kept at it, and I kept reading and I kept thinking.  Sometime around my early thirties I stumbled upon Evolutionary biology, particularly in the form of  Richard Dawking's books The Selfish Game and then The Blind Watchmaker, and suddenly (on, I think the second reading of The Selfish Gene) it all fell into place.  It was a concept of such stunning simplicity, but it gave rise, neutrally, to all of the infinite and baffling complexity of life.  The awe it inspired in me made the awe that people talk about in respect of religious experience seem, frankly, silly beside it.  I'd take the awe of understanding, over the awe of ignorance any day."  Douglas Adams (pg 116)

Six Numbered Points:  (pg 157, 158)
  1. One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect, over the centuries, has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of the design in the universe arises.
  2. The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself.  In the case of a man-made artifact such as a watch, the designer really was an intelligent engineer.  It is tempting to apply the same logic to the eye or wing, a spider or a person.
  3. The temptation is a false one, because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem is who designed the designer.  The whole problem we started out with was the problem of explaining statistical improbability.  It is obviously no solution to postulate something even more improbable.  We need a "crane", not a "skyhook", for only a crane can do the business of working up gradually and plausibly from simplicity to otherwise improbably complexity.
  4. The most ingenious and powerful crane so far discovered is Darwinian evolution by natural selection.  Darwin and his successors have shown how living creatures, with their spectacular statistical improbability and appearance of design, have evolved by slow, gradual degrees from simple beginnings.  We can now safely say that the illusion of design in living creatures is just that - an illusion.
  5. We don't yet have an equivalent crane for physics.  Some kind of multiverse theory could in principle do for physics the same explanatory work as Darwinism does for biology.  This kind of explanation is superficially less satisfying that the biological version of Darwinism, because ti makes heavier demands on luck.  But the anthropic principle entitles us to postulate for more luck than our limited human intuition is comfortable with.
  6. We should not give up hope of a better crane arising in the physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology.  But even in the absence of a strongly satisfying crane to match the biological one, the relatively weak cranes we have at present are, when abetted by the anthropic principle, self-evidently better than the self-defeating skyhook hypothesis of an intelligent designer.
"Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man - living in the sky - who watches everything you do, every minute of every day.  And the invisible man has a special list of ten things, he has not want you to do.  And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry  forever and ever 'til the end of time . . . But He lover you!" ... George Carlin  (pg 279)

"Fundamentalist religion is hell-bent on ruining the scientific education of countless thousands of innocent, well-meaning, eager young minds.  Non-fundamentalist, 'sensible' religion may not be doing that.  But it is making the world safe for fundamentalism by teaching children, from their earliest years, that unquestioning faith is a virtue." (pg 286)

"Our Western politicians avoid mentioning the R word (religion), and instead characterize their battle as a war against 'terror', as though terror were a kind of spirit or force, with a will and a mind of it's own.   Or they characterize terrorists as motivated by pure 'evil'.  But they are not motivated by evil.  However misguided we may think them, they are motivated, like the Christian murders of abortion doctors, by what they perceive to be righteousness, faithfully pursuing what their religion tells them.  They are not psychotic, they are religious idealists who, by their own lights, are rational.  They perceive their acts to be good, not because of some warped personal idiosyncrasy, and not because they have been possessed by Satan, but because they have been brought up, from the cradle, to have total and unquestioning faith."  (pg 304)


American Atheists - "...the premier organization laboring for the civil liberties of Atheists, and the total, absolute separation of government and religion."
American Humanist Association - "Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity."
The Brights' Net - "Persons who have a naturalistic worldview should be accepted as fellow citizens and full participants in the cultural and political landscape, and not be culturally stifled or civically marginalized due to society’s extensive supernaturalism."
Council for Secular Humanism - "...advocate and defend a nonreligious lifestance rooted in science, naturalistic philosophy, and humanist ethics and to serve and support adherents of that lifestance."
Freedom From Religion Foundation - " educational group working for the separation of state and church."
Institute for Humanist Studies - "...we view humanism as having the moral imperative to extend the circle of justice, caring and concern to all. "
James Randi Educational Foundation - " promote critical thinking by reaching out to the public and media with reliable information about paranormal and supernatural ideas so widespread in our society today. "
Secular Coalition for America - "...purpose is to amplify the diverse and growing voice of the non-theistic community in the United States."
Secular Student Alliance - "...purpose is to educate high school and college students around the country about the value of scientific reason and the intellectual basis of secularism in its atheistic and humanistic manifestations."
Skeptic - " a scientific and educational organization of scholars, scientists, historians, magicians, professors and teachers, and anyone curious about controversial ideas, extraordinary claims, revolutionary ideas, and the promotion of science."
Society for Humanistic Judaism "Humanistic Judaism offers a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life."
British Humanist Association - "...exists to promote Humanism and support and represent people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs.
International Humanist and Ethical Union - "...the sole world umbrella organization embracing Humanist, atheist, rationalist, secularist, skeptic, laique, ethical cultural, freethought and similar organizations world-wide."
National Secular Society - "...the leading campaigning organisation defending the rights of non-believers from the demands of religious power-seekers."
New Humanist - "...magazine of the Rationalist Association, promoting reason, debate and free thought since 1885."
South Place Ethical Society - "...the study and dissemination of ethical principles based on humanism and freethought, the cultivation of a rational and humane way of life, and the advancement of research and education in all relevant fields."
Humanist Canada - "To promote the separation of religion from public policy and foster the development of reason, compassion and critical thinking for all Canadians through secular education and community support."
Australian Skeptics - umbrella organization for the Humanist societies of Australia
Council of Australian Humanist Societies
New Zealand
New Zealand Skeptics - "...are all interested in examining what objective scientific support there is for claims of such things as psychic abilities, alternative health practices, creationism and other areas where science, pseudo-science and shonky science interact."
The Humanist Society of New Zealand - "The Humanist Society of New Zealand (Inc) is an organization that promotes Humanist philosophy and ideals."
Rationalist International - "It aims at representing the rationalist view where public opinion is formed and making the voice of reason heard and considered, where decisions are taken which will shape our future."
Apostates of Islam - "We denounce Islam as a false doctrine of hate and terror."
The Dr. Homa Darabi Foundation - to promote the Rights of women and children as defined by the Universal Declaration of the United Nations 
Faithfreedom International "No other cause is responsible for more deaths than Islam."
Center for Inquiry - "The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values."

