Dataset Preview
Go to dataset viewer
answer (string)paragraph_question (string)question (string)sentence (string)paragraph (string)sentence_answer (string)paragraph_answer (string)paragraph_sentence (string)paragraph_id (string)question_subj_level (int32)answer_subj_level (int32)domain (string)
"any book that takes me 3 months and 20 different tries to read is not worth 3 stars"
"question: How is book?, context: I am giving "Gone Girl" 3 stars, but only begrudgingly. In my mind, any book that takes me 3 months and 20 different tries to read is not worth 3 stars, especially a book written by an author I already respect. And I am not kidding, for me the first half of "Gone Girl" was a PURE TORTURE to read.Amy Dunn disappears on the day of her 5th wedding anniversary. All gradually uncovered evidence suggests that her husband, Nick, is somehow involved. Did he kill her? Was she kidnapped? What happened to Amy? One thing is clear, Nick and Amy's marriage wasn't as perfect as everybody thought.The first part of the novel is all about the investigation into Amy's disappearance, slow unraveling of Nick's dirty secrets, reminiscing about the troubled history of Nick and Amy's marriage as told in Amy's hidden diary. I strained and strained my brain trying to understand why this chunk of Gone Girl had no appeal to me whatsoever. The only answer I have is this: I am really not into reading about rich white people's problems. You want to whine to me about your dwindling trust fund? Losing your cushy New York job? Moving south and "only" renting a mansion there? Being unhappy because you have too much free time on your hands and you are used to only work as a hobby? You want to make fun of your lowly, un-posh neighbors and their casseroles? Well, I am not interested. I'd rather read about someone not necessarily likable, but at least worthy of my empathy, not waste my time on self-centered, spoiled, pathetic people who don't know what real problems are. Granted, characters in Flynn's previous novels ("Sharp Objects" and "Dark Places") are pretty pathetic and and at times revolting too, but I always felt some strange empathy towards them, not annoyance and boredom, like I felt reading about Amy and Nick's marriage voes.But then second part, with its wicked twist, changed everything. The story became much more exciting, dangerous and deranged. The main characters revealed sides to them that were quite shocking and VERY entertaining. I thought the Gillian Flynn I knew before finally unleashed her talent for writing utterly unlikable and crafty women. THEN I got invested in the story, THEN I cared.Was it too little too late though? I think it was. Something needed to be done to make "Gone Girl" a better read. Make it shorter? Cut out first part completely? I don't know. But because of my uneven experience with this novel I won't be able to recommend "Gone Girl" as readily as I did Flynn's earlier novels, even though I think this horror marriage story (it's not a true mystery, IMO) has some brilliantly written psycho goodness in it and an absolutely messed up ending that many loathed but I LOVED. I wish it didn't take so much time and patience to get to all of that... "
"How is book?"
"In my mind, any book that takes me 3 months and 20 different tries to read is not worth 3 stars , especially a book written by an author I already respect."
"I am giving "Gone Girl" 3 stars, but only begrudgingly. In my mind, any book that takes me 3 months and 20 different tries to read is not worth 3 stars, especially a book written by an author I already respect. And I am not kidding, for me the first half of "Gone Girl" was a PURE TORTURE to read.Amy Dunn disappears on the day of her 5th wedding anniversary. All gradually uncovered evidence suggests that her husband, Nick, is somehow involved. Did he kill her? Was she kidnapped? What happened to Amy? One thing is clear, Nick and Amy's marriage wasn't as perfect as everybody thought.The first part of the novel is all about the investigation into Amy's disappearance, slow unraveling of Nick's dirty secrets, reminiscing about the troubled history of Nick and Amy's marriage as told in Amy's hidden diary. I strained and strained my brain trying to understand why this chunk of Gone Girl had no appeal to me whatsoever. The only answer I have is this: I am really not into reading about rich white people's problems. You want to whine to me about your dwindling trust fund? Losing your cushy New York job? Moving south and "only" renting a mansion there? Being unhappy because you have too much free time on your hands and you are used to only work as a hobby? You want to make fun of your lowly, un-posh neighbors and their casseroles? Well, I am not interested. I'd rather read about someone not necessarily likable, but at least worthy of my empathy, not waste my time on self-centered, spoiled, pathetic people who don't know what real problems are. Granted, characters in Flynn's previous novels ("Sharp Objects" and "Dark Places") are pretty pathetic and and at times revolting too, but I always felt some strange empathy towards them, not annoyance and boredom, like I felt reading about Amy and Nick's marriage voes.But then second part, with its wicked twist, changed everything. The story became much more exciting, dangerous and deranged. The main characters revealed sides to them that were quite shocking and VERY entertaining. I thought the Gillian Flynn I knew before finally unleashed her talent for writing utterly unlikable and crafty women. THEN I got invested in the story, THEN I cared.Was it too little too late though? I think it was. Something needed to be done to make "Gone Girl" a better read. Make it shorter? Cut out first part completely? I don't know. But because of my uneven experience with this novel I won't be able to recommend "Gone Girl" as readily as I did Flynn's earlier novels, even though I think this horror marriage story (it's not a true mystery, IMO) has some brilliantly written psycho goodness in it and an absolutely messed up ending that many loathed but I LOVED. I wish it didn't take so much time and patience to get to all of that... "
"In my mind, <hl> any book that takes me 3 months and 20 different tries to read is not worth 3 stars <hl> , especially a book written by an author I already respect."
"I am giving "Gone Girl" 3 stars, but only begrudgingly. In my mind, <hl> any book that takes me 3 months and 20 different tries to read is not worth 3 stars <hl>, especially a book written by an author I already respect. And I am not kidding, for me the first half of "Gone Girl" was a PURE TORTURE to read.Amy Dunn disappears on the day of her 5th wedding anniversary. All gradually uncovered evidence suggests that her husband, Nick, is somehow involved. Did he kill her? Was she kidnapped? What happened to Amy? One thing is clear, Nick and Amy's marriage wasn't as perfect as everybody thought.The first part of the novel is all about the investigation into Amy's disappearance, slow unraveling of Nick's dirty secrets, reminiscing about the troubled history of Nick and Amy's marriage as told in Amy's hidden diary. I strained and strained my brain trying to understand why this chunk of Gone Girl had no appeal to me whatsoever. The only answer I have is this: I am really not into reading about rich white people's problems. You want to whine to me about your dwindling trust fund? Losing your cushy New York job? Moving south and "only" renting a mansion there? Being unhappy because you have too much free time on your hands and you are used to only work as a hobby? You want to make fun of your lowly, un-posh neighbors and their casseroles? Well, I am not interested. I'd rather read about someone not necessarily likable, but at least worthy of my empathy, not waste my time on self-centered, spoiled, pathetic people who don't know what real problems are. Granted, characters in Flynn's previous novels ("Sharp Objects" and "Dark Places") are pretty pathetic and and at times revolting too, but I always felt some strange empathy towards them, not annoyance and boredom, like I felt reading about Amy and Nick's marriage voes.But then second part, with its wicked twist, changed everything. The story became much more exciting, dangerous and deranged. The main characters revealed sides to them that were quite shocking and VERY entertaining. I thought the Gillian Flynn I knew before finally unleashed her talent for writing utterly unlikable and crafty women. THEN I got invested in the story, THEN I cared.Was it too little too late though? I think it was. Something needed to be done to make "Gone Girl" a better read. Make it shorter? Cut out first part completely? I don't know. But because of my uneven experience with this novel I won't be able to recommend "Gone Girl" as readily as I did Flynn's earlier novels, even though I think this horror marriage story (it's not a true mystery, IMO) has some brilliantly written psycho goodness in it and an absolutely messed up ending that many loathed but I LOVED. I wish it didn't take so much time and patience to get to all of that... "
"I am giving "Gone Girl" 3 stars, but only begrudgingly. <hl> In my mind, any book that takes me 3 months and 20 different tries to read is not worth 3 stars , especially a book written by an author I already respect. <hl> And I am not kidding, for me the first half of "Gone Girl" was a PURE TORTURE to read. Amy Dunn disappears on the day of her 5th wedding anniversary. All gradually uncovered evidence suggests that her husband, Nick, is somehow involved. Did he kill her? Was she kidnapped? What happened to Amy? One thing is clear, Nick and Amy's marriage wasn't as perfect as everybody thought. The first part of the novel is all about the investigation into Amy's disappearance, slow unraveling of Nick's dirty secrets, reminiscing about the troubled history of Nick and Amy's marriage as told in Amy's hidden diary. I strained and strained my brain trying to understand why this chunk of Gone Girl had no appeal to me whatsoever. The only answer I have is this: I am really not into reading about rich white people's problems. You want to whine to me about your dwindling trust fund? Losing your cushy New York job? Moving south and "only" renting a mansion there? Being unhappy because you have too much free time on your hands and you are used to only work as a hobby? You want to make fun of your lowly, un-posh neighbors and their casseroles? Well, I am not interested. I'd rather read about someone not necessarily likable, but at least worthy of my empathy, not waste my time on self-centered, spoiled, pathetic people who don't know what real problems are. Granted, characters in Flynn's previous novels ("Sharp Objects" and "Dark Places") are pretty pathetic and and at times revolting too, but I always felt some strange empathy towards them, not annoyance and boredom, like I felt reading about Amy and Nick's marriage voes. But then second part, with its wicked twist, changed everything. The story became much more exciting, dangerous and deranged. The main characters revealed sides to them that were quite shocking and VERY entertaining. I thought the Gillian Flynn I knew before finally unleashed her talent for writing utterly unlikable and crafty women. THEN I got invested in the story, THEN I cared. Was it too little too late though? I think it was. Something needed to be done to make "Gone Girl" a better read. Make it shorter? Cut out first part completely? I don't know. But because of my uneven experience with this novel I won't be able to recommend "Gone Girl" as readily as I did Flynn's earlier novels, even though I think this horror marriage story (it's not a true mystery, IMO) has some brilliantly written psycho goodness in it and an absolutely messed up ending that many loathed but I LOVED. I wish it didn't take so much time and patience to get to all of that..."
"1b7cc3db9ec681edd253a41a2785b5a9"
2
2
"books"
"is clearly NOT the great love"
"question: What is hero?, context: (Warning-Possible (very small) spoilers)The writing is, overall, quite disjointed. The first thing that struck me was that I was 85% certain that I knew the identity of the villain as soon as the character was even SPOKEN about, much less introduced. Needless to say, I was 100% certain when the villain does something dumb that shows him to be the bad guy... and no one catches on. Not surprisingly, I had also been able to warrant a very good guess as to what happened with Harriet.I found the character of Blomkvist kind of a drag. It's hard to pull for someone who is so BLAH. He ruined his marriage by continuing to sleep with Erica, but I'm never sure WHY. She's married, it is clearly NOT the great love of his life, and they have little to no real chemistry. The 'relationship' seems forced, and to be honest it skeeved me out that she would tell her husband when she was going to sleep with Blumkvist. Eww.Blumkvist is totally dense and doesn't pick up HUGE clues about what happened with Harriet, even though it's pretty obvious who the bad guy was, and the answer to what happened to her (without the details of how) is there the entire time. The answer is so ridiculously in your face, you almost feel let down when it turns out to be what you always knew it was. I figured with the reviews here, the solving of the crime must pack quite a punch! I was wrong.To top it all off, the writer makes sure to let us know that, on top of being a bad husband & an idiot, Blumkvist is also a crap parent. Woo woo, what a hero. He's an idiot who will (LITERALLY) sleep with anyone and has no emotional depth. WHY were we supposed to be rooting for him??Salander was (obviously) the more interesting character here. But I feel like the author took a certain joy in having her treated like terribly. Seriously, what else ABSOLUTELY AWFUL could happen to this poor girl? The ending angered me to no end. She finally makes an enormous emotional leap, only to have her hopes smashed by the idiot with NO EMOTIONAL DEPTH!And of course he remains oblivious to the carnage he has wrought with this ridiculous 'relationship' with Erica.Seriously, I hated the character of Blumkvist & really feel he ruined the whole book. Lisabeth should have been the main character and the entirety of the book should have been told from her perspective. Of course, had that happened, the book would have been about 200 pages long... because Lisabeth would have figured it out PRONTO.The writer used the dumber character to try and slow down the 'climax' of the (paper thin) story. "
"What is hero?"
" She's married, it is clearly NOT the great love of his life, and they have little to no real chemistry."
