5.0 out of 5 stars Decipher Factual Errors, Specious Arguments, and Conjecture!
For those who love Dilbert, please realize that this book has nothing to do with that enjoyable character. There's also no humor here. Instead, you will find a fable that presents a unified theory of cosmology, religion, and knowledge. Before you get excited about all that you can learn, realize that this unified theory is deliberately flawed by Mr. Adams to provide...
Published on Sep 25 2001 by Donald Mitchell
3.0 out of 5 stars God's Debris
Scott Adams' thought experiment was well thought out. In retrospect I say it was a good book, although it annoyed me at points during the reading. Being that it is such a small book it can sometimes be an overload of information all at once. The first half is a little slow and seems to just stretch one subject to the max, but towards the end it gets really fascinating...
Published on Nov 24 2003 by Brandy L. Vance
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5.0 out of 5 stars Decipher Factual Errors, Specious Arguments, and Conjecture!,
I found this book fascinating as a puzzle, and enjoyed picking the arguments and misstatements apart. It reminded me of a question on the bar exam from many years ago where I had to write about what the law was in regard to a will written by an illiterate person. Great fun!
Mr. Adams warns that this book is for "people who enjoy having their brains spun around inside their skulls." He also says that it is "a view about God that you've probably never heard before." I certainly agree with both of those points. He also warns that what's in the book "isn't true . . . but it's oddly compelling." He also notes that people under the age of 14 should not read it. Although he doesn't say why, anyone who reads this book without a foundation in the subjects described may actually believe what's proposed by the Avatar. The world has enough false beliefs in it. I applaud Mr. Adams for helping to avoid creating any more.
After this book has honed your knowledge and critical thinking skills, I suggest that you take arguments that you read in other books and practice seeing what is wrong with them. All nonfiction books provide thought experiments of that sort!
I do hope Mr. Adams will write another of these thought experiments.
Overcome the appeal of simplicity to see through to the dynamic reality!
2.0 out of 5 stars Appeals to a _very_ particular audience.,
By A Customer
This review is from: God's Debris: A Thought Experiment (Paperback)In terms of structure, this book provides about a page or two (sometimes less) of discussion for each question that is raised. Each chapter addresses a particular topic, and contains within itself a number of subtopics in the form of questions. The language is very accessible, making for a rather light reading experience.
In terms of content, the book is worthless to anyone with a grade 12 or first-year university education in the sciences or philosophy (or familiarity with the subjects at this level). It is filled with terminological, logical, and scientific errors. If you're someone who enjoys delving into the depths of scientific and philosophical scholarship, don't expect to find anything remotely scholarly or cogent in this book.
If, on the other hand, you like being presented with condensed and uncharitable versions of traditional problems (the problem of evil, the problem of divine foreknowledge and human free will, etc.) and well-known arguments (Ockham's Razor, etc.) you'll probably enjoy this book. But take everything with a grain of salt: you won't be taken seriously if you were to present most of these views (those of the book) in (intelligent) conversation.
Those of you who actually want to learn something -- this book will disappoint.
5.0 out of 5 stars Mental Refresh,
Outside their ability to perturb, the Old Man's ideas are irrelevant. It would be a mistake to accept them wholly or to reject them based on their inaccuracies, which are intentional. An inaccurate assertion has the greatest power to stimulate a response (good messageboard "trolls" know this). If, for example, I told you that my clearly polka-dotted shirt was plaid, you'd carefully examine my shirt before telling me I was wrong. Adams wants to prompt the "carefully examine" response and perhaps make it a habit of mind for you.
The absurdities in much of Adams's works relate to a failure to carefully examine ideas, to accept them based on momentum or the resonance of their elegant simplicity. In a sense, this is Adams's antidote for a world where pointy haired bosses reign.
Having said the above, if you don't find the ideas novel enough to jog you into a critical thinking mode, you won't get much out of the book. This is likely the case for philosophy majors. Still, you shouldn't dismiss it out of hand. Consider it a potential gateway drug into more substantial works.
I'm sure that possibility would delight Adams.
5.0 out of 5 stars This book offers a new perspective,
A young delivery man attempts to deliver a package to an old man. However, the old man seems to ignore the attempts at delivery, and instead he asks the young man a variety of questions, beginning with a question regarding a simple coin toss. He continues to probe and prod at the young man's answers to physical phenomenon, God, free will, probability, and numerous other concepts. While this book may not radically change your life, it will encourage you to think a little bit more about what you really do know, and what you don't.