'I Am Offended!' - Richard Dawkins @ UC Berkeley

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins

hardcover 2009 ISBN 978-1-4165-9478-9
This book was written to present the evidence for evolution but is a great book for learning about evolution.  It's truly an amazing thing.
On pg 24 is the Hairpin Thought Experiment.  The connection between any living thing can be traced by going back (de-evolution) in time to some ancestor, then making a hairpin turn, and then going forward in time (evolution).  Note that there is not a horizontal connection between current animals. 

Tree of Life

David M. Hillis,
      Derrick Zwickl, and Robin Gutell, University of Texas Tree Of
On pg 329 is a small image of the David M. Hillis, Derrick Zwickl, and Robin Gutell, University of Texas Tree Of Life showing the evolutionary family connections of animals, plants, Fungi, Protists, Bacteria & Archaea (3,000 species less than 1% of all species shown).  Based on RNA genetic coding.  The Just under ANIMALS is a "You are here" for humans.  Note if in Acrobat Page Scaling you select "Tile All Pages" then 35 sheets will be printed which when assembled will make a single sheet about 5 feet on a side allowing you to read the names on the outside edge. 
Discover Life - has a linear version of the Tree of Life
Introduction to Phylogeny - Tree of Life alphabetical with common names
for example: animals - Chordata (animal phylum) - Vertebrates - Mammals & kin - Mammals - Placental mammals - Primates - Homo sapiens
 PBS - What Darwin Never Knew (Video) - Dec 2009 Transcript is on line, DVD for sale.  Has info on Chimp jaw muscle size vs. human jaw muscle size and it's effect on brain cavity size. (that may be the difference between chimps and humans)
Map of Life - a world map based on Google Maps that shows where different animals are

The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design by Richard Dawkins

This book was written to present definitive refutations of the arguments of creationists.  But it also has a chapter about bats and has a lot about evolution.
Note the title is based on the work of William Paley (see above).  Paley, Dawkins and myself  have a great appreaction of the spendor of life on earth.  It's just that scientific knowledge was primitive in Paley's time and he got it all wrong.

Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment by Phil Zuckerman

Hardcover: NYU Press (October 1, 2008) ISBN-13: 978-0814797143
Associate Professor of Sociology at Pitzer College
Phil spent a year living in Denmark and interviewing people there.  It is the country that has the least theism (most atheist).  It's also a country that is in the top ten countries for lowest homicide, lowest infant mortality, lowest rape, highest longevity, most contented population, i.e. a very good place to live.  The point Phil was setting out to make was that lacking God a society will get along just fine.  But I think he has made the point that when the leaders of a country believe in God they will make much poorer decisions than a more rational person so "God Fearing" countries are much worse off.

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris

Sam started this book on the day after 9/11 and after hearing an audio book version it's clear he very concerned about how the world can survive if religions continue as they are.  He makes a case that the Holocaust was caused by Christianity.  The Vatican maintained the "blood libel" story as late as 1914.  The church opened it's genological records to the German Nazis so they could find the Jews.  Not a single German Catholic has ever been excommunicated, even to this date. 
The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris
His idea is that morality is related to maximizing happiness and minimizing suffering of conscious creatures which includes humans and a few of the great apes.

9 Sep 2011:  a message sent to Sam Harris:
Hi Sam:

I have all your books in my bookcase along with others by Dawkins, Dent, Hitchens, etc. and fully get what you are saying.  BUT . . .

I think you have missed the larger picture.  The KEY reason for the attacks on 9/11 is the same as the reason for "Insurgents" and "freedom fighters".  When you are attacked by a superior adversary you fight back in any way you can.

Imagine that the U.S. did not have a massive army and we were invaded by a country that had a far superior military.  The invaders did not respect the popular and majority atheist concept.  There were soldiers with loaded guns breaking down doors and every day killing people called collateral damage.

Imaging this had been going on for decades and the same super power that was invading our country was also invading Denmark and other atheist countries.

If you, as an atheist, had the chance would you consider fighting back by flying one of their airliners into one of their buildings?

Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris (Sam Harris web page)

Paperback:  Vintage Books, Jan 2008, ISBN-13: 978-0307278777
Sam has written the book as a letter to a Christian.  He uses the technique of giving an example in another religion and then pointing out that the same argument applies to Christianity.  

"The same Gallup poll revealed that 53 percent of Americans are actually creationists." (pg x)
Among developed nations, America stands alone in these convictions.  Our country now appears, as at no other time in her history, like a lumbering, bellicose, dim-witted giant.  Anyone who cares about the fate of civilization would do well to recognize that the combination of great power and great stupidity is simply terrifying, even to one's friends."  (pg xi) (BC: added larger font and bold)

Countries where religion is almost non existent are: Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark and the United Kingdom (pg 43).
"In 2005,  a survey was conducted in thirty-four countries (BC: there are 206 in the world) measuring the percentage of adults who accept evolution.  The United States ranked thirty-third, just above Turkey." (pg 70).

Religion is the basis of most conflict in the world (pg 81).
Palestine: Jews vs. Muslims
Balkans: Orthodox Serbs vs. Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbs vs. Bosnian & Albanian Muslims
Northern Ireland: Protestants vs. Catholics
Kashmir: Muslims vs. Hindus
Sudan: Muslims vs. Christians & animists
Nigeria: Muslims vs. Christians
Ethiopia and Eritrea: Muslims vs. Christians
Ivory Coast: Muslims vs. Christians
Sri Lanka: Sinhalese Buddhists vs. Tamil Hindus
Philippines: Muslims vs. Christians
Iran and Iraq: Shiite vs. Sunni Muslims
the Caucasus: Orthodox Russians vs. Chechen Muslims; Muslim Azerbaijanis vs. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians

"The idea that Islam is a "peaceful religion hijacked by extremists" is a fantasy, and it is now a particularly dangerous fantasy for Muslims to indulge." (pg 85)

Sam Harris, The View from the End of the World, SALT talk at Google (1:22:32) - explains the problems of religious moderation
"We have a choice between conversation or violence.  Faith is a conversation stopper."  To make religious war unthinkable, like slavery and cannibalism, we have to undermine the dogma of faith.
A Conversation with Sam Harris (1:29:52)- The goal is to spread secular thinking and scientific knowledge in society. (after "End of Faith" was published)

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens

Hardcover: Hachette Book Group (2008) ASIN: B002C4ZU6Q

Wiki:  book, author - "Hitchens contends that organized religion is "violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children", and that accordingly it "ought to have a great deal on its conscience." Hitchens supports his position with a mixture of personal stories, documented historical anecdotes and critical analysis of religious texts. His commentary focuses mainly on the Abrahamic religions, although he also touches on other religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.

