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Gary

Letting the rest of the world go by

Las Cruces, NM, United States | Member Since 2014

1089
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 204 reviews
  • 227 ratings
  • 0 titles in library
  • 21 purchased in 2015
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163

  • The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Will Durant
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (658)
    Performance
    (497)
    Story
    (490)

    Durant lucidly describes the philosophical systems of such world-famous “monarchs of the mind” as Plato, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Spinoza, Kant, Voltaire, and Nietzsche. Along with their ideas, he offers their flesh-and-blood biographies, placing their thoughts within their own time and place and elucidating their influence on our modern intellectual heritage. This book is packed with wisdom and wit.

    Jeff says: "AN ALL TIME FAVORITE"
    "Benefits from because of its 1926 perspective"
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    After reading this book, I feel like I'm a philosopher. Durant really knows how to engage the reader and make him feel smart. He gives enough biography and then summaries for each philosopher covered. The book really profits from the fact it was originally written in 1926 and I get to experience knowing the history that followed. He's such a good writer that the book stands up regardless of the unfolding history.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Kevin M. Kruse
    • Narrated By Jeff Cummings
    Overall
    (14)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    Conventional wisdom holds that America has been a Christian nation since the Founding Fathers. But in One Nation Under God, historian Kevin M. Kruse argues that the idea of "Christian America" is nothing more than a myth - and a relatively recent one at that.

    k says: "Accurate, but not as surprising as described"
    "Nuanced story of complex history"
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    This book looks at the how America got "In God We Trust" on our coins and "Under God" in the pledge of allegiance during the 50s. The common wisdom of today is that it was mostly a reaction to the spread of 'atheistic' communism. As is usually the case, the common wisdom is wrong and only tells a part of the story.

    A good history of a subject looks at all the nuances, moving parts and complexity of the times before showing how the common wisdom has gotten it wrong. This book does just that. The author's major thesis that he lays out in this book is that the corporations needed allies in their fight against Roosevelt's New Deal policies and realized that Christian Americans would be a perfect ally. The religious saw the government as a threat to "Freedom Under God" and this led to "Christian Libertarians".

    The author looks at all the moving pieces and how they interacted primarily through out the 1950s and into the mid 60s. We came really close to having a constitutional amendment allowing for official sanctioned prayers in government building and schools. Billy Graham seems to be wrong about everything. From Graham telling us "there were no labor unions or strikes in the Garden of Eden", but there was a talking snake to his fervently desiring forced prayers within schools and steadfastly standing with Nixon. The Unitarians seemed to be right about everything and keep popping up through out the story on the correct side of history.

    Overall the book makes for a good story and is well worth a listen to learn a more nuanced telling of history for a period of time when religion tried to rule our lives and did not respect the secular.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Dan Barker
    • Narrated By Daniel C. Dennett, Dan Barker
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    For thousands of years, holy books have told us that such a life is available only through obedience and submission to some higher power. Today, the faithful keep popular devotionals and tracts within easy reach on bedside tables and mobile devices, all communicating this common message: Life is meaningless without God. Former pastor Dan Barker eloquently, powerfully, and rationally upends this long-held belief.

    Gary says: "Purpose starts with us not outside of us"
    "Purpose starts with us not outside of us"
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    The weakest arguments for the existence of God are 1) life would have no meaning without God (therefore God must exist) and 2) how can something come from nothing if there isn't a God to make it happen (an ontological argument). This book refutes those two arguments. As he says in the book it's a rare person who acquires a belief in God because of those arguments, but usually a person believes in God first and then adopts those arguments.

    This book firstly demolishes the premise that the purpose for life must come from outside of us since we can be inspired from within and don't need to be "out spired" to find our meaning. The author doesn't just state things but steps the listener through on how to get past the sophistry foisted upon us by fundamentalist who can't get past their slave/master mentality inherent within their self referential religious belief system, Adam sinned, Jesus died for your sin of Adam, and forgiveness must be asked for and submission to God must be asked for the sin which you have for which you were born in and you must only accept this so you can be forgiven. And the fundamentalist say morality must come from this revealed book based on this revealed religion. The religious book written by men but claimed to be inerrantly written by God or Gods unlike any other book tells us LGBT are abominations and women are second class citizens and even mentions how all the tombs of Jerusalem opened up and the Saints walked the streets of the city (the first Zombies! Matthew 27:52) and our morality and ethics are selectively chosen from this book.

