This is a careful, considered, and reasonably open-minded book, worthy of careful review. What I enjoyed most was the large and Rational picture presented.
It always depends on who you are talking to. The book was awfully light on hard science--which I found disappointing, but it did preach a general truth about a whole plant diet being best. Few people stop to ask the simple question "What makes healthy foods healthy and unhealthy foods unhealthy?" The author does not present this question or address its answer directly, but the answer is simply that humans are adapted to the one and not the other. I liked the way he side-stepped the vegan/vegetarian question, criticizing refined flour and other things that don't have animal products in them. He also did a great job of explaining the monied interests involved and how it's not necessary to believe in conspiracy theories over this. If you are interested in the actual science of why one type of food is best for you, you may be disappointed in this book. If you are more interested in a larger picture, insights into industry, disease, and especially cancer, I think you'll find this book helpful.
I liked the opening statements about his science and experience and the fact that he's 79 years old and so not looking to make a lot of money from the book. I also liked the quotations he spreads liberally through the book. Many of them sum up the argument he then goes into quite well.
I bought this book twice: First on Audible, then in paper. I look forward to reading it again as soon as I can.
By the way, we humans seem to have a terrible time thinking statistically. While it is interesting to find exceptions to every rule, the weight of the evidence and the subsequent odds and application to most of us are clearly evident. The interesting questions about the Inuit would be how healthy they are, exactly what their diet consists of, and how healthy are they as compared to the generations 50 or 100 years ago? For most of us, no diet could be simpler than whole foods whole. This book is a nice compliment to Jared Diamond's book The World Until Yesterday, particularly the last four chapters of that book, which discuss what happens when "traditional" cultures bump into modern ones. The last four chapters are about diet and disease.
The story line is simple, engaging, and fits very well with the reality we see around us. The simple truth is that you can't spend more than you make. Our current economic policies will come due at some point, and this book does a great job of explaining how and why.
Economics, like religion or health, is often seen as an incomprehensible mess of contradictory guesswork; but it's not, or at least it doesn't have to be. This book begins with a short explanation of the two theories of economics, then teaches us economics by using a simple and continuous story. The story is built line by line, easy to follow, and only requires the smallest bit of non-reality to make economics as simple as can be.
I didn't pay a lot of attention to which author was reading what. Both read well, alternating between one reading the story and the other reading the explanation/takeaway.
I liked the book so much I bought the new hardcover collector's edition and plan to tell the story to my kids.
This book should be basic required reading for all Americans.
This was my first Sam Harris book. I liked the power of his intellect best and the forcefulness of his arguments. Sam Harris is one of the greatest intellectual lights of our time.
The abstract reasoning and the multiple angles of attack. Most of the illustrations fit both the principle and real situations that could happen. Because Sam is such a strong thinking type, he often makes intuitive leaps which can be scaled by those who have pondered the ideas he covers, but which may lose some. The story could reach a wider audience if he took more time to support his arguments and explain his reasons.
Many of the illustrations he uses are ones I have used in my own thinking and arguing. I probably best liked the illustration of over-hearing a friend lie and how this plants the seed of doubt in our own minds. He also helped me understand the social lies we tell everyday such as "how are you?" Instead of treating them literally--as the lies they are--Sam encourages us to translate them as a greeting. Understood in this light, they can be made to be comprehensible and consistent, where taking them at face value will mislead. This is critical to understand because many people rely a whole lot more on emotions than Sam does, and this will lead to a lot of criticism over technique and approach, particularly by those who don't have the cognitive ability to challenge his logic and reasoning.
Still there are legitimate faults such as the ones pointed out by another reviewer, Thug4life. He does smack of an ivory tower intellect out of touch with real world encounters, he does seem insulated from many more humble minds, fragile egos, and from those with greater attunement to their emotions, and he doesn't draw the line on lying nearly as tightly as I think it should be drawn; he also doesn't discuss why we lie or how to avoid the truth while also avoiding lying. This is part of why the book could reach a larger audience if he took the time to underpin his arguments better.
Sam Harris and Steven Pinker are the only authors I have encountered that demand 100% of my conscious attention. If you really want to connect the dots, understand what he is arguing, apply it to events and people in your own life, and recognize possible flaws in his argument and development, you really do need to pay a ton of attention.
This is a great book, but one that would be stronger with a little more thought and supporting reasoning.
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