‘Curiosity’ Book Giveaway: Here Are the Winning Entries, Including the Grossest Maggot Story We’ve Ever Published*

Curiosity is a wonderful monograph by British science writer Philip Ball. He chronicles how, many centuries ago, under the influence of religion, curiosity became a shameful characteristic, a twin to arrogance (mostly because being curious signaled you weren’t content to merely gawp in gratitude at God’s creation). Eventually, to humankind’s credit, curiosity morphed into a trait celebrated for its role in scientific progress.

At my request, Ball’s U.S. publisher, the University of Chicago Press, sent me three hardcover copies to give away to readers of this blog.**

To make it interesting, I asked you to share your favorite autobiographical story involving curiosity, and you did!

Here are, in my highly subjective opinion, the three best submissions, in no particular order.

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Book Giveaway: Curiosity – Once Maligned, Now Celebrated – Gets Its Own Biography. It’s Free to Three of Our Readers

Curiosity, as we all know, killed the cat. It is also responsible for humankind’s fall from paradise (thanks, Eve), for the spread of evil all over the world (great job, Pandora), and for the humiliations suffered by Goethe’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Our culture and vernacular are full of ancient warnings against inquisitiveness, but most of us no longer believe in them. On the contrary: Over the past few hundred years, curiosity has gone from an affliction born, supposedly, of vanity and lack of piousness, to a virtue that is celebrated in everything from space exploration to family movies (Hotel Transylvania, The Croods).

British author Philip Ball chronicles this journey of liberation in his 2013 book, Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything.



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The Redemption (and Apostasy) of a Devout Jehovah’s Witness

James Zimmerman grew up as the kind of Jehovah’s Witness who might have knocked on your door. Devout and fervent, he knew what the consequences were for apostates. And yet he found a way to break free.

His new memoir detailing his upbringing — and how his questioning of the faith eventually led him away from it — is called Deliverance at Hand!: The Redemption of a Devout Jehovah’s Witness (Freethought House, 2013):

In the excerpt below, Zimmerman briefs us on how serious his beliefs were growing up:

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An Exclusive Excerpt from Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman’s Beyond the God Particle

It was 20 years ago when Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman coined the term “God Particle” to describe what has since been confirmed as the Higgs Boson, the subject at the center of today’s announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physics. Lederman wrote at the time:

Why God particle?… the publisher wouldn’t let us call it the Goddamn Particle, though that might be a more appropriate title, given its villainous nature and the expense it is causing.”

Now that the Higgs Boson has been discovered, Lederman is back with a new book that continues where his previous one left off. Beyond the God Particle (Prometheus Books, 2013), written with Dr. Christopher Hill, talks about “the future of particle physics and the mysteries of the universe yet to be unraveled.”

Below is an exclusive excerpt from the book — keep reading for your chance to win a copy!

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This is How You Know Your Religion is Harmful…

Neil Carter offers up a fantastic list of ways you know your religion is harmful at his blog Godless in Dixie.

In short:

Your Religion May Be Harmful…

1) If it inspires inactivity when action is what is needed.
2) If it teaches you to accept things as they are when they should be changed.
3) If it conditions you to overly rely on subjective sources of decision-making.
4) If it discourages critical thinking skills.
5) If it teaches you to distrust science.
6) If its other-worldly promises distract you from finding solutions to this-world problems.
7) If it leads you to actively discriminate against others because of their gender, their sexual orientation, or their beliefs.
8) If it teaches you to fundamentally distrust yourself and to view yourself as essentially broken, weak, or unable to think for yourself.
9) If it sucks a significant amount of time or money from your life.

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