100 books like Science Fictions

By Stuart Ritchie,

Here are 100 books that Science Fictions fans have personally recommended if you like Science Fictions. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”

John Staddon Author Of The New Behaviorism: Foundations of Behavioral Science

From my list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work.

Why am I passionate about this?

John Staddon is James B. Duke Professor of Psychology, and Professor of Biology emeritus. He got his PhD at Harvard and has an honorary doctorate from the Université Charles de Gaulle, Lille 3, France. His research is on the evolution and mechanisms of learning in humans and animals, the history and philosophy of psychology and biology, and the social-policy implications of science. He's the author of over 200 research papers and five books including Adaptive Behavior and Learning, The New Behaviorism: Foundations of behavioral science, 3rd edition, Unlucky Strike: Private health and the science, law and politics of smoking, 2nd edition and Science in an age of unreason.  

John's book list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work

John Staddon Why did John love this book?

Richard Feynman was unique. A brilliant theoretical physicist, humorous, eccentric, and independent.

Feynman’s genius gave him a certain freedom, which he exploited to the full. The book is autobiographical and shows his often irresponsible behavior but also a relentless curiosity, and willingness to try anything, the essence of a successful scientist.

One cannot hope to imitate Feynman (and perhaps we should not: he was often mischievous, even mildly malicious); but any scientist should envy the way he approached problems in engineering as well as science—and the book is fun!

By Richard P. Feynman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Richard P. Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. In this lively work that "can shatter the stereotype of the stuffy scientist" (Detroit Free Press), Feynman recounts his experiences trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets-and much more of an eyebrow-raising nature. In his stories, Feynman's life shines through in all its eccentric glory-a combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, and raging chutzpah.

Included for this edition is a new introduction by Bill Gates.


Book cover of The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

John Staddon Author Of The New Behaviorism: Foundations of Behavioral Science

From my list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work.

Why am I passionate about this?

John Staddon is James B. Duke Professor of Psychology, and Professor of Biology emeritus. He got his PhD at Harvard and has an honorary doctorate from the Université Charles de Gaulle, Lille 3, France. His research is on the evolution and mechanisms of learning in humans and animals, the history and philosophy of psychology and biology, and the social-policy implications of science. He's the author of over 200 research papers and five books including Adaptive Behavior and Learning, The New Behaviorism: Foundations of behavioral science, 3rd edition, Unlucky Strike: Private health and the science, law and politics of smoking, 2nd edition and Science in an age of unreason.  

John's book list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work

John Staddon Why did John love this book?

James Watson was a clever, pushy, and critical young American molecular biologist exposed to the scientific culture of Britain in the early 1950s.

The book is full of acerbic comments about “stuffy” Cambridge dons and the rules of etiquette that young Jim struggled with, all the while scheming to maintain the various fellowships that allowed him to remain in the UK and pursue his ambition: to understand the chemical nature of the genetic material, DNA.

The book provides a lively account of his collaboration with an older Brit, the brilliant Francis Crick, who was also trying to unscramble DNA. Much of the technical stuff will be incomprehensible to most, but the method the two followed is clear. The partnership was hugely fruitful and the book is a lively account of how science actually works.

Watson and Crick tried everything while coping with competitors and their criticisms as well as their…

By James D. Watson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Double Helix as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the two discoverers of DNA recalls the lively scientific quest that led to this breakthrough, from the long hours in the lab, to the after-hours socializing, to the financial struggles that almost sank their project. Reprint. 15,000 first printing.


Book cover of The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters

Gary Smith Author Of Distrust: Big Data, Data-Torturing, and the Assault on Science

From my list on science’s eroding reputation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics at Pomona College. I started out as a macroeconomist but, early on, discovered stats and stocks—which have long been fertile fields for data torturing and data mining. My book, Standard Deviations: Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and Other Ways to Lie with Statistics is a compilation of a variety of dubious and misleading statistical practices. More recently, I have written several books on AI, which has a long history of overpromising and underdelivering because it is essentially data mining on steroids. No matter how loudly statisticians shout correlation is not causation, some will not hear.

Gary's book list on science’s eroding reputation

Gary Smith Why did Gary love this book?

A biting quip in the debate about whether computers are on the verge of surpassing (or have already surpassed) human intelligence is, “It is not that computers are getting smarter but that humans are getting dumber.”

