100 books like Ignorance

By Stuart Firestein,

Here are 100 books that Ignorance fans have personally recommended if you like Ignorance. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

Guy Crosby Ph.D Author Of Cook, Taste, Learn: How the Evolution of Science Transformed the Art of Cooking

From my list on history and future of agriculture, food, and cooking.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since childhood I've been fascinated with the beauty of organic molecules. I pursued this passion in graduate school at Brown University and through a postdoctoral position at Stanford University. My professional career began at a startup pharmaceutical company in California, which evolved into research positions in agriculture and food ingredients. After 30 years I retired as a vice-president of research and development for a food ingredients company. I developed a passion for food and cooking and subsequently acquired a position as the science editor for America’s Test Kitchen, which I held for over 12 years. Today at the age of 80 I still write and publish scientific papers and books about food, cooking, and nutrition.

Guy's book list on history and future of agriculture, food, and cooking

Guy Crosby Ph.D Why did Guy love this book?

This book was the inspiration for my book and was written by a professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University. It sets out a convincing argument that cooking may have been started by the earliest humans about 2 million years ago, which is far earlier than most anthropologists believe. Much of Wrangham’s arguments are based on his own research that illustrates how cooking provided better nutrition resulting in the expansion of the human brain by 60% over thousands of years giving humans a head-start over all other living species. 

By Richard Wrangham,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Catching Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this stunningly original book, Richard Wrangham argues that it was cooking that caused the extraordinary transformation of our ancestors from apelike beings to Homo erectus. At the heart of Catching Fire lies an explosive new idea: The habit of eating cooked rather than raw food permitted the digestive tract to shrink and the human brain to grow, helped structure human society, and created the male-female division of labour. As our ancestors adapted to using fire, humans emerged as "the cooking apes".

Covering everything from food-labelling and overweight pets to raw-food faddists, Catching Fire offers a startlingly original argument about…


Book cover of Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Climate Change

Steve Vigdor Author Of Signatures of the Artist: The Vital Imperfections That Make Our Universe Habitable

From my list on science that should inform public policy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been passionate about science as a way of learning how nature works and approaching truth since I was a pre-teen. After five decades of basic research, teaching, and management in physics, I can distinguish good science from pseudoscience even beyond my own areas of expertise. I am greatly disturbed by attempts to undermine science in public policy-making when its findings conflict with ideology, religious beliefs, or business bottom lines. My passion project, via my blog debunkingdenial.com, is to explain to teachers and the public the underlying science and the flaws in science denial across a wide range of topics at the interface with public policy. 

Steve's book list on science that should inform public policy

Steve Vigdor Why did Steve love this book?

I love this book because its exposé makes me indignant about a handful of rogue scientists who created an industry of science denial in the service of polluting industries and political ideology. They amplified their voices by setting up dozens of “astroturf think tanks” around the U.S. to reinforce their flawed arguments opposing regulation of companies contributing to the dangers of tobacco smoke, acid rain, ozone layer depletion, and climate change.

I see their playbook to sow doubts about well-established science at work today in all sorts of politically motivated science denial and the spread of viral misinformation. 

By Naomi Oreskes, Erik M. Conway,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Merchants of Doubt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on such areas as public health, environmental science, and issues affecting quality of life. Our scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers. Merchants of Doubt tells the story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific…


Book cover of Birth of Intelligence: From RNA to Artificial Intelligence

Gordon M. Shepherd Author Of Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters

From my list on understanding the brain and behavior.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was stimulated by Norbert Wiener’s “Cybernetics” to study circuits in the brain that control behavior. For my graduate studies, I chose the olfactory bulb for its experimental advantages, which led to constructing the first computer models of brain neurons and microcircuits. Then I got interested in how the smell patterns are activated when we eat food, which led to a new field called Neurogastronomy, which is the neuroscience of the circuits that create the perception of food flavor. Finally, because all animals use their brains to find and eat food, the olfactory system has provided new insights into the evolution of the mammalian brain and the basic organization of the cerebral cortex.

