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The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe

How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake
Narrated by: Steven Novella
Length: 15 hrs and 55 mins
5 out of 5 stars (40 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 37.16
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Publisher's Summary

Don't Panic! with The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe

An all-encompassing guide to skeptical thinking from podcast host and academic neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine Steven Novella and his SGU co-hosts, which Richard Wiseman calls "the perfect primer for anyone who wants to separate fact from fiction."

It is intimidating to realize that we live in a world overflowing with misinformation, bias, myths, deception, and flawed knowledge. There really are no ultimate authority figures - no one has the secret, and there is no place to look up the definitive answers to our questions (not even Google). 

Luckily, The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is your map through this maze of modern life. Here Dr. Steven Novella - along with Bob Novella, Cara Santa Maria, Jay Novella, and Evan Bernstein - will explain the tenets of skeptical thinking and debunk some of the biggest scientific myths, fallacies, and conspiracy theories - from anti-vaccines to homeopathy, UFO sightings to N-rays. You'll learn the difference between science and pseudoscience, essential critical thinking skills, ways to discuss conspiracy theories with that crazy co-worker of yours, and how to combat sloppy reasoning, bad arguments, and superstitious thinking. 

So are you ready to join them on an epic scientific quest, one that has taken us from huddling in dark caves to setting foot on the moon? (Yes, we really did that.) Don't Panic! with The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, we can do this together. 

"Thorough, informative, and enlightening, The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe inoculates you against the frailties and shortcomings of human cognition. If this book does not become required reading for us all, we may well see modern civilization unravel before our eyes." (Neil deGrasse Tyson)

"In this age of real and fake information, your ability to reason, to think in scientifically skeptical fashion, is the most important skill you can have. Read The Skeptics' Guide Universe; get better at reasoning. And if this claim about the importance of reason is wrong, The Skeptics' Guide will help you figure that out, too." (Bill Nye)

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2018 Steven Novella, Bob Novella, Cara Santa Maria, Jay Novella, Evan Bernstein (P)2018 Hachette Audio

What the critics say

"A terrific book for anyone who wants a better understanding about the world around them and an essential guide to navigating modern life. The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe will help readers recognize pitfalls in reasoning, combat bad arguments and avoid superstitious thinking." (Simon Singh, skeptic & author of Fermat's Enigma)

"If everyone in the world were to read this book, we might just arrest humankind's depressing slide into truthlessness. Someone should put the Skeptics' Guide on the vaccination schedule." (Tim Minchin) 

"Empowering and illuminating, this thinker's paradise is an antidote to spreading anti-scientific sentiments. Readers will return to its ideas again and again." (Publisher's Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Really enjoyed it.

This was a very good listen for anybody, not just fellow skeptics. Many people with psuedo-scientific beliefs would be better off after listening to this book. Highly recommended!

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Excellent! Entertaining and educational.

I throughly enjoyed this book. I have been listening to the podcast for about a year, and I found the explanation of the concepts regularly referred to on the show very helpful, and I enjoyed learning more about the history of the podcast and the skeptics. I am a skeptic by nature, and this book gives me the tools sharpen my approach and the terminology to use when discussing "fake news" and psuedo science.

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Great reference guide for the Skeptical movement.

Of course , you should seek independent verification and not trust anecdotes or testimonials, as the eye-opening experience I had listening to this book was neither double blinded nor placebo-controlled.

Similarly, my claim that this is the best book of its kind since Carl Sagan's "The Demon Haunted World" has not been the subject of scrupulous peer review.

The thrill I got from having so much information in one place is not of any clinical significance, as all psychological benefits I gained were non-specific and subject to the limitations of self-reporting.

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Good, but redundant if you read a lot

The "guide" part is very apt, but they could even call this a reference guide.

I liked it, and it was very well done, but I have an engineering background, read a lot, etc, so I found it hard to extract anything novel. I have a friend who has both similar reading habits as me and listens to the SGU religiously, but after questioning me about the book also concluded that he too wouldn't get anything new out of the book (so he bought the book but won't listen to it.)

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Most important book ive ever read.

If everyone in the world read/listened to this book I really believe many many problems could be solved. This is by far the best book Ive ever consumed and I look forward to listened to the podcast every week for as long as it exists. Ive been listened to the podcast every week since 2014 and it has truely changed my life for the better in pretty much every way you could imagine. I am so thankful for the SGU.

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  • Ken
  • 2018-10-11

Best audio book Ever!

This book should be core content for medical students. I especially liked chapter 10, 11 and 12.

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  • ben
  • 2018-10-03

Amazing, I will buy the physical book aswell

I've been an SGU listener from the first podcast year, it was my first podcast and haven't missed an episode. I was excited to here of the book coming. great book! thank you

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  • Daniel Sean Osborne
  • 2018-10-04

Demon Haunted World 2.0

There’s A LOT of meat in this book.

It serves as a GREAT introduction to scientific skepticism and critical thinking that we need now more than ever in this age where we retreat to tribalism and carelessly employ sloppy thinking leaving no room for conversation, compromise, or thoughtful and sincere dialogue. This book is a primer to help the reader avoid overthrowing reason and common sense with ideology and fear.

We, as a culture, are in desperate need of a course correction of the mind. This book is a great start to understand how the mind works and how it synthesizes and generates truths, deceives itself and fortifies falsehoods. We have always lived in a world full of fake, but only recently has it been normalized and expected.

