The most recommended books on skepticism

Who picked these books? Meet our 17 experts.

17 authors created a book list connected to skepticism, and here are their favorite skepticism books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of skepticism book?

Loading...
Loading...

Book cover of Letters from A Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father's Questions About Christianity

Tom Rudelius Author Of Chasing Proof, Finding Faith: A Young Scientist’s Search for Truth in a World of Uncertainty

From my list on why a scientifically-minded person can believe in God.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a theoretical physicist and a practicing Christian. I was raised in a very loving but nonreligious household, and I didn’t seriously consider the possibility of God’s existence until I was a college student, when my twin brother came to faith and started to talk with me about it. In my subsequent journey to faith and the years thereafter, I read a number of books that changed my perspective on religion and convinced me that I could believe in God without compromising on my scientific view of the world. Chasing Proof, Finding Faith is the story of the journey I took, and the strange new world of faith I found on the other side.

Tom's book list on why a scientifically-minded person can believe in God

Tom Rudelius Why did Tom love this book?

Letters from a Skeptic was the first book about religion that I read in my journey to faith.

The book consists of an actual correspondence between Edward, a skeptic, and Gregory, his son, a pastor. Reading this book as a skeptic myself, I resonated deeply with the objections raised by Edward. But time and time again, I was surprised at the thoughtfulness of Gregory’s responses. I wasn’t completely convinced at first reading, but I was intrigued enough to read further.

By Gregory A. Boyd, Edward Boyd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Letters from A Skeptic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Greg Boyd and his father, Ed, were on opposite sides of a great divide. Greg was a newfound Christian, while his father was a longtime agnostic. So Greg offered his father an invitation: Ed could write with any questions on Christianity, and his son would offer a response.

Letters from a Skeptic contains this special correspondence. The letters tackle some of today's toughest challenges facing Christianity, including

Do all non-Christians go to hell?
How can we believe a man rose from the dead?
Why is the world so full of suffering?
How do we know the Bible was divinely inspired?…


Book cover of The Most Haunted House in England: Ten Years' Investigation of Borley Rectory

Ian George Author Of Don't Go Home Tonight

From my list on for the twilight period between bed and sleep.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in the supernatural is a consequence of early life contact with the macabre fantasy works of authors such as Edgar Allen Poe, MR James, and HP Lovecraft. Influenced by my father in my early years, these were favourites of his, though I remain unsure if he ever actually read any of their works; I don’t recall seeing any of their titles amongst the textbooks and journals weighing heavily on the well-stocked bookshelves in the study. It was through watching television productions of the author's titles, one of the rare times the family gathered with our father, that linked the author's names in my mind to their works. 

Ian's book list on for the twilight period between bed and sleep

Ian George Why did Ian love this book?

The only book I've listed which claims to be a true story. My father owned several volumes written by Harry Price and by far the most interesting to me as a boy was the story of Borley Rectory. Though I now view Price’s narrative through more skeptical eyes, it still sends a chill down my spine when I read his claims of ghostly writing and sightings of the mysterious nun walking on the moonlit grounds. Alas that the building has long disappeared…I'm certain that I would have been drawn to it. Thinking about it, perhaps it is better that it has gone…I may be a cynical observer, but irrational fear of the unknown lives just as actively in the sceptic as it does in the convinced. 

By Harry Price,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Most Haunted House in England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Price, Harry


Book cover of Love Songs for Sceptics

Alana Oxford Author Of Scotsman in the Stacks

From my list on romances with G to PG rated love scenes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I like to tell people that I found my passion in life and it's books. I write them, read them, review them and I’ve been a librarian for 17 years. (I’ve worked in libraries for longer than that. Over 25 years!) It’s been dark times recently and romance has become my happy place. I’m a sucker for romances with pretty covers, quirky characters, and not so much of the on-page spice. If there’s some travel involved, even better!

Alana's book list on romances with G to PG rated love scenes

Alana Oxford Why did Alana love this book?

This was one of those books that I just held in my hands quietly for a few moments after I finished reading it because I felt like I’d just finished a masterpiece. (Does anyone say that about a romance novel? I do, because this book has it all.) 

I’ve always loved writing and what this author pulled off in the writing of this book is worthy of a standing ovation. The layers of the plot, those tidbits of information in the beginning that end up having a lot of meaning at the end. Ah! It was so beautifully and skillfully done! This is one of those books that makes me want to be a better writer. It’s an inspiration, and a really great story too!

By Christina Pishiris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A fantastic debut from a hilarious and brilliantly original new voice in women’s fiction. 

Love is for suckers...isn’t it?

My brother’s getting married in a few weeks and asked for help picking a song for his first dance. I suggested Kiss’ ‘Love’s a Slap in the Face’. It didn’t go down well.

When she was a teenager, Zoë Frixos fell in love with Simon Baxter, her best friend and the boy next door. But his family moved to America before she could tell him how she felt and, like a scratched record, she’s never quite moved on. Now, almost 20…


Book cover of The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don't

William MacAskill Author Of What We Owe the Future

From my list on doing good.

