please recommend one book that has improved your mind in a permanent way

I would like to try reading some things that are worthwhile in among the vampire fiction

Last night I read the Yoga Ogre 7 times.

I’m waiting to see if it has improved my mind. 

Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me by Richard Farina

Magic Mountain by Mann. Totally changes your idea of time.

Future Shock by Alvin Toffler- totally changed view of man's progress 

Hitler's Empire by Mark Mazower - I now understand the dynamics of Europe over the last 150 years

To the Finland Station, Edmund Wilson. It was the first history I read that was not "biographies of great men or ...a chronicle of remarkable happenings or ... a pageant directed by God ... but men as we know them, alone on the earth we know."

It was absolutely exhilarating too to see a writer take on such an enormous idea - the developing realisation, through the Enlightenment, socialism and communism that humans make their own societies -  and westle it successfully into a clear story line.

agree re catch 22 - mind blown

half of a yellow sun was good

Third man factor is very good.

And obv all the discworld books

rich dad poor dad...and have driven boring cars ever since 

Etty Hillesum "An Interrupted Life and Letters From Westerbork"

i enjoyed the breadth of Harari's Sapiens. He also has a reader friendly style, a knack of explaining ideas simply

Guns, germs and steel by Jared Diamond. Earlier and better than Homo Sapiens by whatshisface.

Poses and answers the question: why was is the Spanish who sailed west and conquered the Aztecs, rather than the other way around.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell also good, if you want to feel better about not being the new Bill Gates or Steve Jobs

Guns Germs and Steel is tosh. It takes it as axiomatic that all races are identical, and the only reason Aborigines did not develop calculus and steam engines is natural resources... as if Australia lacks natural resources. Aborigines never even invented the bow and arrow! Take away that axiom and the whole book falls apart.

Try Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate, or Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, or Outliers, or Moby Dick, or George Orwell.

KG, you're missing the beast of burden necessary for efficient farming, which is one of the key markers. I was not aware you could harness a kangaroo or a platypus.  ;-)

In any case, did they need a bow if they had unilaterally invented the boomerang? Also had atlatls if memory serves.

‘The Resistance Fighters: The Immense Struggle of Holland During World War II’ by Barth Hoogstraten

Also missing out the long east-west lines of cultivable land which was another massively significant factor.

’Guns Germs and Steel is tosh. It takes it as axiomatic that all races are identical’

he’s back ladies & gents...

Yes I second Guns, Germs and Steel - changed the way I look at the world.  Debt by David Graeber is another good theory of everything type book.

Sorry, I should also have added my endorsement for G, G & S

St John, there were lots of other marsupials when the Aborigines arrived in Australia 60,000 years ago, but they were driven to extinction in short order.

And actually yes, a bow and arrow is very useful. Boomerangs are largely used for ceremonial purposes, and are almost useless for hunting. And society that has invented neither agriculture nor the bow and arrow is exceptionally primitive. Aborigines literally had stone-age technology. 

The happiness trap. The fundamental point of the book is that you have to recognise you have two parts to your brain. The thinking self and the observing self.

 

The thinking self is radio doom  and gloom and just runs an endless list of scary horrible stories you tell yourself. The observing self can stop you fusing with these thoughts and accepting them as true and allow you to progress your life in a way that aligns with your values. 

 

Get the picture book. It's brilliant. 

 

 

Of course Diamond could be right, and it might be that all races are indeed identical. It would just be nice to see some actual evidence for this, not simply be told to assume it.

Isn’t this basically dealt with in the first 2 pages of the book where the author says of the people of PNG something along the lines of ‘these were intelligent, resourceful people, well adapted to their environment so why did we have so much more cargo than them’?

And then he goes on to explain why.

Yes indeed. He starts with the unproven assertion that they were intelligent resourceful people.

The history of the world is that of people apparently well adapted to their environment being wiped out when more sophisticated populations arrive. Not nice, but that is what happens.

Aborigines survived all that time because they were cut off by rising sea levels, and more sophisticated people did not arrive until 230 odd years ago.

St John, there were lots of other marsupials when the Aborigines arrived in Australia 60,000 years ago, but they were driven to extinction in short order.

And actually yes, a bow and arrow is very useful. Boomerangs are largely used for ceremonial purposes, and are almost useless for hunting. And society that has invented neither agriculture nor the bow and arrow is exceptionally primitive. Aborigines literally had stone-age technology. 

