Tag Archives: Literature

Some things for the kids

Well actually for their parents and grandparents. Especially with Christmas on the horizon.

Right where you are now

Right Here You Are Now is a bedtime story for kids. It’s also scientifically accurate, so it’s more than just a bedtime story—it’s an educational adventure. This book will help kids understand geologic time. Seems pretty important to me.

This is how Tracy Reva describes the book in her review:

“While this book contains a lot of information it’s presented in a very appealing manner that will make children want to read it. The pages are bright and colorful, and the illustrations make children wonder what comes next. The facts are presented in a manner that encourages the curiosity of young readers and the passages of reading material are short ones. The book itself is 26 pages and it packs a lot of interesting facts into each and every page. I am so impressed with it I plan to buy a couple of copies to use as presents for my grandson, niece and nephews.”

See also: review by review by Lavanya Karthik

The book will be launched in the UK on 25 September.

Register here to be informed when the book is released and can be purchased.

Thanks to The Dispersal of Darwin

Charlie and the kiwi

Charlie and Kiwi: An Evolutionary Adventure is another book aimed at young children (4 – 8 yrs). And it has a local theme which will appeal.

It was supported by a grant from the US National Science Foundation, so again it will be scientifically accurate. It uses Charles Darwin to take the reader on a journal through time and through the important scientific principle of evolution.

Published last June it is available now.

Again thanks to The Dispersal of Darwin

Skeptics dictionary for kids

The Skeptic’s Dictionary for Kids is a web site – and obviously for the older kids. great for research, school projects and just searching.

This was set up in July and is being continually added to. The web page also has some interesting links which will be useful for kids interested in science.

And links to some kid’s sciency books:

Thanks to Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer.

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The implausibility of reality

Seems to describe my state of mind at the moment. I am trying to deal with a computer trashed by a virus. So something short and sweet to go on with.

I am currently reading Antonio Damasio‘s Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain. Chapter two starts with this:

Mark Twain thought the big difference between fiction and reality was that fiction had to be believable. Reality could afford to be implausible, but fiction could not.”

I like it.

While we often say facts are strange than fiction I think this quote also encompasses the idea that reality is counter-intuitive. Discovering the truth about reality doesn’t come easily because we have evolved to make subjective decisions which are often not correct, although they may have been adaptive.

It took humanity thousands of years to develop procedures which give us a reliable picture of reality. These methods are most obviously embodied in modern science. And these methods include requirements of evidence and checking against reality.

So, fiction has to be believable because there is no way of checking the story. But scientific knowledge can be intuitively implausible – because we can check against reality. Its what confirms our ideas for us – and keeps us honest.

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This Hell would be useful!

Book Review: The Infernova by S. A. Alenthony

Price: US$11.21
Paperback: 220 pages
Publisher: Blackburnian Press (August 11, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981967892
ISBN-13: 978-0981967899


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This book is a real gem. Anyone with a science or sceptical bent will love it. Bloggers and commenters on blogs and other internet fora will especially appreciate it.

The book is based on Dante’s Inferno. But it is a secular reinvention. In this new hell we get a chance to choose the villains – and their punishment.

Continue reading

Judging the internet – and books

Normally I enjoy getting a new book. A chance to leaf through for a general impression and then get stuck into reading.

But I have one that I must read, and I keep putting off. For some reason it doesn’t appeal. Now, after reading the Telegraph article, Internet rules and laws: the top 10, from Godwin to Poe, I know why.

The article refers to DeMyer’s Second Law: “Anyone who posts an argument on the internet which is largely quotations can be very safely ignored, and is deemed to have lost the argument before it has begun.”

quote-mining-fundie-quote-mining-fallacy-demotivational-poster-1211866892Obviously very relevant for creationists who love to go in for quote mining.

But that is what is wrong with the book. Leafing through one just gets an impression of huge numbers of quotes.

For fun (and to postpone the actual reading) I scanned one chapter and did word counts. This chapter had only 20% of material actually written by the author. The rest were quotes. Talk about letting others do the heavy lifting!

So I am not impressed. But I might do more of this in the future. When I need to judge a book – scan a chapter and determine the proportion of quoted material.

It’s worth reading this article on internet rules. So much of it rings true. Something I must watch, though, is my tendency to use exclamations. The Law of Exclamation says: “The more exclamation points used in an email (or other posting), the more likely it is a complete lie. This is also true for excessive capital letters.”

Thanks to Pharyngula (I didn’t know we had a rule book!) for the link.


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