    Understanding morality is hard, the author makes it easy, "do no harm". There are nuances and there are ethics to consider but first the author starts there. He develops it better than most authors do (much better than Michael Shermer did in his latest book). He'll even tells us we need to consider our intuition, our reason and the law. It's tough being a "good" human but much more profitable than believing a book based on magic can answer such complex questions.

    The second thrust of the book deals with why the question "why there is something rather than nothing" is as flawed as saying twelve divided by zero. The question needs context, 'nothing' only has meaning contrasted with something. In our universe virtual particles are created all the time and as the author states when this happens on the boundary of a black hole matter is created. Even stipulating to the premise that 'God did it' how do we know that God is not a machine with advanced AI and it too realizes morality is complex and has been programmed to never interfere.

    There are two ways of discovering the truth about revealed religions. One is to read science books (I've read over a hundred science books in the last four years), such as Dennett's "Darwins Dangerous Idea" which was referenced in this book, the other is with books like this one which demonstrate that our purpose in life can come about by learning about the universe by reading books like this one.

    I really like the author. I enjoy watching his debates online. He's always polite in his debates as he is in this book. I liked this book so much that I'll end up getting one of his other books (even though it's not on Audible and I'll have to actually read it) in order to understand how he got out of the narrow minded fundamental trap he was in before realizing truths such as happiness (subjective well being) comes from within us not outside of us instead of some imaginary transcendent plane which is undefinable.

    For me, there is no greater compliment to an author that I like him so much that I'll read his other books even though there not available on Audible.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Strategy: A History

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Lawrence Freedman
    • Narrated By Michael Butler Murray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (101)
    Performance
    (89)
    Story
    (87)

    In Strategy: A History, Sir Lawrence Freedman, one of the world's leading authorities on war and international politics, captures the vast history of strategic thinking, in a consistently engaging and insightful account of how strategy came to pervade every aspect of our lives.

    Logical Paradox says: "Comprehensive 'Tour de Force' on Strategy"
    "Life is not chess, there are no correct moves"
    Overall
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    The author quotes John von Neumann (a developer of game theory among many other things) in the beginning of the book to the effect that the Game of Chess doesn't require a strategy because there is an exact mathematically correct move for every situation but for most other areas a correct strategy is not determinable. This book covers all those different areas in an encyclopedic fashion.

    The book is a long read, but who among us can't devote thirty hours or more to such an interesting topic. The book is thematically arranged by area (war, politics, social sciences, business, and so on). He'll talk about the different strategies and almost always shows that they work until they don't.

    The book illustrates how dangerous it is to just have intuition with a good narrative when developing a strategy while ignoring the empirical and reality. Reality is complex. Most of the time narratives will only get you so far.

    Overall a long read, but worth it. There is a central narrative in the book, but sometimes the author didn't understand how to tie his stories together coherently.





    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Eric Foner
    • Narrated By Norman Dietz
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (145)
    Performance
    (97)
    Story
    (101)

    Eric Foner gives us the definitive history of Abraham Lincoln and the end of slavery in America. Foner's Lincoln emerges as a leader, one whose greatness lies in his capacity for moral and political growth through real engagement with allies and critics alike. This powerful work will transform our understanding of the nation's greatest president and the issue that mattered most.

    D. Littman says: "great book about slavery and lincoln"
    "Context is everything, growth is a strength"
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    Politics is the art of the possible. A perfect piece of art is the one in which no item could be added or subtracted from the canvas without making the picture less perfect. The author of this book has made the development of Lincoln's understanding of slavery like a perfect painting.

    Lincoln is always ready to grow and revise his understanding of the 'peculiar institution'. He realizes that he can't get too far ahead of the people or the politics without marginalizing his ultimate objectives. For example, Lincoln fully believes the border states are vital for the success of the Union, and realizes their importance, "We want God on our side, but we must have Kentucky". He'll make political compromises in order to secure the border states while at the same time refining how he sees the moving parts that make up the issues of the time.