In the same spirit, Nichols argues that “These are dangerous times. Never have so many people had access to so much knowledge, and yet been so resistant to learning anything.”

By Tom Nichols,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Death of Expertise as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

People are now exposed to more information than ever before, provided both by technology and by increasing access to every level education. These societal gains, however, have also helped fuel a surge in narcissistic and misguided intellectual egalitarianism that has crippled informed debates on any number of issues. Today, everyone knows everything; with only a quick trip through WebMD or Wikipedia, average citizens believe themselves to be on an equal intellectual
footing with doctors and diplomats. All voices, even the most ridiculous, demand to be taken with equal seriousness, and any claim to the contrary is dismissed as undemocratic elitism.…


Book cover of How We Know What Isn't So

Ted Schick Author Of How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age

From my list on evaluating claims of the paranormal.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been interested in philosophy ever since I heard the album Poitier Meets Plato, a product of the 60’s coffee house culture, in which Sidney Poitier reads Plato to jazz music. As a professional philosopher, I investigate the nature of knowledge and reality, and if paranormal claims turn out to be true, many of our beliefs about knowledge and reality may turn out to be false. In an attempt to distinguish the justified from the unjustified—the believable from the unbelievable—I’ve tried to identify the principles of good thinking and sound reasoning that can be used to help us make those distinctions.

Ted's book list on evaluating claims of the paranormal

Ted Schick Why did Ted love this book?

I learned from Gilovich the psychological mechanisms that drive us to believe things that aren’t true. We are pattern-recognizing machines, he tells us, designed to make sense of the data we perceive. But when that data is incomplete, ambiguous, or inconsistent, the mechanisms that normally yield correct inferences can lead us astray.

By Thomas Gilovich,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked How We Know What Isn't So as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thomas Gilovich offers a wise and readable guide to the fallacy of the obvious in everyday life.

When can we trust what we believe-that "teams and players have winning streaks," that "flattery works," or that "the more people who agree, the more likely they are to be right"-and when are such beliefs suspect? Thomas Gilovich offers a guide to the fallacy of the obvious in everyday life. Illustrating his points with examples, and supporting them with the latest research findings, he documents the cognitive, social, and motivational processes that distort our thoughts, beliefs, judgments and decisions. In a rapidly changing…


Book cover of Beyond Significance Testing

Geoff Cumming Author Of Introduction to the New Statistics: Estimation, Open Science, and Beyond

From my list on open science better research with better statistics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I gradually shifted my statistics teaching from significance testing — traditional but bamboozling — to estimation (confidence intervals), which I called "the new statistics" because, although not new, relying on it would, for many researchers, be very new. It’s more informative, makes sense, and is a pleasure to teach and use. I "retired" to write Understanding the New Statistics. Then Open Science arrived—hooray! Robert Calin-Jageman joined me for an intro textbook with Open Science and The New Statistics all through. Our first edition came out in 2017. The second edition has wonderful new open-source software (‘esci’), which is also ideal for more advanced students and researchers. Enjoy!

Geoff's book list on open science better research with better statistics

Geoff Cumming Why did Geoff love this book?

You may have heard of ‘significance testing,’ and the magical ‘p < .05,’ which somehow makes a research result ‘significant,’ which is often taken as (almost) ‘true.’ Even if you haven’t heard of all that, Kline explains clearly why significance testing has been disastrous for science, leading to misleading conclusions and much valuable research not even being reported.

He draws on my work to explain how ‘the new statistics’ (estimation) is a much better way to understand results. The first chapter is fairly easy to read. Later chapters are also terrific but get more technical as Kline explains lots of ways to do things better. As I’m quoted on the back cover, “Read this book and see the future!” Happily, the future is increasingly looking as Kline recommended.

By Rex B. Kline,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Traditional education in statistics that emphasises significance testing leaves researchers and students ill prepared to understand what their results really mean. Specifically, most researchers and students who do not have strong quantitative backgrounds have difficulty understanding outcomes of statistical tests.

As more and more people become aware of this problem, the emphasis on statistical significance in the reporting of results is declining. Increasingly, researchers are expected to describe the magnitudes and precisions of their findings and also their practical, theoretical, or clinical significance.

