10 books like This Idea Must Die

By John Brockman,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like This Idea Must Die. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Richard Botelho Author Of The Full Extent: An Inquiry Into Reality and Destiny

From the list on reality and destiny.

Who am I?

I'm an author, thinker, philosopher, and social critic. My previous books include gold award winner The New Individualism: Personal Change to Transform Society, Leah’s Way, and Reason for Existence. My works are used in hundreds of colleges and universities and have been featured in several publications. I received my B.A. in Government and M.A. in Government from California State University, Sacramento. My thesis was entitled “Toward a Credible Central Intelligence Agency.” The research included interviews with the intelligence community and national security officials, including a former CIA Director. That process enabled vast insights into the structures and functions of society, specifically the confluence of politics, economics, power, technology, security, order, religion, and transformation.

Richard's book list on reality and destiny

Discover why each book is one of Richard's favorite books on reality and destiny .

Why this book?

Perhaps one of the greatest books ever written. Kuhn is one of the most brilliant thinkers in human history, the creator of the word “paradigm.” This book examines how science progresses over time, one worldview replacing another. More significantly, Kuhn argued that defenders of the current paradigm resist any challenge to its tenets to maintain respect and privilege. In short, science is limited by human insecurity and ego. I found this book to be imperative to any understanding of how the world works. 

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

By Thomas S. Kuhn,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Structure of Scientific Revolutions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were-and still are. "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. And fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach. With "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", Kuhn challenged long-standing…


American Dementia

By Daniel R. George, Peter J. Whitehouse,

Book cover of American Dementia: Brain Health in an Unhealthy Society

Alberto Espay Author Of Brain Fables: The Hidden History of Neurodegenerative Diseases and a Blueprint to Conquer Them

From the list on rethinking brain aging and neurodegeneration.

Who am I?

I am a professor of neurology at the University of Cincinnati, interested in the many ways in which we acquire impairments in movements, in cognition, or in both. I have sought to measure these behaviors, quantify their responses to different pharmacological treatments, and determine how they inform the biology of the aging brain. In publications along the way, I have increasingly questioned how we classify neurological diseases and treat those affected.

Alberto's book list on rethinking brain aging and neurodegeneration

Discover why each book is one of Alberto's favorite books on rethinking brain aging and neurodegeneration .

Why this book?

This book explains the tight connection between Alzheimer’s disease and education, health, income, and environment, and why the rate of Alzheimer’s disease in the population actually decreased in the decades following the most important societal changes enacted after World War II. Social safety, environmental protections, and income inequality have had far greater impact than any of the pharmacological approaches ever attempted. The authors make the compelling case that brain health is intimately connected to societal health.

American Dementia

By Daniel R. George, Peter J. Whitehouse,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Have the social safety nets, environmental protections, and policies to redress wealth and income inequality enacted after World War II contributed to declining rates of dementia today-and how do we improve brain health in the future?

For decades, researchers have chased a pharmaceutical cure for memory loss. But despite the fact that no disease-modifying biotech treatments have emerged, new research suggests that dementia rates have actually declined in the United States and Western Europe over the last decade. Why is this happening? And what does it mean for brain health in the future?

In American Dementia, Daniel R. George, PhD,…


How the Brain Lost Its Mind

By Allan H. Ropper, Brian Burrell,

Book cover of How the Brain Lost Its Mind: Sex, Hysteria, and the Riddle of Mental Illness

Alberto Espay Author Of Brain Fables: The Hidden History of Neurodegenerative Diseases and a Blueprint to Conquer Them

From the list on rethinking brain aging and neurodegeneration.

Who am I?

I am a professor of neurology at the University of Cincinnati, interested in the many ways in which we acquire impairments in movements, in cognition, or in both. I have sought to measure these behaviors, quantify their responses to different pharmacological treatments, and determine how they inform the biology of the aging brain. In publications along the way, I have increasingly questioned how we classify neurological diseases and treat those affected.

Alberto's book list on rethinking brain aging and neurodegeneration

Discover why each book is one of Alberto's favorite books on rethinking brain aging and neurodegeneration .

Why this book?