    I just recently read the book, "What Had God Wrought", a history of America 1815-1848. From the book, it's clear that Slavery is the main character for American History during that time period. I wanted a book that filled in the period from after 1848 through the Civil War. This book, "Fiery Trial", does that superbly by showing how one man handled the question and how he led the change for the country as a whole and was always willing to grow and learn as the times would permit.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By David Limbaugh
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (133)
    Performance
    (117)
    Story
    (114)

    In Jesus on Trial, New York Times bestselling author David Limbaugh applies his lifetime of legal experience to a unique new undertaking: making a case for the gospels as hard evidence of the life and work of Jesus Christ. Limbaugh, a practicing attorney and former professor of law, approaches the canonical gospels with the same level of scrutiny he would apply to any legal document and asks all the necessary questions about the story of Jesus....

    Gary says: "Lacks a foundation"
    "Lacks a foundation"
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    The author starts with the major premise that the bible is the inerrant word of God. The bible tells us that in multiple places therefore we know it's true. He'll go on to tell the reader, we are born with sin and the only way to overcome that is through belief in Jesus. Paradoxes within scripture are only because of lack of faith. The more holy we become, the more we realize how unholy we were. Faith leads to justification and salvation. He quotes a lot of scripture to prove his points. Prophecy is perfect and the Old Testament prophesied Jesus. The ressurection is true and proves the divinity of Christ. He'll argue that God has a plan for all of us. The story of Joseph and his brothers illustrates how God has a perfect plan for us. Moses in the desert demonstrates God's wisdom and shows us why we should rest on the sabbath. Obedience is part of God's plan. Free will is a gift from God and that proves the truths in the bible. Christianity must be true because it's the only religion that uses grace from God to save us from our sin which we are all born with and we must be born again in order to be saved.

    He uses Kierkaard to defend his point on the value of reason for our faith. He probably shouldn't because Kierkegaard would argue faith isn't necessary because it's correct, but faith is necessary because it keeps us balanced. The author does comment on my favorite book of the bible, Ecclesiasties, but he says "almost certainly it was written by Solomon".

    There is not much to recommend in this book except for those who do believe in the authors major premise. He has no doubt in his certainties, but makes weak arguments in support of his major premise.

    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs)
    • By Nathan Wolfe
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (467)
    Performance
    (408)
    Story
    (404)

    In The Viral Storm, award-winning biologist Nathan Wolfe tells the story of how viruses and human beings have evolved side by side through history; how deadly viruses like HIV, swine flu, and bird flu almost wiped us out in the past; and why modern life has made our species vulnerable to the threat of a global pandemic. Wolfe's research missions to the jungles have earned him the nickname "the Indiana Jones of virus hunters," and here Wolfe takes listeners along on his groundbreaking and often dangerous research trips - to reveal the surprising origins of the most deadly diseases....

    Erica says: "a bio-geek's wet dream"
    "So you want to be a Viralogist"
    Overall
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    The author gives a fairly good look at how Virologist think and see the world. He'll explain in general terms how they see the world and what kind of work they do. I would strongly recommend this book for anyone who thinks they might want to enter the field or for those who have not read any other books on similar topics.

    It's obvious to me that the author knows a whole lot more about the subject, but in order to keep the book interesting for the widest possible audience he usually only explains the field in the most general terms.

    For me, I wish the author would have written a more detailed book and my expectations weren't met.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • One Nation, Under Gods: A New American History

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Peter Manseau
    • Narrated By Kevin Stillwell
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    At the heart of the nation's spiritual history are audacious and often violent scenes. But the Puritans and the shining city on the hill give us just one way to understand the United States. Rather than recite American history from a Christian vantage point, Peter Manseau proves that what really happened is worth a close, fresh look.