This accessibly written book reviews the controversy about significance testing, which has now crossed various disciplines as…


Book cover of Research Methods in Psychology: Evaluating a World of Information

Geoff Cumming Author Of Introduction to the New Statistics: Estimation, Open Science, and Beyond

From my list on open science better research with better statistics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I gradually shifted my statistics teaching from significance testing — traditional but bamboozling — to estimation (confidence intervals), which I called "the new statistics" because, although not new, relying on it would, for many researchers, be very new. It’s more informative, makes sense, and is a pleasure to teach and use. I "retired" to write Understanding the New Statistics. Then Open Science arrived—hooray! Robert Calin-Jageman joined me for an intro textbook with Open Science and The New Statistics all through. Our first edition came out in 2017. The second edition has wonderful new open-source software (‘esci’), which is also ideal for more advanced students and researchers. Enjoy!

Geoff's book list on open science better research with better statistics

Geoff Cumming Why did Geoff love this book?

Yes, this is a textbook, but if you are seeking a research design and methods text for psychology or a related discipline, this is easily my top choice.

There are lots of references to topical stories to keep everything relevant for students. There’s a truckload of valuable stuff online to support both teachers and learners. This fourth edition is right up-to-the-moment, Chapter 3 especially so, as it explains three types of scientific claims, and four types of validity that researchers should aim to achieve. That may sound forbidding, but Morling’s examples and explanations are pleasingly accessible.  

By Beth Morling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Research Methods in Psychology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Featuring an emphasis on future consumers of psychological research and examples drawn from popular media, Research Methods in Psychology: Evaluating a World of Information develops students' critical-thinking skills as they evaluate information in their everyday lives. The Fourth Edition of this best-selling text takes learning to a new level for both consumers and producers by offering new content, interactive learning, and online assessment to help them master the concepts.


Book cover of The Design of Experiments in Neuroscience

Geoff Cumming Author Of Introduction to the New Statistics: Estimation, Open Science, and Beyond

From my list on open science better research with better statistics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I gradually shifted my statistics teaching from significance testing — traditional but bamboozling — to estimation (confidence intervals), which I called "the new statistics" because, although not new, relying on it would, for many researchers, be very new. It’s more informative, makes sense, and is a pleasure to teach and use. I "retired" to write Understanding the New Statistics. Then Open Science arrived—hooray! Robert Calin-Jageman joined me for an intro textbook with Open Science and The New Statistics all through. Our first edition came out in 2017. The second edition has wonderful new open-source software (‘esci’), which is also ideal for more advanced students and researchers. Enjoy!

Geoff's book list on open science better research with better statistics

Geoff Cumming Why did Geoff love this book?

Another research design textbook, this one more specifically about neuroscience. My co-author, neuroscientist Robert Calin-Jageman, highly recommends it.

This third edition has clear and up-to-date discussions of issues such as p hacking and publication bias that emphasise the need for Open Science. There’s a focus on effect sizes and confidence intervals, as in the new statistics. The book also describes strategies needed to enhance the rigor and reproducibility of neuroscience research.

By Mary E. Harrington,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Design of Experiments in Neuroscience as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Using engaging prose, Mary E. Harrington introduces neuroscience students to the principles of scientific research including selecting a topic, designing an experiment, analyzing data, and presenting research. This new third edition updates and clarifies the book's wealth of examples while maintaining the clear and effective practical advice of the previous editions. New and expanded topics in this edition include techniques such as optogenetics and conditional transgenes as well as a discussion of rigor and reproducibility in neuroscience research. Extended coverage of descriptive and inferential statistics arms readers with the analytical tools needed to interpret data. Throughout, practical guidelines are provided…


Book cover of An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine

John Staddon Author Of The New Behaviorism: Foundations of Behavioral Science

From my list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work.

Why am I passionate about this?

John Staddon is James B. Duke Professor of Psychology, and Professor of Biology emeritus. He got his PhD at Harvard and has an honorary doctorate from the Université Charles de Gaulle, Lille 3, France. His research is on the evolution and mechanisms of learning in humans and animals, the history and philosophy of psychology and biology, and the social-policy implications of science. He's the author of over 200 research papers and five books including Adaptive Behavior and Learning, The New Behaviorism: Foundations of behavioral science, 3rd edition, Unlucky Strike: Private health and the science, law and politics of smoking, 2nd edition and Science in an age of unreason.  

John's book list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work

John Staddon Why did John love this book?

Experimental Medicine is a classic, a clear and simple account of physiological research, well-illustrated with comprehensible examples (no molecular biology needed).