This book offers a captivating tale of how the increasing knowledge of one disease, syphilis, created the foundations to understanding that the brain and mind are one and the same. The authors narrate the stories of patients whose “hysteria” (today referred to as functional neurological disorder) were traced to degenerative brain lesions that only belatedly were understood to be complications caused by remote infections with the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Several chapters follow the story of the important characters depicted by André Brouillet in the Une leçon clinique à la Salpêtrière (A Clinical Lesson at the Salpêtrière), one of the most recognized paintings by neurologists, as it depicts Jean-Martin Charcot, shown among many of his disciples, demonstrating a “hysteric” seizure in one of his patients. The authors illustrate how we have gotten away with conceptualizing behaviors without biological basis and put the reader on notice that “mental illnesses” are neurological problems…

How the Brain Lost Its Mind

By Allan H. Ropper, Brian Burrell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How the Brain Lost Its Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Hugely entertaining' Guardian

'Fascinating' Mail on Sunday

In 1882, Jean-Martin Charcot was the premiere physician in Paris, having just established a neurology clinic at the infamous Salpetriere Hospital, a place that was called a 'grand asylum of human misery'. Assessing the dismal conditions, he quickly upgraded the facilities, and in doing so, revolutionized the treatment of mental illness.

Many of Charcot's patients had neurosyphilis (the advanced form of syphilis), a disease of mad poets, novelists, painters, and musicians, and a driving force behind the overflow of patients in Europe's asylums. A sexually transmitted disease, it is known as 'the great…


Madness and Memory

By Stanley B. Prusiner,

Book cover of Madness and Memory: The Discovery of Prions--A New Biological Principle of Disease

Alberto Espay Author Of Brain Fables: The Hidden History of Neurodegenerative Diseases and a Blueprint to Conquer Them

From the list on rethinking brain aging and neurodegeneration.

Who am I?

I am a professor of neurology at the University of Cincinnati, interested in the many ways in which we acquire impairments in movements, in cognition, or in both. I have sought to measure these behaviors, quantify their responses to different pharmacological treatments, and determine how they inform the biology of the aging brain. In publications along the way, I have increasingly questioned how we classify neurological diseases and treat those affected.

Alberto's book list on rethinking brain aging and neurodegeneration

Discover why each book is one of Alberto's favorite books on rethinking brain aging and neurodegeneration .

Why this book?

Stan Prusiner received the Nobel Prize of Medicine in 1997 for identifying what at the time was considered a novel mechanism of neurodegeneration: the prions. These “infectious proteins” were responsible for ravaging the brains of animals suffering from scrapie and mad cow disease, and of humans with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Although I have come to doubt that prions are a cause of rapidly progressive dementia and may instead represent a consequence, Prusiner’s memoir is filled with moments of skepticism, self-doubt, adversity, and intellectual rivalries –the ingredients for a gripping drama in neurosciences. 

Madness and Memory

By Stanley B. Prusiner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A first-person account of a revolutionary scientific discovery that is now helping to unravel the mysteries of brain diseases

In 1997, Stanley B. Prusiner received a Nobel Prize, the world's most prestigious award for achievement in physiology or medicine. That he was the sole recipient of the award for the year was entirely appropriate. His struggle to identify the agent responsible for ravaging the brains of animals suffering from scrapie and mad cow disease, and of humans with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, had been waged largely alone and in some cases in the face of strenuous disagreement.

In this book, Prusiner tells…


Book cover of Who's in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain

Rick Shenkman Author Of Political Animals: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics

From the list on why voters often behave irrationally.

Who am I?

Rick Shenkman is a New York Times bestselling author, historian, and journalist who, after reading and writing history books for 40 years, decided to spend the past decade discovering what social scientists have to say. To his great joy, he learned that since he had last studied their work in college they had come to a vast new understanding of human political behavior. He now uses their insights into political psychology, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and genetics to help explain our fucked up politics.

Rick's book list on why voters often behave irrationally

Discover why each book is one of Rick's favorite books on why voters often behave irrationally .

Why this book?

As a young researcher Michael S. Gazzaniga studied people afflicted with epilepsy. A recent discovery was that they fare better when the corpus callosum – the nerve fiber bundle that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain – is cut, disconnecting the organ's two halves. Amazing insights can be gleaned from these split-brain patients, Gazzaniga demonstrated, as he explains in this book. His most famous experiment involved patient P.S. 

Gazzaniga used a machine to flash the image of a chicken claw to P.S.'s right eye (which was processed by his left hemisphere, where the speech center is located) and the image of a hut surrounded by snow to the other eye (which was processed by his right hemisphere). Then came the surprise, as Gazzaniga showed P.S. some pictures of a chicken and a shovel and asked him to match them with the images he'd seen. (This time he…

Who's in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain

By Michael S. Gazzaniga,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Who's in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The prevailing orthodoxy in brain science is that since physical laws govern our physical brains, physical laws therefore govern our behaviour and even our conscious selves. Free will is meaningless, goes the mantra; we live in a 'determined' world.