    Gary says: "Tapestry of different pieces makes for a whole"
    "Tapestry of different pieces makes for a whole"
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    The author tells a series of stories from 1492 until today, and he tells the stories so well that if I were to pick a random year, I could tell you which story the author told and also tell you the chapter that came before and the chapter that came after. He tells his story so well that I can in my mind recreate the book from the first chapter to the last and not miss a chapter in the telling. Within each story the author will put the story into the context of the time and then tie the pieces together.

    The best way to illustrate his technique is to highlight one of his chapters, Mary Moody Emerson, known as the baby who was at one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War, saw a Hindu give a talk at her boarding house, this made her aware of beliefs beyond her own, and while she lived with her nephew, Ralph Waldo Emerson, she taught how one could think beyond their own certainties, and that led to the Transcendental Movement and led to Moby Dick by Melville. He ties the connections of each of his stories, gives the context, and always entertains. (A chapter after will be about San Francisco and the Chinese, and a chapter before was on the burning of the Capitol in the War of 1812 and Jefferson's library. Everything connects within this book, both within the chapters and between the chapters).

    Within each chapter he ties each piece into a coherent whole and puts the context around the story, and between each chapter he relates it to the previous chapter such that he writes an incredibly interesting set of stories which gives everyone a peek into how a country is seamlessly woven together into a tapestry of different pieces which only makes sense after the whole is observed.

    I found each of the stories awe inspiring. He is that good of a story teller, and he'll always tell you why the story matters today.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Denial of Death

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Ernest Becker
    • Narrated By Raymond Todd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (215)
    Performance
    (113)
    Story
    (111)

    Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1974 and the culmination of a life's work, The Denial of Death is Ernest Becker's brilliant and impassioned answer to the "why" of human existence. In bold contrast to the predominant Freudian school of thought, Becker tackles the problem of the vital lie: man's refusal to acknowledge his own mortality. In doing so, he sheds new light on the nature of humanity and issues a call to life and its living that still resonates more than 30 years after its writing.

    Pat says: "The most significant book I have ever read."
    "It's no longer 1973 (Thank Goodness)!"
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    This prize winning book from 1973 has immense value today because it captures how very smart people explained the world in those days and it is amazing we ever got out of the self referential tautological cave that was being created to explain who we are. There is nothing more dangerous than using just intuition and strong arguments without empirical data to reach your conclusions. That's what this author does.

    He ties existential and psychoanalytical thought and the necessity for beliefs in God in to a worldview. He will tell us that it is our repression and our denial that end up giving us our neurosis. He does not use the psychoanalytical system developed by Freud because he makes our neurosis more than just dependent on sexual repressions, but nevertheless his system ends with 'castration', 'transference', and other such psychoanalytical belief systems. (That's why I feel comfortable characterizing his system as self-referential tautological. He's creating a system, some what like mathematics, by assuming truths within the system and using the system to justify the system. There's no way to refute the system unless one steps out of the system. That is to say, there is now way to show the system is incoherent within the system itself and there are things within the system which can neither be shown true or false).

    He's just taking a pseudoscience and working within the system and uses the same techniques to develop his similar system of pseudoscience but he's going to call it post-Freudian. He will conclude things such as the schizophrenic and psychotic are 'neurotic' principally because they see the true reality better, the reality of the absurdity of life, the fact that we live with the certainty of death, and the inadequacy of life, the inability to live with the freedom we our given.

    He will go into a whole host of reasons why we are inadequate. He'll even explain how LGBTQ people are perverted because fetishes created while growing up has led to that extreme denial of themselves (probably something to do with their lack of character).

    The author emphasizes that character, culture and values determine who we become. Those who lack any of those three end up with 'neurosis', because under his psycho-dynamic system we know everyone is neurotic to some degree because one who denies his own repression must be neurotic and out of touch with reality. (There is a beautiful tautology within his belief system).

    Unfortunately, to understand the 1970s one must understand how smart people did embrace the kind of thinking presented in this book. It's amazing that we as a society got out of that psychoanalytical trap. Now days, neurosis is not used as a category in the DSM for a reason.

