©2009 Michael Shermer; (P)2009 Michael Shermer
The line of thought is often interesting - but the low quality of the sound with whisperings and chairs ruminating in the background as well as inaudible questions makes it difficult to recommend. Also we listeners do not have at hand or on-line the many handout that are used ad referenced throughout. All-in-all its a lecture recording "on the cheap" that needs to be updated and applied for tape/digital to make real sense.
I was looking forward to this book, (as I thought), but it turned out to be a recording of lectures to a group of students and other academics, who made comments, often inaudible, in the background. Dr Shermer rattled on, losing his notes from time to time, making asides, stopping for a drink, adjusting the recording device, referring to what he had written on a board, to slides that he was showing, to printed handouts, and talking about the time of the next lecture etc. Essentially, I felt that he was wasting my time.
The material would have been much better if presented in a professionally edited book, and read from a book by a professional reader. I believe that I did not get what I expected - an audiobook, and am disappointed that Audible represented it as such.
Don't waste your time. Disorganized & frequently inaudible. True, Shermer's personality shines through--unfortunately, by his frequent sophomoric gaffaws. This is first book I've abandoned before finishing.
Wow, I am sorry that I wasted a credit on this. I thought I was buying a survey of the History of Science. Instead, half the lectures are ruminations on economic theory - cursory at best and academically dishonest at worst. Marx is dismissed as a literary hack and inept buffoon, while apparently the sun shines out of Ayn Rand's butt. Discussion of Hegel sounds like an undergraduate book report copied sloppily from the Wikipedia. Much time is devoted to the sound-poem made by Shermer's shifting papers to find the long dry and unconnected-to-lecture quote he would like to read you. Thoroughly avoids discussion of, say, empiricist experiments during the Enlightenment. Even discussion of Locke is more about Economics and social theory than science. Perhaps this product has been packaged incorrectly as History of Science? Judging from class participation (barely audible) he was performing these lectures at an old age home. Constant deference too, to his (graduate advisor's (?) opinion. Nice moment when he says hello to his mom and dad. I KNOW you can find better FREE downloadable lectures on the HoS from the Berkeley or MIT sites because I have downloaded them myself.
I was hoping for a somewhat concise history of science when I purchased this but was suprised to find that the author supports very little with dates and facts, rather this seems little more than a backyard philosophical conversation about science, full of opinions from the author and running conversations with his audience.
I agree with the other reviews that the title is deceptive and I did not get what I thought I was getting and feel that I wasted my credit as well.
This is not worth the time or money. Poorly organized, broken by many extraneous interruptions, read from out-of-date notes, and given by a "professor" who is no more an academic than a high school student. I was completely disappointed and unhappy with this book and amazed that the Audible description was so inaccurate. If I could get my money back, I would.
The lectures should not be cut so often. There is a lot of side talk that isn't really interesting.
Someone who truly hates people of faith and enjoys hearing people of faith ridiculed. If that's you, by all means get this one.
I know it will not be anything by this fellow.
It would be better if he spent more time on the history of science and less time riduculing faith. It would be even better if he got the science right! (At one point he refers to a light-year as a unit of time! Anyone as self-important as this dude ought to at least know that a light-year is a unit of distance.) Also, he laughs at his own jokes, and has endless verbal ticks, um, err, uhh. He is extremely impressed with himself and how witty he percieves himself to be.
The whole deal is a bad scene.
This is truly one of the very worst things I have ever gotten from Audible. I am definitely returning it. It is just unbelievably bad.
"A very long listen"
This is in 3 parts and spans about 24 hours. These are Shermer's lectures recorded in the classroom (it does not seem to be a lecture theater as there is an intimacy with the class. He sometimes makes mistakes (due to the virtue of a live recording) on values and data but these are just verbal trips and are not intended. They are however enjoyable, but the listener will not have access to his pictoral material which he uses. I e-mailed Shermer about this and he does not have the images to give, he also said I was the first reviewer to get in touch as the lectures had only been just released. If anything you will learn the inter-connectedness between known and unknown scientists throughout the last few centuries. His lectures on Einstein are very revealing. I would strongly recommend this title to those interested in science and how it works.