Hitchens points out the dangers of religion ("ethic cleansing") and shows many flaws in the various versions of the bible.  He makes the case that the bible was written by humans in the middle east and nowhere in it is there a mention of other parts of the world like Australia.  Hitchens is harder to read than some of the other writers because he uses a vocabulary larger than mine.

Chapter 15 "Religion as an Original Sin" (pg 205) starts :
"There are, indeed, several ways in which religion is not just amoral, but positively immoral.  And these faults and crimes are not in the behavior of its adherents (which can sometimes be exemplary) but in its original precepts.  These include:
The rest of chapter 15 develops the last four points, the first being already covered in prior chapters.

page 239:  "Four days after his election (Feb 1939) by the College of Cardinals, His Holiness (Pope Pius XII) composed the following letter to Berlin:

To the Illustrious Herr Adolf Hitler, Fuhrer and Chancellor of the German Reich!  Here at the beginning of Our Pontificate We wish to assure you that We remain devoted to the spiritual welfare of the German people entrusted to y our leadership.... During the many years We spent in Germany, We did all in Our power to establish harmonious relations between Church and State.  Now that the responsibilities of Our pastoral function have increased Our opportunities, how much more ardently do We pray to reach that goal.  May the prosperity of the German people and their progress in every domain come, with God's help, to fruition!"

page 251: "The connection between religion, racism, and totalitarianism is also to be found in the other most hateful dictatorship of the twentieth century: the vile system of apartheid in South Africa."

Christopher Hitchens Challenge

"First, name me an ethical statement made or an action performed by a believer that could not have been made or performed by a non-believer....
Second, think of a wicked statement made, or an evil action performed, precisely because of religious faith?"
  The first is very difficult and the second it very easy.

On Poverty

“The cure for poverty has a name, in fact. It’s called the empowerment of women.  If you give women some control over the rate at which they reproduce, if you give them some say, take them off the animal cycle of reproduction to which nature and some religious doctrine condemns them, and then if you throw in a handful of seeds, the floor of everything in that village, not just poverty, but health and education, will increase. Try it in Bangladesh and Bolivia, it works all the time. Name me one religion that stands for that, or ever has.”

Hitchens Dictum

What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.

Poison or Cure? Religious Belief in the Modern World - Video
Authors@Google: Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens / Bill Maher

Breaking the Spell by Daniel C. Dennett

Dennet is making the case that religion needs to be studied (reverse engineered) scientifically.  He also calls himself a "Bright" rather than use the term atheist.  It's similar to people calling themselves "Gay".

The Ethical Brain by Michael S. Gazzaniga

Chapter 9 "The Believing Brain" has some ideas on why people believe in religion.

Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives by Michael Specter TED Talks - Michael Specter: The danger of science denial 
Michael Specter's home page & Videos
Authors@Google: Michael Specter - Vaccination, organic food, generically engineered food

This book is about how people deny the truth of the scientific method by adopting beliefs without any proof.
In 1025 Avicenna (Wiki) not only was the father of modern medicine but inductive logic (replaced the logic of Aristotle) and the basis of the scientific method.  Francis Bacon developed the Baconian Method (Wiki) around 1265 which was a step in the History of scientific method (Wiki).
In 1961 Arthur C. Clarke wrote "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable form magic".

Many people confuse correlation with cause and effect.
Some gene sequencing companies that have an internet business.  They are not doing a complete sequence but rather key hereditary, disease and medicine parts. Michael has his genes done by all three of them.
the blank slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker
Goes into why we are not born with a "blank slate" and why many cling to this outmoded idea along with the noble savage.

Trick or Treatment: The undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine  by Simon Singh & Edzrd Ernst MD
Uses the scientific method to expose Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Chiropractic and Herbal medicine as non functional.
Good history about blood letting (killed George Washington) and Florence Nightingale (use of statistics) (Wiki)
Also a section "Why do smart people believe odd things?"

The Post American World by Fareed Zakaria 2009 paperback ISBN 978-0-393-33480-7
The 2009 paperback has a new preface that talks about the Obama administration.  Fareed has what appears to be a good overview of what it takes for a country to be The old paradime was capital and labor, the new one is ideas and energy.
The problem with America is a dysfunctional political system, i.e. it can not accomplish much in a reasonable time, China can accomplish a lot in a short time, but is very poor (in terms of GDP/person).

Richard P. Feynman

Nobel winner in Physics, bongo player, safe cracker, very intelligent, atheist, etc.
The Quest for Tannu Tuva - Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4, Part 5

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character)

This was my first Feynman book and the one I like the best.  It covers safe cracking, picking up women at bars and other interesting stories.

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman

By the time he was 12 Richard knew he was an atheist. 
Chapter 13 "The Relation of Science and Religion"

What Do You Care What Other People Think?: Further Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman

Has a lot of info on his investigation of the Space Shuttle Challenger problems (not just the O-rings).

The Character of Physical Law (Messenger Lectures, 1964)
DVD "Infinity" (about Richard P. Feynman)

TED Talk: Richard Feynman: Physics is fun to imagine
Messenger Lectures on Physical Law - The first "Law of Gravation" (and second " Physics and Math" lectures) are highley recomended for anyone, even if you think you know about gravity!

Mary Roach

also wrote "Stiff" about cadavers.  She's a very interesting woman!

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach

Mary has a very interesting curiosity.  She also authored Stiff about cadavers.
Stiff by Mary Roach

TED Talk: Mary Roach: 10 things you didn't know about orgasm

Charles P. Pierce

Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free
This is a very interesting book in that it has a lot of information about Donnely, the author of Atlantis which may be the first pseudo-science idea made from whole cloth.

Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America by P.D. Gaubatz & P. Sperry - makes the case that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a Muslim Terriost organization.

The Road to Serfdom, by F.A. Hayek - when Socialism (collectivism, central planning) is implemented the form of government needs to be totalitarian and things like art need to be suppressed so that there is no dissent.

Monetary Regimes and Inflation: History, Economic and Political Relationships by Peter Bernholz - chpater  5.2 Hyperinflation are Caused by  Government Budget Deficits" p71 " The figures demonstrate clearly that deficits amounting to 40 per cent or more of expenditures cannot be maintained".
Found this book after reading a paper by Hayman Advisors Kyle Bass is managing director - MSNBC talk by Kyle "Ahead of the Money" Airtime: Tues. Aug. 17 2010 | 9:01 AM ET - near zero interest rates will continue until there's a restructuring of the economy (Wiki).

Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chief of Staff, and the Lies That Led To Vietnam by H.R. McMaster - Kennedy installed McNamara to cut off the joint chiefs.  Johnson kept McNamara as his chief military adviser and ignored the joint chief.  But the joint chief could not come to a consensus because of infighting.  The administration lied to the public and congress and had no strategic objectives other than LBJ's idea of "killing more VC".  It makes you wonder what we are doing with our military today on foreign soil, i.e. what's our strategic objective and how's it being met?  If you know please tell me.

These were ordered after seeing the movie "The Girl with Dragon TatThe Girl with Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest by Stieg Larsson
Although the first book could be read by itself, these are really a single story that is open ended allowing for a number of follow on books.  It's too bad that Stieg died after the third book came out.  There's a relationship to the book Society Without God apparent in the behavior of the key characters.
The Hydrogen Economy by Jeremy Rifkin
Rifkin seems to be a doomsayer.  He spends 80% of the book talking about energy and it's equivalents.  When mentioning methods of electric generation he overlooks hydroelectric.  In the section about "hydrogen energy" he never does any math to show where the hydrogen is coming from and in some cases seems to be saying first use electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, then later burn that hydrogen in a fuel cell to make electricity.  In the fuel cell discussion he says hydrocarbon fuels are not practical for fuel cells, yet the Army competition for a replacement for the BA-5590 battery was won by a menthol fuel cell.

In the chapter "The Islamist Wild Card" he has an interesting description of the differences between Christian and Islamic religions.  Making the case that Islamic religions are tied into the political system and if they are elected in a democratic political system they will dismantle the democracy in put into force Sherira law and what amounts to a totalitarian system, like in Saudi Arabia ("My father rode a camel, I drive a car, my son rides a jet airplane - his son will ride a camel").  "In the Islamic world, however, it is not the people who give government its legitimacy, but God." (p119)  In 1991 Algeria came close to electing the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) into power which would have resulted restructuring Algeria along Islamic lines, religious courts replaced by civil courts, Islamic dress codes, cultural expression restricted to Islamic practices.  Rifkin says that Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Somalia are in the bottom 8 regimes on the list of countries in terms of economic freedom (p116). 
The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis by: Jeremy Rifkin
from pages 449 - 450:
Blackwater: The rise of the world's most powerful mercenary army by Jeremy Scahill
I expected this to be a book about mercenaries, but it turns out to be about religion, politics and war.  Eric Prince, CEO of Blackwater (Wiki) and his immediate family are both fundamentalist Christians as are many of the politicians involved in hiring the Blackwater mercenaries.  This is the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about, but it includes religion in a big way.  Chapter 10: "The parents of one Blackwater contractor killed in Iraq said it was their son's deep sense of patriotism and his abiding Christian faith that led him to work in Iraq." (note 1: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel April 24, 2005).  After thinking about what this book has to say I came to this conclusion:
Brooke Clarke Sep 2010:
People who have faith in a superior being should not be allowed to be leaders in government, business, etc.

John le Carre (Wiki)wrote The United States of America Has Gone Mad and in that he says:
"The religious cant that will send American troops into battle is perhaps the most sickening aspect of this surreal war-to-be. Bush has an arm-lock on God. And God has very particular political opinions. God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America's Middle Eastern policy, and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a terrorist.

God also has pretty scary connections. In America, where all men are equal in His sight, if not in one another, the Bush family numbers one President, one ex-President, one ex-head of the CIA, the Governor of Florida and the ex-Governor of Texas.

Care for a few pointers?
  • George W. Bush, 1978-84: senior executive, Arbusto Energy/Bush Exploration, an oil company; 1986-90: senior executive of the Harken oil company.
  • Dick Cheney, 1995-2000: chief executive of the Halliburton oil company.
  • Condoleezza Rice, 1991-2000: senior executive with the Chevron oil company, which named an oil tanker after her. And so on.
But none of these trifling associations affects the integrity of God's work."

The United States of America Has Gone Mad by John le Carré  Published on Wednesday, January 15, 2003 by the Times/UK
Has to do with the religious beliefs of heads of state.
"The religious cant that will send American troops into battle is perhaps the most sickening aspect of this surreal war-to-be. Bush has an arm-lock on God. And God has very particular political opinions. God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America."
God and his Demons, Michael Parenti
Catalogs much of the bad things done in the name of religion.
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures - Malcolm Gladwell
The title is about a guy called the dog wisperer, but there are other gems
Outliers: The Story of Success - Malcolm Gladwell
The key example is how professional soccer players have birthdays close to Jan 1.
This is caused by how they classify players in grade school.
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (P.S.) - Steven D. Levitt & S.J. Dubner
 How Roe vs. Wade 1973  (Wiki) allowed for abortions, which in 1990 resulted in fewer gang members lowering the crime rate.
Determining that Sumo wrestlers cheat in certain matches
Why do drug dealers still live with their moms - TED Talk - NY Times page -
Super Freakonomics Illustrated - a continuation of the above book but now with a lot of illustrations.
The theme of both this book and the first one is "People Respond to Incentives".
1. How is a Street Prostitute Like a Department-store Santa?
2. Why Should Suicide Bombers buy Life Insurance?
3. Unbelievable Stories about Apathy and Altruism
4.The fix is in - and it's cheap and simple
5. What do Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo have in common?
The Men Who Stare at Goats, Jon Ronson
Read book after watching a movie by the same title.
First Earth Battalion, Operation Manual (Wiki) - " was the name proposed by Lieutenant Colonel Jim Channon, a U.S. soldier who had served in Vietnam, for his idea of a new military to be organized along New Age lines."
Frequencies - this is a woo-woo concept
Patent 5159703 Silent subliminal presentation system, Oct 27, 1992
Them: Adventures with Extremists, Jon Ronson
Jon spent some time with a number of extremists and themes that were common to some were:
New World Order (Wiki) - a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government — which replaces sovereign nation-states
Illuminati (Wiki) - a purported conspiratorial organization which acts as a shadowy "power behind the throne", allegedly controlling world affairs through present day governments and corporations, usually as a modern incarnation or continuation of the Bavarian Illuminati.
Bilderberg Group  (Wiki) - Because of its secrecy and refusal to issue news releases, the Bilderberg group is frequently accused of political conspiracies
International Jewish Conspiracy (Wiki)
ZOG - Zionist Occupied Government (Wiki)- an antisemitic conspiracy theory which holds that Jews secretly control a given country, while the formal government is a puppet regime.
Why People Believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer
"A Wise man proportions his belief to he evidence" Hume's Maxim
Love & Survival: The scientific basis for the healing power of intimiacy, Dean Ornish -
Although he mentions God there are some gems in this book such as discovering Rachel Naomi Remen (who's ideas show up in the book) and expressing feelings rather than thoughts.
A number of the people referenced in the last chapter are into the woo-woo area.
TED Talks -
Dean Ornish on the world's killer diet
Dean Ornish says your genes are not your fate
Dean Ornish on healing

Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal by Rachel Naomi Remen with the forward by Dean Ornish. (on order)
A must see video by Rachel is the introductory lecture on The Art of Medicine to a class of medical students at UCSF.
The Great Controversy by E.G. White ISBN 978-0-8163-1612-0
This was given to me by a young woman who knocked on my door.  The chapter on William Miller (1782-1849) is interesting.  He calculated that on Oct. 22, 1844 there would be a reckoning.  This was done some years prior to that date.  A number of religious groups formed based on the idea like Adventist, Millerite and Calvinist.  But on the day of the "Great Disappointment" when nothing happened there was a problem for them.  One outcome was the new religion called Seventh Day Adventist.  The "Closed Door" idea is that on that date everyone's fate was determined.
Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jethá (2010)
Shoots down the idea that women are either retail whores or if married wholesale whores.  Humans are not monogamous.
The methods used include citing books written by authors who are considered experts and showing what they did wrong as well a citing authors who have valid new ideas.  But there's no warning up front, so as you read it's not clear which road you're traveling.
Blogs at Psychology Today - all subjects, not just Sex at Dawn related.

Magazine Article: Ill-Fated Interview Part I

Think Big Interviews - No. 1

facebook -
"A controversial, idea-driven book that challenges everything you know about sex, marriage, family, and society."
Makes the case (using many research results) that the early hunter gather society (where people did not store food) was maybe one of the best times to be alive.  It took little effort to get enough food and the diet was much better balanced than it was after agriculture came about. Life span was about the same as now.  (Note that average age numbers include infant mortality and so may appear low for this time period, but it looks like they lives as long as we do now).
These people were nomadic and so had few possessions and there was no reason for fighting or war (which came after agriculture).
The sex was multi male - multi female (in line with our fellow great ape the bonobo).  This explains a number of what otherwise seem to be mysteries.
The movie The Ugly Truth (IMDB) may be based on some of this, need to pay more attention next time I watch it.

MHC-dependent mate preferences in humans, C. Wedekind, T. Seebeck, F. Bettens & A. Paepke, Proceedings: Biological Seiences, V260, No. 1359 (Jun 22, 1995).
"This difference in odor assessment was reversed when the women rating the odors were taking oral contraceptives."

The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology (1995) by Robert Wright
This was an early attempt at evolutionary psychology and may be the source of the all women are whores idea.  It's not a pretty picture of men or women.

The Mating Mind by Geoffrey F. Miller (2000)
It turns out that Darwin (see below) described "natural selection" in his book On theOrigin of the Species by means of natural selection and it was accepted fairly soon after publication, but, in his Decent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex where he described "sexual selection" the scientific community did not accept his idea until around 1985.  The "sexual selection" theory was to explain things like a pea cock's tail feathers that contradict "natural selection" since they go against survival.

Miller is using sexual selection as a possible way to explain why humans have such large brains and bonobos and chimps don't.  But in this process he starts looking at the idea that the common ancestor of humans was not monogamous.  If that were the case, then "sexual selection" would be free to work much faster, i.e. on the timeline of what actually happened.  To support his idea Miller is using body size differences and anthropological records, the same data as used in Sex At Dawn.

 Spent: Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior by Geoffrey F. Miller 2009
Uses the "sexual selection" idea developed in "the Mating Mind" and combines that with the five personality traits and how they relate to marketing.

The Grand Design
by Stephen Hawking
Given gravity everything else in the universe follows.  Uses Richard Fenyman as a source for much of the idea.
The Great Derangment by Matt Taibbi
Fundamental Religion
911 Truther

DVDs (& on line videos) Watched

Atheism Tapes, 2004, 6 episodes
Jonathan Miller (Wiki) discussing religion with: Colin McGinn (Wiki), Steven Weinberg (Wiki), Arthur Miller (Wiki), Richard Dawkins (see below), Denys Turner (Wiki) and Danial Dennett (see below).
Jesus Camp, 2006
Building an evangelical army of tomorrow.  My guess is that this is very similar to what the Islamic religious training looks like, it's scary.
Waiting for Armageddon, 2009
Explore the lives of evangelical Christians who believe that Armageddon is imminent and that Israel will be the site of Christ's second coming.
Letting go of god by Julia Sweeney - Wiki, IMDB, her blog
TED Talks:   Julia Sweeney has "The Talk" 
                    Julia Sweeney on letting go of God - firsrt 15 minutes of DVD
The Jill and Julia Show - pans "The Secret"

Religulous (DVD) 2008 directed by Bill Maher (Wiki: Bill, Religulous)
Looks at U.S.and European religious beliefs (not enough time for Asian religions).

The God Who Wasn't There: A Film Beyond Belief (2005) written and directed by Brian Flemming. (Wiki: movie, director)
The movie debunks the Jesus myth.  But for me the really interesting part are the interviews (Wiki) in the special features section.
Contact (IMDB) written by Carl Sagen the character Eleanor Arroway is based on Carolyn Porco (Lecture at AAI)
marjoe (IMDB) Marjoe (Mary Joseph) Gortner, a pentecostal preacher makes a documentary while in the process of quitting preaching.
The Invention of Lying - the invention of "The invisible man in the sky" and the "Rules" on the back of two pizza boxes.
Letting go of God by Julia Sweeney funny story of her progression from being religious to an atheist

Dexter - Season 4 - John Lithgow (IMDB) plays a serial killer who has a strong belief in God.  He played a similar part in Blowout (IMDB).

