100 books like The Knowledge Machine

By Michael Strevens,

Here are 100 books that The Knowledge Machine fans have personally recommended if you like The Knowledge Machine. 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 The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us about the Mind

Sanjay Sarma Author Of Grasp: The Science Transforming How We Learn

From my list on helping us reimagine what education could be.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm passionate about understanding and fixing how we teach and learn for a simple reason: My own journey as a learner was very nearly cut short. While attending one of the most competitive universities in India, I witnessed firsthand what can happen when a once-promising student runs into learning roadblocks. I nearly gave up on my academic career, only to be saved by—of all things—a hands-on, corporate training program. As I moved back into academia, it became my goal, first as an educator and later as MIT’s Vice President for Open Learning, to empower how we teach and learn with findings from cutting-edge research. And to avail these possibilities to as many learners as possible. 

Sanjay's book list on helping us reimagine what education could be

Sanjay Sarma Why did Sanjay love this book?

It’s impossible, as a parent, not to marvel at the miracle of learning that occurs in very young children. Indeed, parents have experienced this sense of awe for time immemorial, and some have gone so far as to venture explanations for how it works. John Dewey, the American philosopher and psychologist, argued at the dawn of the twentieth century that children are like young scientists as they go about their day, subtly testing the things and people around them to see how they work. We now know, in no small part due to the work of researchers including The Scientist in the Crib author Alison Gopnik, that Dewey was right. Children are compelled to experiment; what’s more, they make the most of the limited data they produce with a powerful logic invisible to the untrained eye. Parents—but also anyone with a sense of wonder—will find answers to deep mysteries in…

By Alison Gopnik, Patricia K. Kuhl, Andrew N. Meltzoff

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Scientist in the Crib as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This exciting book by three pioneers in the new field of cognitive science discusses important discoveries about how much babies and young children know and learn, and how much parents naturally teach them. It argues that evolution designed us both to teach and learn, and that the drive to learn is our most important instinct. It also reveals as fascinating insights about our adult capacities and how even young children -- as well as adults -- use some of the same methods that allow scientists to learn so much about the world. Filled with surprise at every turn, this vivid,…


Book cover of The Origin of Concepts

William Byers Author Of How Mathematicians Think: Using Ambiguity, Contradiction, and Paradox to Create Mathematics

From my list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a mathematician but an unusual one because I am interested in how mathematics is created and how it is learned. From an early age, I loved mathematics because of the beauty of its concepts and the precision of its organization and reasoning. When I started to do research I realized that things were not so simple. To create something new you had to suspend or go beyond your rational mind for a while. I realized that the learning and creating of math have non-logical features. This was my eureka moment. It turned the conventional wisdom (about what math is and how it is done) on its head.

William's book list on thinking, creativity, and mathematics

William Byers Why did William love this book?

I’m interested in how mathematicians create mathematics but this book made me realize that learning mathematics is also a form of creativity. Each of us has created our understanding of mathematics as we were growing up. We are all creative!  

What is amazing about this book is that even children as young as six months possess rudimentary mathematical concepts, in particular, the concept of number. (Actually, Carey shows children have two distinct ways of thinking about numbers). The concept of number is built-in. That’s amazing to me! The mastery of counting numbers, 1,2,3,… is a great creative leap in the development of the child. This leap is followed by a series of further amazing accomplishments, for example, the insight that a fraction like 2/3, is a completely new kind of number (and not just a problem in division). How do kids manage to accomplish such radical changes in their concept…

By Susan Carey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Only human beings have a rich conceptual repertoire with concepts like tort, entropy, Abelian group, mannerism, icon and deconstruction. How have humans constructed these concepts? And once they have been constructed by adults, how do children acquire them? While primarily focusing on the second question, in The Origin of Concepts , Susan Carey shows that the answers to both overlap substantially.

Carey begins by characterizing the innate starting point for conceptual development, namely systems of core cognition. Representations of core cognition are the output of dedicated input analyzers, as with perceptual representations, but these core representations differ from perceptual representations…


Book cover of Education for Thinking

Andrew Shtulman Author Of Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories about the World Are So Often Wrong

From my list on the cognitive foundations of science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of psychology at Occidental College, where I direct the Thinking Lab. I hold degrees in psychology from Princeton and Harvard and have published several dozen scholarly articles on conceptual development and conceptual change. I’m interested in how people acquire new concepts and form new beliefs, especially within the domains of science and religion. My research investigates intuitions that guide our everyday understanding of the natural world and strategies for improving that understanding.