"(Warning-Possible (very small) spoilers)The writing is, overall, quite disjointed. The first thing that struck me was that I was 85% certain that I knew the identity of the villain as soon as the character was even SPOKEN about, much less introduced. Needless to say, I was 100% certain when the villain does something dumb that shows him to be the bad guy... and no one catches on. Not surprisingly, I had also been able to warrant a very good guess as to what happened with Harriet.I found the character of Blomkvist kind of a drag. It's hard to pull for someone who is so BLAH. He ruined his marriage by continuing to sleep with Erica, but I'm never sure WHY. She's married, it is clearly NOT the great love of his life, and they have little to no real chemistry. The 'relationship' seems forced, and to be honest it skeeved me out that she would tell her husband when she was going to sleep with Blumkvist. Eww.Blumkvist is totally dense and doesn't pick up HUGE clues about what happened with Harriet, even though it's pretty obvious who the bad guy was, and the answer to what happened to her (without the details of how) is there the entire time. The answer is so ridiculously in your face, you almost feel let down when it turns out to be what you always knew it was. I figured with the reviews here, the solving of the crime must pack quite a punch! I was wrong.To top it all off, the writer makes sure to let us know that, on top of being a bad husband & an idiot, Blumkvist is also a crap parent. Woo woo, what a hero. He's an idiot who will (LITERALLY) sleep with anyone and has no emotional depth. WHY were we supposed to be rooting for him??Salander was (obviously) the more interesting character here. But I feel like the author took a certain joy in having her treated like terribly. Seriously, what else ABSOLUTELY AWFUL could happen to this poor girl? The ending angered me to no end. She finally makes an enormous emotional leap, only to have her hopes smashed by the idiot with NO EMOTIONAL DEPTH!And of course he remains oblivious to the carnage he has wrought with this ridiculous 'relationship' with Erica.Seriously, I hated the character of Blumkvist & really feel he ruined the whole book. Lisabeth should have been the main character and the entirety of the book should have been told from her perspective. Of course, had that happened, the book would have been about 200 pages long... because Lisabeth would have figured it out PRONTO.The writer used the dumber character to try and slow down the 'climax' of the (paper thin) story. "
" She's married, it <hl> is clearly NOT the great love <hl> of his life, and they have little to no real chemistry."
"(Warning-Possible (very small) spoilers)The writing is, overall, quite disjointed. The first thing that struck me was that I was 85% certain that I knew the identity of the villain as soon as the character was even SPOKEN about, much less introduced. Needless to say, I was 100% certain when the villain does something dumb that shows him to be the bad guy... and no one catches on. Not surprisingly, I had also been able to warrant a very good guess as to what happened with Harriet.I found the character of Blomkvist kind of a drag. It's hard to pull for someone who is so BLAH. He ruined his marriage by continuing to sleep with Erica, but I'm never sure WHY. She's married, it <hl> is clearly NOT the great love <hl> of his life, and they have little to no real chemistry. The 'relationship' seems forced, and to be honest it skeeved me out that she would tell her husband when she was going to sleep with Blumkvist. Eww.Blumkvist is totally dense and doesn't pick up HUGE clues about what happened with Harriet, even though it's pretty obvious who the bad guy was, and the answer to what happened to her (without the details of how) is there the entire time. The answer is so ridiculously in your face, you almost feel let down when it turns out to be what you always knew it was. I figured with the reviews here, the solving of the crime must pack quite a punch! I was wrong.To top it all off, the writer makes sure to let us know that, on top of being a bad husband & an idiot, Blumkvist is also a crap parent. Woo woo, what a hero. He's an idiot who will (LITERALLY) sleep with anyone and has no emotional depth. WHY were we supposed to be rooting for him??Salander was (obviously) the more interesting character here. But I feel like the author took a certain joy in having her treated like terribly. Seriously, what else ABSOLUTELY AWFUL could happen to this poor girl? The ending angered me to no end. She finally makes an enormous emotional leap, only to have her hopes smashed by the idiot with NO EMOTIONAL DEPTH!And of course he remains oblivious to the carnage he has wrought with this ridiculous 'relationship' with Erica.Seriously, I hated the character of Blumkvist & really feel he ruined the whole book. Lisabeth should have been the main character and the entirety of the book should have been told from her perspective. Of course, had that happened, the book would have been about 200 pages long... because Lisabeth would have figured it out PRONTO.The writer used the dumber character to try and slow down the 'climax' of the (paper thin) story. "
"(Warning-Possible (very small) spoilers)The writing is, overall, quite disjointed. The first thing that struck me was that I was 85% certain that I knew the identity of the villain as soon as the character was even SPOKEN about, much less introduced. Needless to say, I was 100% certain when the villain does something dumb that shows him to be the bad guy... and no one catches on. Not surprisingly, I had also been able to warrant a very good guess as to what happened with Harriet. I found the character of Blomkvist kind of a drag. It's hard to pull for someone who is so BLAH. He ruined his marriage by continuing to sleep with Erica, but I'm never sure WHY. <hl> She's married, it is clearly NOT the great love of his life, and they have little to no real chemistry. <hl> The 'relationship' seems forced, and to be honest it skeeved me out that she would tell her husband when she was going to sleep with Blumkvist. Eww. Blumkvist is totally dense and doesn't pick up HUGE clues about what happened with Harriet, even though it's pretty obvious who the bad guy was, and the answer to what happened to her (without the details of how) is there the entire time. The answer is so ridiculously in your face, you almost feel let down when it turns out to be what you always knew it was. I figured with the reviews here, the solving of the crime must pack quite a punch! I was wrong. To top it all off, the writer makes sure to let us know that, on top of being a bad husband & an idiot, Blumkvist is also a crap parent. Woo woo, what a hero. He's an idiot who will (LITERALLY) sleep with anyone and has no emotional depth. WHY were we supposed to be rooting for him??Salander was (obviously) the more interesting character here. But I feel like the author took a certain joy in having her treated like terribly. Seriously, what else ABSOLUTELY AWFUL could happen to this poor girl? The ending angered me to no end. She finally makes an enormous emotional leap, only to have her hopes smashed by the idiot with NO EMOTIONAL DEPTH!And of course he remains oblivious to the carnage he has wrought with this ridiculous 'relationship' with Erica. Seriously, I hated the character of Blumkvist & really feel he ruined the whole book. Lisabeth should have been the main character and the entirety of the book should have been told from her perspective. Of course, had that happened, the book would have been about 200 pages long... because Lisabeth would have figured it out PRONTO.The writer used the dumber character to try and slow down the 'climax' of the (paper thin) story."
"af920ccad3b7b2fd180c39ec3ba4e832"
1
1
"books"
"I LOVE the Divergent series"
"question: How's the end?, context: I LOVE the Divergent series.It's action-packed and suspenseful with an engaging storyline. A true page-turner. The ending of Insurgent is shocking, leaving my jaw dropped and ready for the next book. If you haven't read this series, it's a must read. A cross between The Hunger Games and The Giver. Amazing writing! "
"How's the end?"
"I LOVE the Divergent series .It's action-packed and suspenseful with an engaging storyline."
"I LOVE the Divergent series.It's action-packed and suspenseful with an engaging storyline. A true page-turner. The ending of Insurgent is shocking, leaving my jaw dropped and ready for the next book. If you haven't read this series, it's a must read. A cross between The Hunger Games and The Giver. Amazing writing! "
"<hl> I LOVE the Divergent series <hl> .It's action-packed and suspenseful with an engaging storyline."
"<hl> I LOVE the Divergent series <hl>.It's action-packed and suspenseful with an engaging storyline. A true page-turner. The ending of Insurgent is shocking, leaving my jaw dropped and ready for the next book. If you haven't read this series, it's a must read. A cross between The Hunger Games and The Giver. Amazing writing! "
"<hl> I LOVE the Divergent series .It's action-packed and suspenseful with an engaging storyline. <hl> A true page-turner. The ending of Insurgent is shocking, leaving my jaw dropped and ready for the next book. If you haven't read this series, it's a must read. A cross between The Hunger Games and The Giver. Amazing writing!"
"a00bd047fe68d8d019da38b285ab0761"
1
1
"books"
"This is a wonderfully written book"
"question: What are the parts like?, context: While I would not recommend this book to a young reader due to a couple pretty explicate scenes I would recommend it to any adult who just loves a good book. Once I started reading it I could not put it down. I hesitated reading it because I didn't think that the subject matter would be interesting, but I was so wrong. This is a wonderfully written book. "
"What are the parts like?"
" This is a wonderfully written book ."
"While I would not recommend this book to a young reader due to a couple pretty explicate scenes I would recommend it to any adult who just loves a good book. Once I started reading it I could not put it down. I hesitated reading it because I didn't think that the subject matter would be interesting, but I was so wrong. This is a wonderfully written book. "
" <hl> This is a wonderfully written book <hl> ."
"While I would not recommend this book to a young reader due to a couple pretty explicate scenes I would recommend it to any adult who just loves a good book. Once I started reading it I could not put it down. I hesitated reading it because I didn't think that the subject matter would be interesting, but I was so wrong. <hl> This is a wonderfully written book <hl>. "
"While I would not recommend this book to a young reader due to a couple pretty explicate scenes I would recommend it to any adult who just loves a good book. Once I started reading it I could not put it down. I hesitated reading it because I didn't think that the subject matter would be interesting, but I was so wrong. <hl> This is a wonderfully written book . <hl>"
"a7f1a2503eac2580a0ebbc1d24fffca1"
2
2
"books"
"The story is fantastic and well written"
"question: Does this have a good balance of enjoyment?, context: I had never heard anything about orphan trains prior to this book. The story is fantastic and well written, if a little rosey at the end, but don't we all need a feel good book some times? "
"Does this have a good balance of enjoyment?"
"The story is fantastic and well written , if a little rosey at the end, but don't we all need a feel good book some times?"
"I had never heard anything about orphan trains prior to this book. The story is fantastic and well written, if a little rosey at the end, but don't we all need a feel good book some times? "
"<hl> The story is fantastic and well written <hl> , if a little rosey at the end, but don't we all need a feel good book some times?"
"I had never heard anything about orphan trains prior to this book. <hl> The story is fantastic and well written <hl>, if a little rosey at the end, but don't we all need a feel good book some times? "
"I had never heard anything about orphan trains prior to this book. <hl> The story is fantastic and well written , if a little rosey at the end, but don't we all need a feel good book some times? <hl>"
"763dc303e0162fcd74c5bf0064ea7a85"
1
1
"books"
"the book was so good"
"question: How is it the book this one?, context: It's almost like Gillian Flynn either couldn't figure out how to end it after all the twists and turns or she just gave up! You could take that as a sign that the rest of the book was so good that I am this upset about the ending. But you could also say it was a frustrating read BECAUSE the rest was so good. "
"How is it the book this one?"
"You could take that as a sign that the rest of the book was so good that I am this upset about the ending."
"It's almost like Gillian Flynn either couldn't figure out how to end it after all the twists and turns or she just gave up! You could take that as a sign that the rest of the book was so good that I am this upset about the ending. But you could also say it was a frustrating read BECAUSE the rest was so good. "
"You could take that as a sign that the rest of <hl> the book was so good <hl> that I am this upset about the ending."
"It's almost like Gillian Flynn either couldn't figure out how to end it after all the twists and turns or she just gave up! You could take that as a sign that the rest of <hl> the book was so good <hl> that I am this upset about the ending. But you could also say it was a frustrating read BECAUSE the rest was so good. "
"It's almost like Gillian Flynn either couldn't figure out how to end it after all the twists and turns or she just gave up! <hl> You could take that as a sign that the rest of the book was so good that I am this upset about the ending. <hl> But you could also say it was a frustrating read BECAUSE the rest was so good."
"098e1f9ed95a2a7c46698efd73d9c98c"
1
1
"books"
"I have slogged through 560 pages of this ridiculously overwrought novel"
"question: How is the writing style?, context: I have slogged through 560 pages of this ridiculously overwrought novel and two things stick out in my mind.First, why didn't the publisher edit the book? There are so many inconsistencies and screw-ups in the narrative, I can't believe it. Like the time the lady had her brains bashed in by her killer husband, only to have fully recovered in the next chapter. Who the hell does King think he's kidding?Has he made so much money on his blood and gore thrillers, that he thinks he can get away with this trash, or has his publisher relinquished all editing responsibilities because King's mere name on his novels generates millions. Readers aren't stupid. I don't know, but getting away with these blatant errors leaves the reader baffled and confused. Not only is this the height of sloppiness and narcissism on King's part, but it proves that he or his publisher no longer care about putting out a quality product. Life's too short to read such garbage. I liked the 'Stand' but that's about it. He never advanced much as a writer, and when has money ever been the standard of excellence? "
"How is the writing style?"
"I have slogged through 560 pages of this ridiculously overwrought novel and two things stick out in my mind."
"I have slogged through 560 pages of this ridiculously overwrought novel and two things stick out in my mind.First, why didn't the publisher edit the book? There are so many inconsistencies and screw-ups in the narrative, I can't believe it. Like the time the lady had her brains bashed in by her killer husband, only to have fully recovered in the next chapter. Who the hell does King think he's kidding?Has he made so much money on his blood and gore thrillers, that he thinks he can get away with this trash, or has his publisher relinquished all editing responsibilities because King's mere name on his novels generates millions. Readers aren't stupid. I don't know, but getting away with these blatant errors leaves the reader baffled and confused. Not only is this the height of sloppiness and narcissism on King's part, but it proves that he or his publisher no longer care about putting out a quality product. Life's too short to read such garbage. I liked the 'Stand' but that's about it. He never advanced much as a writer, and when has money ever been the standard of excellence? "
"<hl> I have slogged through 560 pages of this ridiculously overwrought novel <hl> and two things stick out in my mind."
