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A Natural History of Australia

by Tim M Berra
San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1998. 256 pages.

This beautifully illustrated guide to Australia's geology, flora, and fauna includes not only explanations of the evolution of the continent and its inhabitants, but a natural history of the Great Barrier Reef, discussions of paleoanthropology and Aboriginal culture... even a glossary of Aussie slang! (Berra has also written Evolution and the Myth of Creationism.)

Relatively Speaking

by Eric J. Chaisson
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1990. 254 pages.

Written by an astrophysicist for general readers, Relatively Speaking explains the special and general theories of relativity and what they imply about the origins and structure of the universe. "An authoritative, gracefully written synopsis of modern relativity theory that should be accessible to a wide audience", writes Frank Wilczek.

The Whole Shebang

by Timothy Ferris
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998. 400 pages.

"We live in a changing universe, and few things are changing faster than our conception of it." So begins The Whole Shebang, in which Ferris, the author of Coming of Age in the Milky Way, provides an excellent popular synthesis of the state of the art in cosmology. James Gleick exults, "What luck that the universe has Tim Ferris to report on its condition!"

Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion, and the Appetite for Wonder

by Richard Dawkins
Boston: Mariner Books, 2000. 352 pages.

The author of Climbing Mount Improbable and The Selfish Gene argues, in his characteristically lively prose, that understanding science increases, rather than decreases, the sense of wonder that we feel in contemplating the world. The title alludes to the poem Lamia, in which Keats complained that "cold philosophy" proposes to demystify the world; in contrast, Dawkins insists, through a series of illuminating vignettes and reasoned discussions, that unweaving the rainbow is itself profoundly poetic.

Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

by Martin Gardner
New York: Dover Publications, 1957. 373 pages.

Published originally in 1957 as the revised edition of his In the Name of Science (1952), Martin Gardner's first book on pseudoscience is still as relevant — and as readable — as ever. A chapter is devoted to creationism, of course, but Gardner discusses a wide variety of bizarre pseudoscientific beliefs.

Skeptical Odysseys

edited by Paul Kurtz
Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2001. 430 pages.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of CSICOP — the Committee for Scientific Investigations of Claims of the Paranormal — Paul Kurtz invited 35 prominent skeptics either to provide autobiographical reflections on their skeptical activities or to report on the current state of research on the areas in which they specialize. Contributors include Steve Allen, Martin Gardner, Philip J. Klass, Joe Nickell, Michael Shermer, Victor J. Stenger, and NCSE's very own Eugenie C. Scott.

Prometheus Bedeviled

by Norman Levitt
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999. 416 pages.

In Prometheus Bedeviled, Norman Levitt attempts to "analyze the standing and the prospects of science in a society that is steeped in a democratic ethos, professes to admire science, and expects great things of science, but which, notwithstanding a massive educational system, comprehends science rather poorly," decrying the prospect of "the supplanting of science by a mélange of viewpoints and methods in which populist enthusiasm or even quasi-religious dogma will be anointed with the cultural authority of the 'scientific'." Richard Dawkins describes Levitt as "a new enlightenmen

Skeptics and True Believers

by Chet Raymo
New York: Walker & Company, 1999. 288 pages.

Drawing on his own quest for a rapprochement between science and religion, Chet Raymo, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Stonehill College and a science columnist for the Boston Globe, suggests that religion ought to embrace the findings of science and science ought to acknowledge and nourish the spiritual side of humanity.

The Borderlands of Science

by Michael Shermer
New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. 368 pages.

From the publisher: "As author of the bestselling Why People Believe Weird Things and How We Believe, and Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic magazine, Michael Shermer has emerged as the nation's number one scourge of superstition and bad science. Now, in The Borderlands of Science, he takes us to the place where real science (such as the big bang theory), borderland science (superstring theory), and just plain nonsense (Big Foot) collide with one another. ...

Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESPs, Unicorns, and Other Delusions

by James Randi
Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1988. 342 pages.

Published first in 1982 and still relevant today, Flim-Flam! explores — and debunks — a wide variety of paranormal, occult, and supernatural claims, all in Randi's characteristic buoyant and charming style. Not merely a pleasurable read, the book serves in effect as a practical tutorial in evaluating the claims of pseudoscience.

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