I’ve learned a lot from the Internet recently, including that (1) I should refrain from cutting Mr. A.M.B.’s guest posts on this blog, (2) a pot of tea and a good book can be even better than usual, and (3) I’m not the only one who thinks that Kurt Vonnegut’s books are worth reading!
(1) What Jane Austen Teaches Us About “Proof”:
While wasting time on the Internet last week, I came across a list, 10 Scientific Ideas That Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing, which included “Proof” as one of the most widely misunderstood concepts.
Per Physicist Sean Carroll:
[S]cience never proves anything! So when we are asked “What is your proof that we evolved from other species?” or “Can you really prove that climate change is caused by human activity?” we tend to hem and haw rather than simply saying “Of course we can.” The fact that science never really proves anything, but simply creates more and more reliable and comprehensive theories of the world that nevertheless are always subject to update and improvement, is one of the key aspects of why science is so successful.
Coincidentally, before seeing this list, I cut a paragraph from a draft of Mr. A.M.B.’s post on Jane Austen’s Persuasion that raised a similar point about the limits of “proof” while arguing that Jane Austen’s novel is more than a love story. He wrote:
Persuasion includes a number of remarkable observations about humanity, many of which can easily pass without notice if a reader sees it only as a love story. When Anne is debating with Captain Harville about whether men hold romantic attachments as firmly as women, he asks “But how shall we prove anything?” She replies:
“We never shall. We can never expect to prove anything upon such a point. It is a difference of opinion which does not admit of proof. We each begin, probably, with a little bias towards our own sex; and upon that bias build every circumstance in favour of it which has occurred within our own circle…”
There are two separate remarkable observations in there, one about the limits of “proof” in the context of social science, the other about a psychological phenomenon we now call “confirmation bias.” Persuasion is filled with mature, compelling observations about human nature stated simply and plainly in the middle of a book that would only appear “superficial” if you weren’t really paying attention.
Clearly, there’s a lot we can learn from Jane Austen (& Mr. A.M.B. ).
(2) Making Tea & Books An Even Better Combination:
Also last week, I learned from Melanie at The Indextrious Reader that Distinctly Tea (in Ontario, Canada) created a special green tea blend in honor of the Ontario Library Association’s Evergreen Award, which “gives adult library users the opportunity to vote for Canadian fiction or non-fiction from a shortlist of 10 titles each year, with readers choosing the winner.” A portion of the profit made on the tea will support the Stratford Public Library.
As I tweeted, tea and books always go well together, but the combination is even better when it supports a library. The Evergreen Tea Blend I ordered from Distinctly Tea arrived yesterday by mail, and I’m pleased to say that it’s delicious! I’m not normally a fan of smoky lapsang, but this blend works for me.
I’m an “Information Omnivore.” According to Pew:
Information Omnivores are more likely to seek and use information than other groups and are more likely to engage with technology. They are strong users of public libraries and think libraries have a vital role in their communities.
So, what kind of library user are you?
(4) Drumroll Please…
Thank you to everyone who participated. It was nice to see what books participants are interested in reading. I was particularly happy that someone mentioned wanting to read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, which is one of my favorite books. As I’ve discussed on this blog before, I’ve been concerned about Vonnegut’s literary reputation (see Vonnegut’s Literary Reputation: Evidence That American Culture Must Be In Decline).
Thanks again to Leeswammes for hosting the blog hop.
Have a great weekend!