2010 Craig Venter (Wiki) unveils "synthetic life"  TED, Youtube
2008 Craig Venter is on the verge of creating synthetic life
2005 Craig Venter on DNA and the sea the end of reading the DNA code and the start of writing the code

On Intelligent Design - November 5, 2006 in the Watch section at Hayden planetarium. 
Title slide:
"The Perimeter of Ignorance"
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Astrophysicalst & Director, Hayden Planetarium
Adapted from Natural History magazine
November 2005
The "Darwin" Issue

An analysis and history of intelligent design. YouTube: Neil Tyson presentation about intelligent design
"But a careful reading of older texts, particularly those concerned with the universe itself, shows that the authors invoke divinity only when they reach the boundaries of their understanding."
Examples are: Ptolemy (AD 150) (Wiki), Galileo (1615) Wiki), Isaac Newton (1687)(Wiki), Huygens (1696)(Wiki),  , Pierre-Simon de Laplace (1799)(Wiki) The perturbation theory that Laplace came up would have been trivial for Newton if only he had worked the problem.

Then he talks about "Naming Rights".  For example:
After W.W.II Particle Physics (Wiki) - look at the names on the Periodic Table (Wiki)
American email addresses do not end in .us, but all other countries have a two letter suffix.
British postage stamps don't have a country of origin because they invented them.
The names of the constellations were by Greeks and Romans.  Right after 9/11 Bush43 said "Our god is the god who named the stars".  Two thirds of the stars with names have Arabic names.  This happened because Islam in the time frame of 800 to 1100 was a hot bed of science, navigation, algebra and even today we use Arabic numerals.  The methods and instruments for navigation were developed them.  Bagdad was the intellectual center of the world.  It all ended when Hamid al-Ghazah (1058-1111)(Wiki) said that mathematics is the work of the devil.

In the Stupid Design section he goes into the problems with: the universe, Earth, Humans i.e. Stupid Design.

The economic future depends on scientific and engineering progress and when these are stifled by religion that ends.

Of all the Nobel prize winners the number that were Muslim? (answer about 2).  How many were Jewish? (answer about 25%).
How many Muslims in the world? (answer about 1 Billion).  How many Jews in the world? (answer about 15 million).

The key question is why do 15% of the members of the National Academy of Science believe in a supreme being?
The question is not about the 85% who don't.

Intelligence Squared Debates

Debate: The World Would Be Better Off Without Religion -
For The Motion: Matthew Chapman & A.C. Grayling
Against The Motion: Dinesh D'Souza & Rabbi David Wolpe


Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam  by Michel Onfray
put on the shelf, boring.

To Be Read - Watched

On Order

To Be Ordered

Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman

Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism by Michelle Goldberg

The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount by Greshom Gorenberg

Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan Hacoby

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay

Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects by Bertrand Russell

God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory by Niall Shanks

Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith (Skeptic's Bookshelf)

The Four Major Cults: Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, Seventh-day Adventism by Anthony A. Hoekema


Note that these people can be searched on Google Videos, etc.

My Great Men Idea

When you read books about the great men in history it's common that in addition to having great ideas they also had very bad ideas.  As I write this the name just below is Charles Darwin who had great ideas (natural selection, sexual selection) and not so great ideas (racism & eugenics).  The same can be said for many people who's name is familiar to everyday people on the street.

On topic for this web page are the names of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris.  Although I've bought and read all of Sam's books and in addition read his on line blog, for a number of years I've been emailing him to complain about his view of Muslims as the root cause of many of our problems.  Recently I've learned that Christopher Hitchens was part of the Plan for a New American Century (PNAC) group and has a book A Long, Short War where he is in agreement with the PNAC that we should go to war with Iraq in 2003.  He had a number of what we now know were wrong ideas about Iraq, WMDs, etc.  But, even if his beliefs about those things were true, I still don't see how that justified going to war.

Dying To Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (2005) by Robert A. Pape - He makes a good case that suicide terrorists have a strategic goal of getting an invading army to withdraw.  The invading army is from a democracy (there is no point in trying to change the mind of a dictator) and the terrorists have a religion that's different from the invading military.
It's very clear that the religion of the terrorists is a secondary factor.  The primary factor is that they are being invaded.  In the case of the 9/11 attack the invasion factor is about 20 times stronger than the religion factor.

Charles Darwin (Wiki: Charles Darwin, bibliography)

Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams: Parrots, the universe and everything

Excellent funny talk about evolution.

James Carroll (Web Page)

Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews -- A History" - both a book (Apr 2001, i.e. pre-9/11) & a movie (Sep 2008).

He's a former Catholic priest and now writer.  The book is about how the cross got to be a religious symbol.  On 28 October 312 it turns out that a guy called Constantine (Wiki)  fought a battle (Wiki: Battle of the Milvian Bridge).  Just prior to the battle he had a religious vision that told him to "delineate the heavenly sign on the shields of his soldiers" and it looked like the sword (Wiki) they were using at the time, i.e. looks like a cross when held vertically with the pointed end down.  Prior to that time the cross was not a symbol of Christianity.  He became the first Christian emperor of Rome.  Also prior to that time there was no mention of the Jews as killers of Jesus.  So this is a point in history when Christianity adopts the sword as their symbol (Christian Soldiers) and the tensions between the Abrahamic religions increases.

After he was a Catholic priest he learned about the pact between the Vatican and Hitler saying it was OK for Hitler to kill Jews but they would protect those who became Catholic.  But in the case of Edith Stein (Wiki) that didn't work out.  This Jewish woman living in Poland converted to become a Catholic nun.  She saw what was going on in Poland and wrote a letter to the Pope expressing her concern that the church was not speaking out about the pursecution of the Jews (which was delivered but ignored).  She was killed by the Nazis in 1938.  The Pope made her a saint, but neglected to mention her letter which was released around 2007.

There's also some information about Ted Haggard (Wiki: New Life Church) recruiting Evangelical Christians at the AF Academy (Wiki: Religious Atmosphere).  This resulted in a Congressional investigation and law suits.  Carroll's father was in the Air Force.

In the movie there's video clips of George W. Busch (Wiki) making it clear that he saw the wars he started as religious.

At the beginning of this video the interviewer says "There are a number of prominent authors who argue that religion is probably more than anything else the cause of violence in the world.  And they point to a lot of examples and say its time to be done with religion it's just too harmful.
On his web page video he mentions that Europe (which is non religious, i.e. empty churches) has done away with the death penalty and is for peace.  The believers in any of the monotheism depend on a kind of radical ignorance of what the experience of those other people is.  So that those other people can be denigrated, charactured and dismissed.  The notion that outside the church there is no salvation is absurd to me.  A mainstream problem is that Christianity has superseded Judaism. 

Religious violence -
Christianity and violence -
Just War (aka: Holy War) -
Religious war Includes chapters for Christianity, Islam & Judaism, i.e. the Abrahamic religions (Wiki), but not Hinduism (Wiki) or Buddhism (wiki).