Andrew's book list on the cognitive foundations of science

Andrew Shtulman Why did Andrew love this book?

Two skills fundamental to scientific reasoning are inquiry and argument. Inquiry is generating new information, and argument is using that information to justify and evaluate knowledge claims. Kuhn presents a framework for understanding these processes, as well as methods for teaching them. Her insights are grounded in science-education research demonstrating not only why inquiry and argument are challenging but also how they can be improved. Kuhn’s book fundamentally changed how I teach science to others. It provided me a way of organizing and motivating the various research methods I cover in my courses, as tools for building a collective body of knowledge.

By Deanna Kuhn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What do we want schools to accomplish? The only defensible answer, Deanna Kuhn argues, is that they should teach students to use their minds well, in school and beyond.

Bringing insights from research in developmental psychology to pedagogy, Kuhn maintains that inquiry and argument should be at the center of a "thinking curriculum"-a curriculum that makes sense to students as well as to teachers and develops the skills and values needed for lifelong learning. We have only a brief window of opportunity in children's lives to gain (or lose) their trust that the things we ask them to do in…


Book cover of Science Denial: Why It Happens and What to Do about It

Andrew Shtulman Author Of Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories about the World Are So Often Wrong

From my list on the cognitive foundations of science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of psychology at Occidental College, where I direct the Thinking Lab. I hold degrees in psychology from Princeton and Harvard and have published several dozen scholarly articles on conceptual development and conceptual change. I’m interested in how people acquire new concepts and form new beliefs, especially within the domains of science and religion. My research investigates intuitions that guide our everyday understanding of the natural world and strategies for improving that understanding.

Andrew's book list on the cognitive foundations of science

Andrew Shtulman Why did Andrew love this book?

If you value science, then you’ve probably puzzled over why other people don’t. Why won’t other people wear masks during a pandemic? Or buy genetically modified foods? Or vaccinate their children. Sinatra and Hofer provide answers by delving deep into the psychology of science denial. They explain the shortcuts we take when searching for scientific information, the misconceptions we hold about scientific knowledge, and the obstacles we face when changing our beliefs and attitudes about scientific topics. From their synthesis of empirical research to their consideration of real-life dilemmas, Sinatra and Hofer provide a compelling account of the public’s fraught relationship with science, as well as practical advice for improving it.

By Gale Sinatra, Barbara Hofer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How do individuals decide whether to accept human causes of climate change, vaccinate their children against childhood diseases, or practice social distancing during a pandemic? Democracies depend on educated citizens who can make informed decisions for the benefit of their health and well-being, as well as their communities, nations, and planet. Understanding key psychological explanations for science denial and doubt can help provide a means for improving
scientific literacy and understanding-critically important at a time when denial has become deadly. In Science Denial: Why It Happens and What to Do About It, the authors identify the problem and why it…


Book cover of Against Method: Outline of an Anarchist Theory of Knowledge

Alex M. Thomas Author Of Macroeconomics: An Introduction

From my list on becoming a critical economist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about the dissemination of economic ideas both inside and outside university spaces. In addition to classroom lectures at my university, I give a lot of public lectures on economics. Through these talks, I introduce the audience to the tradition of doing economics using a critical perspective. I have an MA and MPhil in Economics from the University of Hyderabad and a PhD in Economics from the University of Sydney.

Alex's book list on becoming a critical economist

Alex M. Thomas Why did Alex love this book?

Feyerabend argues against monism in science.

Drawing on the history of science, he demonstrates that science has progressed from pluralism. In other words, there is no the scientific method. 

Currently, mainstream economics education does not include history or philosophy in its curriculum. And economists are enthusiastically adopting a monist approach to knowledge production.

Feyerabend’s book tells us why such a naïve and narrow approach to knowledge dissemination (and production) is problematic. I feel extremely lucky to have been exposed to his work along with other philosophers of science during my master’s.

