Recommended Books, Movies, TV Shows


Watership Down Watership Down by Richard Adams (1972)
An exciting, deep tale that everyone should read at least once. Forget the attempted movie and TV adaptations—the book is much better.

Ian Rowland The Full Facts book of Cold Reading
By: Ian Rowland
Year: First published in 2002. 4th edition 2005.
How Cold Reading works. “The great thing about cold reading, as far as its practitioners are concerned, is that hardly anyone knows about it. In an age when consumers are more cautious and informed than ever before, none of them know the first thing about cold reading. No public book store in the world contains a single work on this subject.” A comprehensive guide to the most persuasive psychological manipulation technique in the world and its application to psychic readings.

cover Make Every Man Want You: How to Be So Irresistible You'll Barely Keep from Dating Yourself! by Marie Forleo (2008)
It's more a book on how to live life mindfully, applicable to both men and women.
"Make Every Man Want You is so much more than a relationship book—it's an essential guide to living."
     —last Acclaim For, opposite title page

"I've whipped up an intriguing title to trick you into reading this book."
     —page xx

Your Thoughts About Men Affect the Way They Behave Toward You
If you believe your thoughts reside exclusively in the privacy of your mind, think again. Your thoughts are palpable and resonate with others. Whether you like it or not, you have an impact on how people behave around you. Your ideas, thoughts, and beliefs about people influence how they treat you. Perception is an act of creation.
People have evolved an uncanny ability to read other people, and most of it is unconscious.


Prisoner Logo THE PRISONER — Series starring Patrick McGoohan as "number 6" episode 6, "The General" (1967).
Speed Learn What would happen if a computer could just beam all the facts into your brain— would that make you educated?

cover The Prisoner - Complete Collection

Or just buy the 2nd DVD which has the episode "The General"
cover The Prisoner - Set 2: Checkmate/ The Chimes of Big Ben/ A, B and C/ The General (Bonus)

The General

The General
"Now, ask the Computer---"
"A question that can't be answered."
"What's that?"
"There is a question that the Computer can not answer."
"Allow me to ask it."

Number 6 presses four keys on the keyboard. Dials immediately move to their "Danger" zones. The computer starts to roar and spark. Smoke pours out of the Computer's ventilation grilles, followed by a massive explosion. The Computer, which could teach you everything by just beaming all the answers into your brain, is destroyed.

"What was the question?"
"It's insoluble, for man or machine. — W.  H.  Y.  Question mark."

                     (Transcript of entire episode)

                      (Brief Synopsis of episode)

                       (Commentary on episode)

Duckman Logo Duckman DUCKMAN — Episode 3 "The Gripes of Wrath" (1994).
What would happen if a computer solved all the world's problems and made the world perfect? In this episode a supercomputer named Loreta does just that — with disastrous results. (1/2 hour. Note this show is rated TV-MA for mature audiences due to language content.)
Ask me for a copy of the episode.

"You were the one who made up this whole new world! You screwed up — not me!"
"Impossible! I am infallible!"
"I don't care what religion you are. You made things worse when you made them better! I mean, I liked having a lot of free time, but I hated not having anything to do. Don't you see, things were good when they were bad, and they got bad when they were good. People aren't happy unless they're unhappy."

{The computer catches fire and blows up.}

"I believe you presented Loreta with one of the quintessential paradoxes of the modern era. The idea that the most perfect world is an imperfect world, because imperfection creates the drive in people to make things better. The irony being that maybe the most perfect parent is actually an imperfect parent."


Cold Turkey Cold Turkey (1971)
A cigaratte? Not after viewing this wonderful comedy. See what happens when an entire community tries to stop cold turkey. Easily one of the best satires of American life ever put on film. There is a lot more to this movie than initially meets the eye. The obvious humor is good enough, but the social commentary that is wryly interjected makes this a funnier movie the second time around. There is a lot of satire about the media, the tobacco industry and organized religion. Read more about this movie at


cover Einstein for Beginners by Joseph Schwartz, Michael McGuinness (Contributor) (1979).
An excellent book; very easy to understand. Suitable for anyone. Requires only a knowledge of basic algebra. Written much like a comic book.

Introduction to Special Relativity by T. M. Helliwell (1972) Introduction to Special Relativity by T. M. Helliwell (1972) is an excellent book for people who know calculus. I found it easy to read and understand, unlike most books on the subject. See if you can find the book in a university library. T. M. Helliwell is a professor at Harvey Mudd college. The book is available from the Harvey Mudd college bookstore. Contact the Harvey Mudd college bookstore and ask for a copy. Or contact Prof. T. M. Helliwell at


cover How to Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff, Irving Geis (Illustrator) (1954)
A classic — still in print. Easy to read.

cover Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott (1884)
There are many different editions of this book.
There's also a sequel titled Sphereland.
You can also find both books together in one.
Still a classic — Still in print.

cover Four Colors Suffice: How the Map Problem Was Solved by Robin Wilson (2002)

cover Gödel's Proof by Ernest Nagel, James Roy Newman (1958). Forward by Douglas R. Hofstadter.
Still a classic — Still in print. A very difficult subject though.

cover GÖDEL, ESCHER, BACH: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter (1979)
Usually known by its acronym, "GEB". A classic explaining Gödel's Proof, and how consciousness and self-awareness can arise out of inanimate matter such as the human brain. GEB is a kind of symphony of metaphors of self-referential systems.

cover FERMAT'S ENIGMA: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem by Simon Singh (1997)
The story behind the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem, that there are no solutions to the equation xn + yn = zn for n greater than 2. An interesting and easy read. Doesn't dive into the heavy mathematics.

