User Profile

Alex Danvers

Joined 11 months, 1 week ago

I'm a social psychologist and improv performer with big love for books. I mostly read science fiction and nonfiction pop science / psychology. A lot of my reading is actually listening during a reasonably long commute. Looking forward to hearing about some interesting new books!

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Alex Danvers's books

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2023 Reading Goal

Alex Danvers has read 0 of 50 books.

Bad Science (Hardcover, 2010, McClelland & Stewart) 4 stars

Full of spleen, this will be a hilarious, invigorating and informative journey through the world …

"Maintenance Phase" for Medicine

5 stars

Ben Goldacre is a physician in the UK who writes with energy and humor about his field: medicine. He is a sort of anti-Malcolm Gladwell. Instead of spinning mythic narratives about the wonders of science, he explains how hard doing good science is and how common it is for scientists--including physicians and medical researchers--to get things wrong. This book is over a decade old, so it may be less surprising to hear in 2023 that institutions--even those as solid as medical research--have a tendency towards suppression of dissent. But it still felt fresh to read about the many ways that medicine has taken wrong turns in evaluating evidence and assigning treatments. Science makes progress, but it's often not in a straight line.

This book connects with the broader rise of Evidence-Based Medicine as a movement in the late 1990's. Goldacre shares some surprising statistics about how much of standard medical …

Radicalized (2020, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 4 stars

Four short stories about the near future and the dystopia we're building for ourselves.

Brilliant Social Commentary

5 stars

This is science fiction as commentary in its highest forms. Across four stories, Doctorow paints vivid portraits of how current social and technological trends could easily lead to dystopian social conditions. In each case, it's really just a way of amping up the volume on existing practices and problems in a way to better dramatize the problem.

Kim Stanley Robinson gives the cover blurb, and that choice is perfect: Doctorow is operating in the same tradition as Robinson, but in a more immediate and accessible way. While Robinson has elements of sprawling, high literature in his novels--including length!--Doctorow has more of a page-turner style, like a fun escapist sci-fi story with the intellect amped up. He gets to the point quickly, making you care deeply about the characters immediately. It's easy to see how "normal" people get swept up in destructive social and technological systems.

Another good comparison point is …