By Paul Feyerabend,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Against Method as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Contemporary philosophy of science has paid close attention to the understanding of scientific practice, in contrast to the previous focus on scientific method. Paul Feyerabend's acclaimed work, which sparked controversy and continues to fuel fierce debate, shows the deficiencies of many widespread ideas about the nature of knowledge. He argues that the only feasible explanation of any scientific success is a historical account, and that anarchism must now replace rationalism in the theory of knowledge. This updated edition of this classic text contains a new foreword by Ian Hacking, a leading contemporary philosopher of science, who reflects on Feyerabend's life…


Book cover of The Scientific Method: An Evolution of Thinking from Darwin to Dewey

Richard Farr Author Of You Are Here: A User's Guide to the Universe

From my list on how science actually works… or doesn’t.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was once an academic philosopher, but I found it too glamorous and well-paid so I became a novelist and private intellectual mentor instead. I wrote You Are Here because I love what science knows, but an interest in how science knows drew me into the philosophy of science, where a puzzle lurks. Scientists claim that the essence of their craft is captured in a 17th Century formula, “the scientific method”... and in a 20th Century litmus test, “falsifiability.” Philosophers claim that these two ideas are (a) both nonsense and (b) in any case mutually contradictory. So what’s going on? 

Richard's book list on how science actually works… or doesn’t

Richard Farr Why did Richard love this book?

Where and why did the modern idea of “the scientific method” show up? The somewhat disturbing answer is that it emerged from highly rhetorical attempts—mainly in one U.S. pop sci magazine in the early twentieth century—to distance wonderful “science” (in its modern sense, which was invented in the 1870s) from anything merely humanistic. The details of this hidden history leave you with the vertiginous sense that the very words we use in this areascience, rational, evidence, know—constitute a kind of fog of evidence-free non-rational assumptions.

By Henry M. Cowles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The surprising history of the scientific method-from an evolutionary account of thinking to a simple set of steps-and the rise of psychology in the nineteenth century.

The idea of a single scientific method, shared across specialties and teachable to ten-year-olds, is just over a hundred years old. For centuries prior, science had meant a kind of knowledge, made from facts gathered through direct observation or deduced from first principles. But during the nineteenth century, science came to mean something else: a way of thinking.

The Scientific Method tells the story of how this approach took hold in laboratories, the field,…


Book cover of Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery

Paul J. Mills Author Of Science, Being, & Becoming: The Spiritual Lives of Scientists

From my list on bridging the science and spirituality gap.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started practicing meditation while I was in high school and within 2 months of starting I had a metaphysical experience. That experience led me to become a scientist, I wanted to learn ways to study the spiritual using the methodologies of science. I've had a successful career with over 400 scientific publications and have had my work featured in the media and presented at hundreds of conferences and workshops around the world, including at the United Nations. Many scientists today are working to bridge the so-called gap between science and spirit and the positive effects they are having on increasing our understanding of what it is to be human.

Paul's book list on bridging the science and spirituality gap

Paul J. Mills Why did Paul love this book?

For several decades Dr. Rupert Sheldrake has been prodding us to awaken beyond the limitations of western science as we know it.

Trained as a scientist at some of the world’s top institutions, he began to understand that science itself needed to be set free from its own dogma that has accumulated over the centuries. He shows the ways in which science is being constricted by its own assumptions that are not only limiting but dangerous for the future of humanity.

Should science be a belief system or simply a method of inquiry? In the skeptical spirit of true science, Dr. Sheldrake turns the 10 fundamental dogmas of materialism into exciting questions and shows how all of them open to startling new possibilities for discovery.

By Rupert Sheldrake,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Science Set Free as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling author of Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home offers an intriguing new assessment of modern day science that will radically change the way we view what is possible.

In Science Set Free (originally published to acclaim in the UK as The Science Delusion), Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world's most innovative scientists, shows the ways in which science is being constricted by assumptions that have, over the years, hardened into dogmas. Such dogmas are not only limiting, but dangerous for the future of humanity.
 
According to these principles, all of reality is material or…


Book cover of Mapping the Spectrum: Techniques of Visual Representation in Research and Teaching

Barbara J. Becker Author Of Unravelling Starlight: William and Margaret Huggins and the Rise of the New Astronomy

From my list on the history of astrophysics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Barbara J. Becker received her PhD in the history of science from Johns Hopkins University. Until her retirement, she taught at the University of California at Irvine and now resides in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is a leading authority on astronomer William Huggins. Her research interests include the role of the amateur in the development of nineteenth-century professional astronomy, the redefining of disciplinary boundaries in the face of new knowledge and new practice, and the role of controversy in shaping the substance and structure of scientific knowledge. She is the author of numerous journal articles and editor of Selected Correspondence of William Huggins (2 volumes).