"<hl> I have slogged through 560 pages of this ridiculously overwrought novel <hl> and two things stick out in my mind.First, why didn't the publisher edit the book? There are so many inconsistencies and screw-ups in the narrative, I can't believe it. Like the time the lady had her brains bashed in by her killer husband, only to have fully recovered in the next chapter. Who the hell does King think he's kidding?Has he made so much money on his blood and gore thrillers, that he thinks he can get away with this trash, or has his publisher relinquished all editing responsibilities because King's mere name on his novels generates millions. Readers aren't stupid. I don't know, but getting away with these blatant errors leaves the reader baffled and confused. Not only is this the height of sloppiness and narcissism on King's part, but it proves that he or his publisher no longer care about putting out a quality product. Life's too short to read such garbage. I liked the 'Stand' but that's about it. He never advanced much as a writer, and when has money ever been the standard of excellence? "
"<hl> I have slogged through 560 pages of this ridiculously overwrought novel and two things stick out in my mind. <hl> First, why didn't the publisher edit the book? There are so many inconsistencies and screw-ups in the narrative, I can't believe it. Like the time the lady had her brains bashed in by her killer husband, only to have fully recovered in the next chapter. Who the hell does King think he's kidding?Has he made so much money on his blood and gore thrillers, that he thinks he can get away with this trash, or has his publisher relinquished all editing responsibilities because King's mere name on his novels generates millions. Readers aren't stupid. I don't know, but getting away with these blatant errors leaves the reader baffled and confused. Not only is this the height of sloppiness and narcissism on King's part, but it proves that he or his publisher no longer care about putting out a quality product. Life's too short to read such garbage. I liked the 'Stand' but that's about it. He never advanced much as a writer, and when has money ever been the standard of excellence?"
"08417a99bddd3ae50a87e0efadedae41"
1
1
"books"
"Harry Potter series until"
"question: How is the choice?, context: I didn't start reading the Harry Potter series until "Goblet of Fire" was published - just in time to endure the monster wait for "Order of the Phoenix". I tore through the first four books with utter delight. After hearing the ridiculous amount of controversy surrounding these works, I was prepared for shoddy writing and nefarious, subversive pseud-literature. Obviously, I found neither."Order of the Phoenix" is indeed darker than its predecessors. This book isn't intended for five year olds, and I see no reason why good children's literature full of suspense, magic and a bit of thrill shouldn't be available. Thank goodness J.K. Rowling seems to agree. The regular cast of lovable characters are back, in the midst of pubescent angst, and dealing with an evil sorceror to boot. Harry's life is never dull.At 800 plus pages, this is one of the more involved children's books around, though the reading isn't difficult for young adults. I definitely would not recommend this book, or any in the series, to very young children as there are more advanced themes that many parents may not feel to be suitable. Obviously, informed parents would want to read the book first anyway.Harry, Ron, Hermione, Cho...all of them are growing up. The fact that their characters develop a broader emotional range is indicative of this fact. I certainly remember myself at 15. Everything that was good at all was absolutely wonderful, and anything not completely in my favor spelled the end of the world. In Harry's case, these extremes could very well be accurate, which is one of the reasons these books hold so much more magic than any wand from Olivander's could summon.J.K. Rowling's imagination runs wild, as it always does. Her warm sense of humor intertwines with sometimes scary subject matter and creates a truly unique story line. Hopefully, the wait for the next installment will be shorter. Hopefully, the attentive reader will realize that "Order of the Phoenix" is not a stand alone work, and that it needs to be measured, finally, by not only what came before it, but by what will come after it. "
"How is the choice?"
"I didn't start reading the Harry Potter series until "Goblet of Fire" was published - just in time to endure the monster wait for "Order of the Phoenix"."
"I didn't start reading the Harry Potter series until "Goblet of Fire" was published - just in time to endure the monster wait for "Order of the Phoenix". I tore through the first four books with utter delight. After hearing the ridiculous amount of controversy surrounding these works, I was prepared for shoddy writing and nefarious, subversive pseud-literature. Obviously, I found neither."Order of the Phoenix" is indeed darker than its predecessors. This book isn't intended for five year olds, and I see no reason why good children's literature full of suspense, magic and a bit of thrill shouldn't be available. Thank goodness J.K. Rowling seems to agree. The regular cast of lovable characters are back, in the midst of pubescent angst, and dealing with an evil sorceror to boot. Harry's life is never dull.At 800 plus pages, this is one of the more involved children's books around, though the reading isn't difficult for young adults. I definitely would not recommend this book, or any in the series, to very young children as there are more advanced themes that many parents may not feel to be suitable. Obviously, informed parents would want to read the book first anyway.Harry, Ron, Hermione, Cho...all of them are growing up. The fact that their characters develop a broader emotional range is indicative of this fact. I certainly remember myself at 15. Everything that was good at all was absolutely wonderful, and anything not completely in my favor spelled the end of the world. In Harry's case, these extremes could very well be accurate, which is one of the reasons these books hold so much more magic than any wand from Olivander's could summon.J.K. Rowling's imagination runs wild, as it always does. Her warm sense of humor intertwines with sometimes scary subject matter and creates a truly unique story line. Hopefully, the wait for the next installment will be shorter. Hopefully, the attentive reader will realize that "Order of the Phoenix" is not a stand alone work, and that it needs to be measured, finally, by not only what came before it, but by what will come after it. "
"I didn't start reading the <hl> Harry Potter series until <hl> "Goblet of Fire" was published - just in time to endure the monster wait for "Order of the Phoenix"."
"I didn't start reading the <hl> Harry Potter series until <hl> "Goblet of Fire" was published - just in time to endure the monster wait for "Order of the Phoenix". I tore through the first four books with utter delight. After hearing the ridiculous amount of controversy surrounding these works, I was prepared for shoddy writing and nefarious, subversive pseud-literature. Obviously, I found neither."Order of the Phoenix" is indeed darker than its predecessors. This book isn't intended for five year olds, and I see no reason why good children's literature full of suspense, magic and a bit of thrill shouldn't be available. Thank goodness J.K. Rowling seems to agree. The regular cast of lovable characters are back, in the midst of pubescent angst, and dealing with an evil sorceror to boot. Harry's life is never dull.At 800 plus pages, this is one of the more involved children's books around, though the reading isn't difficult for young adults. I definitely would not recommend this book, or any in the series, to very young children as there are more advanced themes that many parents may not feel to be suitable. Obviously, informed parents would want to read the book first anyway.Harry, Ron, Hermione, Cho...all of them are growing up. The fact that their characters develop a broader emotional range is indicative of this fact. I certainly remember myself at 15. Everything that was good at all was absolutely wonderful, and anything not completely in my favor spelled the end of the world. In Harry's case, these extremes could very well be accurate, which is one of the reasons these books hold so much more magic than any wand from Olivander's could summon.J.K. Rowling's imagination runs wild, as it always does. Her warm sense of humor intertwines with sometimes scary subject matter and creates a truly unique story line. Hopefully, the wait for the next installment will be shorter. Hopefully, the attentive reader will realize that "Order of the Phoenix" is not a stand alone work, and that it needs to be measured, finally, by not only what came before it, but by what will come after it. "
"<hl> I didn't start reading the Harry Potter series until "Goblet of Fire" was published - just in time to endure the monster wait for "Order of the Phoenix". <hl> I tore through the first four books with utter delight. After hearing the ridiculous amount of controversy surrounding these works, I was prepared for shoddy writing and nefarious, subversive pseud-literature. Obviously, I found neither. "Order of the Phoenix" is indeed darker than its predecessors. This book isn't intended for five year olds, and I see no reason why good children's literature full of suspense, magic and a bit of thrill shouldn't be available. Thank goodness J.K. Rowling seems to agree. The regular cast of lovable characters are back, in the midst of pubescent angst, and dealing with an evil sorceror to boot. Harry's life is never dull. At 800 plus pages, this is one of the more involved children's books around, though the reading isn't difficult for young adults. I definitely would not recommend this book, or any in the series, to very young children as there are more advanced themes that many parents may not feel to be suitable. Obviously, informed parents would want to read the book first anyway. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Cho...all of them are growing up. The fact that their characters develop a broader emotional range is indicative of this fact. I certainly remember myself at 15. Everything that was good at all was absolutely wonderful, and anything not completely in my favor spelled the end of the world. In Harry's case, these extremes could very well be accurate, which is one of the reasons these books hold so much more magic than any wand from Olivander's could summon. J.K. Rowling's imagination runs wild, as it always does. Her warm sense of humor intertwines with sometimes scary subject matter and creates a truly unique story line. Hopefully, the wait for the next installment will be shorter. Hopefully, the attentive reader will realize that "Order of the Phoenix" is not a stand alone work, and that it needs to be measured, finally, by not only what came before it, but by what will come after it."
"f847d7613b013e655b70c72a639eb9eb"
3
3
"books"
"felt like author ran out of steam, which is too bad since the rest of the book was great"
"question: How is the author like?, context: The twists and turns in this book are so worth the read - I won't give away any details, but it is a smart book for mystery readers. I was disappointed at the end though - it felt like author ran out of steam, which is too bad since the rest of the book was great. I know if they make this into a movie, the ending will be different, otherwise everyone will leave the theatre quiet with a "huh?" "
"How is the author like?"
" I was disappointed at the end though - it felt like author ran out of steam, which is too bad since the rest of the book was great ."
"The twists and turns in this book are so worth the read - I won't give away any details, but it is a smart book for mystery readers. I was disappointed at the end though - it felt like author ran out of steam, which is too bad since the rest of the book was great. I know if they make this into a movie, the ending will be different, otherwise everyone will leave the theatre quiet with a "huh?" "
" I was disappointed at the end though - it <hl> felt like author ran out of steam, which is too bad since the rest of the book was great <hl> ."
"The twists and turns in this book are so worth the read - I won't give away any details, but it is a smart book for mystery readers. I was disappointed at the end though - it <hl> felt like author ran out of steam, which is too bad since the rest of the book was great <hl>. I know if they make this into a movie, the ending will be different, otherwise everyone will leave the theatre quiet with a "huh?" "
"The twists and turns in this book are so worth the read - I won't give away any details, but it is a smart book for mystery readers. <hl> I was disappointed at the end though - it felt like author ran out of steam, which is too bad since the rest of the book was great . <hl> I know if they make this into a movie, the ending will be different, otherwise everyone will leave the theatre quiet with a "huh?""
"52e1ad3aa4cfd59810ba1f02c74c1874"
1
1
"books"
"A good book"
"question: How is the book?, context: Let me add my two cents to the masses. I finally broke down and began reading the Hunger Games and I'm glad I did. I loved the characters and the story. Collins creates a fantastic world inside the arena.The pacing is non-stop. She packs an incredible amount of action in one paragraph. I didn't want to miss one word.A good book is hard to find. You won't go wrong here.As a trilogy, that's another story, but the first book is EXCELLENT! "
"How is the book?"
"A good book is hard to find."
"Let me add my two cents to the masses. I finally broke down and began reading the Hunger Games and I'm glad I did. I loved the characters and the story. Collins creates a fantastic world inside the arena.The pacing is non-stop. She packs an incredible amount of action in one paragraph. I didn't want to miss one word.A good book is hard to find. You won't go wrong here.As a trilogy, that's another story, but the first book is EXCELLENT! "
"<hl> A good book <hl> is hard to find."
"Let me add my two cents to the masses. I finally broke down and began reading the Hunger Games and I'm glad I did. I loved the characters and the story. Collins creates a fantastic world inside the arena.The pacing is non-stop. She packs an incredible amount of action in one paragraph. I didn't want to miss one word.<hl> A good book <hl> is hard to find. You won't go wrong here.As a trilogy, that's another story, but the first book is EXCELLENT! "
"Let me add my two cents to the masses. I finally broke down and began reading the Hunger Games and I'm glad I did. I loved the characters and the story. Collins creates a fantastic world inside the arena. The pacing is non-stop. She packs an incredible amount of action in one paragraph. I didn't want to miss one word. <hl> A good book is hard to find. <hl> You won't go wrong here. As a trilogy, that's another story, but the first book is EXCELLENT!"
"6255cca071fa6c444a724e858b11dc54"
1
1
"books"
"Bryson does inspire an appreciation for what we take pretty much for granted"
"question: How is the knowledge?, context: This is a decent general natural history science book, covering a fairly wide range of topics. Bryson offers the fresh, intelligent perspective of a curious lay person, although the writing is dry at times. At other times, I found myself wishing that Bryson had elaborated more, like when he made the remarkable observation that our world is still in an Ice Age. Bryson does inspire an appreciation for what we take pretty much for granted - what he calls our cosmic luck on Earth. "
"How is the knowledge?"
"Bryson does inspire an appreciation for what we take pretty much for granted - what he calls our cosmic luck on Earth."
"This is a decent general natural history science book, covering a fairly wide range of topics. Bryson offers the fresh, intelligent perspective of a curious lay person, although the writing is dry at times. At other times, I found myself wishing that Bryson had elaborated more, like when he made the remarkable observation that our world is still in an Ice Age. Bryson does inspire an appreciation for what we take pretty much for granted - what he calls our cosmic luck on Earth. "
"<hl> Bryson does inspire an appreciation for what we take pretty much for granted <hl> - what he calls our cosmic luck on Earth."
"This is a decent general natural history science book, covering a fairly wide range of topics. Bryson offers the fresh, intelligent perspective of a curious lay person, although the writing is dry at times. At other times, I found myself wishing that Bryson had elaborated more, like when he made the remarkable observation that our world is still in an Ice Age. <hl> Bryson does inspire an appreciation for what we take pretty much for granted <hl> - what he calls our cosmic luck on Earth. "
"This is a decent general natural history science book, covering a fairly wide range of topics. Bryson offers the fresh, intelligent perspective of a curious lay person, although the writing is dry at times. At other times, I found myself wishing that Bryson had elaborated more, like when he made the remarkable observation that our world is still in an Ice Age. <hl> Bryson does inspire an appreciation for what we take pretty much for granted - what he calls our cosmic luck on Earth. <hl>"
"3de26b99e6f4616c3f0892d0d01338c1"
1
1
"books"
"THE HELP has so many amazing qualities"
"question: Is none of the book was peprfect?, context: THE HELP has so many amazing qualities it is hard to know where to start. Aside from the book's important social relevance and message, the writing is excellent in characterizing and describing both sides, never with a heavy hand, which makes Stockett's story all the more powerful and proves her place as one the most skilled contemporary writers today. This book is perfect for the reader looking for strong female leads fighting the odds. I'd put it right up there with my ultimate female underdog heroine novel SILLY LITTLE RICH GIRL. "
"Is none of the book was peprfect?"
