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5 Books That Really Will Expand Your Mind!

By John Clarke

Expand Your Mind!

No, this won’t be another edgy list of all the books every­one thinks are really “far out”, like
The Elec­tric Kool-aid Acid Test, Food of the Gods or The Doors of Per­cep­tion. This will be a list of incred­ible books that will force you to think about your place in the uni­verse from a totally rational per­spect­ive, instead of relying on half-baked the­or­ies thought up by crazy bearded stoners.

I promise you that if you read all of these books on this list, not only will will feel a renewed sense of wonder at the world around you & uni­verse at large, but you’ll also come away from it with a sound under­stand­ing of the sci­entific method and a per­fectly tuned bull­shit detector neces­sary to wade through the heaps of crap spouted by lesser mortals.

Click on any of the pic­tures to see the book on Amazon. Here goes, in no par­tic­u­lar order:

Antimatter

Antimatter

Author: Frank Close

With the recent release of the Angels & Demons film, this book is essen­tial reading, and weigh­ing in at less than 150 small pages with big text, there really is no excuse. If you’ve ever wondered any­thing between “What the hell is anti­mat­ter?” and “I wonder if I can build an anti­mat­ter super­weapon to take over the world?”, then this is the book for you.

What it’s about: This book gives a detailed, yet under­stand­able history of particle physics and sep­ar­ates anti­mat­ter facts from anti­mat­ter fiction.

Why it will expand your mind: Humans have evolved to cope with things of average size, in average tem­per­at­ures for an average length of time. This book forces you to think small — not down to the size of cells, or even the simplest bio­lo­gical molecules, but to atoms them­selves and beyond. Because we’ve not evolved to deal with things on such a small scale, particle physics is almost an alien concept. Thank­fully, this book is written with clarity in mind, peppered with plenty of helpful dia­grams and examples.

The Selfish Gene

The Selfish Gene

Author: Richard Dawkins

Heard about this crazy, heretical “Evol­u­tion” busi­ness? This book is chock full of solid evid­ence, impec­cable logic and bril­liant think­ing that will leave you with no doubt about evolution’s roll in everything you can see around you. Forget reli­gion —  this is the book with all the answers, and the evid­ence to back them up.

What it’s about: This is the book Charles Darwin would have written if he knew what we know now. Dawkins fills us in on the details of modern evol­u­tion­ary theory from a gene’s-eye view of the world.

Why it will expand your mind: Evol­u­tion explains everything. Everything! If aliens exist, they too would have evolved. This process is so uni­ver­sal, it provides a thread on which to hang every other fact we’ve ever learned, uniting them all with one common explan­a­tion. A solid under­stand­ing also allows you to easily explain abso­lutely any­thing you might encounter.

If this is your first foray into evol­u­tion­ary biology, you might like to start with River Out Of Eden. Your brain won’t be torn asunder with logic and reason, but you’ll def­in­itely get a glimpse of the bigger picture. If you’ve done any biology-related higher edu­ca­tion, then I’ll also suggest The Exten­ded Phen­o­type, argu­ably Dawkins’ most import­ant work, after you’ve fin­ished The Selfish Gene.

Bad Science

Bad Science

Author: Ben Gol­dacre

Bad Science is your defence against a world of horse crap where every­one is trying to rip you off. Ben Gol­dacre also blogs at Bad​Science​.net and writes a column with the same name for The Guard­ian. You can read an entire chapter of this book here.

What it’s about: Con­fused about MMR jabs? Homoe­opathy? Crystal healing? Fish oil? Then read this book.

Why it will expand your mind: You’ll learn the sim­pli­city of the sci­entific method and why it’s so import­ant to the world we live in. It will teach you to think for your­self and apply a healthy dose of scep­ti­cism to the next dose of health advice you might hear about from someone trying to sell you some­thing. Not par­tic­u­larly mind expand­ing on its own, but it has a synergy with all the other books in this list.