It is well worth reading if only because so many of the principles that French physician Claude Bernard pioneered have been largely forgotten. Most important is his demand for certainty: “Science permits no exceptions,” an injunction now more often forgotten than obeyed. Bernard would have been appalled by, for example, a famous choice experiment in which 60% of a large group of subjects choose a less-profitable option.

The experimenters concluded that individual humans (not just groups) show risk aversion, ignoring the 40% who did not. In a similar situation, Bernard would always seek the conditions that yield a 100% result. He gives an example where he was able to resolve uncertainty concerning the sensitivity of spinal roots.

We’re still waiting for any serious effort to achieve a Bernardian certainty…

By Claude Bernard, H.C. Greene (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Clear and penetrating presentation of the basic principles of scientific research from the great French physiologist whose contributions in the 19th century included the discovery of vasomotor nerves; nature of curare and other poisons in human body; functions of pancreatic juice in digestion; elucidation of glycogenic function of the liver.


Book cover of Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction

John Staddon Author Of The New Behaviorism: Foundations of Behavioral Science

From my list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work.

Why am I passionate about this?

John Staddon is James B. Duke Professor of Psychology, and Professor of Biology emeritus. He got his PhD at Harvard and has an honorary doctorate from the Université Charles de Gaulle, Lille 3, France. His research is on the evolution and mechanisms of learning in humans and animals, the history and philosophy of psychology and biology, and the social-policy implications of science. He's the author of over 200 research papers and five books including Adaptive Behavior and Learning, The New Behaviorism: Foundations of behavioral science, 3rd edition, Unlucky Strike: Private health and the science, law and politics of smoking, 2nd edition and Science in an age of unreason.  

John's book list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work

John Staddon Why did John love this book?

Any list of books about science must have something about Darwin. The book to read is The OriginBut that’s obvious. I don’t need to go into it. So here is a Darwin book that is less obvious.

Most scientists will never have heard of it; it’s literary history, not science. I learned of it by accident, in a talk given by an economic historian. This is a fascinating book by a literary historian from which I learned much about Darwin. Gillian Beer recognizes that Darwin was a great writer. She traces similarities between his rhetorical style and the strategies of some other iconic Victorian writers, such as George Eliot (Middlemarch) and Samuel Butler (The way of all flesh).

She also discusses scientific writers of the era such as George Lewis and Herbert Spencer. There are many revealing long quotations. I learned much from the…

By Gillian Beer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Darwin's Plots as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gillian Beer's classic Darwin's Plots, one of the most influential works of literary criticism and cultural history of the last quarter century, is here reissued in an updated edition to coincide with the anniversary of Darwin's birth and of the publication of The Origin of Species. Its focus on how writers, including George Eliot, Charles Kingsley and Thomas Hardy, responded to Darwin's discoveries and to his innovations in scientific language continues to open up new approaches to Darwin's thought and to its effects in the culture of his contemporaries. This third edition includes an important new essay that investigates Darwin's…


Book cover of Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World

Gary Smith Author Of Distrust: Big Data, Data-Torturing, and the Assault on Science

From my list on science’s eroding reputation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics at Pomona College. I started out as a macroeconomist but, early on, discovered stats and stocks—which have long been fertile fields for data torturing and data mining. My book, Standard Deviations: Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and Other Ways to Lie with Statistics is a compilation of a variety of dubious and misleading statistical practices. More recently, I have written several books on AI, which has a long history of overpromising and underdelivering because it is essentially data mining on steroids. No matter how loudly statisticians shout correlation is not causation, some will not hear.

Gary's book list on science’s eroding reputation

Gary Smith Why did Gary love this book?

The title is provocative but justified because so much of the “evidence” that we are bombarded with daily is bullshit. This is a wonderful compilation of statistical mistakes and misuses that are intended to persuade readers to be skeptical and to show them how to recognize bullshit when they see it.

By Carl T. Bergstrom, Jevin D. West,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Calling Bullshit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bullshit isn’t what it used to be. Now, two science professors give us the tools to dismantle misinformation and think clearly in a world of fake news and bad data.
 
“A modern classic . . . a straight-talking survival guide to the mean streets of a dying democracy and a global pandemic.”—Wired

Misinformation, disinformation, and fake news abound and it’s increasingly difficult to know what’s true. Our media environment has become hyperpartisan. Science is conducted by press release. Startup culture elevates bullshit to high art. We are fairly well equipped to spot the sort of old-school bullshit that is based…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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