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childofbaud comments on Recommended reading for new rationalists - Less Wrong

27 Post author: XFrequentist 09 July 2009 07:47PM

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Comment author: childofbaud 07 October 2009 01:51:31PM *  1 point [-]

Before you pick up anything in this thread you would be well advised to peruse How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren. This is doubly recommended if reading is one of your primary ways of acquiring knowledge.

The book was published some time ago, but books, and the reading habits associated with them, haven't changed all that much. The authors make the point that most people, even college graduates, read at an elementary level, and that many educational institutions make no effort to improve this. Elementary reading is characterized by a passive and linear approach to reading, and often mistaken assumption about the process, such as that knowledge contained within a book will somehow be retained after a first superficial exposure. The authors introduce more advanced techniques of analytical and active reading, and offer interesting ideas regarding reading material of all kind—though unfortunately the book was written before the internet era—with a major focus on expository works.

Actually, there are many things in this book that I disagree with, and others that I suspect are just downright wrong. But I'm not aware of anything better on the subject, and the most important thing is that it will get a reader thinking about an act that most of us spend very little time reflecting on, despite the fact that we constantly engage in it.

How to mark a book is a short article by Adler that may give you a taste of what to expect.