Not so, argues the renowned neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga as he explains how the mind, 'constrains' the brain just as cars are constrained by the traffic they create. Writing with what Steven Pinker has called 'his trademark wit and lack of pretension,' Gazzaniga ranges across neuroscience, psychology and ethics to show how incorrect it is to blame our brains for our…


The Neuroscience of You

By Chantel Prat,

Book cover of The Neuroscience of You: How Every Brain Is Different and How to Understand Yours

Mark Bartholomew Author Of Intellectual Property and the Brain: How Neuroscience Will Reshape Legal Protection for Creations of the Mind

From the list on how neuroscience will change our lives.

Who am I?

I’m a law professor who has been teaching and writing in the area of intellectual property for 20 years. As my career went along, I came to realize how important it is to not just mechanically apply the legal rules but to think about why they are there. Intellectual property law—a 7 trillion-dollar legal regime governing one-third of the U.S. economy—continually guesses as to how the minds of artists and audiences work. The more I read about neuroscientific advances, the more I realized that these guesses are often wrong and need to be updated for a new technological age.

Mark's book list on how neuroscience will change our lives

Discover why each book is one of Mark's favorite books on how neuroscience will change our lives .

Why this book?

The other books on this list are mostly about generalized understandings of how our brains work. But there is also important research being done about how our brain chemistry is highly individualized, differing from one person to another. Ever wonder why your ability to focus, to manage stress, to engage in “big picture” thinking is different from someone else? Prat lays out the science of individual brain differences in lively, easy-to-understand prose. The book offers glimpses of a future where bespoke psychological treatments and participation in collaborative efforts can be calibrated to our own unique neurochemistries.

The Neuroscience of You

By Chantel Prat,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From University of Washington professor Chantel Prat comes The Neuroscience of You, a rollicking adventure into the human brain that reveals the surprising truth about neuroscience, shifting our focus from what’s average to an understanding of how every brain is different, exactly why our quirks are important, and what this means for each of us.

With style and wit, Chantel Prat takes us on a tour of the meaningful ways that our brains are dissimilar from one another. Using real-world examples, along with take-them-yourself tests and quizzes, she shows you how to identify the strengths and weakness of your own…


The Presence of the Past

By Rupert Sheldrake,

Book cover of The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Memory of Nature

Peter Mark Adams Author Of The Power of the Healing Field: Energy Medicine, Psi Abilities, and Ancestral Healing

From the list on energy healing, consciousness, and wellbeing.

Who am I?

Peter Mark Adams and his wife, Kenzie, have shared a healing and personal development practice for more than 20 years specializing in energy and meridian therapies, breathwork, and meditation. Peter and Kenzie have practiced and taught a range of meditative and energy-based techniques, including Mind Connection Healing (MCH), Usui Reiki, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Mindfulness, Vivation, Integrative and Rebirthing Breathwork. Peter’s non-fiction is published by Inner Traditions and Scarlet Imprint; literary prose and poetry by Corbel Stone Press and Paralibrum. His essays on energy healing have appeared in the peer-reviewed Paranthropology Journal and the Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology as well as on his academia.edu page.

Peter's book list on energy healing, consciousness, and wellbeing

Discover why each book is one of Peter's favorite books on energy healing, consciousness, and wellbeing .

Why this book?

The amazing results achieved with energy healing raise profound questions concerning the nature of consciousness and the human energy anatomy and how these suggest the existence of a much broader conception of reality than consensual thought allows for, and it is with respect to this broader conception that Rupert Sheldrake proves such an informative guide. His central concept - that of the existence of ‘morphic fields’ connecting all sentient life-forms and the influence that they exert on our emotional and physical lives through the phenomena of ‘morphic resonance’ - provides the ‘missing link’ in our understanding of consciousness and as well as the root causes of much of the mental, emotional and physical ill-health that we encounter as healers. 

The Presence of the Past

By Rupert Sheldrake,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Explains how self-organizing systems, from crystals to human societies, share collective memories that influence their form and behavior

• Includes new evidence and research in support of the theory of morphic resonance

• Explores the major role that morphic resonance plays not just in animal instincts and cultural inheritance but also in the larger process of evolution

• Shows that nature is not ruled by fixed laws but by habits and collective memories

In this fully revised and updated edition of The Presence of the Past, Cambridge biologist Rupert Sheldrake lays out new evidence and research in support of his…


The Essential Tension

By Thomas S. Kuhn,

Book cover of The Essential Tension: Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change

Deirdre N. McCloskey Author Of The Rhetoric of Economics

From the list on the rhetoric of science (from a distinguished professor).

Who am I?

Deirdre Nansen McCloskey is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Economics and of History, and Professor Emerita of English and of Communication, adjunct in classics and philosophy, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Trained at Harvard in the 1960s as an economist, she has written twenty-four books and some four hundred academic and popular articles on economic history, rhetoric, philosophy, statistical theory, economic theory, feminism, queer studies, liberalism, ethics, and law.