Massive heh at the comprehension fail here. The funny thing about the Aborigines living in Australia with Aborigine technology is that they could have continued to do so for 10,000s of years because their technology fitted their environment. Whereas Westerners, having arrived in Australia in 1789, will have rendered it completely incapable of sustaining its population by circa 2040.

Granted most of that is climate change, but White Australians are some of the biggest culprits in that regard, with their coal exports, air con, car-based cities and giant carbon footprints. Some of it is also just over-farming.

A Confederacy of Dunces will teach you of the vicissitudes of Fortuna's Wheel, which will hopefully, finally, reconcile you to lockdown.

It will also make sure you take better care of your valve.

And then he goes on to explain why other people were more sophisticated - essentially because geography gave them the ability to grow populations large enough to support people who didn’t spend all of their time just trying to stay alive and who could do the sophistication bit.

Yes indeed. He starts with the unproven assertion that they were intelligent resourceful people.

Racist much? The aborigines travelled to Australia using stone-age technology. They then adapted too and survived in an alien country, one of the least hospitable to human life - that means identifying all the food sources, water sources, and other resources. That makes them axiomatically intelligent and resourceful people - more fucking resourceful than you, who if dropped into the Australian desert would be dead within a matter of days. 

The history of the world is that of people apparently well adapted to their environment being wiped out when more sophisticated populations arrive. Not nice, but that is what happens.

Mostly by germs. Bringing germs with you from continent A to continent B doesn't seem to me to be something to brag about. And to the extent that the extermination was deliberate, I am not sure how "travelling to a foreign country and exterminating the natives" is a mark of sophistication, as opposed to just being dumb-fucks with weapons.

Aborigines survived all that time because they were cut off by rising sea levels, and more sophisticated people did not arrive until 230 odd years ago.

Again, let's not over-state the "sophistication" of a culture that transported hungry people convicted of stealing food across the world (half of whom died in ships) to then rape and brutalise a country in the belief that they were superior. 

Actually Australia was only able to support about 1m aborigines in 1788, due to the limitations of their technology. Roughly the same number are living now.

If an Aborigine had invented the bow and arrow do you seriously think they would not have used it, not just in hunting but also in war? Surely the invention would have spread across the continent? If not, why not? But they never got beyond the woomery (an atlatl) one step up from inventing the spear. Very few societies are known that stopped at that level, probably because those that did got wiped out by more advanced societies.

But none of this is really the point. No rational person looking at the evidence could conclude that all races are identical. If I am wrong then we must have missed something astonishing and I would love to see it. But Diamond bases his entire book on the simple assertion that innate ability had no role in the different outcomes. That is daft. He writes well but the book is tosh.

Or wot strutter said. Geography and geography alone dictates political and cultural success, and frankly any person who needs to big themselves up by pointing to their membership of some wider nation or race and asserting that nation or race's intrinsic superiority over other nations or races is thereby admitting their own weakness and stupidity, because the truly strong and wise do not need to fall back on the membership of a group to validate their strength and wisdom.

Now fvck off back to the 19th century and take your thinly veiled racism with you.

No rational person looking at the evidence could conclude that all races are identical. 

No rational person talks about race, because it is an imaginary construct thought up by racists. There is more divergence within a "race" than there is between the average member of  "race" A and "race" B.

 

You have persuaded me with your ad hominem attack and total lack of evidence Hotblack. Yes, you must certainly be right.

The AA Big Book

Also sad to see you back George, you racist sniff of dogshit.  Had really hoped something both bad and permanent had happened to you.

That innate ability had no role in the different outcomes. That is daft. 

His point is that apparent innate ability is explicable by reference to accidents of geography. Which is overwhelmingly true.

The reason why Britain ended up ruling the world was that it was uniquely geographically positioned - warm and temperate enough to produce sufficient food for a large population, but also with tough terrain producing lots of physically robust specimens; massive coastline to land ratio, shitloads of natural harbours allowing for mass-seafaring but also in some extremely tough sea conditions (the North Sea, Irish Sea, and the Atlantic) creating a populous both technologically advanced but also Spartan sea-faring and war-faring nation.

Said otherwise, the soft Southerners provided the food and the technology and the Welsh, Scots, Yorkshiremen,  provided the muscle at sea and on land against which the French, Spanish etc. did not stand a chance - Who would you rather want on your ship in battle or a storm - someone who had grown up sailing in the Med, or someone who had grown up fishing in the North Sea?

Likewise, who would you rather have next to you in a cold wet trench:

A Welsh coal miner's on or a Nicois shopkeeper's son?

