Books I finished reading in September 2014

Decent books:

Pinker’s The Blank Slate was excellent, and is now perhaps the #1 book I want someone to have read before I will debate social justice issues with them. (Note that as with most cognitive science books that cover this much detail, a few findings claimed herein are now out of date. E.g. at Blank Slate‘s time of release, it looked like IGF2R was a major gene for IQ, but this result failed to replicate.)

Murray’s Coming Apart was interesting as usual. His arguments for the increasing cultural split between classes in America were fairly persuasive. I ignored the parts about his policy recommendations. In the middle of the book there’s an amusing quiz you should take to learn whether you are a bubble-living elitist. Sample questions: “Who is Jimmie Johnson?” and “What is Branson?” If you’re a bubble-living elitist, you probably have no idea.

I scored 35, nearest to Murray’s “typical” score for “a first-generation upper-middle-class person with middle-class parents,” which does in fact describe me best of Murray’s available score interpretations. I scored 29 points on the first 7 questions about my early life in rural Minnesota, and only 6 points on all the remaining questions, 4 of which came from watching lots of movies (including popular ones).

I also finished (most of) Lobbying and Policy Change, which I summarized here.

The Sense of Style, which I downloaded from Audible at 12:30am on September 30th (its release date) and finished before the end of the day, is clearly the best style manual now available, though unfortunately it is not also a complete guide to How to Write as Well as Steven Pinker.


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