"THE HELP has so many amazing qualities it is hard to know where to start."
"THE HELP has so many amazing qualities it is hard to know where to start. Aside from the book's important social relevance and message, the writing is excellent in characterizing and describing both sides, never with a heavy hand, which makes Stockett's story all the more powerful and proves her place as one the most skilled contemporary writers today. This book is perfect for the reader looking for strong female leads fighting the odds. I'd put it right up there with my ultimate female underdog heroine novel SILLY LITTLE RICH GIRL. "
"<hl> THE HELP has so many amazing qualities <hl> it is hard to know where to start."
"<hl> THE HELP has so many amazing qualities <hl> it is hard to know where to start. Aside from the book's important social relevance and message, the writing is excellent in characterizing and describing both sides, never with a heavy hand, which makes Stockett's story all the more powerful and proves her place as one the most skilled contemporary writers today. This book is perfect for the reader looking for strong female leads fighting the odds. I'd put it right up there with my ultimate female underdog heroine novel SILLY LITTLE RICH GIRL. "
"<hl> THE HELP has so many amazing qualities it is hard to know where to start. <hl> Aside from the book's important social relevance and message, the writing is excellent in characterizing and describing both sides, never with a heavy hand, which makes Stockett's story all the more powerful and proves her place as one the most skilled contemporary writers today. This book is perfect for the reader looking for strong female leads fighting the odds. I'd put it right up there with my ultimate female underdog heroine novel SILLY LITTLE RICH GIRL."
"6875720be86c39c6f199bf4d93d21028"
1
1
"books"
"I really tried to read this book"
"question: What story do I tell you?, context: I really tried to read this book, but I could not bear how awful each of the characters were and how awful they were to each other - they deserved every awful thing that happened to them. I stopped reading it. Life is too short to read awful books like this "
"What story do I tell you?"
"I really tried to read this book , but I could not bear how awful each of the characters were and how awful they were to each other - they deserved every awful thing that happened to them."
"I really tried to read this book, but I could not bear how awful each of the characters were and how awful they were to each other - they deserved every awful thing that happened to them. I stopped reading it. Life is too short to read awful books like this "
"<hl> I really tried to read this book <hl> , but I could not bear how awful each of the characters were and how awful they were to each other - they deserved every awful thing that happened to them."
"<hl> I really tried to read this book <hl>, but I could not bear how awful each of the characters were and how awful they were to each other - they deserved every awful thing that happened to them. I stopped reading it. Life is too short to read awful books like this "
"<hl> I really tried to read this book , but I could not bear how awful each of the characters were and how awful they were to each other - they deserved every awful thing that happened to them. <hl> I stopped reading it. Life is too short to read awful books like this"
"85f7fefecce701a52bf02aa247e4bbdd"
1
1
"books"
"For people such as myself who are not religious, his passion for helping humanity move beyond superstitious dogma so as to allow in a more complex, complete, and exhilarating understanding of the world and universe in which we exist does not appear offensive. However, I can appreciate why people who are of a religious persuasion would feel inclined to steer clear of Dawkins and his writing. Yet, I would encourage those people to cast aside their initial disgust and discomfort with the author and title, because, if one has an open mind this book will provide illuminating intellectual reading, and if one does not yet have an open mind, this is just the sort of reading that may begin to break down the barriers of closed-mindedness.I believe if you are going to get anything out of this book you'll have to read it in order, as skipping around could easily leave you either not understanding things, or upset you to the point of not picking the book back up. If you do choose to read it, and you do read it in order and in full, I don't think you'll be disappointed, and I can almost assure that only the most closed-minded individuals will find themselves upset at what they've taken in.Dawkins will challenge you to think about things in a new way. He'll challenge you to wonder why religious beliefs are not held to the same standards of scrutiny and given more than customary respect. That's the first key. In order to appreciate any of his points you have to be willing to give up the "religious beliefs are not to be questioned, scrutinized, or challenged on grounds that such is disrespectful" attitude. From there you will be challenged to consider the black and white nature with which we have drawn religious arguments. Instead of "believer," "agnostic" and "atheist" he challenges you to rightly think of all people as agnostics, in the sense none of us can know if God is real or not. He'll also try and make you understand that there is a false equivalency pertaining to religious and non-religious beliefs. Religious beliefs are spectacular claims with no supporting evidence, and although they could be true, it's not non-believers job to disprove the non evidentiary based claims of religion, but rather believers job to demonstrate why exactly they say we should believe in these things for which there is no evidence.From there, you will go on a journey of pseudo-evidence. You'll look at all sorts of unscientific claims that religious people hold up as "proof of God." Everything from "the world is beautiful" to "I feel God in my life" to "something so perfect has to be real," to "here's a really smart person who believes," to "our existence is unlikely," etc, etc. Dawkins forces you to think with scientific rationality instead of hopeful dogma. The fact things are perceived as beautiful, improbable, complex, or whatever else doesn't somehow mean that it's more likely for some all powerful deity to exist. We are so conditioned to view anything that is unusually good, bad, confusing, or unknown in both our individual lives and our world, as proof of an arbitrarily presupposed supernatural creator that we never stop to think, "hey maybe things can be really pretty, or really complicated, or whatever else without their being some magical creator."This will transition nicely to when he subsequently talks about how the unknown, which we use as "proof of God," allowed the notion of God to exist in the first place. As a scientist, Dawkins understands that his trade is aimed at finding gaps in our knowledge, and using the scientific method to discover answers to what we previously did not know. Religion is what serves as a placeholder for yet unanswered questions or not fully understood phenomenon. With this understanding in mind, Dawkins proposes that science is viewed as the enemy of religion precisely because it is indeed the thing that kills religion. When you understand how things work, when the question is answered, then the answer can no longer be, "God." He fully acknowledges how some people view science as merely "revealing" the ways of God, but he heavily implies that this is illogical, as the ways of God that religions talk about are very different indeed from the actual answers science ends up providing.Yet, aside from the "filler of holes" concept, Dawkins challenges you to consider where religion comes from. In my opinion he does a poor job of answering this question, which might be explained by the fact he is an evolutionary biologist. He works with how life has evolved, rather than how it started (that will ultimately be the job of chemists as opposed to biologists as he points out). Thus, he makes some very good insights into how religion has spread and why it persists (sort of the evolution of the perpetuation of religion), but he fails to come up with, or really even attempt to come up with, a theory as to where the human desire to create the religions it did originates from. As for how it is perpetuated he talks about the role of parents and other social institutions enforcing religious beliefs as truths in impressionable young minds, such that it becomes cyclical and immune to analytical, scientific reasoning.After considering all this (that religion should be challenged like anything, that agnosticism is false equivalency, that the "proofs" for God are not actually evidence in any kind of scientific, logical, or intellectual sense, and a consideration of where religion came from, with its basic function) the rest of the book focuses on a refutation of religious apologies. Basically, Dawkins points out the obvious (that there is no evidence for God and that it's beyond unlikely one actually exists), but he acknowledges that whether or not God is actually real or not is the improper question to ask of most people. For most people it is not "is God real?" but rather, "ought we believe in God, real or not?" He'll talk about morality and how so many people assume it takes religion to instill and enforce a sense of right and wrong in people. Yet, he understands that scientifically this is not so, due to his background in evolutionary psychology. He understands that what we know as right and wrong is a byproduct of the sort of personality traits that were chosen during the course of sexual selection to help our intelligent, social species better survive. In other words, people who are alive today had the ancestors whose personalities saw right and wrong in the way most all people today do, and they survived because their social moral codes worked out best for humans. Ironically, this concept of "natural law" (i.e. we all have this fairly uniform sense of morality) is often used by religious people as proof of God. (basically, hey if we all have this sense of right and wrong there must have been a deity that put this sense in all of us....you can see why creationists and people who understand and accept the science of evolution have such problems with each other) The implications of our morality coming from our DNA rather than from an adherence to religious texts is, to Dawkins, (and to many such as myself) the sort of proof that, yes, everyone will be just as good without religion.Expanding off of this concept, Dawkins will go on to describe how social memes (basically the zeitgeist) evolve in an inevitably progressive direction over time (overall, as there can be temporary setbacks along the overall progressive trend). It is for this precise reason, he asserts, that more and more of things like the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran are no longer adhered to today. Our morality exists because of evolution, which also means it's always evolving (it's why we have the evolution of the zeitgeist). Of course, this, despite making very good sense, is a problem for religious people, as social memes become more progressive as humanity grows and matures with evolution, despite religious writings remaining fixed in the less mature, less progressive times they were written. A conflict erupts between those people that want to continue to adhere to larger amounts of various religious writings based on a whimsical assumption they are a sort of absolute truth with a capital T, and the rest of people who will allow our moral evolution to continue to improve with time and experience as a species. As impolite as it might sound (since we are accustomed to giving religion such high levels of respect and insulation from scrutiny) belief in the perfection of scripture creates an obstacle for the evolution of humanity's moral progress.To really drive home the point that our morality comes from ourselves rather than some scriptures attributed to some deity, Dawkins talks about how things we today see as the "good parts" of something such as the Bible, like "love thy neighbor" or "thou shall not kill," are actually just as misleading as something like "we the people" in our Constitution. Things like thou shall not kill were meant to say "thou shall not kill Jews" much in the way "people" used to mean only white male property owners. Yet, today religious people interpret these Biblical rules to be more inclusive and tolerant. They do this not because the meanings of the Bible suddenly changed, but because the people reading them did. We evolve, our morality evolves, and it improves. Which is precisely why it is ridiculous that we hold up a book like the Bible that talks about ritual human sacrifices, stoning of women, killing people who work on Sunday, giving your daughter's virginity to as retribution to save a man from being anally raped, etc, etc, as some sort of "code of our morality." The fact we can pick and choose the "good" and "bad" parts is demonstrative that it's been us, humans, not some divine intervention all along.From there, Dawkins will talk about what he perceives as the damage religion creates. He basically subscribes to the idea that good people will be good and bad people bad with or without religion, but only with religion will good people do bad. I and others aren't so sure of that, although there is a strong circumstantial case to be made. However, I do regret that Dawkins goes on such a lengthy, albeit incredibly well articulated bashing of his perceived horrors of religion, as I feel it will turn too many otherwise open intellectual, scientifically minded people away from the larger message of the book, which is that freedom of thought should always trump dogma. Obviously he jumps into the homosexuality thing, as it really is one of those things no one would be against if not for religion. Yet, I find this part of the book, at least given what the book's larger objective is, to be rather unnecessary. The discussion of the religious objection to abortion is more interesting; although still not something I would have gone after if I were attempting to do what Dawkins was. The notion of consequentialism (what are the consequences of permitting or not permitting this action) vs. the notion of absolutism (this action shall be permitted or not permitted based on an absolute, predetermined labeling of the thing as "good" or "bad" based on my religion) is a riveting one, but I think it is only such if you are already intellectually enlightened prior to the picking up of Dawkins' writing. I further believe he makes a mistake in demonizing "moderate" religion, and nearly suggesting that it is as much not a real thing as "50/50 agnocisticsm" is. Moderate religious belief may not be any less scientifically implausible and ridiculous than extremist religious belief, but if we are truly asking ourselves if we ought to be militant atheists or atheists with a religiously libertarian attitude to the unenlightened world, I think a consideration of the lesser damages of moderate religion should be better considered (he seems to view people like Ted Haggard as "moderate" by American standards, perhaps a disillusioned view of the extremeness of American religiosity coming from a Brit that thinks we are worse than we really are)After taking this detour to talk about the bad of religion, Dawkins comes back to a far more convincing "ought we to" argument. The question is whether we ought to raise children religiously (which is basically a form of indoctrination, no matter how mild the upbringing may be). He points out the absurdity of labeling kids by their parents religion (you would never do that with their parent's political or economic opinions). He also points out that while physical abuse is horrible, abuse of the mind leaves far longer lasting scars. I think the way in which he makes the point is very sloppy and perhaps even unknowingly offensive, as he compares the Catholic priest scandal to indoctrinating of minds and calls the latter worse (as well as discussing the story of a woman who said she had been more traumatized as child by thinking her dead friend was burning in hell for being the wrong religion than she was by being sexually abused by a priest). Overall, I'm not sure I can come to think of any form of religious indoctrination as worse than sexual exploitation of minors, but I can appreciate that even when a household is open minded and intellectual and the parents fully accepting of whatever their children end up believing later on (as was the case with mine) being raised religious still leaves you with a nasty feeling that you've done something wrong, that you failed your parents, that they'd be happier if they you had turned out as they intended, or even that somehow you are indicating to them you don't think of them as good people since you ended up believing in different things than they did.On a tamer note, Dawkins goes on to make the distinction between teaching about religion and teaching religion. Much as we learn of Greek and Roman mythology so that we may understand the literary gems of the day, Dawkins asserts that we do need to explore contemporary western religious for literary purposes. Yet, he couples this with a harsh discussion of how trying to teach religious dogma in place of or in refutation of sound science is perhaps the worst form of intellectual child abuse.The book concludes with an examination of the most powerful "ought we" question. Even if it's beyond unlikely there is a God for which there is no sound evidence, ought we to believe in it, or at least socially protect the belief in such, not because it will save our morality, or because it fails to harm, or because parents should be left to teach their kids as they choose (religion does not make our morality, it's not without harm, and parental indoctrination is, in fact, one such harm), but rather because it provides an ability to comfort, console, and inspire humanity? In trying to answer this question Dawkins first concedes that the notion of God does comfort, console, and inspire people. By doing this, he appears to unknowingly answer the question he earlier failed to answer (from where does religion come?). Religion, it would seem comes from adults who couldn't give up the security of an unconditional, loving, helpful friend that always has time to be there for you. In other words, as impolite as it sounds, religion allows adults to have that imaginary friend when times call for it. Dawkins speaks of a story of a woman who says she had an imaginary friend as a child who she later had a dream about as an adult where the friend (a sort of Barney-like purple creature) was giving her advice as to how to navigate a crisis in her life. He quite profoundly postulates that this adult extension of childhood friends is at the essence of belief in deities.So, then the question becomes whether or not we can be consoled and inspired while acknowledging that our adult imaginary friend known as God is just as unlikely to exist as any childhood imaginary friend. He suggests we most certainly can and invokes quantum mechanics and an unnamed reference to biocentric perception as the reason why. Basically, we evolved to perceive the world as we do because that's what we needed to perceive in order to successfully navigate it. Yet, there is much in this universe, and other proposed universes that is far too small, too large, too fast, too slow, and whatever else for us to perceive let alone understand. The world we see is such a tiny bit of reality and such a limited understanding of all there is to understand. With science, we can discover realities in which we do not exist and come to understand all the things within our reality that we do not perceive. He uses the amazing analogy of a woman in a burka with only the slit where her eyes are being exposed. He instructs us to imagine that the woman and the burka covering her are miles upon miles tall/long. Because modern science has begun to discover both how long the burka of reality really is and also figuring out ways to understand the rest of the burka, the tiny slit humanity has previously been confined to perceive things from is rapidly opening up. Thus, it becomes apparent to us readers that we can very much be inspired by all these new components of vast, vast reality that there is to be investigated, and we can very much be comforted by increasing our understanding of this vast reality. We can obtain this inspiration and comfort by using science, which yes, does destroy old superstitious dogmas we found comforting in the face of uncertainty from the slit of the burka, but what there is to find, in exchange for giving up the comparatively smaller comfort and inspiration that was the religious placeholder, is so, so much greater than what we got from our delusions. "
