Library

In the interest of better informing ourselves, below is a library of reading, listening and viewing material that has been recommended by myself or other members of this site. Send all suggested materials to todd@starttheevolution.com. Please include all relevant information, i.e. title, author, source publication, link, etc.

Items are organized by category, and the type of source is indicated after the title. If you have read, heard or seen a given resource, please take the time to promote or demote it within its subject category, and give it a brief review. Keep in mind that you are not promoting or demoting based on how closely the content of the resource matches your own philosophy, but on how thought-provoking it might be, and how well presented the arguments are.

Not all information is created equal. Let’s weed out the garbage and get to the good stuff.

Animal Rights

Blackfish, documentary, Gabriela Cowperthwaite 

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Killer whales are beloved majestic, friendly giants yet infamous for their capacity to kill viciously. The documentary BLACKFISH unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of the notorious performing whale Tilikum, who unlike any orca in the wild has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. BLACKFISH expands on the discussion of keeping such intelligent creatures in captivity. -Editorial Review from Amazon

 

Art and Culture

 

Business and Economy

Roger and Me, documentary, Michael Moore 

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After General Motors closes its factory in Flint, Michigan, eliminating 35,000 jobs, filmmaker Roger Moore undertakes a quixotic quest to interview General Motors’ chairman, Roger Smith … and along the way captures an offbeat, comic view of the seedy underside of corporate America. -Editorial Review from Amazon

 

Civil and Human Rights

I Am Malala, book, Malala Yousafzai 

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When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate. I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world. -Book description from Goodreads

Citizenfour, documentary, Laura Poitras 

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In January 2013, Laura Poitras started receiving anonymous encrypted e-mails from “CITIZENFOUR,” who claimed to have evidence of illegal covert surveillance programs run by the NSA in collaboration with other intelligence agencies worldwide. Five months later, she and reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The resulting film is history unfolding before our eyes. -Synopsis from IMDb

 

Education

I Am Malala, book, Malala Yousafzai 

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When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate. I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world. -Book description from Goodreads

Compulsory Mis-education and The Community of Scholars, book, Paul Goodman 

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Compulsory Miseducation is a critique of American public schools written by Paul Goodman and published by Horizon Press in 1964. Already established as a social critic of American society and the role of its youth in his previous book Growing Up Absurd (1960), Goodman argues in Compulsory Miseducation against the necessity of schools for the socialization of youth and recommends their abolition. He suggests that formal education lasts too long, teaches the wrong social class values, and increasingly damages students over time. Goodman writes that the school reflects the misguided and insincere values of its society and thus school reformers should focus on these values before schools. He proposes a variety of alternatives to school including no school, the city or farm as school, apprenticeships, guided travel, and youth organizations. Reviewers complimented Goodman’s style and noted his deliberate contrarianism, but were split on the feasibility of his proposals. Goodman’s book was a precursor to the work of deschooling advocate Ivan Illich. -Book description from Wikipedia

Savage Inequalities, book, Jonathan Kozol 

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National Book Award-winning author Jonathan Kozol presents his shocking account of the American educational system in this stunning “New York Times” bestseller, which has sold more than 250,000 hardcover copies.”An impassioned book, laced with anger and indignation, about how our public education system scorns so many of our children.” -New York Times Book Review”

 

Environment

An Inconvenient Truth, documentary, Al Gore 

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Director Davis Guggenheim eloquently weaves the science of global warming with Mr. Gore’s personal history and lifelong commitment to reversing the effects of global climate change. A longtime advocate for the environment, Gore presents a wide array of facts and information in a thoughtful and compelling way. “Al Gore strips his presentations of politics, laying out the facts for the audience to draw their own conclusions in a charming, funny and engaging style, and by the end has everyone on the edge of their seats, gripped by his haunting message,” said Guggenheim. An Inconvenient Truth is not a story of despair but rather a rallying cry to protect the one earth we all share. “It is now clear that we face a deepening global climate crisis that requires us to act boldly, quickly, and wisely,” said Gore. -Synopsis from IMDb

 

