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Skeptic Book Club Selection Voting for December, 2005 - May, 2006

Rank as many books as you are interested in discussing with the group, with 1 being most preferred. Votes will be compiled and top 6 books will be scheduled for discussion for the second Sunday of each month, 5-7 PM at Barnes & Noble, Knoxville.

Rank Title Author Description
The Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our children from Nature Deficit Disorder Richard Louv "Child Advocacy expert" Richard Louv gathers thoughts from parents, teachers, researchers, etc and argues for a return to an awareness & appreciation for the natural world.
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the future of reason Sam Harris The author examines modern faith, clashes between reason and religion in the modern world, influence on world politics, and calls for a new secular modern ethics.
The Pecking Order: Which Siblings Succeed and Why Dalton Conley This NYU sociology professor uses census data and University studies to promote the idea that family dynamics play a major role in determining our fate.
The Cheating Culture: Why more Americans are doing wrong to get ahead David Callahan The author examines the apparent trend in cheating across all parts of society, from corporate fraud and sports to illegal downloads, and discusses this in the context of deregulation, lack of real consequences, and the economic need to 'get ahead'.
Devil's Game: How the US helped unleash fundamentalist Islam Robert Dreyfuss The author discusses the US' efforts to stop Cold War Soviet and Marxist expansion by funding and strategically developing Islamic control of middle east nations, from the CIA’s 1953 Iranian involvement to the current state of affairs.
The Invisible Plague: The rise of mental illness from 1750-present E. Filler Torry & Judy Miller The authors discuss the history of schizophrenia and manic depression in the context of clinical accounts and historic discussions about politics, funding, and social acceptance of the insane and their treatment.
Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping Patrick Radden Keefe The author, a Yale law student, discusses the state of electronic surveillance and its ability to accurately predict the intentions of the 'opposition' vs. their capabilities, the implications for privacy, and the potential for abuse of these techniques.
A Theory of Everything: An Integral vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality Ken Wilbur This 'spirituality and psychology' author starts with the modern physics concept of a 'theory of everything', then applies his own views on how this can enable integration of rational and spiritual aspects of the self, and implications for society.
Democracy in America Alexis de Tocqueville The author, a French aristocrat, tours the United States and discusses his observations of the US democratic system in its early years; his ideas still extremely relevant 175 year later.
Innovations and its discontents: How our Broken patent system is endangering innovation and progress, and what to do about it Adam Jaffe & Josh Lerner The authors discuss problems and implications of legislation beginning in 1982 that changed patent rules, and discuss possible solutions to what they consider to be a broken system.
The Disposable American: Layoffs and their consequences Louis Uchitelle This NY times business reporter promotes the necessity of preserving jobs, and the need for more corporate responsibility in this age of deregulation and outsourcing, and the failure of past administrations to address the downsizing problem.
Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq Stephen Kinzer This NY Times correspondent discusses US toppling of foreign gov'ts since 1893, and argues that our foreign policy typically destabilizes world politics and leaves countries worse off than they were before.
American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury Kevin Phillips This former Republican strategist discusses the 3 main topics using historical parallels, and discusses the current American political system in light of the previous century's policies.
Sprawl: A compact history Robert Bruegmann This professor of art history and urban planning at U. of Ill. –Chicago defends urban sprawl and looks at this phenomenon in a historical context, proposing it is an ancient process, and disputing claims of suburban cultural deficiency; instead promoting the real benefits of suburban living.
The Ethical Brain Gazzaniga The author uses recent research in neuroscience to discuss its impact on rational ethical decision making, and the use of our knowledge of the brain in society.
Before the Dawn: Recovering the lost history of our ancestors Nicholas Wade The author discusses current DNA analysis, which is allowing scientists to discover how homo sapiens evolved, and to better understand their relationships with homo-erectus and neandertals; and reviews genetic evidence affecting race, language and social behaviors.
The Handmaid's Tale (fiction) Margaret Atwood This Canadian poet and novelist writes a 'fable' of a near-future United States, now the "Republic of Gilead", transformed by a monotheistic government with strict social controls, where women have no jobs, money, or control and are assigned to various classes and castes.

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