Gordon's book list on understanding the brain and behavior

Gordon M. Shepherd Why did Gordon love this book?

If flavorful food has been a critical element in the evolution of our large brains, how did large brains give rise to our high intelligence?  This is to be found in the circuits of our cerebral cortex and the regions to which it is connected. Daeyeol Lee is one of the leaders in research on how the cerebral cortex generates behavior in monkeys, for its insights into how this occurs in humans.  This is providing new ways to define the neural basis of intelligence based on the application of new single-cell recording techniques in primates and brain scanning techniques in humans.  

With his approach based on a deep understanding of how primates gave rise to humans, Lee asks the critical questions: What is intelligence? How did it evolve from monkeys to humans? Can computers and artificial intelligence ever equal human biological intelligence in all its complexity?   Based on Lee’s research…

By Daeyeol Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Birth of Intelligence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What is intelligence? How did it begin and evolve to human intelligence? Does a high level of biological intelligence require a complex brain? Can man-made machines be truly intelligent? Is AI fundamentally different from human intelligence? In Birth of Intelligence, distinguished neuroscientist Daeyeol Lee tackles these pressing fundamental issues. To better prepare for future society and its technology, including how the use of AI will impact our lives, it
is essential to understand the biological root and limits of human intelligence. After systematically reviewing biological and computational underpinnings of decision making and intelligent behaviors, Birth of Intelligence proposes that true…


Book cover of The True Creator of Everything: How the Human Brain Shaped the Universe as We Know It

Gordon M. Shepherd Author Of Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters

From my list on understanding the brain and behavior.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was stimulated by Norbert Wiener’s “Cybernetics” to study circuits in the brain that control behavior. For my graduate studies, I chose the olfactory bulb for its experimental advantages, which led to constructing the first computer models of brain neurons and microcircuits. Then I got interested in how the smell patterns are activated when we eat food, which led to a new field called Neurogastronomy, which is the neuroscience of the circuits that create the perception of food flavor. Finally, because all animals use their brains to find and eat food, the olfactory system has provided new insights into the evolution of the mammalian brain and the basic organization of the cerebral cortex.

Gordon's book list on understanding the brain and behavior

Gordon M. Shepherd Why did Gordon love this book?

Many years ago a young neuroscientist asked to visit me; he had just come to the U.S. from Brazil and was seeking advice on a lab he could join to train in the function of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex. He soon became spectacularly successful, showing that the brain forms different perceptions and controls different movements by overlapping distributions of cortical neurons that constitute an internal reality of the external world.

Building on this knowledge, Nicolellis has led the way in constructing brain-machine interfaces to enable a patient, for example, to learn to walk after suffering a stroke. In doing so, he has come to realize that everything humans experience in our lives is due to the reality constructed by the brain to represent the reality of the external world. As he expresses it, brain reality is the true creator of everything. Some may find this new view disturbing,…

By Miguel Nicolellis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The True Creator of Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A radically new cosmological view from a groundbreaking neuroscientist who places the human brain at the center of humanity's universe

Renowned neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis introduces a revolutionary new theory of how the human brain evolved to become an organic computer without rival in the known universe. He undertakes the first attempt to explain the entirety of human history, culture, and civilization based on a series of recently uncovered key principles of brain function. This new cosmology is centered around three fundamental properties of the human brain: its insurmountable malleability to adapt and learn; its exquisite ability to allow multiple individuals…


Book cover of The Deep Learning Revolution

Gordon M. Shepherd Author Of Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters

From my list on understanding the brain and behavior.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was stimulated by Norbert Wiener’s “Cybernetics” to study circuits in the brain that control behavior. For my graduate studies, I chose the olfactory bulb for its experimental advantages, which led to constructing the first computer models of brain neurons and microcircuits. Then I got interested in how the smell patterns are activated when we eat food, which led to a new field called Neurogastronomy, which is the neuroscience of the circuits that create the perception of food flavor. Finally, because all animals use their brains to find and eat food, the olfactory system has provided new insights into the evolution of the mammalian brain and the basic organization of the cerebral cortex.

Gordon's book list on understanding the brain and behavior

Gordon M. Shepherd Why did Gordon love this book?

The other books in this series are mostly about the real brain. But artificial intelligence promises us a new enhanced brain. What does the future hold? Terrence Sejnowski is a neuroscientist who was one of the first to realize the potential of AI. Since he has been there from the start, in this book he gives the reader an exciting inside story on the people and the advances that are reshaping our lives.

Early attempts at AI were limited, but once computational power took off big computers running multilayer neural nets began proving that they could defeat humans at the most demanding games, enhance human capabilities such as pattern recognition, text recognition, language translation, and driverless vehicles, and work to obtain rewards, just like a human. While these advances are dramatic, it is well to remember that the networks are built not from representations of real neurons, but rather from…

By Terrence J. Sejnowski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Deep Learning Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How deep learning—from Google Translate to driverless cars to personal cognitive assistants—is changing our lives and transforming every sector of the economy.

The deep learning revolution has brought us driverless cars, the greatly improved Google Translate, fluent conversations with Siri and Alexa, and enormous profits from automated trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Deep learning networks can play poker better than professional poker players and defeat a world champion at Go. In this book, Terry Sejnowski explains how deep learning went from being an arcane academic field to a disruptive technology in the information economy.

Sejnowski played an important…


Book cover of Little Science, Big Science

Samuel Arbesman Author Of The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date

From my list on how science actually works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Scientist in Residence at Lux Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in startups at the frontiers of science and technology. I have a PhD in computational biology and focused my academic research on the nature of complex systems, but I soon became fascinated by the ways in which science grows and changes over time (itself a type of complex system!): what it is that scientists do, where scientific knowledge comes from, and even how the facts in our textbooks become out-of-date. As a result of this fascination, I ended up writing two books about scientific and technological change.

Samuel's book list on how science actually works

Samuel Arbesman Why did Samuel love this book?

As one of the first attempts to quantify how science grows and changes over time, this book is a gem and full of a wealth of provocative ideas. From charts on the growth of scientific journals to the power of particle accelerators, this book is even more impressive given the fact that it was first published in 1963, well before large datasets were able to be acquired and computationally analyzed.

By Derek J. de Solla Price,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Little Science, Big Science as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Columbia University Press Science 62 Based on four 1962 Pegram Lectures given at the Brookehaven National Laboratory.


Book cover of Discovering: Inventing Solving Problems at the Frontiers of Scientific Knowledge

Samuel Arbesman Author Of The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date

From my list on how science actually works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Scientist in Residence at Lux Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in startups at the frontiers of science and technology. I have a PhD in computational biology and focused my academic research on the nature of complex systems, but I soon became fascinated by the ways in which science grows and changes over time (itself a type of complex system!): what it is that scientists do, where scientific knowledge comes from, and even how the facts in our textbooks become out-of-date. As a result of this fascination, I ended up writing two books about scientific and technological change.

Samuel's book list on how science actually works

Samuel Arbesman Why did Samuel love this book?

I remember reading this book probably about twenty years ago, and it has a great deal of insight into how to understand the scientific process, both in how it is carried out as well as how scientists can get better at discovery. Written primarily in the form of a dialogue between a set of archetypical characters and informed by a huge amount of work into the history and sociology of science, it takes the reader through how to understand creativity in science.

By Robert Root-Bernstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Discovering as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Root-Bernstein (natural science and physiology, Michigan State) attempts to understand how scientists invent through an imaginary reconstruction of the arguments, reflections, and games of six fictional characters. The index is of names only. TheRoot-Bernstein (natural science and physiology, Michigan State) attempts to understand how scientists invent through an imaginary reconstruction of the arguments, reflections, and games of six fictional characters. The index is of names only. The bibliography is extensive but would be more useful to general readers if it were classified or annotated. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or. bibliography is extensive but would be more useful to…


Book cover of Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything

Samuel Arbesman Author Of The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date

From my list on how science actually works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Scientist in Residence at Lux Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in startups at the frontiers of science and technology. I have a PhD in computational biology and focused my academic research on the nature of complex systems, but I soon became fascinated by the ways in which science grows and changes over time (itself a type of complex system!): what it is that scientists do, where scientific knowledge comes from, and even how the facts in our textbooks become out-of-date. As a result of this fascination, I ended up writing two books about scientific and technological change.