General News Coverage

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, TV Show, John Oliver

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John Oliver is an Emmy-winning writer on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” but it wasn’t until he guest-hosted that show in the summer of 2013 that HBO took notice of his “singular perspective and distinct voice.” Thanks to that memorable gig, Oliver gets to show off his talent in front of HBO’s camera on “Last Week Tonight.” The late-night series sees the British comic review what happened the past seven days in news, politics and current events, all with a heavy dose of satire, of course. -Summary from Google

Moyers & Company, website, Bill Moyers 

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Journalist Bill Moyers returns to PBS with “Moyers & Company,” a weekly hour featuring conversations and debates with scholars, artists, activists, scientists, philosophers and newsmakers about issues that matter to Americans. Each episode features an essay by Moyers and regular political analyses by people Moyers has called on over the years to interpret life in America. In addition, BillMoyers.com will offer full-streaming video, blogs and interactive features about topics discussed on the series. -Summary from Google

The Christian Science Monitor, website 

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The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) is an international news organization that delivers global coverage via its website, weekly magazine, daily news briefing, email newsletters, Amazon Kindle subscription, and mobile site. It was started in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist. As of 2011, the print circulation was 75,052. The CSM is a newspaper that covers international and United States current events. The paper includes a daily religious feature on “The Home Forum” page, but states the publication is not a platform for evangelizing. -Summary from Wikipedia

Mother Jones, website 

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Mother Jones is a progressive American magazine featuring investigative and breaking news reporting on politics, the environment, human rights, and culture. Clara Jeffery serves as editor. Steve Katz has been publisher since 2010. -Summary from Wikipedia

 

Health and Welfare

Food, Inc., Documentary, Robert Kenner 

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The current method of raw food production is largely a response to the growth of the fast food industry since the 1950s. The production of food overall has more drastically changed since that time than the several thousand years prior. Controlled primarily by a handful of multinational corporations, the global food production business – with an emphasis on the business – has as its unwritten goals production of large quantities of food at low direct inputs (most often subsidized) resulting in enormous profits, which in turn results in greater control of the global supply of food sources within these few companies. Health and safety (of the food itself, of the animals produced themselves, of the workers on the assembly lines, and of the consumers actually eating the food) are often overlooked by the companies, and are often overlooked by government in an effort to provide cheap food regardless of these negative consequences. -Synopsis from IMDb

Super Size Me, Documentary, Morgan Spurlock 

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Several legal suits have been brought against McDonald’s Restaurants that they are knowingly selling food that is unhealthy. Some of the court decisions have stated that the plaintiffs would have a claim if they could prove that eating the food every day for every meal is dangerous. As such, documentarian Morgan Spurlock conducts an unscientific experiment using himself as the guinea pig: eat only McDonald’s for thirty days, three meals a day. If he is asked by the clerk if he would like the meal super sized, he has to say yes. And by the end of the thirty days, he will have had to have eaten every single menu item at least once. Before starting the experiment, he is tested by three doctors – a general practitioner, a cardiologist and a gastroenterologist – who pronounce his general health to be outstanding. They will also monitor him over the thirty days to ensure that he is not placing his health into irreparable damage. -Synopsis from IMDb

 

History

 

Foreign Policy

 

Laws and Crime

Citizenfour, documentary, Laura Poitras 

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In January 2013, Laura Poitras started receiving anonymous encrypted e-mails from “CITIZENFOUR,” who claimed to have evidence of illegal covert surveillance programs run by the NSA in collaboration with other intelligence agencies worldwide. Five months later, she and reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The resulting film is history unfolding before our eyes. -Synopsis from IMDb

 

Philosophy

 

Politicians and the Political Process

 

Poverty and Charity

Rachel and her Children, book, Jonathan Kozol 

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Jonathan Kozol is one of America’s most forceful and eloquent observers of the intersection of race, poverty, and education. His books, from the National Book Award–winning Death at an Early Age to his most recent, the critically acclaimed Shame of the Nation, are touchstones of the national conscience. First published in 1988 and based on the months the author spent among America’s homeless, Rachel and Her Children is an unforgettable record of the desperate voices of men, women, and especially children caught up in a nightmarish situation that tears at the hearts of readers. With record numbers of homeless children and adults flooding the nation’s shelters, Rachel and Her Children offers a look at homelessness that resonates even louder today. -Description from Amazon

Savage Inequalities, book, Jonathan Kozol 

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National Book Award-winning author Jonathan Kozol presents his shocking account of the American educational system in this stunning “New York Times” bestseller, which has sold more than 250,000 hardcover copies.”An impassioned book, laced with anger and indignation, about how our public education system scorns so many of our children.” -New York Times Book Review”

 

Religion

The Liturgists Podcast, podcast, Mike McHargue, Michael Gungor, etc. 

