Bookstore

All books below are Quackonomics Approved. Occasionally I will post a review of one of these books, but that is not something  I will do exclusively. You may find the choices below as contradictory, but thats the way it is. . That is what these books are about and that is what the blog hopes to be – messy, complex,uncertain and inquisitive . (All books link to their amazon page)

Geek Nation: How Indian Science is Taking over the World (2012) by Angela Saini India is going to be an increasingly significant country in the 21st Century (and that’s a very difficult admission to make for someone who comes from Pakistan). Angela Saini provides an account of a magnificently eccentric country which is slowly but surely becoming self-aware of its place and importance in the world. Her journey includes wide ranging cast of characters from fascinating interviews of folks who set up Infosys to a bizarre (yet strangely amusing) encounter with the activist Vandana Shiva. This complicated and entertaining portrait is undeniably different from the standard views of  India, we’r all used to consuming. Ok, so it is somewhat hagiographical, but it is extremely honest and upfront about it. If nothing else, its refusal to go for that cheesy multiple armed Hindu goddess (with iphones, ipads and laptops in each hand) as its cover picture, should count for some kudos.

First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong (2006) by James Hansen [Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography, Science, History, Space Race, Moon-landings] Neil Armstrong was a famously introverted person. Since he was never going to write an Autobiography, it was a massive coup for James Hansen to get access to him, his friends and collegues. What Hansen has put together is fascinating history of a life of an extra-ordinary indidividual whose consumate professionalism provided what is perhaps the most iconic moment of the 20th Century.

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Nonsense on Stilts (2010) by Massimo Pigliucci [Genre: Non-Fiction, Science, Politics, Culture wars, Pseudoscience] An examination from first principles, of what constitutes Science, and how it is differentiated from pseudoscience. From the evolution debate, to Global Warming; Massimo Pigliucci narrativises these Culture wars and discusses the role and implications of Science in society. The interaction and debates that occurs and the myriad issues that surround ‘experts’ in the public sphere. A very broad range of topics discussed with great accessibility.

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The Geek Manifesto (2012) by  Mark Henderson [Genre: Non-Fiction, Science, Politics, Evidence based Policy] In an age of big data, globalized interconnected networks, the need for promoting and enacting  scientific and empirical approaches to issues, is ever more important. Mark Henderson argues that the mainstreaming of the  Geek/Nerd community is  key in facilitating this ‘evidence revolution’. He outlines the successes that have been achieved thus far; and challenges that lay ahead in the battle to have a more evidence based policy framework, an empirically informed political narrative and above all else, a more scientifically engaged public.

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The Master Switch (2010) by Tim Wu [Genre: Non-Fiction, Information Systems, Complex Systems, Economics, Politics, Public Policy] A fascinating insight into the world of innovations of various kinds from the technology industries to the internet itself and the myriad political and cultural implications of those innovations.

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Voodoo Histories (2010) by David Aaronovitch [Genre: Non-Fiction, Conspiracy Theories, History, Popular Culture] David Aaronovitch looks at the genesis and evolution of conspiracy theories from JFK to ‘911-Truth’ movement. What he uncovers is a fascinating insight into the astonishing congnitivie dissonance that lies at the heart of these movements. Its scary, disturbing and funny –  all at the same time.

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The Panic Virus (2011) by Seth Mnookin [Genre: Non-Fiction, Public Health, Vaccines, Conspiracy Theories] Examines in some detail the rise of the anti-vaccine movement in the United States. The claim that vaccines cause Autism – despite all the scientific evidence to the contrary – has run for more than a decade.

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 Now or Never (2009) by Tim Flannery [Genre: Non-fiction, Economics, Politics, Science, Climate Change] One of the most eloquent summation of the urgency that is required to deal with the impending crisis of Global Warming. Some fascinating insights.

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Poor Economics (2011) by Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo [Genre: Non-fiction, Economics, Politics, Development] An evidence-based approach to problems of poverty alleviation and development. Keen to avoid the rather tedious International Aid-debate, and hopes to map out a more scientific niche for Development Economics.

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More than Good Intentions by Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel [Genre: Non fiction, Economics, Politics, Development, Poverty, Developing Countries] Another book which takes a scientific approach to solving problems in the developing world including randomized control trials to map out which strategies are successful and which fail.

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Bad Science (2008) by Ben Goldacre [Genre: Non-fiction, Science, Health, Journalism, Medicine] A withering expose of Quacks and the Hacks who promote them. Highlights the absurdity and sometimes utter tragedy of cases when pseudo-science prevails.

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Denying History (2000) by Michael Shermer [Genre: Non-fiction, History, The Holocaust, Holocaust-Denial, Conspiracy Theories] A systematic debunking of the claims of Holocaust Deniers. It also demonstrate how conspiracy theories generally manipulate and mangle evidence around an issue.

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 Freakonomics (2009) by Steven Levitt and Stephen J Dubner [Genre: Non-fiction, Economics, Society] A more scientific, evidence based approach to matters of economic and  political policy. Though – perhaps – sometimes suffering from Gladwell-itus 

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Higher Superstitions (1994) by Paul Gross & Norman Levitt [Genre: Non-fiction, Science, Politics, Academic Left, Post Modernism] An expose of the prevalence of psuedo-scientific mentality in the post modernist ideas of the Academic Left.

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Immigrants (2007) by Philippe Legrain [Genre: Non-fiction, Immigration, Economics, Politics, Social Justice, Developing Countries] A staunch and unwavering defence of the idea of global  migration detailing its positive effects and debunking the misrepresentations about its ‘dangers’.

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Trick or Treatment (2008) by Simon Singh & Edzard Ernst [Genre: Non-fiction, Science, Alternative Medicine] Putting ‘Alternative Medicine’ to the Scientific Test. This resulted in a high profile libel suit against Simon Singh by the British Chiropractic Association. A case which Simon Singh successfully defended.

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The Demon Haunted World (1997) by Carl Sagan [Genre: Non-fiction, Science] A fascinating look at how Modern Science has allowed us to answer questions that previously seemed insurmountable. How it has allowed to us appreciate the true majesty of nature and the universe by dragging us out of our parochial and provincial impulses.

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Quantum (2011) by Manjit Kumar [Genre: Non-fiction, Science, Physics, Quantum theory] Chronicles the arguments and collaborations of some of the most preminent scientists in the early 20th century resulting in one of the most electrifying and bewithching discoveries in human history

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The Greatest Show on Earth (2009) by Richard Dawkins [Genre: Non-fiction, Science, Evolution] One of the most prolific authors on the theory of evolution, Dawkins provides a compendium of evidence in support of the theory of Evolution and all the wondrous consequences that flow from that in a our natural world.

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Flat Earth News (2008) by Nick Davies [Genre: Non-fiction, Journalism, Media, Politics] A fascinating insight into the crumbling world of mass media journalism and how different political and commercial forces shape and drive systematic editorial content.

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