Why am I passionate about this?

William MacAskill is an associate professor in philosophy at the University of Oxford. At the time of his appointment, he was the youngest associate professor of philosophy in the world. He cofounded the nonprofits Giving What We Can, the Centre for Effective Altruism, and Y Combinator–backed 80,000 Hours, which together have moved over $300 million to effective charities. He is the author of Doing Good Better and What We Owe The Future.

William's book list on doing good

William MacAskill Why did William love this book?

The Scout Mindset is one of the best books I know on reasoning clearly and developing a truth-seeking attitude. Galef argues that instead of being like “soldiers,” who engage in wishful thinking by defending the ideas they most want to believe, we should be more like “scouts,” whose goal is to actually find out what is true. The book includes some of the latest research on the skills and habits one needs to be an excellent reasoner. 

By Julia Galef,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Scout Mindset as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of best smart thinking book 2022 (Business Book Awards)
Guardian best books of 2021

'Original, thought-provoking and a joy to read' Tim Harford

'Highly recommended. It's not easy to become (more of) a scout, but it's hard not to be inspired by this book' Rutger Bregman

When it comes to what we believe, humans see what they want to see. In other words, we have what Julia Galef calls a 'soldier' mindset. From tribalism and wishful thinking, to rationalising in our personal lives and everything in between, we are driven to defend the ideas we most want to believe…


Book cover of The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena

Mitch Horowitz Author Of Daydream Believer: Unlocking the Ultimate Power of Your Mind

From my list on the extra-physical potentials of the mind.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a PEN Award-winning historian of alternative spirituality and a writer-in-residence at the New York Public Library. I track the impact and substance of supernatural beliefs—a source of fascination since my Queens, NY, boyhood—in books including Occult America, The Miracle Club, and Uncertain Places. I often say that if you do not write your own history, it gets written for you—usually by people who may not care about or even understand the values that emanate from your work. Given my personal dedication to the spiritual search, I call myself a believing historian (which most historians of religion actually are). I labor to explore the lives, ideas, and practices behind esoteric spirituality.

Mitch's book list on the extra-physical potentials of the mind

Mitch Horowitz Why did Mitch love this book?

If, after all this, you remain a skeptic—and skeptic, in its classical sense, is a noble term that any of us should gladly claim—scientist Radin sorts out the issues in a manner that reflects both his integrity as a researcher (something that most critics are not) and his humor and skills as a communicator. Radin is, in my estimation, the inheritor of JB Rhine and a tireless seeker after truth in a clinical setting. He is the generational voice of many contemporary parapsychologists and philosophers of consciousness. Radin has personally rescued me from more errors than I can enumerate and in this book he impeccably surveys some of parapsychology’s evidence-based insights—and the social reasons for resistance to them.  

By Dean I. Radin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Radin draws from his own work at Princeton, Stanford Research Institute, and Fortune 500 companies, as well as his research for the U.S. government, to demonstrate the surprising extent to which the truth of psi has already been tacitly acknowledged and exploited. "The Conscious Universe" also sifts the data for tantalizing hints of how mind and matter are linked. Finally, Radin takes a bold look ahead, to the inevitable social, economic, academic, and spiritual consequences of the mass realization that mind and matter can influence each other without having physical contact.


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

Alex Edmans Author Of Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit

From Alex's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Spirited Unorthodox Provocative Evidence-based Trustworthy

Alex's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Alex Edmans Why did Alex love this book?

This book highlights the many ways in which we are frequently misled by data – falling for claims of causation when the data only supports correlation, not recognising that data may be a selected sample that only presents a small part of the picture, and ignoring researchers’ incentives to hand-pick the methodology that gives them the results they want.

This rigorous but highly readable book explains how to spot the common ways in which people mislead us, either deliberately or unintentionally, and call it out in a constructive and professional way.

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…


Book cover of Answering the Objections of Atheists, Agnostics, & Skeptics

Roxane Lapa Author Of Answering The Atheist: Good Questions Deserve Straight Answers

From my list on Christian apologetics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a Christian for 30+ years, and have had many questions about the Bible and theology. In order to answer my own questions, I’ve consumed scores of apologetics books, articles, videos, and podcasts, as well as studied the Bible itself, with lexicons and commentaries.

Roxane's book list on Christian apologetics

Roxane Lapa Why did Roxane love this book?

This is a book aimed at Christians and regards arguments that sceptics tend to raise.  This was a great book. It wasn’t an easy read, or particularly well ordered, but it had a lot of meat and a few amazing nuggets.

By Ron Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Answering the Objections of Atheists, Agnostics, & Skeptics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Many arguments from atheists, agnostics, and skeptics are difficult, or at least intimidating, for most Christians to answer. With clear reasoning and understandable language Ron Rhodes provides readers with the explanations and scriptural background they need to respond to common arguments against faith including:

There is no such thing as absolute truth. Genesis is a myth, not a scientific account. A loving God cannot exist--there is too much evil and suffering. If God created all things, how did He create Himself? Sin is an outdated concept.