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Michael Gungor, Science Mike, and a revolving cast of thinkers and creators discuss topics through the lenses of science, art, and faith. -Description from www.theliturgists.com

Under the Banner of Heaven, book, Jon Krakauer 

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Jon Krakauer’s literary reputation rests on insightful chronicles of lives conducted at the outer limits. He now shifts his focus from extremes of physical adventure to extremes of religious belief within our own borders, taking readers inside isolated American communities where some 40,000 Mormon Fundamentalists still practice polygamy. Defying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the renegade leaders of these Taliban-like theocracies are zealots who answer only to God. At the core of Krakauer’s book are brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a commandment from God to kill a blameless woman and her baby girl. Beginning with a meticulously researched account of this appalling double murder, Krakauer constructs a multi-layered, bone-chilling narrative of messianic delusion, polygamy, savage violence, and unyielding faith. Along the way he uncovers a shadowy offshoot of America’s fastest growing religion, and raises provocative questions about the nature of religious belief. -Description from Amazon

The Experience of God, book, David Bentley Hart 

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Despite recent ferocious public debate about the likelihood of the existence of God, the most central concept in such arguments remains strangely obscure. What is God? Are those engaged in the debate all talking about the same thing? In this beautifully written contribution to reasoned discussion, a revered religious thinker clarifies how the word ‘God’ functions in various religious traditions. -Description from Amazon

Mere Christianity, book, C.S. Lewis 

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In the classic Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, the most important writer of the 20th century, explores the common ground upon which all of those of Christian faith stand together. Bringing together Lewis’ legendary broadcast talks during World War Two from his three previous books The Case for Christianity, Christian Behavior, and Beyond Personality, Mere Christianity provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear this powerful apologetic for the Christian faith. -Description from Amazon

Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, documentary, Stanley Nelson 

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2006 documentary film made by Firelight Media, produced and directed by Stanley Nelson. The documentary reveals new footage of the incidents surrounding the Peoples Temple and its leader Jim Jones who led over 900 members of his religious group to a settlement in Guyana called Jonestown, where he orchestrated a mass suicide with poisoned Flavor Aid, in 1978.[1] It is in the form of a narrative with interviews with former Temple members, Jonestown survivors, and persons who knew Jones -Description from Wikipedia

Going Clear, documentary, Alex Gibney 

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2015 documentary film about Scientology. Directed by Alex Gibney and produced by HBO, it is based on Lawrence Wright’s book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief (2013). The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. It received widespread praise from critics and was nominated for seven Emmy Awards, winning three, including Best Documentary. The film deconstructs the church’s claims by presenting a condensed history of Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, examining how celebrities interact with the church, and highlighting the stories of a number of ex-members and of the abuse and exploitation that they described seeing and experiencing. The Church of Scientology responded vehemently to the film, complaining to film critics about their reviews and denouncing the filmmakers and their interviewees. -Description from Wikipedia

The God Delusion, book, Richard Dawkins 

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A preeminent scientist — and the world’s most prominent atheist — asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11. With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. The God Delusion makes a compelling case that belief in God is not just wrong but potentially deadly. It also offers exhilarating insight into the advantages of atheism to the individual and society, not the least of which is a clearer, truer appreciation of the universe’s wonders than any faith could ever muster. -Description from Amazon

 

Science and Technology

Cosmos, documentary series, Neil DeGrasse Tyson 

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A documentary series that explores how we discovered the laws of nature and found our coordinates in space and time. -Description from IMDb

The Selfish Gene, book, Richard Dawkins 

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Richard Dawkins’ brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands of readers to rethink their beliefs about life. In his internationally bestselling, now classic volume, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins explains how the selfish gene can also be a subtle gene. The world of the selfish gene revolves around savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit, and yet, Dawkins argues, acts of apparent altruism do exist in nature. Bees, for example, will commit suicide when they sting to protect the hive, and birds will risk their lives to warn the flock of an approaching hawk. -Description from Amazon

 

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