Michael Shermer (Wiki)

TED Talks:
Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deception - Type I & Type II errors:  Is the noise in the grass the wind or a tiger?
Michael Shermer on strange beliefs
Authors@Google: Michael Shermer -
Skeptic magazine
Michael Shermer Tests Acupuncture
How to Bend a Spoon with Your Mind
Shermer on Larry King Live with the UFOlogists

Jeremy Rifken (Wiki)

The Empathic Civilisation - minute lecture - 11 minute animated version
Mentiones the formation of religion.

 Tan Le (Wiki)

TED Talk - Tan Le: A headset that reads your brainwaves
emotiv - sells the headset

 Vilayanur Ramachandran (Wiki) (UCSD)

"Mirror Neurons" were mentioned by Jeremy Rifken in the Empathic Civilisation talk.
VS Ramachandran on your mind - 23 min video 2007
VS Ramachandran: The neurons that shaped civilization - 8 minute video about motor control and touch neurons: "Gandhi neurons or empathy neurons"
Chralie Rose interview - July 14, 2009 29 min video "Mirror Neurons" starting at 12 min
5 BBC Audio Lectures -
the Temporal Lobes and God - Part 1 -
the Temporal Lobes and God - Part 2 -
Religious Faith Morality & Epistemological Absurdities - Sam Harris, Ramachandran, Dawkins - Right hemisphere believes in God, BUT left hemisphere does not.

Christopher deCharms

TED Talk: Looks inside the brain in real time
patent application 10/628,875 Methods for measurement and analysis of brain activity, 600/410 

Srikumar S. Rao

Arbejdsglæde Live! 2009 - be radiantly alive many times each day

George Carlin (Wiki)

George progressed from just a comic, to a combined jester and philosopher and finally jester, philosopher and poet. 
Each year George refined and expanded his routine, so in my opinion the newer ones are more interesting.
2008 George Carlin: It's Bad For Ya
2007 George Carlin - Life Is Worth Losing
2006 George Carlin - Jammin' in New York
2005 George Carlin - Doin' It Again
2004 George Carlin - Complaints and Grievances
2003 George Carlin - You Are All Diseased
2003 George Carlin - Back in Town

Penn Jillette (Wiki)

Penn & Teller: Bullshit! - longest running show on Showtime where they debunk Bullshit ideas in a way that they will not get sued (like happened to James Randy when he debunked Uri Geller (Wiki))
Penn Says video blog on Crackle

James Randy (Wiki)

James Randi Educational Foundation - win $1,000,000 if you can do anything paranormal.
TED Talks - James Randi's fiery takedown of psychic fraud Apr 2010 - takes a full bottle of sleeping pills at the start of his talk
Authors@Google: James Randi

Bill Maher (Wiki)

The Four Horsemen

Google Video - 4 Horsemen Dawkins web page - I've been watching many hours of YouTube on my home theather system.

Richard Dawkins - 

Coined the word "Meme".
TED - Proflie -
Richard Dawkins on our "queer" universe
Richard Dawkins on militant atheism
"In my view, not only is science corrosive to religion, religion is corrosive to science."
"To put it bluntly, American political opportunities are heavily loaded against those who are simultaneously intelligent and honest."

Richard Dawkins: Growing up in the universe
Wall Street Journal - Where does evolution leave God? - "We commissioned Karen Armstrong and Richard Dawkins to respond independently to the question "Where does evolution leave God?" Neither knew what the other would say. Here are the results." - Richard's related page -

Daniel Dennett -

Home Page at Tufts University
Philosophy professor, interested in how the mind works, words, memes, reverse engineering religion
TED Talks - Profile
Dan Dennett's response to Rick Warren - Rick Warren on a life of purpose
Dan Dennett on our consciousness
Dan Dennett on dangerous memes
Dan Dennett: Cute, sexy, sweet, funny - new idea about what makes things funny (brain reward for debugging)

Sam Harris -
Has had profound life changing experience which usually is attributed to religion, but Sam sees it as neurological so is studying that area.  His book The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (wiki) was started the day after 9/11.
Ted Talks - Profile
  Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions (March 2010)
Religious Faith Morality & Epistemological Absurdities 10 min 2007
Sam Harris on the "dangers" of "atheism" 2007

Christopher Hitchens - Wiki: author

Authors@Google: Christopher Hitchens - recommends the appendix of The God Delusion as well as Free Inquiry and Skeptical Inquirer magazines.

I've spent half a dozen years reading about why we attacked Iraq in 2003.  All the reasons given be Bush43 were a lie, i.e. there were not WMDs and no yellow cake and no centrifuge tubes for a uranium refinery, etc.  I then discovered the neo conservative group Plan for a New American Century (PNAC) and that their members were in many of the key positions in the Bush43 administration.  The next question is why did the PNAC have the ideas they did.

It turns out that Christopher Hitchens was part of the neocon movement and was all for the 2003 invasion.
A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq 2003 - a collection of articles written for Slate where Hitchens is clearly a neocon.
This may explain why Sam Harris thinks Muslims are the real problem rather than U.S. treatment of them.

 A.J. Jacobs

 TED Talk: A.J. Jacobs' year of living biblically

June Cohen

Her TED reading list:

"1/9: Denialism, by Michael Specter @specterm. How fear of science is preventing progress. Powerful. Loved.

2/9: The Art Instinct, by Denis Dutton (of @aldaily) Beautiful prose arguing that art is a human universal.

3/9: Connected, by Nicholas Christakis @connected_book The shocking proof of how deeply we're affected by our friends' friends.

4/9: The Wisdom of Whores, by @ElizabethPisani How POORLY we spend billions of $ trying to prevent AIDS

5/9: I Am an Emotional Creature, by Eve Ensler. Embrace your inner girl!

6/9: Whole Earth Discipline, by Stewart Brand. Environmentalism reconsidered, for the realities of a new era. Or: Why nuclear power, GM foods & squatter cities are green.

7/9: No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale, by George Whitesides. Tiny, lovely things in image & prose

8/9: This Will Change Everything, edited by John Brockman @edge. Short, sharp essays by who's who of TED world. I think one could safely call this "brain candy."

9/9: Fair Game, by Valerie Plame Wilson, the 'outed' CIA agent, who'll talk at TED about the need for nuclear disarmament. I'm fascinated by this woman!"