Ah, lacking arguments or evidence you resort to gratuitous abuse. Nice look.

Quite apart from the uncontroversial nature of the assumption that members of different ‘races’ (whatever that means) are equally resourceful, it’s not right to say that GG&S takes this hypothesis and doesn’t offer any support for it. The whole book is an analysis of human development which supports the hypothesis that progress in civilisations is largely influenced by the environment not on individual acts of brilliance.  

Also sad to see you back George, you racist sniff of dogshit.  Had really hoped something both bad and permanent had happened to you.

He's only here because Parler's been shutdown, so he hasn't got anywhere to share his ubermensch fantasies.

Ah, lacking arguments or evidence you resort to gratuitous abuse. Nice look.

Because I know you are impervious to evidence having read an entire fucking book full of evidence (GG and S) and still cleaving to your racist assumptions that you are part of a superior race. And no abuse of racists is gratuitous. It is all entirely deserved.

 

I have a signed copy of catch 22.

Definitely up there as a life changing book that 

Actually sorry I started this all now. But it's still the one book that made me check my assumptions 

Hotblack, I am not cleaving to assumptions as you put it.

I am considering the evidence, which overwhelmingly suggests not only that racial differences are likely to exist, but that they do exist. If that is correct one is not evil to accept it. Indeed one is evil if one simply refuses to engage rationally, and insists on abusing those who have reached a different conclusion to yourself. Witches were burned by people with that mindset.

If your belief that all races are identical does in fact have evidence to support it you should be able to point to that evidence. The evidence for the other point of view is simply enormous, so I hope you can come up with something significant.

Brilliant! Someone makes a point. You disagree. They point out the evidence is on their side. So do you point out any evidence on your side?

Naaaaah! You just post "classic sealioning"!

Which proves that you are in fact entirely right. That's logic that is! Who needs reasons, thoughts or evidence when you can shout "sealion!!!

Thing is you actually know the truth. Everyone does. It just pleases you to pretend. A bit like religion. 99 religious people out of 100, if push came to shove, actually know their religion is not true. They just feel better pretending.

oh fuck off absurdiness brown, no-one needs ur ozzie-obsessed flagrant racism

‘Thing is you actually know the truth‘

I sure do champ

i sure do

This from HD

“- in a true catastrophe the survivors will absolutely NOT be pious and woke, but the ruthless and selfish. Primo Levi is very revealing about this. Those who survived Auschwitz did so to a greater or less extent by trampling others - if you had to carry a heavy sack with someone else you had to make sure that the other person carried more weight. If someone else was not guarding their food, you stole it. Part of the Auschwitz survivors guilt is because of what they had to do to survive.“

on another thread reminded me that I meant to post on here:

If This Is a Man by Primo Levi

I think his suicide might have been because he could never come to terms with what he did to survive in the camps - things which everyone in those extremes do but are more or less successful. More than ruthless and selfish - entirely without concern for anyone else (literally). A grim but brilliant book. And a warning. 

Have you read it King George?

The Justice Game, by Geoffrey Robertson.

 

Completely reset my views on a lot of fundamental things.

Read that alongside Ludovic Kennedy's autobiography  

Sorry for reviving this thread, but I had to respond to King George's points which seem sincere enough but are totally ignorant.

KG is effectively saying that some races are biologically and therefore genetically inferior to others and that this, rather than historical environmental factors, explains their relative lack of societal sophistication.

Thanks to genetic research, there's now a very broad scientific consensus that race is a social construct and our internal biologies are identical.  The genetic differences between the races are actually negligible and concentrated on geographic environmental factors, most obviously skin tone.  So, the science says that we are one race biologically speaking: there is absolutely no genetic evidence of differences in intelligence as between races.  In fact, a member of one race may have more genetically in common with a member of another race than someone of his own race.  This information is not hard to find for anyone who's wondering why they're being labelled a racist on chat forums.

If that's not convincing enough, the stone age ended about 5k years ago.  That was roughly the universal level of societal sophistication, including for KG's supposedly superior races, until then.  On an evolutionary timescale that's less than 0.01 per cent of human evolution ago.  It defies scientific reason to suggest that these "superior races" have stolen a genetic march on other races over that period, so clearly you can't point to any race's lack of societal sophistication prior to western colonisation as an indicator of biological inferiority - and anyway the genetic research proves otherwise per my previous paragraph.  This is especially obvious in the case of Aboriginal Australians for whom the exchange of ideas and technologies with other societies was impeded by being trapped by rising sea levels on a massive, hot, desert continent for forty thousand years.

bullace, no I have not read Primo Levi but have read Victor Frankl "Man's Search for Meaning" which makes a similar point. He describes how the cruelest people in the concentration camps were often Jews appointed as a sort of NCO to police other inmates. Shocking but not surprising.