"question: How is it people?, context: Much like Richard Dawkins is an inflammatory character, so is the title of his most well known book. For people such as myself who are not religious, his passion for helping humanity move beyond superstitious dogma so as to allow in a more complex, complete, and exhilarating understanding of the world and universe in which we exist does not appear offensive. However, I can appreciate why people who are of a religious persuasion would feel inclined to steer clear of Dawkins and his writing. Yet, I would encourage those people to cast aside their initial disgust and discomfort with the author and title, because, if one has an open mind this book will provide illuminating intellectual reading, and if one does not yet have an open mind, this is just the sort of reading that may begin to break down the barriers of closed-mindedness.I believe if you are going to get anything out of this book you'll have to read it in order, as skipping around could easily leave you either not understanding things, or upset you to the point of not picking the book back up. If you do choose to read it, and you do read it in order and in full, I don't think you'll be disappointed, and I can almost assure that only the most closed-minded individuals will find themselves upset at what they've taken in.Dawkins will challenge you to think about things in a new way. He'll challenge you to wonder why religious beliefs are not held to the same standards of scrutiny and given more than customary respect. That's the first key. In order to appreciate any of his points you have to be willing to give up the "religious beliefs are not to be questioned, scrutinized, or challenged on grounds that such is disrespectful" attitude. From there you will be challenged to consider the black and white nature with which we have drawn religious arguments. Instead of "believer," "agnostic" and "atheist" he challenges you to rightly think of all people as agnostics, in the sense none of us can know if God is real or not. He'll also try and make you understand that there is a false equivalency pertaining to religious and non-religious beliefs. Religious beliefs are spectacular claims with no supporting evidence, and although they could be true, it's not non-believers job to disprove the non evidentiary based claims of religion, but rather believers job to demonstrate why exactly they say we should believe in these things for which there is no evidence.From there, you will go on a journey of pseudo-evidence. You'll look at all sorts of unscientific claims that religious people hold up as "proof of God." Everything from "the world is beautiful" to "I feel God in my life" to "something so perfect has to be real," to "here's a really smart person who believes," to "our existence is unlikely," etc, etc. Dawkins forces you to think with scientific rationality instead of hopeful dogma. The fact things are perceived as beautiful, improbable, complex, or whatever else doesn't somehow mean that it's more likely for some all powerful deity to exist. We are so conditioned to view anything that is unusually good, bad, confusing, or unknown in both our individual lives and our world, as proof of an arbitrarily presupposed supernatural creator that we never stop to think, "hey maybe things can be really pretty, or really complicated, or whatever else without their being some magical creator."This will transition nicely to when he subsequently talks about how the unknown, which we use as "proof of God," allowed the notion of God to exist in the first place. As a scientist, Dawkins understands that his trade is aimed at finding gaps in our knowledge, and using the scientific method to discover answers to what we previously did not know. Religion is what serves as a placeholder for yet unanswered questions or not fully understood phenomenon. With this understanding in mind, Dawkins proposes that science is viewed as the enemy of religion precisely because it is indeed the thing that kills religion. When you understand how things work, when the question is answered, then the answer can no longer be, "God." He fully acknowledges how some people view science as merely "revealing" the ways of God, but he heavily implies that this is illogical, as the ways of God that religions talk about are very different indeed from the actual answers science ends up providing.Yet, aside from the "filler of holes" concept, Dawkins challenges you to consider where religion comes from. In my opinion he does a poor job of answering this question, which might be explained by the fact he is an evolutionary biologist. He works with how life has evolved, rather than how it started (that will ultimately be the job of chemists as opposed to biologists as he points out). Thus, he makes some very good insights into how religion has spread and why it persists (sort of the evolution of the perpetuation of religion), but he fails to come up with, or really even attempt to come up with, a theory as to where the human desire to create the religions it did originates from. As for how it is perpetuated he talks about the role of parents and other social institutions enforcing religious beliefs as truths in impressionable young minds, such that it becomes cyclical and immune to analytical, scientific reasoning.After considering all this (that religion should be challenged like anything, that agnosticism is false equivalency, that the "proofs" for God are not actually evidence in any kind of scientific, logical, or intellectual sense, and a consideration of where religion came from, with its basic function) the rest of the book focuses on a refutation of religious apologies. Basically, Dawkins points out the obvious (that there is no evidence for God and that it's beyond unlikely one actually exists), but he acknowledges that whether or not God is actually real or not is the improper question to ask of most people. For most people it is not "is God real?" but rather, "ought we believe in God, real or not?" He'll talk about morality and how so many people assume it takes religion to instill and enforce a sense of right and wrong in people. Yet, he understands that scientifically this is not so, due to his background in evolutionary psychology. He understands that what we know as right and wrong is a byproduct of the sort of personality traits that were chosen during the course of sexual selection to help our intelligent, social species better survive. In other words, people who are alive today had the ancestors whose personalities saw right and wrong in the way most all people today do, and they survived because their social moral codes worked out best for humans. Ironically, this concept of "natural law" (i.e. we all have this fairly uniform sense of morality) is often used by religious people as proof of God. (basically, hey if we all have this sense of right and wrong there must have been a deity that put this sense in all of us....you can see why creationists and people who understand and accept the science of evolution have such problems with each other) The implications of our morality coming from our DNA rather than from an adherence to religious texts is, to Dawkins, (and to many such as myself) the sort of proof that, yes, everyone will be just as good without religion.Expanding off of this concept, Dawkins will go on to describe how social memes (basically the zeitgeist) evolve in an inevitably progressive direction over time (overall, as there can be temporary setbacks along the overall progressive trend). It is for this precise reason, he asserts, that more and more of things like the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran are no longer adhered to today. Our morality exists because of evolution, which also means it's always evolving (it's why we have the evolution of the zeitgeist). Of course, this, despite making very good sense, is a problem for religious people, as social memes become more progressive as humanity grows and matures with evolution, despite religious writings remaining fixed in the less mature, less progressive times they were written. A conflict erupts between those people that want to continue to adhere to larger amounts of various religious writings based on a whimsical assumption they are a sort of absolute truth with a capital T, and the rest of people who will allow our moral evolution to continue to improve with time and experience as a species. As impolite as it might sound (since we are accustomed to giving religion such high levels of respect and insulation from scrutiny) belief in the perfection of scripture creates an obstacle for the evolution of humanity's moral progress.To really drive home the point that our morality comes from ourselves rather than some scriptures attributed to some deity, Dawkins talks about how things we today see as the "good parts" of something such as the Bible, like "love thy neighbor" or "thou shall not kill," are actually just as misleading as something like "we the people" in our Constitution. Things like thou shall not kill were meant to say "thou shall not kill Jews" much in the way "people" used to mean only white male property owners. Yet, today religious people interpret these Biblical rules to be more inclusive and tolerant. They do this not because the meanings of the Bible suddenly changed, but because the people reading them did. We evolve, our morality evolves, and it improves. Which is precisely why it is ridiculous that we hold up a book like the Bible that talks about ritual human sacrifices, stoning of women, killing people who work on Sunday, giving your daughter's virginity to as retribution to save a man from being anally raped, etc, etc, as some sort of "code of our morality." The fact we can pick and choose the "good" and "bad" parts is demonstrative that it's been us, humans, not some divine intervention all along.From there, Dawkins will talk about what he perceives as the damage religion creates. He basically subscribes to the idea that good people will be good and bad people bad with or without religion, but only with religion will good people do bad. I and others aren't so sure of that, although there is a strong circumstantial case to be made. However, I do regret that Dawkins goes on such a lengthy, albeit incredibly well articulated bashing of his perceived horrors of religion, as I feel it will turn too many otherwise open intellectual, scientifically minded people away from the larger message of the book, which is that freedom of thought should always trump dogma. Obviously he jumps into the homosexuality thing, as it really is one of those things no one would be against if not for religion. Yet, I find this part of the book, at least given what the book's larger objective is, to be rather unnecessary. The discussion of the religious objection to abortion is more interesting; although still not something I would have gone after if I were attempting to do what Dawkins was. The notion of consequentialism (what are the consequences of permitting or not permitting this action) vs. the notion of absolutism (this action shall be permitted or not permitted based on an absolute, predetermined labeling of the thing as "good" or "bad" based on my religion) is a riveting one, but I think it is only such if you are already intellectually enlightened prior to the picking up of Dawkins' writing. I further believe he makes a mistake in demonizing "moderate" religion, and nearly suggesting that it is as much not a real thing as "50/50 agnocisticsm" is. Moderate religious belief may not be any less scientifically implausible and ridiculous than extremist religious belief, but if we are truly asking ourselves if we ought to be militant atheists or atheists with a religiously libertarian attitude to the unenlightened world, I think a consideration of the lesser damages of moderate religion should be better considered (he seems to view people like Ted Haggard as "moderate" by American standards, perhaps a disillusioned view of the extremeness of American religiosity coming from a Brit that thinks we are worse than we really are)After taking this detour to talk about the bad of religion, Dawkins comes back to a far more convincing "ought we to" argument. The question is whether we ought to raise children religiously (which is basically a form of indoctrination, no matter how mild the upbringing may be). He points out the absurdity of labeling kids by their parents religion (you would never do that with their parent's political or economic opinions). He also points out that while physical abuse is horrible, abuse of the mind leaves far longer lasting scars. I think the way in which he makes the point is very sloppy and perhaps even unknowingly offensive, as he compares the Catholic priest scandal to indoctrinating of minds and calls the latter worse (as well as discussing the story of a woman who said she had been more traumatized as child by thinking her dead friend was burning in hell for being the wrong religion than she was by being sexually abused by a priest). Overall, I'm not sure I can come to think of any form of religious indoctrination as worse than sexual exploitation of minors, but I can appreciate that even when a household is open minded and intellectual and the parents fully accepting of whatever their children end up believing later on (as was the case with mine) being raised religious still leaves you with a nasty feeling that you've done something wrong, that you failed your parents, that they'd be happier if they you had turned out as they intended, or even that somehow you are indicating to them you don't think of them as good people since you ended up believing in different things than they did.On a tamer note, Dawkins goes on to make the distinction between teaching about religion and teaching religion. Much as we learn of Greek and Roman mythology so that we may understand the literary gems of the day, Dawkins asserts that we do need to explore contemporary western religious for literary purposes. Yet, he couples this with a harsh discussion of how trying to teach religious dogma in place of or in refutation of sound science is perhaps the worst form of intellectual child abuse.The book concludes with an examination of the most powerful "ought we" question. Even if it's beyond unlikely there is a God for which there is no sound evidence, ought we to believe in it, or at least socially protect the belief in such, not because it will save our morality, or because it fails to harm, or because parents should be left to teach their kids as they choose (religion does not make our morality, it's not without harm, and parental indoctrination is, in fact, one such harm), but rather because it provides an ability to comfort, console, and inspire humanity? In trying to answer this question Dawkins first concedes that the notion of God does comfort, console, and inspire people. By doing this, he appears to unknowingly answer the question he earlier failed to answer (from where does religion come?). Religion, it would seem comes from adults who couldn't give up the security of an unconditional, loving, helpful friend that always has time to be there for you. In other words, as impolite as it sounds, religion allows adults to have that imaginary friend when times call for it. Dawkins speaks of a story of a woman who says she had an imaginary friend as a child who she later had a dream about as an adult where the friend (a sort of Barney-like purple creature) was giving her advice as to how to navigate a crisis in her life. He quite profoundly postulates that this adult extension of childhood friends is at the essence of belief in deities.So, then the question becomes whether or not we can be consoled and inspired while acknowledging that our adult imaginary friend known as God is just as unlikely to exist as any childhood imaginary friend. He suggests we most certainly can and invokes quantum mechanics and an unnamed reference to biocentric perception as the reason why. Basically, we evolved to perceive the world as we do because that's what we needed to perceive in order to successfully navigate it. Yet, there is much in this universe, and other proposed universes that is far too small, too large, too fast, too slow, and whatever else for us to perceive let alone understand. The world we see is such a tiny bit of reality and such a limited understanding of all there is to understand. With science, we can discover realities in which we do not exist and come to understand all the things within our reality that we do not perceive. He uses the amazing analogy of a woman in a burka with only the slit where her eyes are being exposed. He instructs us to imagine that the woman and the burka covering her are miles upon miles tall/long. Because modern science has begun to discover both how long the burka of reality really is and also figuring out ways to understand the rest of the burka, the tiny slit humanity has previously been confined to perceive things from is rapidly opening up. Thus, it becomes apparent to us readers that we can very much be inspired by all these new components of vast, vast reality that there is to be investigated, and we can very much be comforted by increasing our understanding of this vast reality. We can obtain this inspiration and comfort by using science, which yes, does destroy old superstitious dogmas we found comforting in the face of uncertainty from the slit of the burka, but what there is to find, in exchange for giving up the comparatively smaller comfort and inspiration that was the religious placeholder, is so, so much greater than what we got from our delusions. "
"How is it people?"