Deirdre's book list on the rhetoric of science (from a distinguished professor)

Discover why each book is one of Deirdre's favorite books on the rhetoric of science (from a distinguished professor) .

Why this book?

The book is much better than his famous but often misread The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, because it gets down to detailed cases in physics, in which Kuhn was trained. Though he never accepted the term, it amounts to a “rhetoric” of physics, that is, a study of, in Aristotle’s definition, the available means of persuasion in a science or a court of law.

The Essential Tension

By Thomas S. Kuhn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Kuhn has the unmistakable address of a man, who, so far from wanting to score points, is anxious above all else to get at the truth of matters."-Sir Peter Medawar, Nature


Book cover of The Best of All Possible Worlds: Mathematics and Destiny

Joseph Mazur Author Of The Clock Mirage: Our Myth of Measured Time

From the list on narrative merit in mathematics and science.

Who am I?

Meaningful communications with people through life, books, and films have always given me a certain kind of mental nirvana of being transported to a place of delight. I see fine writing as an informative and entertaining conversation with a stranger I just met on a plane who has interesting things to say about the world. Books of narrative merit in mathematics and science are my strangers eager to be met. For me, the best narratives are those that bring me to places I have never been, to tell me things I have not known, and to keep me reading with the feeling of being alive in a human experience.

Joseph's book list on narrative merit in mathematics and science

Discover why each book is one of Joseph's favorite books on narrative merit in mathematics and science .

Why this book?

Ekeland’s book is an entwinement of philosophical views of scientists with metaphysics dealing with nature’s directives. It’s an embroidery of lively anecdotes involving illustrious individuals and great historical moments of human decisions. We go through the Peloponnesian Wars, Venetian concessions to the Hapsburg emperor Maximilian, Darwin’s voyage to the Galapagos, and other enriching accounts. His explanations are clear, elegant, fluid, exhilarating, and suspenseful, reminding me of the effortless style of Richard Feynman. While reading, I felt compelled by a force of nature and purpose to learn about the best of all possible worlds.   

The Best of All Possible Worlds

By Ivar Ekeland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Best of All Possible Worlds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Optimists believe this is the best of all possible worlds. And pessimists fear that might really be the case. But what is the best of all possible worlds? How do we define it? This question has preoccupied philosophers and theologians for ages, but there was a time, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when scientists and mathematicians felt they could provide the answer. This book is their story. Ivar Ekeland here takes the reader on a journey through scientific attempts to envision the best of all possible worlds. He begins with the French physicist Maupertuis, whose least action principle, Ekeland…


A Naturalist at Large

By Bernd Heinrich,

Book cover of A Naturalist at Large: The Best Essays of Bernd Heinrich

John N. Thompson Author Of Relentless Evolution

From the list on coevolution and relentless evolution.

Who am I?

I am captivated and never cease to be astonished by the seemingly endless variety of ways in which coevolution shapes the millions of species on earth into intricate and ever-changing webs of life. The reasons for my fascination are simple. Most species require other species to survive or reproduce, which means that the evolution of biodiversity is as much about evolution of the links among species as it is about evolution of the species themselves. I find immense joy in following the connections among species within the web of life, trying to understand how coevolution has shaped, and relentlessly reshapes, each link. There are always surprises along the way.

John's book list on coevolution and relentless evolution

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books on coevolution and relentless evolution .

Why this book?

It is almost impossible to choose just one of Bernd Heinrich’s many eye-opening books on the natural world. These beautifully written essays on “the inconnectedness of all of life” explore how species solve the problems of surviving and reproducing in a world packed with millions of other species. These stories, gleaned from his detailed observations and experiments in nature, relate how species depend on, defend, and manipulate each other. The battles and manipulations among species he describes are the raw material for relentless coevolution. Heinrich infuses his observations in the Maine woods with wonderfully original insights, grounded in a clear-thinking understanding of current ecological, evolutionary, and behavioral science. 

A Naturalist at Large

By Bernd Heinrich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Naturalist at Large as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In essays that span several decades, Heinrich finds himself at home in his beloved camp in Maine, where he plays host to annoying visitors from Europe (the cluster flies) and more helpful guests from Asia (ladybugs); and as far away as Botswana, where he unravels the far-reaching ecological consequences of elephants' bruising treatment of mopane trees. Heinrich turns to his great love, the extraordinary behaviors of ravens, some of them close companions for years. Finally, he asks "Where does a biologist find hope?" while delivering an answer that informs and inspires.


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