The God Delusion

The God Delusion

Author: Richard Dawkins

If you’ve heard of Richard Dawkins, this book is prob­ably why, having already sold over 1.5 million copies. Even if you’re reli­gious, you need to read it, because you should always hear the other side’s argu­ment — if some­thing chal­lenges your beliefs, and your pos­i­tion remains the same, then your beliefs can only be strengthened.

What it’s about: While it’s not pos­sible to unequi­voc­ally prove that God doesn’t exist, this book presents several cast iron argu­ments why all reli­gions are (prob­ably) wrong, the logical fal­la­cies at the heart of faith itself, and the evils per­pet­rated in the name of reli­gion every day.

Why it will expand your mind: As hard as it to imagine, the life of an atheist is not one of misery and point­less­ness. The outlook on life presen­ted in this book will encour­age you to enjoy your life as much as pos­sible, look after others and realise exactly where you fit into the uni­verse. Com­bined with the other books in this list, there is no room left for unsup­por­ted spec­u­la­tion — there are rational answers out there to be mar­velled at.

A Brief History Of Time

A Brief History of Time

Author: Steven Hawking

Prob­ably the most famous popular science book of all time, A Brief History Of Time has sold over 10 million copies. Funnily enough though, hardly anyone has actu­ally read it!

What it’s about: While the first book in this list dealt with the min­is­cule, this book deals with the massive. From the Big Bang to black holes, and everything in between, this book covers the hot topics in cos­mo­logy with as much clarity as could be expec­ted. While a little mind-bog­gling at times, per­sever­ing is totally worth it.

Why it will expand your mind: For the same reason as Anti­mat­ter — this book deals with things we haven’t evolved to com­pre­hend.

***

If reading is not your thing, there are plenty of doc­u­ment­ar­ies online about all the topics these worthy tomes cover. Perhaps I’ll make a list of those too one day.

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6 Responses to 5 Books That Really Will Expand Your Mind!

  1. PoisonedV says:

    I expec­ted dmt the spirit molecule, leary books, maybe some other stuff, by the title! But this is just as good. love all of them.

  2. geeza says:

    you say evol­u­tion explains EVERYTHING!!! such a massive leap of faith(pun inten­ded) how i envy your abso­lute certainty,really open mind u got there!! hahahahaha nice one;)

  3. Synchronium says:

    Geeza: I’m not sure if you’re with me or against me. For­tu­nately, there’s a dif­fer­ence between a belief in some­thing and faith. You can believe in some­thing because of the moun­tains of evid­ence in its favour, whereas faith implies belief without evid­ence.

    In my mind, the evid­ence for evol­u­tion is good enough to explain everything.

  4. Evelyn says:

    I’m of a very young age and am looking to expand my mind a bit. I hope that these books will achieve my goal. But reading about evol­u­tion, science and space, it doesn’t have to change your reli­gion. I’m a very reli­gious girl, but it is nice to read about HOW sci­ent­ist think things will turn out. It’s just a nice change, is all.

  5. BIRDS says:

    Evelyn, the reason those sub­jects go hand- in hand, is because a huge part of every reli­gion is explain­ing how the uni­verse works. Reli­gion is leftover from the infancy of our intel­li­gence, and our lack of science. Now that Modern science is in effect, we can under­stand, with tan­gible, phys­ical evid­ence, how things work, without the assump­tion that we should remain ignor­ant and simply accept any God’s word as infal­lible, because he/​it/​omnipresent force.. says so. By the explan­a­tions of the Uni­verse as told by the old test­a­ment, this is what the world looks like. http://​www​.boing​bo​ing​.net/​2​0​0​9​/​1​1​/​1​0​/​h​e​b​r​.​jpg

    And that- we know is wrong.
    God lied?
    Or Humans made it up. You decide.

  6. Martin says:

    I know this thread has long since been dead — can’t help adding my two cents nev­er­the­less …
    @BIRDS: Reli­gion is NOT just “leftover from the infancy of our intel­li­gence, and our lack of science”; Reli­gion is meant to be a remainder of the fact that the most import­ant thing in life is LOVE (which is God :-)), some­thing that science com­pletely forgets about.
    Oh alright, most churches have for­got­ten that as well, but at least it’s in the holy books …

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