With this resource, Christians will be able to confidently respond to logical arguments against…


Book cover of The Complete Works

James Strock Author Of Serve to Lead: 21st Century Leaders Manual

From my list on approaching life and work as an artist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Service and leadership have been a primary focus of my life and work for many years. Though today these are matters of academic study, they weren’t when I was in school. I’ve written and spoken extensively on these topics to corporate, military, academic, governmental, and NGO organizations. I strive to narrow the gap between those who study leadership and management and those who apply the principles in practice. My approach is to pose questions and share the experiences of those who have made significant contributions throughout history into the present moment. The books on my list have meant a lot to me and many others. I hope you’ll find value in them, too.  

James' book list on approaching life and work as an artist

James Strock Why did James love this book?

Montaigne, a 16th-century French aristocrat, is regarded as a pioneer of the essay as a form of written expression.

This collection is skillfully edited and beautifully designed. The essays run the gamut of human experience, continuing to have resonance for readers and writers alike.

Topics include: politics and history; virtues and vices; personal interactions with friends and others; travel; viewpoints of life at various ages and stages.

By Michel de Montaigne, Donald M. Frame (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Humanist, skeptic, acute observer of himself and others, Michel de Montaigne (1533—92) was the first to use the term “essay” to refer to the form he pioneered, and he has remained one of its most famous practitioners. He reflected on the great themes of existence in his wise and engaging writings, his subjects ranging from proper conversation and good reading, to the raising of children and the endurance of pain, from solitude, destiny, time, and custom, to truth, consciousness, and death. Having stood the test of time, his essays continue to influence writers nearly five hundred years later.

 

Also included…


Book cover of Forewarned: A Sceptic's Guide to Prediction

David F. Hendry Author Of Forecasting: An Essential Introduction

From my list on getting an insight into forecasting.

Why am I passionate about this?

Accurate and precise forecasting is essential for successful planning and policy from economics to epidemiology. We have been keen to understand why so many forecasts turn out to be highly inaccurate since making dreadful forecasts ourselves, and advising UK government agencies (Treasury, Parliament, Bank of England) during turbulent periods. As simple extrapolation often beats model-based forecasting, we have been developing improved methods that draw on the best aspects of both, and have published more than 60 articles and 6 books attracting more than 6000 citations by other scholars. Our recommended books cover a wide range of forecasting methods—suggesting there is no optimal way to look into the future.

David's book list on getting an insight into forecasting

David F. Hendry Why did David love this book?

When can we trust a forecast? Given how often forecasts end up being very wide of the mark, a degree of scepticism might well be warranted. Paul Goodwin provides an entertaining account of forecasting, arguing that intuition may serve us well in some settings, but that computer-based analysis of big data might be expected to prevail in others.        

By Paul Goodwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Whether it's an unforeseen financial crash, a shock election result or a washout summer that threatens to ruin a holiday in the sun, forecasts are part and parcel of our everyday lives. We rely wholeheartedly on them, and become outraged when things don't go exactly to plan.

But should we really put so much trust in predictions? Perhaps gut instincts can trump years of methodically compiled expert knowledge? And when exactly is a forecast not a forecast? Forewarned will answer all of these intriguing questions, and many more.

Packed with fun anecdotes and startling facts, Forewarned is a myth-busting guide…


Book cover of The Power of Narrative: Climate Skepticism and the Deconstruction of Science

Mike Hulme Author Of Why We Disagree about Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity

From my list on the contested meanings of climate change.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by the weather since as a schoolboy I avidly followed the cricket scores and the fate of tomorrow’s match. This co-dependence of my passion for cricket with the state of the weather turned into a professional career as, first, a research scientist and then later a professor of geography, I studied the idea of climate and the many ways in which it intersects with our social, ecological and imaginative worlds. As human-caused climate change became a defining public and political issue for the new century, my interests increasingly focused on understanding why people think so differently about the climate, its changes, its future trajectory—and what to do about it. 

Mike's book list on the contested meanings of climate change

Mike Hulme Why did Mike love this book?

People make sense of their experience of the world through the stories they tell each other. These stories bind people together into social formations. This is as true for climate change as it is for many other bewildering or unsettling phenomenon. Lejano and Nero start from this premise and show how the narrative of climate skepticism has been able to forge a social movement and stake a challenge to the hegemony of the larger community of scientists on what is regarded (falsely) as a matter of science. Using narrative and discourse analysis, richly illustrated with examples, the book takes the reader on a journey, across times and places and social realms; throughout, the power of narrative is revealed, making believers, or skeptics, of us all.

By Raul P. Lejano, Shondel J. Nero,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There is an ideological war of words waging in America, one that speaks to a new fundamentalism rising not just within the American public, but across other ideologically-torn nations around the globe as well. At its heart is climate skepticism, an ideological watershed that has become a core belief for millions of people despite a large scientific consensus supporting the science of anthropogenic climate change. While many scholars have examined the role of
lobbyists and conservative think tanks in fueling the climate skepticism movement, there has not yet been a systematic analysis of why the narrative itself has resonated so…