"A Sweeping Waste of Time"
The more you listen to this farrago, the more you sense you’ve been short-changed. To start with the positive, it covers a lot of historical ground you might not be familiar with, and its stand-point is a refreshing alternative to the 'liberal' orthodoxy of academia. But that’s it.
The downsides are threefold. First, the production is truly shocking, and those responsible should be ashamed of themselves. It sounds very much like someone has hauled some 20-year-old audio tapes out of a drawer and spent no more than a lunch-break preparing them for the market. Long, rambling and often inaudible sequences where Dr Shermer chats with irritating colleagues and students have gone unedited; and as for the lecture titles...! They’re slotted randomly into his torrent of words, sometimes even in mid-sentence and usually without the slightest regard for the natural breaks in the subject matter.
The second is down to the speaker, who appears so ill-prepared that on occasions he plainly does not understand the import of his own presentation materials (which, obviously, we can’t see in any case). Fittingly, after interminable rambling, he presents a supposedly unifying thesis than sounded to me like he'd thought of it in the taxi.
Third, for a professional communicator, he seems at times extraordinarily uncomfortable with language. Many English words and names bamboozle him, and as for foreign ones, his efforts are staggeringly inept, albeit at times rather comical. Even the sub-title (“A Sweeping Visage of Science...” – did they mean ‘vista’?) exposes a basic shortage of literacy.
I’ve given this book one more star than several reviewers for a single reason: everyone could benefit from listening to it just to get a handle on the state of further education in the West. But, considering the extortionate price of this fiasco, my best advice is to go for Bill Bryson every time.
"Dreadful ! A real let-down..."
When buying this book I expected something akin to Bill Bryson's "Short History of Everything" - perhaps more detail and less humourous but, given the length and cost, something well-researched and well-presented. In fact this is a series of lectures given by Schermer, the structure, clarity and editing of which is significantly inferior to the standards set by the "Modern Scholar" series. Structurally the lectures are full of digressions and, at times, Schermer shows he has little grasp of some of the topics being discussed. The clarity of the recordings is awful and I lost count of the times when discussions were taking place with the audience and it was impossible to hear the questions being asked or the contributions being made. However, it is perhaps in the editing that this series is at it's weakest. "Chapter" breaks are often made when Schermer is in full flow, digressions and barely decipherable audience discussions - completely off-topic - could, and should, have been edit out.
Finally the title of the book is misleading as, given it's poor structure, it tries to span philosophy and religion as well as science and does poor justice to all three subjects. As an alternative I would recommend any potential purchaser to buy the following:
"A Short History of Everything" - Bill Bryson
"The Story of Philosophy" - Will Durrant
"The God Delusion" - Richard Dawkins
"A plea to modern scholars and audible"
I have been struggling to extract some satisfaction and value from this for a year now. As others have said the editing and sound quality are poor - the lecturing style is just about ok but not fluent. There is almost continual use of overheads and references to material which is not supplied or available. The scope is immense and in parts I find the material and delivery pretentiousand misleading if not incorrect. Without some help as to the structure being followed and the material being covered, I challenge anybody to feel other than irritated after a listening session.
Purchasers beware! This recording is an exercise in futility and does not reflect well on the good standards seen previously from both audible and modern scholar. I would recommend removing this from your catalogue.
"Unstructured and self important"
These are lectures given some 20 years ago, apparently recorded live and completely unedited. The result is a disappointingly disjointed and unstructured series, falling far short of the standards set by the Modern Scholars series. Even the sound quality is poor.
I would strongly discourage anyone from wasting a credit or, worse, money, on these lectures. Go for something where the speaker/author has a minimal amount of respect for his audience, and rather less sense of his own importance.
"Not Dr. Shermers best."
Poorly presented, poorly recorded, conversations take place that cannot be heard. Dr. Shermer has not practiced with this material he loses his place in his notes, he side tracks from the theme and shows a lack of practice at delivery. The price is much too high for the poor content of this audible. Despite all the drawbacks it raised some thought provoking ideas but not enough to rescue it or make it worthy of listening to twice.
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