"For people such as myself who are not religious, his passion for helping humanity move beyond superstitious dogma so as to allow in a more complex, complete, and exhilarating understanding of the world and universe in which we exist does not appear offensive. However, I can appreciate why people who are of a religious persuasion would feel inclined to steer clear of Dawkins and his writing. Yet, I would encourage those people to cast aside their initial disgust and discomfort with the author and title, because, if one has an open mind this book will provide illuminating intellectual reading, and if one does not yet have an open mind, this is just the sort of reading that may begin to break down the barriers of closed-mindedness.I believe if you are going to get anything out of this book you'll have to read it in order, as skipping around could easily leave you either not understanding things, or upset you to the point of not picking the book back up. If you do choose to read it, and you do read it in order and in full, I don't think you'll be disappointed, and I can almost assure that only the most closed-minded individuals will find themselves upset at what they've taken in.Dawkins will challenge you to think about things in a new way. He'll challenge you to wonder why religious beliefs are not held to the same standards of scrutiny and given more than customary respect. That's the first key. In order to appreciate any of his points you have to be willing to give up the "religious beliefs are not to be questioned, scrutinized, or challenged on grounds that such is disrespectful" attitude. From there you will be challenged to consider the black and white nature with which we have drawn religious arguments. Instead of "believer," "agnostic" and "atheist" he challenges you to rightly think of all people as agnostics, in the sense none of us can know if God is real or not. He'll also try and make you understand that there is a false equivalency pertaining to religious and non-religious beliefs. Religious beliefs are spectacular claims with no supporting evidence, and although they could be true, it's not non-believers job to disprove the non evidentiary based claims of religion, but rather believers job to demonstrate why exactly they say we should believe in these things for which there is no evidence.From there, you will go on a journey of pseudo-evidence. You'll look at all sorts of unscientific claims that religious people hold up as "proof of God." Everything from "the world is beautiful" to "I feel God in my life" to "something so perfect has to be real," to "here's a really smart person who believes," to "our existence is unlikely," etc, etc. Dawkins forces you to think with scientific rationality instead of hopeful dogma. The fact things are perceived as beautiful, improbable, complex, or whatever else doesn't somehow mean that it's more likely for some all powerful deity to exist. We are so conditioned to view anything that is unusually good, bad, confusing, or unknown in both our individual lives and our world, as proof of an arbitrarily presupposed supernatural creator that we never stop to think, "hey maybe things can be really pretty, or really complicated, or whatever else without their being some magical creator."This will transition nicely to when he subsequently talks about how the unknown, which we use as "proof of God," allowed the notion of God to exist in the first place. As a scientist, Dawkins understands that his trade is aimed at finding gaps in our knowledge, and using the scientific method to discover answers to what we previously did not know. Religion is what serves as a placeholder for yet unanswered questions or not fully understood phenomenon. With this understanding in mind, Dawkins proposes that science is viewed as the enemy of religion precisely because it is indeed the thing that kills religion. When you understand how things work, when the question is answered, then the answer can no longer be, "God." He fully acknowledges how some people view science as merely "revealing" the ways of God, but he heavily implies that this is illogical, as the ways of God that religions talk about are very different indeed from the actual answers science ends up providing.Yet, aside from the "filler of holes" concept, Dawkins challenges you to consider where religion comes from. In my opinion he does a poor job of answering this question, which might be explained by the fact he is an evolutionary biologist. He works with how life has evolved, rather than how it started (that will ultimately be the job of chemists as opposed to biologists as he points out). Thus, he makes some very good insights into how religion has spread and why it persists (sort of the evolution of the perpetuation of religion), but he fails to come up with, or really even attempt to come up with, a theory as to where the human desire to create the religions it did originates from. As for how it is perpetuated he talks about the role of parents and other social institutions enforcing religious beliefs as truths in impressionable young minds, such that it becomes cyclical and immune to analytical, scientific reasoning.After considering all this (that religion should be challenged like anything, that agnosticism is false equivalency, that the "proofs" for God are not actually evidence in any kind of scientific, logical, or intellectual sense, and a consideration of where religion came from, with its basic function) the rest of the book focuses on a refutation of religious apologies. Basically, Dawkins points out the obvious (that there is no evidence for God and that it's beyond unlikely one actually exists), but he acknowledges that whether or not God is actually real or not is the improper question to ask of most people. For most people it is not "is God real?" but rather, "ought we believe in God, real or not?" He'll talk about morality and how so many people assume it takes religion to instill and enforce a sense of right and wrong in people. Yet, he understands that scientifically this is not so, due to his background in evolutionary psychology. He understands that what we know as right and wrong is a byproduct of the sort of personality traits that were chosen during the course of sexual selection to help our intelligent, social species better survive. In other words, people who are alive today had the ancestors whose personalities saw right and wrong in the way most all people today do, and they survived because their social moral codes worked out best for humans. Ironically, this concept of "natural law" (i.e. we all have this fairly uniform sense of morality) is often used by religious people as proof of God. (basically, hey if we all have this sense of right and wrong there must have been a deity that put this sense in all of us....you can see why creationists and people who understand and accept the science of evolution have such problems with each other) The implications of our morality coming from our DNA rather than from an adherence to religious texts is, to Dawkins, (and to many such as myself) the sort of proof that, yes, everyone will be just as good without religion.Expanding off of this concept, Dawkins will go on to describe how social memes (basically the zeitgeist) evolve in an inevitably progressive direction over time (overall, as there can be temporary setbacks along the overall progressive trend). It is for this precise reason, he asserts, that more and more of things like the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran are no longer adhered to today. Our morality exists because of evolution, which also means it's always evolving (it's why we have the evolution of the zeitgeist). Of course, this, despite making very good sense, is a problem for religious people, as social memes become more progressive as humanity grows and matures with evolution, despite religious writings remaining fixed in the less mature, less progressive times they were written. A conflict erupts between those people that want to continue to adhere to larger amounts of various religious writings based on a whimsical assumption they are a sort of absolute truth with a capital T, and the rest of people who will allow our moral evolution to continue to improve with time and experience as a species. As impolite as it might sound (since we are accustomed to giving religion such high levels of respect and insulation from scrutiny) belief in the perfection of scripture creates an obstacle for the evolution of humanity's moral progress.To really drive home the point that our morality comes from ourselves rather than some scriptures attributed to some deity, Dawkins talks about how things we today see as the "good parts" of something such as the Bible, like "love thy neighbor" or "thou shall not kill," are actually just as misleading as something like "we the people" in our Constitution. Things like thou shall not kill were meant to say "thou shall not kill Jews" much in the way "people" used to mean only white male property owners. Yet, today religious people interpret these Biblical rules to be more inclusive and tolerant. They do this not because the meanings of the Bible suddenly changed, but because the people reading them did. We evolve, our morality evolves, and it improves. Which is precisely why it is ridiculous that we hold up a book like the Bible that talks about ritual human sacrifices, stoning of women, killing people who work on Sunday, giving your daughter's virginity to as retribution to save a man from being anally raped, etc, etc, as some sort of "code of our morality." The fact we can pick and choose the "good" and "bad" parts is demonstrative that it's been us, humans, not some divine intervention all along.From there, Dawkins will talk about what he perceives as the damage religion creates. He basically subscribes to the idea that good people will be good and bad people bad with or without religion, but only with religion will good people do bad. I and others aren't so sure of that, although there is a strong circumstantial case to be made. However, I do regret that Dawkins goes on such a lengthy, albeit incredibly well articulated bashing of his perceived horrors of religion, as I feel it will turn too many otherwise open intellectual, scientifically minded people away from the larger message of the book, which is that freedom of thought should always trump dogma. Obviously he jumps into the homosexuality thing, as it really is one of those things no one would be against if not for religion. Yet, I find this part of the book, at least given what the book's larger objective is, to be rather unnecessary. The discussion of the religious objection to abortion is more interesting; although still not something I would have gone after if I were attempting to do what Dawkins was. The notion of consequentialism (what are the consequences of permitting or not permitting this action) vs. the notion of absolutism (this action shall be permitted or not permitted based on an absolute, predetermined labeling of the thing as "good" or "bad" based on my religion) is a riveting one, but I think it is only such if you are already intellectually enlightened prior to the picking up of Dawkins' writing. I further believe he makes a mistake in demonizing "moderate" religion, and nearly suggesting that it is as much not a real thing as "50/50 agnocisticsm" is. Moderate religious belief may not be any less scientifically implausible and ridiculous than extremist religious belief, but if we are truly asking ourselves if we ought to be militant atheists or atheists with a religiously libertarian attitude to the unenlightened world, I think a consideration of the lesser damages of moderate religion should be better considered (he seems to view people like Ted Haggard as "moderate" by American standards, perhaps a disillusioned view of the extremeness of American religiosity coming from a Brit that thinks we are worse than we really are)After taking this detour to talk about the bad of religion, Dawkins comes back to a far more convincing "ought we to" argument. The question is whether we ought to raise children religiously (which is basically a form of indoctrination, no matter how mild the upbringing may be). He points out the absurdity of labeling kids by their parents religion (you would never do that with their parent's political or economic opinions). He also points out that while physical abuse is horrible, abuse of the mind leaves far longer lasting scars. I think the way in which he makes the point is very sloppy and perhaps even unknowingly offensive, as he compares the Catholic priest scandal to indoctrinating of minds and calls the latter worse (as well as discussing the story of a woman who said she had been more traumatized as child by thinking her dead friend was burning in hell for being the wrong religion than she was by being sexually abused by a priest). Overall, I'm not sure I can come to think of any form of religious indoctrination as worse than sexual exploitation of minors, but I can appreciate that even when a household is open minded and intellectual and the parents fully accepting of whatever their children end up believing later on (as was the case with mine) being raised religious still leaves you with a nasty feeling that you've done something wrong, that you failed your parents, that they'd be happier if they you had turned out as they intended, or even that somehow you are indicating to them you don't think of them as good people since you ended up believing in different things than they did.On a tamer note, Dawkins goes on to make the distinction between teaching about religion and teaching religion. Much as we learn of Greek and Roman mythology so that we may understand the literary gems of the day, Dawkins asserts that we do need to explore contemporary western religious for literary purposes. Yet, he couples this with a harsh discussion of how trying to teach religious dogma in place of or in refutation of sound science is perhaps the worst form of intellectual child abuse.The book concludes with an examination of the most powerful "ought we" question. Even if it's beyond unlikely there is a God for which there is no sound evidence, ought we to believe in it, or at least socially protect the belief in such, not because it will save our morality, or because it fails to harm, or because parents should be left to teach their kids as they choose (religion does not make our morality, it's not without harm, and parental indoctrination is, in fact, one such harm), but rather because it provides an ability to comfort, console, and inspire humanity? In trying to answer this question Dawkins first concedes that the notion of God does comfort, console, and inspire people. By doing this, he appears to unknowingly answer the question he earlier failed to answer (from where does religion come?). Religion, it would seem comes from adults who couldn't give up the security of an unconditional, loving, helpful friend that always has time to be there for you. In other words, as impolite as it sounds, religion allows adults to have that imaginary friend when times call for it. Dawkins speaks of a story of a woman who says she had an imaginary friend as a child who she later had a dream about as an adult where the friend (a sort of Barney-like purple creature) was giving her advice as to how to navigate a crisis in her life. He quite profoundly postulates that this adult extension of childhood friends is at the essence of belief in deities.So, then the question becomes whether or not we can be consoled and inspired while acknowledging that our adult imaginary friend known as God is just as unlikely to exist as any childhood imaginary friend. He suggests we most certainly can and invokes quantum mechanics and an unnamed reference to biocentric perception as the reason why. Basically, we evolved to perceive the world as we do because that's what we needed to perceive in order to successfully navigate it. Yet, there is much in this universe, and other proposed universes that is far too small, too large, too fast, too slow, and whatever else for us to perceive let alone understand. The world we see is such a tiny bit of reality and such a limited understanding of all there is to understand. With science, we can discover realities in which we do not exist and come to understand all the things within our reality that we do not perceive. He uses the amazing analogy of a woman in a burka with only the slit where her eyes are being exposed. He instructs us to imagine that the woman and the burka covering her are miles upon miles tall/long. Because modern science has begun to discover both how long the burka of reality really is and also figuring out ways to understand the rest of the burka, the tiny slit humanity has previously been confined to perceive things from is rapidly opening up. Thus, it becomes apparent to us readers that we can very much be inspired by all these new components of vast, vast reality that there is to be investigated, and we can very much be comforted by increasing our understanding of this vast reality. We can obtain this inspiration and comfort by using science, which yes, does destroy old superstitious dogmas we found comforting in the face of uncertainty from the slit of the burka, but what there is to find, in exchange for giving up the comparatively smaller comfort and inspiration that was the religious placeholder, is so, so much greater than what we got from our delusions. "
