Friday, June 10, 2011

Free ebooks: Stupid History,

    It's Friday and that means free ebooks! There are some interesting ones this week, and you should learn something if you read them. First is 'Stupid History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness, and Mythconceptions Throughout the Ages' by Leland Gregory. Don't you just love that name? This is a book of trivia that points out some commonly held beliefs about history that are not true. For example, Lizzie Bordan was never convicted of murder. It sounds like a fun read, but as some have pointed out, you can't take it too seriously. It is not referenced, so you have to take the author's word for it when he tells you the facts. You can read the Goodreads reviews here. Here is the synopsis from Barnes and Noble.

Why exactly is Paul Revere revered? Was the lightbulb really Thomas Edison's bright idea?
* Best-selling author Leland Gregory employs his masterful wit to expose historical myths, faux facts, strange events, and tales of human stupidity throughout history.
If it would shock you to learn that Benjamin Franklin didn't discover electricity, you'll appreciate this take on hundreds of historical legends and debacles. Historians and humorists alike may be surprised to learn that:
* Samuel Prescott made the famous horseback ride into Concord, not Paul Revere.
* As a member of Parliament, Isaac Newton spoke only once. He asked for an open window.
* On April 24, 1898, Spain declared war on the U.S., thus starting the Spanish-American War. The U.S. declared war the very next day, but not wanting to be outdone, had the date on the declaration changed from April 25 to April 21.
With these and many other stories, leading humorist Leland Gregory once again highlights both the strange and the funny side of humankind.

   You can pick up the Nook version here. Right now that is the only version available as a freebie.

   Next is 'Lies, Damned Lies, and Science: How to Sort Through the Noise Around Global Warming, the Latest Health Claims, and Other Scientific Controversies' by Sherry Seethaler. This may sound like the first book, but it really is not. This one walks you through the process of science and helps you sift through the studies and facts to decide for yourself what is true and what is not proved. Here are the Goodreads reviews, and here is a synopsis from Amazon.

Don’t Get Hoodwinked! Make Sense of Health and Science News...and Make Smarter Decisions!

Every day, there’s a new scientific or health controversy. And every day, it seems as if there’s a new study that contradicts what you heard yesterday. What’s really going on? Who’s telling the truth? Who’s faking it? What do scientists actually know–and what don’t they know? This book will help you cut through the confusion and make sense of it all–even if you’ve never taken a science class! Leading science educator and journalist Dr. Sherry Seethaler reveals how science and health research really to put scientific claims in context and understand the real tradeoffs involved...tell quality research from junk when someone’s deliberately trying to fool you...and find more information you can trust!  Nobody knows what new controversy will erupt tomorrow. But one thing’s for certain: With this book, you’ll know how to figure out the real deal–and make smarter decisions for yourself and your family!

Watch the news, and you’ll be overwhelmed by snippets of badly presented science: information that’s incomplete, confusing, contradictory, out-of-context, wrong, or flat-out dishonest. Defend yourself! Dr. Sherry Seethaler gives you a powerful arsenal of tools for making sense of science. You’ll learn how to think more sensibly about everything from mad cow disease to global warming—and how to make better science-related decisions in both your personal life and as a citizen.

You’ll begin by understanding how science really works and progresses, and why scientists sometimes disagree. Seethaler helps you assess the possible biases of those who make scientific claims in the media, and place scientific issues in appropriate context, so you can intelligently assess tradeoffs. You’ll learn how to determine whether a new study is really meaningful; uncover the difference between cause and coincidence; figure out which statistics mean something, and which don’t.

   You can pick up the Kindle version here. It is only available as a freebie for Kindle at this time.

   Last is 'The Millenials' by Thom S. Rainer and Jess W. Rainer. This is a study of the attitudes and beliefs of the generation born roughly from 1980 - 2000. The book gives a lot of statistics, but should be interesting. The authors approach the study from a Christian point of view. (Thom is the author of 'Simple Church' and the CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources. His son, Jess, is a seminary student.) You can read the Goodread reviews here. Here is the synopsis from Barnes and Noble.

At more than 78 million strong, the Millennials—those born between 1980 and 2000—have surpassed the Boomers as the larger and more influential generation in America. Now, as its members begin to reach adulthood, where the traits of a generation really take shape, best-selling research author Thom Rainer (Simple Church) and his son Jess (a Millennial born in 1985) present the first major investigative work on Millennials from a Christian worldview perspective.
Sure to interest even the secularists who study this group, The Millennials is based on 1200 interviews with its namesakes that aim to better understand them personally, professionally, and spiritually. Chapters report intriguing how-and-why findings on family matters (they are closer-knit than previous generations), their desire for diversity (consider the wave of mixed race and ethnic adoptions), Millennials and the new workplace, their attitude toward money, the media, the environment, and perhaps most tellingly, religion.
The authors close with a thoughtful response to how the church can engage and minister to what is now in fact the largest generation in America’s history.

   You can pick this one up in several formats. The Nook version is here, the Kindle version is here, and the Kobo version is here

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