David Eberhard – I trygghetsnarkomanernas land (2006)
Secular fear of death combined with the modern world’s unprecedented ability to make us safer has made us addicted to safety. We’re unable to properly evaluate risks, and will sacrifice anything for another fix of feeling safe, slaves to our addiction. Eberhard insists that there is nothing partisan in his attack, and he’s right that safety addicts are found in all prosperous societies, but given how strongly the Scandinavian form of this phenomenon is connected with the social democratic welfare state, this book is basically a manifesto for the Right.
Recommended: Yes. Almost obligatory. This is the sort of book non-paternalists ought to slam down on the table and say “This. This what we believe.”
Sharon Begley – Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain (2007)
Not the proper book on neuroplasticity I’m looking for, but smarter than the self-helpish title implies. Foreword by the Dalai Lama, but at least it’s not Gladwell, and it is actually appropriate: Begley investigates how neurological research and cognitive behavioral therapy plausifies the Buddhist belief that the mind can use meditation to change itself. It has the usual popsci anecdotes, (complete with evil old guard defending dogma against Frightening New Ideas), but what it also does is illuminate my personal experience with meditation, introspection and attention. I know there’s something happening here, in a nexus science, religion and philosophy arrive at from different angles, and I want to know what it is.
Recommended: I suppose. For now. Caution: These ideas leave you with fewer excuses.