Barbara's book list on the history of astrophysics

Barbara J. Becker Why did Barbara love this book?

The proverbial scientist at work conjures the image of a solitary investigator bent over a workbench cluttered with arcane instruments nestled among reams of scribbled notes just waiting to be transformed into creative answers to pressing questions about the natural world. The image's simplicity belies the complexity of the process it purports to represent. Adding descriptions of the what, how, and why of scientific inquiry, observation, and analysis still misses a crucial element that makes the improvement, dissemination, and acceptance of new knowledge possible, namely the active behind-the-scenes collaboration between scientists and the illustrators, photographers, printers, and other artisans who use visual representation to shape and successfully communicate that knowledge. 

Mapping the Spectrum is not just an exhaustive and illuminating history of spectrum analysis.  In it, author Klaus Hentschel brilliantly exposes the essential role of visual culture in bringing this all-important tool of modern science to useful life.  He has…

By Klaus Hentschel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ever since the boom of spectrum analysis in the 1860s, spectroscopy has become one of the most fruitful research technologies in analytic chemistry, physics, astronomy, and other sciences. This book is the first in-depth study of the ways in which various types of spectra, especially the sun's Fraunhofer lines, have been recorded, displayed, and interpreted. The book assesses the virtues and pitfalls of various types of depictions, including hand sketches, woodcuts,
engravings, lithographs and, from the late 1870s onwards, photomechanical reproductions. The material of a 19th-century engraver or lithographer, the daily research practice of a spectroscopist in the laboratory, or…


Book cover of Plague of Corruption: Restoring Faith in the Promise of Science

Kees Van der Pijl Author Of States of Emergency: Keeping the Global Population in Check

From my list on the hidden dimensions of political power.

Why am I passionate about this?

Kees van der Pijl was lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and professor of International Relations at the University of Sussex in the UK. He retired in 2012. At Sussex he was head of department and director of the Centre for Global Political Economy. Besides democracy and anti-war activism he continues to write on transnational classes and policy networks, including the role of “deep politics”.

Kees' book list on the hidden dimensions of political power

Kees Van der Pijl Why did Kees love this book?

As the attack on democracy in the West has come to include the grip of Big Pharma on public health programmes and on bodies like the World Health Organization, the covert dimensions of how this influence is being exercised have also come under scrutiny.

With a foreword by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. highlighting the fate of successive critics of medical misconduct, one of the most vocal of these critics and her co-author offer a shocking account of the repression they faced.

Passionate, personal, and highly revealing about the risks one takes by speaking out on the basis of facts.

By Judy Mikovits, Kent Heckenlively,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 on Amazon Charts, New York Times Bestseller, USA Today Bestseller-Over 100,000 Copies in Print!

"Kent Heckenlively and Judy Mikovits are the new dynamic duo fighting corruption in science." -Ben Garrison, America's #1 political satirist

Dr. Judy Mikovits is a modern-day Rosalind Franklin, a brilliant researcher shaking up the old boys' club of science with her groundbreaking discoveries. And like many women who have trespassed into the world of men, she uncovered decades-old secrets that many would prefer to stay buried.

From her doctoral thesis, which changed the treatment of HIV-AIDS, saving the lives of millions, including basketball great Magic…


Book cover of Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth

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?

Ritchie was part of a team that attempted to replicate a famous study led by a prominent psychologist, Daryl Bem, claiming that people did better on a word memorization test if they studied the words after taking the test.

Ritchie and his co-authors attempted to replicate this study and found no evidence supporting Bem’s claim. This is but one example of a scientific crisis in that attempts to replicate influential studies published in top peer-reviewed journals fail nearly half the time. Ritchie explains and illustrates the reasons for the current replication crisis in science.

By Stuart Ritchie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An insider’s view of science reveals why many scientific results cannot be relied upon – and how the system can be reformed.

Science is how we understand the world. Yet failures in peer review and mistakes in statistics have rendered a shocking number of scientific studies useless – or, worse, badly misleading. Such errors have distorted our knowledge in fields as wide-ranging as medicine, physics, nutrition, education, genetics, economics, and the search for extraterrestrial life. As Science Fictions makes clear, the current system of research funding and publication not only fails to safeguard us from blunders but actively encourages bad…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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