    I can highly recommend this book since it gives such an interesting window that psychoanalysis mistakenly provided to human understanding in 1973. It clearly gives a great peak into how psychiatry got off the rails. I would highly recommend reading "Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry" before attempting this pseudo-scientific book. "Shrinks" documents how psychiatry got so far off the rails and how it found itself by becoming a real science by including the empirical. This book, "Denial of Death", marks the start of the beginning from which a new era for human understanding began to finally find itself and jettison junk like this book contains.



    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Jeffrey A. Lieberman, Ogi Ogas
    • Narrated By Graham Corrigan
    Overall
    (26)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (23)

    In Shrinks Dr. Lieberman traces the field from its birth as a mystic pseudoscience through its adolescence as a cult of "shrinks" to its late blooming maturity - beginning after World War II - as a science-driven profession that saves lives.

    Gary says: "Today's psychiatrist aren't like your father's"
    "Today's psychiatrist aren't like your father's"
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    Most of us today have a warped view of what psychiatry does based on its early history and the way it has been portrayed by popular media during earlier time periods. Psychoanalysis (think Freud) was pseudoscience. It thought that diseases of the mind and brain were caused by repressed memories and such, and that it had no empirical data to support it. The author really doesn't dance around the problems inherent within Psychoanalysis. Each psychoanalyst needed to be psychoanalyzed before becoming a psychoanalyst a perfect way to create a pseudoscience.

    Psychoanalysts were arguing that all mental problems were behavioral problems and everybody suffered from some sort of mental problem. They had lost touch with reality. The media was right to mock the profession. Things started to change in the 1970s when Washington University in St. Louis, MO started emphasizing the role that data should play in diagnosis instead of tradition and intuition. They even started developing CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) as an antidote to the meaninglessness of blaming the patient for his neurosis. With data it was shown to work.

    The first step in developing science is to first define categories. In this case, the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual) III started insisting on scientific categories instead of the pseudo classifications that the psychiatrists (mostly psychoanalyst) had been using previously. The tenor of the times had tarnished the image of the psychiatrists and something needed to be done to put the profession back on a scientific basis.

    The next step comes about through the realization that the mind and the brain both effect mental health. The first major step (early 1900s) was introducing malaria into patients who had severe mental problems due to advance syphilis. The ensuing fever cured the patients. Unfortunately, lobotomies started being performed, and had no data to support their efficacy. Ultimately, a whole slew of drugs are discovered which led to control of some mental related diseases.

    The author shows how today the profession really does add value. Many people's perceptions about the profession were warped by what they saw in popular media while growing up, but the world has changed and so has the profession of psychiatry. For those who want to remain in the dark and only offer criticism they should skip this fine book, for all others who want to enter the 21st century and unlearn their misconceptions I would highly recommend this well written book.





    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By John Brockman
    • Narrated By David Colacci, Susan Ericksen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (38)
    Story
    (38)

    Each year,John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org, challenges some of the world's greatest scientists, artists, and philosophers to answer a provocative question crucial to our time. In 2014 he asked 175 brilliant minds to ponder: What scientific idea needs to be put aside in order to make room for new ideas to advance? The answers are as surprising as they are illuminating.

    Michael says: "3% Excellent"
    "Too much wheat not enough chaff"
    Overall
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    This book was a lot like the TED conferences. While you're watching them you think they're the most brilliant thing you've ever seen and just wonder why you didn't come up with thinking about the problem that way on your own. But, when it's over you start to think maybe that wasn't worth my time after all. This book was fun while doing it, but I strongly suspect it wasn't worth my time.

    Some essays were very good. I really liked Alan Alda's on why true and false should not be how we look at things. Richard Dawkin's (and a host of others) also thinks Essentianism should be retired. It just muddles our way of thinking since nature doesn't always fall into neat categories (Darwin dances around what a species is for a very good reason). When the theme of the essay was on the real nature of science being particular to the data available, and contingent to the current understanding of nature that we have and science is never absolute (back to Alan Alda's essay, e.g.), the essay would work nicely and would fit into an overall narrative.

    Overall, I would recommend skipping this book and reading Marcelo Gleiser's "Island of Knowledge", who did give the second essay presented in this book and will give the listener a more coherent sense on the limitations of science than this book does.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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