 Pat Condell
YouTube -
The faith of idiots August 07, 2010
Freedom is my religion August 02, 2010
A god of life July 26, 2010
The enemy within July 18, 2010
The Pope needs a miracle June 27, 2010
No mosque at Ground Zero June 04, 2010
Hello angry atheists May 03, 2010
Vote small, think big (Choices) April 24, 2010
What I know about Islam April 18, 2010
Is Satan a Catholic? March 27, 2010
The crooked judges of Amsterdam February 05, 2010
Thank God for Andy Choudary January 14, 2010
Aggressive atheism November 28, 2009
Wake up, America October 22, 2009
The arrogance of clergy October 02, 2009
Apologists for evil July 23, 2009
Ban the burka June 28, 2009
Children of a stupid god May 26, 2009
Islamist dickhead March 24, 2009
Free speech is sacred March 17, 2009
A word about the soldiers March 12, 2009
Freedom go to hell February 13, 2009
Shame on The Netherlands January 25, 2009
The water of life (the meaning of religion for some people) December 23, 2008
Godless and free October 31, 2008
Stop sharia law in Britain October 06, 2008
Welcome to Saudi Britain (pulled & reinstated on YouTube) September 30, 2008
Islam's war on freedom August 31, 2008
Take your god and shove him August 21, 2008
The tyranny of scripture (creation museums) August 07, 2008
Islam is not a victim July 20, 2008
secular world is a sane world June 27, 2008
God is not enough May 23, 2008
The curse of faith April 25, 2008
The religion of fear March 31, 2008
Appeasing Islam March 08, 2008
Take a cruise, Tom (Scientology) February 22, 2008
Sharia fiasco February 10, 2008
God the psycho February 02, 2008
O dhimmi Canada January 19, 2008
Hook, line and rapture (Pat Robinson) January 08, 2008
Partying with Baby Jesus December 24, 2007
Pimping for Jesus (US election) December 18, 2007
Laugh at Sudan (naming teddy bears) December 03, 2007
Why debate dogma? November 27, 2007
A word to Islamofascists (Muslim Council of Britain) November 14, 2007
Was Jesus gay? November 02, 2007
What's good about religion? October 23, 2007
More demands from Islam ctober 09, 2007
Hello angry Christians September 25, 2007
Video response to Osama September 11, 2007
Unholy scripture (going to church on Sunday is blasphemy) August 31, 2007
Islam in Europe August 17, 2007
God bless atheism August 03, 2007
Why does faith deserve respect? July 19, 2007
Politics and religion July 10, 2007
What about the Jews? June 29, 2007
The myth of Islamophobia June 21, 2007
Origin of the species (Creation Museum) June 13, 2007
Catholic morality June 04, 2007
Miracles and morals ay 29, 2007
Am I a racist? May 20, 2007
Why are we friends with Saudi Arabia? May 14, 2007
United States of Jesus May 03, 2007
In Jesus' name April 25, 2007
Religion in the UK April 17, 2007
Absolute certainty April 13, 2007
Happy Easter April 05, 2007
What do I believe? March 28, 2007
The trouble with Islam March 16, 2007
What have I got against religion? March 04, 2007
Hello America February 18, 2007
The Blasphemy Challenge February 08, 2007

Steven Pinker

Authors@Google: Steven Pinker a lesson for George Carlin on dirty words and how/why they are used.

Eva Vertes

Eva Vertes looks to the future of medicine 2005 - cancer might be a curing process, mentiones antiangiogenic foods

William Li

William Li: Can we eat to starve cancer? 2010 - list of antiangiogenic foods
Green Tea Red Grapes
Red Whine
Bok choy
Sea Cucumber
Raspberries Kale
Soy beans
Maitake mushroom
Olive oil
Grape seed oil
Dark chocloate

 Kary Mullis (Wiki)

Kary Mullis won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing a way to copy a strand of DNA.
TED Talk: Kary Mullis celebrates the experiment - filmed 2002 posted 2009
the science behind global warming may be flawed (based on the 2002 technical papers)
Science magazine:
Evidence for Large Decadal Variability in the Tropical Mean Radiative Energy Budget 1 February 2002
Evidence for Strengthening of the Tropical General Circulation in the 1990s 1 February 2002
Reexamination of the Observed Decadal Variability of the Earth Radiation Budget Using Altitude-Corrected ERBE/ERBS Nonscanner WFOV Data - JofClimate Vol 19 pg 4028 1 Dec 2005. the science behind global warming is OK (i.e. paper corrected 3 years later).

Douglas Adams: Parrots, the universe and everything -

Anthony Atala on growing new organs - Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

Alan Russell on regenerating our bodies -
This makes clear the Ponzi scheme (Wiki) aspect of theU.S. Social Security system.
This was before I learned about Modern Monetary Theory (Wiki: MMT).  All US government spending is funded by a vote of Congress and is funded by neither income nor payroll taxes.

Clifford Stoll - includes Chinese Spouting Bowls

Thomas Friedman - home page, at PBS Tom's Journal, Wiki,

Longitudes and Attitudes - a collection of NY Times articles he wrote just prior to 9/11 and just after.
video with Bill Maher & Richard Dawkins - "...these young men are raised with the view . . . Islam sees itself as the most perfect expression of God's monotheistic message.  Putting it into computer terms, it sees itself as God 3.0.  It sees Christianity as God 2.0.  It sees Judaism as God 1.0 and Hinduism as God 1.0.  And I think part of the dissonance Bill, when they come here or in Europe, is that in their identity they have the most perfect system but in real life their countries are economically behind, in terms of education behind and there's a real dissonance "If I've got the most perfect operating system why am I behind?".  I think that produces a lot of rage too. 

Janeane Garofalo- Wiki

Feel This Book: An Essential Guide to Self-Empowerment, Spiritual Supremacy, and Sexual Satisfaction

Bob Hazen (Wiki) -

Early work on making organic chemicals was based on the idea that it happened at the surface of the Earth where various gases were mixed and zapped by lightening.  I think NASA generated some organics that way in the 1970s.  But Bob's idea is that it happened deep in the ocean where their are extreamly hot (over a thousand degrees) water jets that interact with the surrounding stuff in the ocean and does not boil because of the deepth. 
The Origins of Life -
From the Big Bang to Broadway: How Things Evolve

Eric Hoffer (Wiki)

The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

Lawrence Wright (Wiki)

Book: The Looming Tower: Al-Queda and the Road to 9/11
Movie: The Siege (IMDB)

Brian Greene (Wiki)

The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory

Have Fun

Colbert Nation
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Bill Maher


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page created 19 Nov 2009.