"Much like Richard Dawkins is an inflammatory character, so is the title of his most well known book. For people such as myself who are not religious, his passion for helping humanity move beyond superstitious dogma so as to allow in a more complex, complete, and exhilarating understanding of the world and universe in which we exist does not appear offensive. However, I can appreciate why people who are of a religious persuasion would feel inclined to steer clear of Dawkins and his writing. Yet, I would encourage those people to cast aside their initial disgust and discomfort with the author and title, because, if one has an open mind this book will provide illuminating intellectual reading, and if one does not yet have an open mind, this is just the sort of reading that may begin to break down the barriers of closed-mindedness.I believe if you are going to get anything out of this book you'll have to read it in order, as skipping around could easily leave you either not understanding things, or upset you to the point of not picking the book back up. If you do choose to read it, and you do read it in order and in full, I don't think you'll be disappointed, and I can almost assure that only the most closed-minded individuals will find themselves upset at what they've taken in.Dawkins will challenge you to think about things in a new way. He'll challenge you to wonder why religious beliefs are not held to the same standards of scrutiny and given more than customary respect. That's the first key. In order to appreciate any of his points you have to be willing to give up the "religious beliefs are not to be questioned, scrutinized, or challenged on grounds that such is disrespectful" attitude. From there you will be challenged to consider the black and white nature with which we have drawn religious arguments. Instead of "believer," "agnostic" and "atheist" he challenges you to rightly think of all people as agnostics, in the sense none of us can know if God is real or not. He'll also try and make you understand that there is a false equivalency pertaining to religious and non-religious beliefs. Religious beliefs are spectacular claims with no supporting evidence, and although they could be true, it's not non-believers job to disprove the non evidentiary based claims of religion, but rather believers job to demonstrate why exactly they say we should believe in these things for which there is no evidence.From there, you will go on a journey of pseudo-evidence. You'll look at all sorts of unscientific claims that religious people hold up as "proof of God." Everything from "the world is beautiful" to "I feel God in my life" to "something so perfect has to be real," to "here's a really smart person who believes," to "our existence is unlikely," etc, etc. Dawkins forces you to think with scientific rationality instead of hopeful dogma. The fact things are perceived as beautiful, improbable, complex, or whatever else doesn't somehow mean that it's more likely for some all powerful deity to exist. We are so conditioned to view anything that is unusually good, bad, confusing, or unknown in both our individual lives and our world, as proof of an arbitrarily presupposed supernatural creator that we never stop to think, "hey maybe things can be really pretty, or really complicated, or whatever else without their being some magical creator."This will transition nicely to when he subsequently talks about how the unknown, which we use as "proof of God," allowed the notion of God to exist in the first place. As a scientist, Dawkins understands that his trade is aimed at finding gaps in our knowledge, and using the scientific method to discover answers to what we previously did not know. Religion is what serves as a placeholder for yet unanswered questions or not fully understood phenomenon. With this understanding in mind, Dawkins proposes that science is viewed as the enemy of religion precisely because it is indeed the thing that kills religion. When you understand how things work, when the question is answered, then the answer can no longer be, "God." He fully acknowledges how some people view science as merely "revealing" the ways of God, but he heavily implies that this is illogical, as the ways of God that religions talk about are very different indeed from the actual answers science ends up providing.Yet, aside from the "filler of holes" concept, Dawkins challenges you to consider where religion comes from. In my opinion he does a poor job of answering this question, which might be explained by the fact he is an evolutionary biologist. He works with how life has evolved, rather than how it started (that will ultimately be the job of chemists as opposed to biologists as he points out). Thus, he makes some very good insights into how religion has spread and why it persists (sort of the evolution of the perpetuation of religion), but he fails to come up with, or really even attempt to come up with, a theory as to where the human desire to create the religions it did originates from. As for how it is perpetuated he talks about the role of parents and other social institutions enforcing religious beliefs as truths in impressionable young minds, such that it becomes cyclical and immune to analytical, scientific reasoning.After considering all this (that religion should be challenged like anything, that agnosticism is false equivalency, that the "proofs" for God are not actually evidence in any kind of scientific, logical, or intellectual sense, and a consideration of where religion came from, with its basic function) the rest of the book focuses on a refutation of religious apologies. Basically, Dawkins points out the obvious (that there is no evidence for God and that it's beyond unlikely one actually exists), but he acknowledges that whether or not God is actually real or not is the improper question to ask of most people. For most people it is not "is God real?" but rather, "ought we believe in God, real or not?" He'll talk about morality and how so many people assume it takes religion to instill and enforce a sense of right and wrong in people. Yet, he understands that scientifically this is not so, due to his background in evolutionary psychology. He understands that what we know as right and wrong is a byproduct of the sort of personality traits that were chosen during the course of sexual selection to help our intelligent, social species better survive. In other words, people who are alive today had the ancestors whose personalities saw right and wrong in the way most all people today do, and they survived because their social moral codes worked out best for humans. Ironically, this concept of "natural law" (i.e. we all have this fairly uniform sense of morality) is often used by religious people as proof of God. (basically, hey if we all have this sense of right and wrong there must have been a deity that put this sense in all of us....you can see why creationists and people who understand and accept the science of evolution have such problems with each other) The implications of our morality coming from our DNA rather than from an adherence to religious texts is, to Dawkins, (and to many such as myself) the sort of proof that, yes, everyone will be just as good without religion.Expanding off of this concept, Dawkins will go on to describe how social memes (basically the zeitgeist) evolve in an inevitably progressive direction over time (overall, as there can be temporary setbacks along the overall progressive trend). It is for this precise reason, he asserts, that more and more of things like the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran are no longer adhered to today. Our morality exists because of evolution, which also means it's always evolving (it's why we have the evolution of the zeitgeist). Of course, this, despite making very good sense, is a problem for religious people, as social memes become more progressive as humanity grows and matures with evolution, despite religious writings remaining fixed in the less mature, less progressive times they were written. A conflict erupts between those people that want to continue to adhere to larger amounts of various religious writings based on a whimsical assumption they are a sort of absolute truth with a capital T, and the rest of people who will allow our moral evolution to continue to improve with time and experience as a species. As impolite as it might sound (since we are accustomed to giving religion such high levels of respect and insulation from scrutiny) belief in the perfection of scripture creates an obstacle for the evolution of humanity's moral progress.To really drive home the point that our morality comes from ourselves rather than some scriptures attributed to some deity, Dawkins talks about how things we today see as the "good parts" of something such as the Bible, like "love thy neighbor" or "thou shall not kill," are actually just as misleading as something like "we the people" in our Constitution. Things like thou shall not kill were meant to say "thou shall not kill Jews" much in the way "people" used to mean only white male property owners. Yet, today religious people interpret these Biblical rules to be more inclusive and tolerant. They do this not because the meanings of the Bible suddenly changed, but because the people reading them did. We evolve, our morality evolves, and it improves. Which is precisely why it is ridiculous that we hold up a book like the Bible that talks about ritual human sacrifices, stoning of women, killing people who work on Sunday, giving your daughter's virginity to as retribution to save a man from being anally raped, etc, etc, as some sort of "code of our morality." The fact we can pick and choose the "good" and "bad" parts is demonstrative that it's been us, humans, not some divine intervention all along.From there, Dawkins will talk about what he perceives as the damage religion creates. He basically subscribes to the idea that good people will be good and bad people bad with or without religion, but only with religion will good people do bad. I and others aren't so sure of that, although there is a strong circumstantial case to be made. However, I do regret that Dawkins goes on such a lengthy, albeit incredibly well articulated bashing of his perceived horrors of religion, as I feel it will turn too many otherwise open intellectual, scientifically minded people away from the larger message of the book, which is that freedom of thought should always trump dogma. Obviously he jumps into the homosexuality thing, as it really is one of those things no one would be against if not for religion. Yet, I find this part of the book, at least given what the book's larger objective is, to be rather unnecessary. The discussion of the religious objection to abortion is more interesting; although still not something I would have gone after if I were attempting to do what Dawkins was. The notion of consequentialism (what are the consequences of permitting or not permitting this action) vs. the notion of absolutism (this action shall be permitted or not permitted based on an absolute, predetermined labeling of the thing as "good" or "bad" based on my religion) is a riveting one, but I think it is only such if you are already intellectually enlightened prior to the picking up of Dawkins' writing. I further believe he makes a mistake in demonizing "moderate" religion, and nearly suggesting that it is as much not a real thing as "50/50 agnocisticsm" is. Moderate religious belief may not be any less scientifically implausible and ridiculous than extremist religious belief, but if we are truly asking ourselves if we ought to be militant atheists or atheists with a religiously libertarian attitude to the unenlightened world, I think a consideration of the lesser damages of moderate religion should be better considered (he seems to view people like Ted Haggard as "moderate" by American standards, perhaps a disillusioned view of the extremeness of American religiosity coming from a Brit that thinks we are worse than we really are)After taking this detour to talk about the bad of religion, Dawkins comes back to a far more convincing "ought we to" argument. The question is whether we ought to raise children religiously (which is basically a form of indoctrination, no matter how mild the upbringing may be). He points out the absurdity of labeling kids by their parents religion (you would never do that with their parent's political or economic opinions). He also points out that while physical abuse is horrible, abuse of the mind leaves far longer lasting scars. I think the way in which he makes the point is very sloppy and perhaps even unknowingly offensive, as he compares the Catholic priest scandal to indoctrinating of minds and calls the latter worse (as well as discussing the story of a woman who said she had been more traumatized as child by thinking her dead friend was burning in hell for being the wrong religion than she was by being sexually abused by a priest). Overall, I'm not sure I can come to think of any form of religious indoctrination as worse than sexual exploitation of minors, but I can appreciate that even when a household is open minded and intellectual and the parents fully accepting of whatever their children end up believing later on (as was the case with mine) being raised religious still leaves you with a nasty feeling that you've done something wrong, that you failed your parents, that they'd be happier if they you had turned out as they intended, or even that somehow you are indicating to them you don't think of them as good people since you ended up believing in different things than they did.On a tamer note, Dawkins goes on to make the distinction between teaching about religion and teaching religion. Much as we learn of Greek and Roman mythology so that we may understand the literary gems of the day, Dawkins asserts that we do need to explore contemporary western religious for literary purposes. Yet, he couples this with a harsh discussion of how trying to teach religious dogma in place of or in refutation of sound science is perhaps the worst form of intellectual child abuse.The book concludes with an examination of the most powerful "ought we" question. Even if it's beyond unlikely there is a God for which there is no sound evidence, ought we to believe in it, or at least socially protect the belief in such, not because it will save our morality, or because it fails to harm, or because parents should be left to teach their kids as they choose (religion does not make our morality, it's not without harm, and parental indoctrination is, in fact, one such harm), but rather because it provides an ability to comfort, console, and inspire humanity? In trying to answer this question Dawkins first concedes that the notion of God does comfort, console, and inspire people. By doing this, he appears to unknowingly answer the question he earlier failed to answer (from where does religion come?). Religion, it would seem comes from adults who couldn't give up the security of an unconditional, loving, helpful friend that always has time to be there for you. In other words, as impolite as it sounds, religion allows adults to have that imaginary friend when times call for it. Dawkins speaks of a story of a woman who says she had an imaginary friend as a child who she later had a dream about as an adult where the friend (a sort of Barney-like purple creature) was giving her advice as to how to navigate a crisis in her life. He quite profoundly postulates that this adult extension of childhood friends is at the essence of belief in deities.So, then the question becomes whether or not we can be consoled and inspired while acknowledging that our adult imaginary friend known as God is just as unlikely to exist as any childhood imaginary friend. He suggests we most certainly can and invokes quantum mechanics and an unnamed reference to biocentric perception as the reason why. Basically, we evolved to perceive the world as we do because that's what we needed to perceive in order to successfully navigate it. Yet, there is much in this universe, and other proposed universes that is far too small, too large, too fast, too slow, and whatever else for us to perceive let alone understand. The world we see is such a tiny bit of reality and such a limited understanding of all there is to understand. With science, we can discover realities in which we do not exist and come to understand all the things within our reality that we do not perceive. He uses the amazing analogy of a woman in a burka with only the slit where her eyes are being exposed. He instructs us to imagine that the woman and the burka covering her are miles upon miles tall/long. Because modern science has begun to discover both how long the burka of reality really is and also figuring out ways to understand the rest of the burka, the tiny slit humanity has previously been confined to perceive things from is rapidly opening up. Thus, it becomes apparent to us readers that we can very much be inspired by all these new components of vast, vast reality that there is to be investigated, and we can very much be comforted by increasing our understanding of this vast reality. We can obtain this inspiration and comfort by using science, which yes, does destroy old superstitious dogmas we found comforting in the face of uncertainty from the slit of the burka, but what there is to find, in exchange for giving up the comparatively smaller comfort and inspiration that was the religious placeholder, is so, so much greater than what we got from our delusions. "