I particularly find this book interesting due to the physics contained within its pages. It discusses string theory and Einstein and a bit of quantum mechanics (ironically the subject of another book I'm currently reading, The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene), and it treats them in a different manner. While I'm not quite sure if the discussions of them are entirely accurate, it's interesting to see where this book compares with what I think I know. :)
While I encourage people to read this book, it is not for anyone who isn't willing to read views that may be radically different from his or her own. From the introduction:
"The story contains no violence, no sexual content, and no offensive language. But the ideas expressed by the characters are inappropriate for young minds. People under the age of fourteen should not read it.
5.0 out of 5 stars A very worthwhile read,
3.0 out of 5 stars God's Debris,
4.0 out of 5 stars You Will Not Find the Meaning of Life (or Reality) Here,
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Hofstadteresque Romp,
I chose to read "God's Debris" precisely because I was sure I wouldn't like it. I try to avoid reading only those books that affirm what I already believe. So I was astonished at how much of this book fit in well with my existing opinions.
For example, I enjoyed it when Adams (err, the Avatar) points out that if people TRULY believed in God they would live their life in a much different way. By golly, I've been saying precisely that for 25 years, but I find it hard to get people to understand what the heck I'm saying. (Brief version: if you really believed that un-Saved people will burn for eternity in Hell, would you be at home at night watching reruns on TV?)
Okay, I know some people with PhD's in philosophy will turn their noses up at this slim volume. But they're overlooking something: this book is enormously accessible. Anybody with a high school education should be able to "get" it. Of course, some will balk at the science errors, and some will dispute Adams's characterization of the skeptics' movement. (Not all, though: I'm a card-carrying skeptic and I think what he said is at the very least a good warning.)
I'm going to read the book again in a few days. I'll probably nit-pick a bit more, but I can't change the fact that I enjoyed it immensely.
5.0 out of 5 stars The best piece of literature I have ever read.,
By A Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars a cheat and a cop-out,
I call this a cop-out. It is true that Avatar advances, with great authority and confidence, a number of ideas that are just flat wrong. However, there is no internal evidence that Adams himself recognizes these as errors. Does Adams think that gravity propogates instantly, or that a magnetic field cannot be shielded? There is no hint of irony to indicate that. The book's nameless protagonist is completely clueless. In the dialogs of Socrates (to which other reviewers have compared this book), the people arguing with Socrates make good points, have cogent arguments. In this book, the Avatar has the debate all his own erroneous way.
The result is that people who are not well grounded in science find a lot of claims that strike them as "challenging" and "thought-provoking" when in fact the claims are simply wrong, and well-known to be wrong.
For the record here are some of Avatar's errors of fact: (p19) magnetic fields can't be blocked; (p19) gravity propogates instantly; (p22) we don't understand how electricity travels; (p61) there is no friction between the Earth and the Moon (the statements about gravity and the Moon are wrong in multiple ways); (p66) the theory of evolution is a "concept with no practical application".
The Avatar advances a dangerous, nihilistic kind of epistemology. In plain language, he seems to dismiss all possible sources of knowledge as equally pointless. He dismisses mathematics as useless (p. 20-21, p56). He dismisses all of science ("all we can do is observe and record patterns," p.22) as being unable to provide "why" answers. Finally he says that all ideas are equally valid (p38ff) because they are all identically "memory traces" in our brains. This may be what others have called "New-Agey" but in fact it is nihilism and defeatism.
As to the philosophy, it is basically self-contradictory. If you take the time to read the book, read it carefully and then actually think about the Avatar's basic claims: (a) God blew itself up in order to learn the one thing omniscience could not know, namely, what happens if God isn't there; but (b) God imbued his debris with a "probability" so strong that even if the universe were rewound and played back, exactly the same events would happen over again (p.51-2). These ideas are fundamentally contradictory, hence the whole exercise is pointless.
The Avatar does pose a number of philosophical riddles that have been standard fodder for student bull-sessions for generations. Example: if God is omniscient (Adams incorrectly writes "omnipotent"), the future must be determined, hence how can we, or God, have free will? But the questions are only posed, never explored in any satisfying way. Go looking for better books in elementary philosophy.
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God's Debris: A Thought Experiment by Scott Adams (Paperback - Sep 1 2004)
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