God, No!

Late last year, I bought Penn Jillette’s God, No! book. I brought it on my vacation to Vegas, and had both Penn & Teller sign it for me after one of their shows. Unfortunately, I’d only read a bit of it by then, and my wife thought it would be a bad idea to mar that signed edition after that.

But, fortunately, she also gave me a three-book trial gift subscription to Audible.com, and I picked that book as my first one. I’m glad I did.

The book is really a series of personal anecdotes (built around the idea of an Atheist Ten Commandments), and hearing Penn read it in his own voice, with the intended emphasis, really adds a dimension to it that makes it much better than merely reading it yourself. I got a real kick out of the book. Penn is great; and he’s much more thoughtful and intellectually humble than the impression many have of him.

So, you should get it (in the audible form if possible). Be warned that it’s probably not for the easily offended (he talks about going to a San Francisco bath house in the 80’s, having sex underwater, losing his parents, etc.)

Happy Anniversary To Me

Twenty-five years ago today, my wife and I exchanged wedding vows in front of a guy, in Las Vegas, who reminded us of a game-show host.

We’re both very happy we did.

And, now (well, beginning June 7th, actually), it’s possible for gay couples in Washington State to get married, too.

Progress can be slow, but it’s happening.

Thinking About Thinking

I’m fascinated by thinking.

I really want to know about what kinds of biases and errors our brains are prone to; both because the subject is inherently interesting, and because I want to have the best possible chance to avoid mistakes.

So, I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It’s very well written and filled with great insights about all sorts of cognitive errors that we all tend to make.

I did have a few quibbles toward the end where he seemed to endorse the “libertarian paternalism” of Nudge, and the idea that money ceases to improve happiness beyond a certain point (see this Justin Wolfers interview video to hear the other side).

But, I’ll try not to fall for the common bias of letting the ending overwhelm my judgement of the book, nor ignore the quantity (duration) of great content.

Reading the book has made me smarter, and I suspect it will have that effect on almost everybody who reads it.