Wonck, you are wrong about what I believe (different does not mean inferior, a vital point to remember). But you are also wrong about the science. I appreciate social scientists like to say what you say, but actual scientists have unraveled the human genome and it shows there are indeed five big racial groups in the world, with very different DNA. How could it be otherwise after tens of thousands of years evolution of distinct populations?

This gets little publicity, as anyone who refers to the evidence gets a pile-on, whereas there are grants and chairs for those who say the opposite. The most common error is to say because they is a lot of variation within every race, and a lot of people who are of mixed race, we can therefore say racial groups do not exist, or racial differences do not exist or are trivial. Nope. Why are all top swimmers of one ethnicity and all top sprinters of another? Why were all the top maths students at my son's school of Chinese ethnicity? Etc.

 

Wonck to know more, follow what happened after, in 2018, Harvard geneticist David Reich published an article on the subject saying that geneticists “are learning that while race may be a social construct, differences in genetic ancestry that happen to correlate to many of today’s racial constructs are real.”

Of course this assertion was not treated as a scientific question, to be answered with evidence, but as a political one to be condemned as a matter of doctrine. 67 academics, almost all of whom had no qualifications in the field, condemned him in an open letter and accused him of misrepresentation.

Or just google the average IQ of different nations. You will be startled.

I’ve read Frankl’s book also and think I might be mixing up the two. But both are brilliant, bleak, and (despite perhaps muddling the two!) in their essence unforgettable. 

Honestly, the only book I've read that has had any effect on me long term was Alan Carr's guide to quitting smoking. Oh and Finnegan's Wake, natch

I always find Hemingway a great source of consolation when Im stressed or down.

I read the Essential Hemingway when I was travelling when younger. 

It has that section of For Whom the Bell Tolls when El Sordi is fighting his last battle on a hill top. 

Apart from taking me back to feeling young and carefree, its hard to feel too sorry for oneself after reading that (or indeed many other sections of his books).  There is an ongoing theme of taking what life throws at you and getting on with it, whilst knowing that ultimately everything but the struggle itself, is all a bit futile).

Not at all what you'd think, actually a detective novel.  It's called Early Autumn by Robert B Parker, but it covered themes about leaving childhood trauma's behind and taking responsibility for your own adulthood which were relevant at the time.

I tried to read some Scott Fitzgerald recently, but it is too bleak for lockdown. Great writer, but no warmth. Same with Camus. Hemingway is a bit like this too.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Changed my perspective on what is important to succeed (at whatever you wish to succeed at). 
 

Its theory is that talent contributes little to success (and we are all much closer in talents than is commonly said) but more that success is much more a function of focussed practice / effort and being in the right place at the right time. 
 

it totally reset my perspective. 

 

growing up as a privately educated, catholic, small c conservative before the internet and university then (cliche alert) books were my window to other worlds

Joe Haldeman‘s Forever War gave young teenage me an unexpectedly good intro to issues of gender and sexuality 

spoiler : humanity transitions to asexual clones via universal homosexuality 

Freakanomics is also surprisingly interesting. Loads of different case studies, basically all showing how people respond to incentives.

I really don't think I am wrong about what you believe, KG.  You're very clearly saying that the different levels of historic sophistication of different racial groups were influenced by innate differences between them.  Apparently, the failure of Aboriginal people to invent the bow and arrow is good evidence of this in your mind.

Your David Reich quote is very misleading.  The thrust of his argument is that, apart from race which he completely accepts is a social construct (and he should know), there are some useful things to be learnt by studying the genetic differences of various populations and the average genetic differences between them.  He's also concerned that a failure to do so and discuss this openly will fuel completely unfounded claims about racial superiority based on poor science.  There is opposition to these views, but not the kind of universal condemnation you're suggesting.  And certainly not from other geneticists.

You may be backtracking and saying you mean different rather than inferior, but it's perfectly clear what you're saying about Aboriginals innate abilities above.  In fact, they adapted extremely intelligently to their environment post-migration to Australia and did not have the same opportunities to develop technologically as populations elsewhere.

IQ - I'm not even going to bother with that one.  You should do some more reading on the subject unless you've no desire to challenge your prejudices.