Samuel's book list on how science actually works

Samuel Arbesman Why did Samuel love this book?

Primarily a historical work, this book explores how curiosity went from a kind of strange and disreputable act to something that became celebrated and tamed as part of the scientific process. With a focus on the early days of modern science, it is filled with a huge number of delightful examples of what passed for curiosity in previous centuries.

By Philip Ball,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Curiosity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There was a time when curiosity was condemned. To be curious was to delve into matters that didn't concern you - after all, the original sin stemmed from a desire for forbidden knowledge. Through curiosity our innocence was lost.

Yet this hasn't deterred us. Today we spend vast sums trying to recreate the first instants of creation in particle accelerators, out of pure desire to know. There seems now to be no question too vast or too trivial to be ruled out of bounds: Why can fleas jump so high? What is gravity? What shape are clouds? Today curiosity is…


Book cover of The Baroque Cycle: Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World

Samuel Arbesman Author Of The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date

From my list on how science actually works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Scientist in Residence at Lux Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in startups at the frontiers of science and technology. I have a PhD in computational biology and focused my academic research on the nature of complex systems, but I soon became fascinated by the ways in which science grows and changes over time (itself a type of complex system!): what it is that scientists do, where scientific knowledge comes from, and even how the facts in our textbooks become out-of-date. As a result of this fascination, I ended up writing two books about scientific and technological change.

Samuel's book list on how science actually works

Samuel Arbesman Why did Samuel love this book?

This is a trilogy of historical fiction about, among many other things, the invention of the modern monetary system and the Scientific Revolution. Yes, it’s a heavy lift, as it’s nearly three thousand pages long, but it’s an incredible read. And if you want to get a sense of the sheer weirdness of the early days of science—both the people involved in it, as well as the ideas that they were playing with—these books are absolutely fantastic.

By Neal Stephenson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Baroque Cycle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Get all three novels in Neal Stephenson's New York Times bestselling "Baroque Cycle" in one e-book, including: Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World. This three-volume historical epic delivers intrigue, adventure, and excitement set against the political upheaval of the early 18th century.


Book cover of Plants and Empire: Colonial Bioprospecting in the Atlantic World

Nora Jaffary Author Of Reproduction and Its Discontents in Mexico: Childbirth and Contraception from 1750 to 1905

From my list on unearthing abortion’s hidden history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began gathering stories about pregnancy and its avoidance in Mexican archives twenty-five years ago when I was working on my dissertation on religious history. This topic fascinated me because it was central to the preoccupations of so many women I knew, and it seemed to present a link to past generations. But as I researched, I also realized that radical differences existed between the experiences and attitudes of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Mexican women and the concerns, practices, and understandings of my own period that I had assumed were timeless and unchanging. For me, this was a liberating discovery. 

Nora's book list on unearthing abortion’s hidden history

Nora Jaffary Why did Nora love this book?

Londa Schiebinger adopts a highly original premise in this book by casting a plant, the flos pavonis or “peacock flower,” as the central protagonist of the story she tells.

In this book, she presents in rich detail the story of how enslaved Africans and Indigenous women regularly and effectively used this plant to abort unwanted pregnancies. While the peacock flower itself was quickly transplanted into the Old World, knowledge of its abortifacient properties did not accompany its movement.

By Londa Schiebinger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Plants and Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Plants seldom figure in the grand narratives of war, peace, or even everyday life yet they are often at the center of high intrigue. In the eighteenth century, epic scientific voyages were sponsored by European imperial powers to explore the natural riches of the New World, and uncover the botanical secrets of its people. Bioprospectors brought back medicines, luxuries, and staples for their king and country. Risking their lives to discover exotic plants, these daredevil explorers joined with their sponsors to create a global culture of botany.

But some secrets were unearthed only to be lost again. In this moving…


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