Urban Legends, Myths, and Rumors

Some of what we accept as fact turns out to be fiction upon closer examination. One must learn to separate the real facts from the fiction. There are many books and web sites on this fascinating subject.

cover Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay (1841)
There are many different editions of this book.
Read the book online here:
Still a classic — Still in print.
There's also an excellent sequel, written in 1992 by Joseph Bulgatz, titled Ponzi Schemes, Invaders from Mars and More Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

cover Eccentric Lives and Peculiar Notions by John Michell (1984)
If you liked the above books on The Madness of Crowds, what Sociologists call "Collective Behavior", you might also try this book.

cover The Affairs of Dame Rumor by David J. Jacobson (1948)
Rumors purposely initiated have influenced everything from what brand of product we buy to national ideology and who we vote for. Just because one saw it on TV or heard it on the radio doesn't mean it's true. One must learn to be skeptical. Extraordinary claims should require extraordinary proof. One must learn to scratch the surface and ask for the proof.

Many excellent books on Urban Legends have been written by Jan Harold Brunvand.
  • Books about Urban Legends
Web Sites about Urban Legends, Myths, and Rumors


The chronicles of American history are strewn with myths, legends, fables, folklore, misinformation, and misconceptions. Some of the myth-making is inadvertent, but much of it is deliberate. Patriotism and filiopietism have set many a tall tale in motion, but so have political partisanship and ideological zeal. The bent for simplism, as well as just plain sloppy reporting, has also added to the mischief. Decontextualism — the moralizing passion for judging past generations by present-day standards — has been at work, too. ("Understanding the past," as Paul Fussell reminds us, "requires pretending that you don't know the present.") And paranoia has sometimes entered the picture, for some mentalities automatically transmute the contingent and unforeseen into conspiratorial design. Some of the myths are innocuous enough; others, though, stand in the way of our getting a good insight into what went on in the past and on how we got to where we are now.

In history there are no absolutes. When it comes to controversial issues, the historian deals with probabilities, not finalities.

(Quoted from the book
cover Not So! Popular Myths About America from Columbus to Clinton.
by Paul F. Boller, Jr.

cover Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
by James W. Loewen
See the Homepage of James W. Loewen
Read the Preface to the book [this site]

cover Einstein's Luck: The Truth Behind Some of the Greatest Scientific Discoveries
by John Waller.
Year: 2002.
Even the history of science has been mythologized. (I've no idea why the book is titled Einstein's Luck. Einstein isn't one of the science heros explored. Author Eddington is explored. He allegedly proved correct Einstein's General Theory of Relativity by careful examination of a solar eclipse in 1919. However the data was actually inconclusive. It was a strong belief that Einstein was correct which led to the unsubstantiated conclusion.)

History Books by Howard Zinn
cover cover cover cover cover


The Difference Between the Conservative and Progressive Thought Process

Whichever side you're on, it's hard to comprehend how the other side thinks differently. The following essay and books illuminates the different thought processes.

RED FAMILY, BLUE FAMILY: Making Sense of the Values Issue. This 12 page essay by Doug Muder succinctly summarizes the different thought processes conservatives and progressives use.

cover MORAL POLITICS: How Liberals and Conservatives Think by George Lakoff. Year: 1996 (2nd edition 2002). “Contemporary American Politics is about worldview. Conservatives simply see the world differently than do progressives, and both often have a difficult time understanding accurately what the other’s worldview is.” Lakoff explains that Conservatives and Progressives have two very different concepts of Morality. This is an excellent book for anyone wanting to understand the other side's point of view. See a lecture given by George Lakoff at Also see RED vs. BLUE: The Difference Between the Conservative and Progressive Thought Process

cover Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Keirsey. Year: 1998. A classic book on the 16 different personality types identified by Myers-Briggs. Myers-Briggs divides personality types into four major categories, with each category having four subcategories, for a total of 16 different personality types. Understanding that other people actually think in different ways from you is initially a hard concept to learn, but eventually you'll understand why most other people seem to be different from you—it's because they are. Again, there is no "right" personality type, there are just different personalities. Also see

I believe there is a connection between conservative thought and the SJ 'Guardian' personality type described in this book. Not that all Guardians are conservative, but quite possibly all conservatives are Guardians who don't understand there are other personality types. Conservatives classifly all these other people as immoral.

Update: I now believe the difference is determined by how much people meditate. People who meditate often are more compassionate, and compassion is at the root of Democratic values. (July, 2015)

cover Presidential Temperament: The Unfolding of Character in the Forty Presidents of the United States by Ray Choiniere, David Keirsey. Year: 1992. A good companion to Please Understand Me II. Gives real life examples of the various character and temperament types.


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