Here is a great start to help maneuver the currents of this new world of data inundation. It also serves as a foundation on how to spot bullshit and refrain from retreating to our cultural bubbles. It's a great introduction on how to open your mind and evaluate new information based on evidence and merit rather than seeking out information that conforms to your sacred beliefs.

There is a way out this. Using our brain lazily got us in this mess. Perhaps employing some critical thinking and using our brain skillfully will get us out.

Should be mandatory reading for all high schoolers.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Farren Joy
  • 2018-10-07

You are or are not Alone

Well done book. Some common knowledge already understood by those with a scientific background and some less common knowledge. Regardless of your interests or beliefs it’s hard to refute the challenge to be just a bit more skeptical. I didn’t agree with 100% of the Authors points of view (close but not 100%) but then again they wouldn’t necessarily want me to. The book deals with scientific skepticism which makes it easier to establish some ground rules. Works very well as audiobook.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Isil Arican
  • 2018-11-14

A comprehensive guide for a scientific skeptic

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

Steve and SGU team did a great job of compiling the basic building blocks of scientific skepticism and critical thinking. The book starts with the introduction to scientific skepticism and why it is important, continues to explore the major factors that contribute and distort our understanding of the world, major reasoning and cognitive faults we all make/have, the science/pseudoscience demarcation problem. Then it goes on to give some real-world examples to allow the reader to practice what they learned about critical thinking skills in the earlier chapters. It talks about historical events that claimed to be "extraordinary" and turned out to be not so, some existing pseudoscience out there and why those claims do not hold water and personal experiences of the contributors in the domain of scientific skepticism and critical thinking.
In the last section, there is a very comprehensive reference list. The book has ALL the major references it mentions along the chapters in one place and in great detail, and even that is alone is such a great resource.

The language of the book is very clear, easy to read & understand with lots of examples. It is very well organized the earlier chapters prepare the reader for the later ones that provide more examples.

Overall this is a great book to introduce a person to critical thinking & scientific skepticism. it explains why this is an important topic, why people should be mindful of how they reach to conclusions, make decisions, even how they argue with each other and how to try to convince others.

For me, this will be a great comprehensive resource to use when I need to explain someone a basic concept with great examples. I did not learn anything new by reading it since I knew pretty much every concept described in the book due to immersing myself into the literature of scientific skepticism and critical thinking in the past years, but despite that, I loved to book for its comprehensiveness, clarity and being an overall resource for every fundamental concept in scientific skepticism.

Actually, let me re-phrase myself: "I did not learn any new information from the book, but as usual I learned a lot on how to communicate and articulate these things from Steve and his narration style, as usual. He is such a great communicator, an aspiration for all of us."

I will keep this book as a fundamental resource in my library and definitely can see myself gifting to many people in the future. What a great tool to help us to spread the news!

Thank you SGU team, it has been a pleasure to read & listen this!

#Skepticism #CriticalThinking #Pseudoscience #Science #Reason #tagsgiving #sweepstakes

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Ken
  • 2018-10-04

Must Read

This should be assigned to every student in the country, critical thinking is more important now than ever.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Jared
  • 2018-11-07

An excellent companion to the podcast.

It's hard to give this book the positive review it deserves without making it sound like a self-help book. It's really not written like one. But it's not about the science of bigfoot or aliens either. It is written instead as a toolkit and guidebook on how to avoid the pitfalls that lurk in our every-day modes of thinking. It details the what, how, and why of minds led astray from disciplined thought and the strongest possible basis in reality. And it encourages us to find those errors in the arguments we make to ourselves, as well as those we share with or hear from others. So to the degree that they avoid pendantry, the authors have, if by accident, created a great self-help book, hidden in a book about understanding science and the human mind.

Novella's reading was about 10 percent slower than the usual conversational tone he uses in his podcast, but that was easy to correct for with the Audible app. As a long-time SGU listener, I found the chapters from the Rogues and the interview at the end of the audiobook especially enjoyable.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Travis Peterson
  • 2018-10-04

An instant classic for critical thinking

The SGU crew do the impossible. They have delivered a book in the spirit of The Demon Haunted World, for the modern day. Not only explaining why scientific skepticism is important, but doing it in a fun and engaging way.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Kobito
  • 2018-11-17

Fantastic!

Love the SGU, love this book. Great for learning to be a better skeptic and scientifically literate whether you are or aren’t already. Highly recommend for everyone. Scientific literacy is in my opinion one of the most important educations we can have. So many people think they are scientifically literate but are not, this book will definitely help, if people are willing to learn. A fantastic book!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • BP
  • 2018-11-03

Full of fascinating stories and held my attention.

Great book! Dr. Novella is one of those rational thinkers of the highest level. I'll probably listen to again sometime.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-10-12

Mandatory Listening

The only thing that could make this amazing book better is having it performed by Dr. Steven Novella. What took you so long to write a book, Doc?

If I could snap my fingers and make one book mandatory reading/listening for every citizen of Earth, it would be this book.

How many books tell you what to think? Millions. How many teach you how to think? Very few, and, in my opinion, this is the best!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • karacurly
  • 2018-10-10

Amazing book!!!!!

I couldn't stop listening to this book. I definitely learned new things and will be rereading it again a few times. Hope there will be more like it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful