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Publisher's Summary

Who is the "Devil"? And what is he due? The devil is anyone who disagrees with you. And what he is due is the right to speak his mind. He must have this for your own safety's sake, because his freedom is inextricably tied to your own. If he can be censored, why shouldn't you be censored? If we put barriers up to silence "unpleasant" ideas, what's to stop the silencing of any discussion? This book is a full-throated defense of free speech and open inquiry in politics, science, and culture by the New York Times best-selling author and skeptic Michael Shermer. The new collection of essays and articles takes the devil by the horns by tackling five key themes: free thought and free speech, politics and society, scientific humanism, religion, and the ideas of controversial intellectuals. For our own sake, we must give the devil his due.

©2020 Michael Shermer (P)2020 Michael Shermer

What the critics say

"Michael Shermer is our most fearless explorer of alternative, crackpot, and dangerous ideas, and at the same time one of our most powerful voices for science, sanity, and humane values. In this engrossing collection, Shermer shows why these missions are consistent: it’s the searchlight of reason that best exposes errors and evil." (Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress)

"As always, Michael Shermer is hard-hitting, thought-provoking, and brilliant. The fascinating essays in this wide-ranging book will make you think - and then rethink." (Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations)

"Michael Shermer is the voice of reason, and this is a book of his best essays - the ones we most need to read to understand the madness of our time and to imagine a more reasonable future. The range of questions Shermer addresses and the breadth of his knowledge make this book a delight to read." (Jonathan Haidt, New York University, author of The Righteous Mind, co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind)

What listeners say about Giving the Devil His Due

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    4 out of 5 stars

Mixed Bag

Generally interesting and thought provoking content but the narration is underwhelming and the editing is unbelievably sloppy. At one point there is a very long pause and then, “Uh... let me try that again.” Shameful.

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This book is well recorded!

I held off buying this book due to the many reviews of how poorly this book was recorded. There are short pauses where I assume the throat clearing and coughing used to be, but in my mind the whole book seemed to be edited well, and I really enjoyed having the author read his own material.

Onto that material. The title led me to believe that this would be a book in the vein of God is not Good or the God Delusion but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Devil is just opposing ideas, and that for free speech to truly be free, we must be willing to listen honestly to opposing viewpoints.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Worldly debates = rationality with peers

Great work of non-stop debunking and rationality that can be applied at home or at work in everyday.

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  • Private
  • 2020-04-10

Flawed Audio

I'm into chapter three and there are many audio clips that sound like the audio is skipping and jumping ahead a half second.

I attempted re-downloading the book and, and also tried playing though multiple devices, the audio skips seem to be part of the download itself.

If this is fixed someone let me know. one example is chapter 3 about 9min 30sec into the chapter it skips at the word "propaganda"

8 people found this helpful

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  • Cody Cook
  • 2020-04-18

great and insightful

it is no doubt an amazing book however apparently it was not edited and there are many stumbles and starts coughs and other interruptions that were never cut out.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Angy
  • 2020-05-01

Rehashed content...

Rehashed content and bad editing. The majority of this book is stuff that Shermer already has published in other books. If you've not read his stuff before, this is a good entry point. There is some new content but very little.

The editing is annoyingly bad. Words get clipped off and it's quite noticeable as well as frequent. There are also pepperings of enunciation done so poorly that I cannot make out what he's saying even after many repeats of the phrase and at varying playback speeds. Most of the time, context offers no help.

I'll be getting a refund on this one.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-04-29

disappointing

If you can get past the author's unprofessional reading of his own writing, and egregious self-aggrandizing, he discusses several interesting topics of contemporary import.

2 people found this helpful

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  • David A. Wasmer
  • 2020-12-21

Claims not to be Left or Right - is Left

Shermer claims he is not one the right or left of the political divide. He declares that he is a scientist who goes where the evidence leads him. He is either lying to himself or to his readers. He is absolutely a Leftist. He is also not a professorial scientist who is motivated only by the evidence. When recounts his debate with John Lott by launching into ad hominin attacks against John Lott. Shermer's condescends to insult Lott's character before he launches into a long rationalization advocating for gun control. He claims to be reasonable because he does not advocate in favor of breaking down people's front door to confiscate all firearms. Well, isn't he the dandy? Not once does Shermer mention the number of gun murders that are gang-related. He does not talk about the government's prohibition on drugs or how that has created a violent black market. He doesn't discuss the complete failure of government schools. Lastly, and most importantly, he never discusses the epidemic of single mothers or the correlation between feminism and the emasculation of young boys. The best correlation between young boys committing mass murder is the absence of a father. Using Shermer's "common sense" logic, should we ban single mothers? Perhaps we should require single mothers to register with the federal government and undergo parent training? Even though the evidence leads to single mothers as a serious problem, Shermer never goes there because he is an ideological Leftist, not a scientist..

After Shermer's screed advocating for "reasonable" gun control, he begins a new topic by praising and quoting George Lakoff.

Does Shermer assume (or hope) his readers don't know anything about Lakoff? Lakoff is a postmodernist Marxist who wants to control language so that he can control the people. To call Lakoff a propagandist is being too kind. He is a blend of brainwasher and propagandist. Shermer talks about Lakoff's description of the differences between conservative parents and liberal parents. Does Shermer share Lakoff's views? It is implied that he does. Shermer explains that conservative parents believe their children are born bad and require physical violence to turn them into good productive adults. Liberal parents, on the other hand, believe their children are born good and that loving and nurturing parents can make their children better. This is the man who claims to neither be politically right or left, but a pure scientist who is motivated only by the evidence.

I was three-quarters of the way through the book, but I couldn't read another page. Just about the only thing I could agree with Shermer about is that free speech is sacrosanct. But Shermer only spends a few pages arguing effectively for free speech. The rest of the book contains Leftist political talking points with no connection to the subject of the book. What does Shermer's low opinion of Lott have to do with free speech or giving the devil his due?

If you want to read an excellent book on the topic of free speech, I highly recommend, "Kindly Inquisitors," by Jonathan Rauch. Mr. Rauch is left of center and he brings up several political positions from a Leftist perspective. The difference is that Mr. Rauch puts these in the context of free speech. Mr. Rauch explains how free speech expanded civil liberties and the Leftist agenda. Mr. Rauch connects every discussion back to free speech which is the point of his book. Shermer should read Rauch's book. He might learn something about free speech and about how to write a coherent book.

P.S. I am a conservative. I don't agree with most of the positions advocated by either Rauch or Shermer. I gave Rauch's book five stars because it was that good. I am giving Shermer's book one star because it is that bad.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Evan Minter
  • 2020-08-13

No editing?

Why either Mr. Shermer nor his publisher thought not editing the performance was a good idea is beyond me. Near the beginning of the book there is a thirty second pause. I thought something was wrong with my phone at first.

As a whole the book is not bad. Not great, but not bad. It starts off very much in the vein of giving the devil his due but then at about the halfway mark it becomes a selection of essays where Shermer debates different topics.

1 person found this helpful

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  • j. laos
  • 2020-08-08

Cleaning up

5 stars all around, Shermer is a once in a lifetime mind. The problem I had was the editing and cutting wasn’t up to Audible standards. Many time you hear Shermer start sentences over. That type of issue should be nonexistent.

1 person found this helpful

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  • craig cosner
  • 2020-08-02

Edits

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a book that had this many misses in editing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Gonkers
  • 2020-07-23

This book is just a collection of essays

This book has little original content and is very dry. It's a collection of essays that continue to repeat the same tropes over and over. Mr. Shermer repeatedly says that you must fight bad speech with more speech and that you must fight fake news with facts. He says that evil is an adjective, not a noun; you cannot legislate "evil" out of the world. Over and over again... I think I learned about the 1994 UC Berkeley Library confrontation no less than 3 times in the first half of the book. Just listen to the first two chapters to save time. I just wish the author addressed the fact, that you cannot bring facts to an emotional fight. Whenever you attempt to prove someone wrong, they will double down on their position.

Edit: I wish I would have read the reviews before getting this book. I didn't notice any audio issues as of this review so it looks like those were cleaned up.

1 person found this helpful

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  • BigWally
  • 2020-05-28

A great story, HOWEVER

This is another in a long line of great and insightful books by Michael Shermer. I have read or listened to most of his previous books. Shermer reads many of his books. In the past he has done a fairly good job. But with this book he does a TERRIBLE job of reading his own book! After about the first third of the book, he begins making mistakes frequently. He will begin a sentence, stop, restart the sentence over, etc. This is very annoying, and I found myself losing the train of thought. On a number of occasions he restarts a sentence 3-4 times. In several instances he repeats the sentence 4 times and he mutters his annoyance. If he simply made this error on 2-3 times during the reading of the entire book, I could easily forgive him. But, I would estimate that he makes ~50 errors in reading the book. That is why I strongly urge anyone interested in this book to read a physical book. DO NOT BUY THE AUDIBLE VERSION.

It has finally reached the point where Michael Shermer needs to do one of 2 things if he is going to continue to produce audiobook versions of his books: 1. hire a professional reader or 2. hire an audio engineer to edit out Shermer's "flubs" in his reading. I will no longer buy audio versions of his future books.

Michael Shermer is a highly intelligent person who write terrific books from which I always learn a great deal, including this book. But he needs to produce better audio versions of his future books! I think he needs to hire a professional reader.

1 person found this helpful