New Dogs, Old Tricks

In the past I have always seen YouTube as this wonderful repository of lectures and whatnot by scientists and thinkers — people like Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Lawrence Krauss being among those whose wit and intelligence that I value. Also a great place for music – bands like Walk Off The Earth do fantastic stuff on YouTube. When I came out as an atheist, I found it a valuable research to hear people like David Silverman, Aron Ra and Hemant Mehta speaking on activism in the community.

It wasn’t really until someone at work turned me on to Joe Santagato that I started paying attention to vloggers and “personal” pages on the channel. And over the last few months I’ve become rather fond of this incredibly intelligent seventeen year old…and his friends. Ok, that might sound a little odd considering I’m old enough to be his…older sister (be quiet) but honestly Alex J. O’Connor aka Cosmic Skeptic is a really great up-and-coming voice in the atheist community with just a natural charm and wit in front of a camera. He’s got a little of that “something” that Hitch had.  Maybe it’s the British Oxford thing, lol.  He’s a rather big science geek too which I can totally get behind.  It was actually through Hemant that I discovered him and I was among the first on board his Patreon. I have a screen grab to prove it and one day when he’s a famous author or somesuch, that thing will be golden.  😉  His buddies over at Swish (Gabriel and Mattie) are fairly hilarious. I’ve called them kind of a meeting of Monty Python and Jackass.

If you aren’t familiar with either of them, you really should be. Check them out on their assorted channels. You won’t regret it as they are an entertaining lot and you just *might* learn something. (And you should really subscribe while you’re there. Trust me…do it.)

Cosmic Skeptic –

Casualex –

Swish –

At any rate…Alex posted this video recently…

So today, I thought I’d build on that and pick a couple (or so) books to recommend out of my moderately out of control library. This might become a semi-regular thing, we’ll see. To start it off, one of Richard Dawkins’ books that Alex didn’t mention in his video, is one of my top picks and is highly underappreciated compared to his other works. Climbing Mount Improbable grew out of his Christmas Lectures and it’s a wonderful and concise book on topics in evolution.

Next (naturally) would need to be a book by Lawrence Krauss who happens to be my favourite physicist (and yes, I can name several thank you). If you aren’t familiar with him…what the hell is wrong with you? The book I’m going to put at the top though isn’t his wonderful A Universe From Nothing, because anyone who knows him has likely read his most recent book. I’m going to recommend another one that I love, Atom. A look at the origins and journey of a single atom of oxygen in the universe. It’s a very deep, but incredibly beautiful read by a brilliant scientific mind.

Last for this post, is Wade Davis’ book The Clouded Leopard: Travels to Landscapes of Spirit and Desire. If you are unfamiliar with Wade’s work, he’s an anthropologist, ethnobotanist and historian who right now teaches at UBC here in Canada. And….he has the coolest job title on earth. National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. His books are explorations of indigenous cultures, travelogues and glimpses into times and places that are disappearing from our world. His writing is lovely prose that transports you to these moments that he cares about so deeply while he tells you why you should care about what others see as obscure topics. He’s written about everything from hallucinogenic frogs to drugs that turn people to zombies to the climbing of Mount Everest. This book of short stories is a wonderful introduction to his work.

We’ll leave it there for now. I’m going to have to try harder to find some discipline as my new motivational guru is making me feel like I need to up my game. (You know who you are…)



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