Saturday 2018-11-24

Over time, I've been trying to piece together how the world me works. I have some of it, and I need some help from you guys to complete the tree of recommended books below. I'm trying to provide a reading list for a high school student who wants to be really prepared for college:

  1. Scientific Method
    Introduction to Scientific Research
    1. Physics
      1. Chemistry
      2. Electronics
    2. Biology
      How the Mind Works
      1. Ecology
        Guns, Germs, Steel
    3. Evolution
      The Selfish Gene
    4. Economics
      Principles of Economics
      1. Sociology
      2. Law
      3. Government
      4. Public Health
    5. Psychology
      1. Emotions
      2. Art
        The Story of Art
      3. Language
  2. Deduction from axioms
    How to Prove It
    How to Solve it
    1. Statistics
      Data Analysis for Politics and Policy
    2. Calculus
    3. Programming
      Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
  3. Dispute Resolution
    1. Voice
    2. Self defense
      Tao of Jeet Kune Do
    3. War
      Masters of War
    4. Know Thyself
      A Mind for Numbers

I personally haven't read it (well, I read the first chapter), but Godel Escher Bach might fit in there somewhere. Under strategy or dispute resolution you might consider The Art of War (which I have read) is also good, but parts of it are a bit baroque so it might not make the cut.
BTW that was me (David W).
Sun Tzu really concerns itself with war (it really sucks, so most any other cost is cheaper, so assassinate or otherwise destroy your enemy before war) and analogizing from it quickly runs into false analogy due to different cost structures. I'd rather see an analytical framework that a kid could use on the playground or in the classroom. -- GEB runs through comp sci and maths, though I'm not sold that it provides a framework on the level that SICP or DAPP do. -- The ideal book would introduce a rubric of analysis for the field in question.
Re: scientific method -- Popper's "Logic of Scientific Discovery" would probably be the classic text, if influential and most-cited is what you're looking for. Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" would be the classic (widely cited) revision. It would be a pretty sharp high school kid that could get through Popper (Kuhn is pretty easy), but the same argument is out there in a shorter paper of his, the citation for which I don't have with me at present. I'm pretty sure it's in "Conjectures and Refutations", though. -- Liam
Though probably too daunting for most high school students and too cliche for some, Great Books of the Western World is worth a look. - Stephen
Which books in Great Books series? -- Patrick.
Reading through Kuhn's SSR, it doesn't seem to present an analytic engine and how to use it, but rather a discussion of the engine over time. -- Patrick.
Introduction to Scientific Research may be too drinking from the firehose-ish, though.... --Patrick.
Right, that's the point. Popper is more or less the textbook analytic engine that you learn in junior high -- put forth a hypothesis and then test to see if it's false, and you get Science with a capital S. (Vastly simplified, but that's roughly the idea.) Kuhn's argument is that the analytic engine isn't a priori analytic, but bound to local practice. I.e., there is no Scientific Method, but scientific methods. Some scientists are happy with that proposition, some aren't, but they all have to cite Kuhn (and usually Popper) when they talk about scientific method. If you want the whole ball of wax in one book, there's always "Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge", edited by Lakatos. But by then, you're really getting into nuanced responses to (and by) Popper and Kuhn, and away from the foundational stuff. And if you still want for there to be a single consensus on Scientific Method, I direct you to the Wikipedia talk page on the subject :) -- Liam
It seems too deep, right? Like debating neurochemistry, when the import lies in the computational theory of the mind's explanative power trumping all other competing theories. Likewise, the import of the scientific method lies in how falsifiable hypotheses expands one's working knowledge faster than any other method. We can leave the coordination arguments to the philosophers ;). -- Patrick.
Defense: Meditations on violence by Rory Miller, Patterns of Conflict by John Boyd ( - might be too high-brow (to a large extent it's a book about management). Physics: Feynman lectures on Physics. -- Theo

ok, books now added to the queue. ;) --Patrick

I assume Natalie Angier's The Canon is too simple? --CL

Books I've read: Book of Five Rings -- not sure where it'd go, but I read this during college, and found it invaluable. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance -- again not in the vein of the above, but my college interviewer recommended that I read it during my interview, and I only read it later during college, after he passed away, and remember thinking I wished I read it before college. Sophie's World -- Philosophy. I'm sure you know better / more selective texts, but that's what I had read in high school. Books I've not read, but sound interesting in principle Either the O'Reilly Mind Performance Hacks (taken from the Mentat Wiki) or the Pragmatic Programmers Pragmatic Thinking and Learning How to Make Friends and Influence People -- for navigating the fresh reboot of social structure -- Ryan