"<hl> For people such as myself who are not religious, his passion for helping humanity move beyond superstitious dogma so as to allow in a more complex, complete, and exhilarating understanding of the world and universe in which we exist does not appear offensive. However, I can appreciate why people who are of a religious persuasion would feel inclined to steer clear of Dawkins and his writing. Yet, I would encourage those people to cast aside their initial disgust and discomfort with the author and title, because, if one has an open mind this book will provide illuminating intellectual reading, and if one does not yet have an open mind, this is just the sort of reading that may begin to break down the barriers of closed-mindedness.I believe if you are going to get anything out of this book you'll have to read it in order, as skipping around could easily leave you either not understanding things, or upset you to the point of not picking the book back up. If you do choose to read it, and you do read it in order and in full, I don't think you'll be disappointed, and I can almost assure that only the most closed-minded individuals will find themselves upset at what they've taken in.Dawkins will challenge you to think about things in a new way. He'll challenge you to wonder why religious beliefs are not held to the same standards of scrutiny and given more than customary respect. That's the first key. In order to appreciate any of his points you have to be willing to give up the "religious beliefs are not to be questioned, scrutinized, or challenged on grounds that such is disrespectful" attitude. From there you will be challenged to consider the black and white nature with which we have drawn religious arguments. Instead of "believer," "agnostic" and "atheist" he challenges you to rightly think of all people as agnostics, in the sense none of us can know if God is real or not. He'll also try and make you understand that there is a false equivalency pertaining to religious and non-religious beliefs. Religious beliefs are spectacular claims with no supporting evidence, and although they could be true, it's not non-believers job to disprove the non evidentiary based claims of religion, but rather believers job to demonstrate why exactly they say we should believe in these things for which there is no evidence.From there, you will go on a journey of pseudo-evidence. You'll look at all sorts of unscientific claims that religious people hold up as "proof of God." Everything from "the world is beautiful" to "I feel God in my life" to "something so perfect has to be real," to "here's a really smart person who believes," to "our existence is unlikely," etc, etc. Dawkins forces you to think with scientific rationality instead of hopeful dogma. The fact things are perceived as beautiful, improbable, complex, or whatever else doesn't somehow mean that it's more likely for some all powerful deity to exist. We are so conditioned to view anything that is unusually good, bad, confusing, or unknown in both our individual lives and our world, as proof of an arbitrarily presupposed supernatural creator that we never stop to think, "hey maybe things can be really pretty, or really complicated, or whatever else without their being some magical creator."This will transition nicely to when he subsequently talks about how the unknown, which we use as "proof of God," allowed the notion of God to exist in the first place. As a scientist, Dawkins understands that his trade is aimed at finding gaps in our knowledge, and using the scientific method to discover answers to what we previously did not know. Religion is what serves as a placeholder for yet unanswered questions or not fully understood phenomenon. With this understanding in mind, Dawkins proposes that science is viewed as the enemy of religion precisely because it is indeed the thing that kills religion. When you understand how things work, when the question is answered, then the answer can no longer be, "God." He fully acknowledges how some people view science as merely "revealing" the ways of God, but he heavily implies that this is illogical, as the ways of God that religions talk about are very different indeed from the actual answers science ends up providing.Yet, aside from the "filler of holes" concept, Dawkins challenges you to consider where religion comes from. In my opinion he does a poor job of answering this question, which might be explained by the fact he is an evolutionary biologist. He works with how life has evolved, rather than how it started (that will ultimately be the job of chemists as opposed to biologists as he points out). Thus, he makes some very good insights into how religion has spread and why it persists (sort of the evolution of the perpetuation of religion), but he fails to come up with, or really even attempt to come up with, a theory as to where the human desire to create the religions it did originates from. As for how it is perpetuated he talks about the role of parents and other social institutions enforcing religious beliefs as truths in impressionable young minds, such that it becomes cyclical and immune to analytical, scientific reasoning.After considering all this (that religion should be challenged like anything, that agnosticism is false equivalency, that the "proofs" for God are not actually evidence in any kind of scientific, logical, or intellectual sense, and a consideration of where religion came from, with its basic function) the rest of the book focuses on a refutation of religious apologies. Basically, Dawkins points out the obvious (that there is no evidence for God and that it's beyond unlikely one actually exists), but he acknowledges that whether or not God is actually real or not is the improper question to ask of most people. For most people it is not "is God real?" but rather, "ought we believe in God, real or not?" He'll talk about morality and how so many people assume it takes religion to instill and enforce a sense of right and wrong in people. Yet, he understands that scientifically this is not so, due to his background in evolutionary psychology. He understands that what we know as right and wrong is a byproduct of the sort of personality traits that were chosen during the course of sexual selection to help our intelligent, social species better survive. In other words, people who are alive today had the ancestors whose personalities saw right and wrong in the way most all people today do, and they survived because their social moral codes worked out best for humans. Ironically, this concept of "natural law" (i.e. we all have this fairly uniform sense of morality) is often used by religious people as proof of God. (basically, hey if we all have this sense of right and wrong there must have been a deity that put this sense in all of us....you can see why creationists and people who understand and accept the science of evolution have such problems with each other) The implications of our morality coming from our DNA rather than from an adherence to religious texts is, to Dawkins, (and to many such as myself) the sort of proof that, yes, everyone will be just as good without religion.Expanding off of this concept, Dawkins will go on to describe how social memes (basically the zeitgeist) evolve in an inevitably progressive direction over time (overall, as there can be temporary setbacks along the overall progressive trend). It is for this precise reason, he asserts, that more and more of things like the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran are no longer adhered to today. Our morality exists because of evolution, which also means it's always evolving (it's why we have the evolution of the zeitgeist). Of course, this, despite making very good sense, is a problem for religious people, as social memes become more progressive as humanity grows and matures with evolution, despite religious writings remaining fixed in the less mature, less progressive times they were written. A conflict erupts between those people that want to continue to adhere to larger amounts of various religious writings based on a whimsical assumption they are a sort of absolute truth with a capital T, and the rest of people who will allow our moral evolution to continue to improve with time and experience as a species. As impolite as it might sound (since we are accustomed to giving religion such high levels of respect and insulation from scrutiny) belief in the perfection of scripture creates an obstacle for the evolution of humanity's moral progress.To really drive home the point that our morality comes from ourselves rather than some scriptures attributed to some deity, Dawkins talks about how things we today see as the "good parts" of something such as the Bible, like "love thy neighbor" or "thou shall not kill," are actually just as misleading as something like "we the people" in our Constitution. Things like thou shall not kill were meant to say "thou shall not kill Jews" much in the way "people" used to mean only white male property owners. Yet, today religious people interpret these Biblical rules to be more inclusive and tolerant. They do this not because the meanings of the Bible suddenly changed, but because the people reading them did. We evolve, our morality evolves, and it improves. Which is precisely why it is ridiculous that we hold up a book like the Bible that talks about ritual human sacrifices, stoning of women, killing people who work on Sunday, giving your daughter's virginity to as retribution to save a man from being anally raped, etc, etc, as some sort of "code of our morality." The fact we can pick and choose the "good" and "bad" parts is demonstrative that it's been us, humans, not some divine intervention all along.From there, Dawkins will talk about what he perceives as the damage religion creates. He basically subscribes to the idea that good people will be good and bad people bad with or without religion, but only with religion will good people do bad. I and others aren't so sure of that, although there is a strong circumstantial case to be made. However, I do regret that Dawkins goes on such a lengthy, albeit incredibly well articulated bashing of his perceived horrors of religion, as I feel it will turn too many otherwise open intellectual, scientifically minded people away from the larger message of the book, which is that freedom of thought should always trump dogma. Obviously he jumps into the homosexuality thing, as it really is one of those things no one would be against if not for religion. Yet, I find this part of the book, at least given what the book's larger objective is, to be rather unnecessary. The discussion of the religious objection to abortion is more interesting; although still not something I would have gone after if I were attempting to do what Dawkins was. The notion of consequentialism (what are the consequences of permitting or not permitting this action) vs. the notion of absolutism (this action shall be permitted or not permitted based on an absolute, predetermined labeling of the thing as "good" or "bad" based on my religion) is a riveting one, but I think it is only such if you are already intellectually enlightened prior to the picking up of Dawkins' writing. I further believe he makes a mistake in demonizing "moderate" religion, and nearly suggesting that it is as much not a real thing as "50/50 agnocisticsm" is. Moderate religious belief may not be any less scientifically implausible and ridiculous than extremist religious belief, but if we are truly asking ourselves if we ought to be militant atheists or atheists with a religiously libertarian attitude to the unenlightened world, I think a consideration of the lesser damages of moderate religion should be better considered (he seems to view people like Ted Haggard as "moderate" by American standards, perhaps a disillusioned view of the extremeness of American religiosity coming from a Brit that thinks we are worse than we really are)After taking this detour to talk about the bad of religion, Dawkins comes back to a far more convincing "ought we to" argument. The question is whether we ought to raise children religiously (which is basically a form of indoctrination, no matter how mild the upbringing may be). He points out the absurdity of labeling kids by their parents religion (you would never do that with their parent's political or economic opinions). He also points out that while physical abuse is horrible, abuse of the mind leaves far longer lasting scars. I think the way in which he makes the point is very sloppy and perhaps even unknowingly offensive, as he compares the Catholic priest scandal to indoctrinating of minds and calls the latter worse (as well as discussing the story of a woman who said she had been more traumatized as child by thinking her dead friend was burning in hell for being the wrong religion than she was by being sexually abused by a priest). Overall, I'm not sure I can come to think of any form of religious indoctrination as worse than sexual exploitation of minors, but I can appreciate that even when a household is open minded and intellectual and the parents fully accepting of whatever their children end up believing later on (as was the case with mine) being raised religious still leaves you with a nasty feeling that you've done something wrong, that you failed your parents, that they'd be happier if they you had turned out as they intended, or even that somehow you are indicating to them you don't think of them as good people since you ended up believing in different things than they did.On a tamer note, Dawkins goes on to make the distinction between teaching about religion and teaching religion. Much as we learn of Greek and Roman mythology so that we may understand the literary gems of the day, Dawkins asserts that we do need to explore contemporary western religious for literary purposes. Yet, he couples this with a harsh discussion of how trying to teach religious dogma in place of or in refutation of sound science is perhaps the worst form of intellectual child abuse.The book concludes with an examination of the most powerful "ought we" question. Even if it's beyond unlikely there is a God for which there is no sound evidence, ought we to believe in it, or at least socially protect the belief in such, not because it will save our morality, or because it fails to harm, or because parents should be left to teach their kids as they choose (religion does not make our morality, it's not without harm, and parental indoctrination is, in fact, one such harm), but rather because it provides an ability to comfort, console, and inspire humanity? In trying to answer this question Dawkins first concedes that the notion of God does comfort, console, and inspire people. By doing this, he appears to unknowingly answer the question he earlier failed to answer (from where does religion come?). Religion, it would seem comes from adults who couldn't give up the security of an unconditional, loving, helpful friend that always has time to be there for you. In other words, as impolite as it sounds, religion allows adults to have that imaginary friend when times call for it. Dawkins speaks of a story of a woman who says she had an imaginary friend as a child who she later had a dream about as an adult where the friend (a sort of Barney-like purple creature) was giving her advice as to how to navigate a crisis in her life. He quite profoundly postulates that this adult extension of childhood friends is at the essence of belief in deities.So, then the question becomes whether or not we can be consoled and inspired while acknowledging that our adult imaginary friend known as God is just as unlikely to exist as any childhood imaginary friend. He suggests we most certainly can and invokes quantum mechanics and an unnamed reference to biocentric perception as the reason why. Basically, we evolved to perceive the world as we do because that's what we needed to perceive in order to successfully navigate it. Yet, there is much in this universe, and other proposed universes that is far too small, too large, too fast, too slow, and whatever else for us to perceive let alone understand. The world we see is such a tiny bit of reality and such a limited understanding of all there is to understand. With science, we can discover realities in which we do not exist and come to understand all the things within our reality that we do not perceive. He uses the amazing analogy of a woman in a burka with only the slit where her eyes are being exposed. He instructs us to imagine that the woman and the burka covering her are miles upon miles tall/long. Because modern science has begun to discover both how long the burka of reality really is and also figuring out ways to understand the rest of the burka, the tiny slit humanity has previously been confined to perceive things from is rapidly opening up. Thus, it becomes apparent to us readers that we can very much be inspired by all these new components of vast, vast reality that there is to be investigated, and we can very much be comforted by increasing our understanding of this vast reality. We can obtain this inspiration and comfort by using science, which yes, does destroy old superstitious dogmas we found comforting in the face of uncertainty from the slit of the burka, but what there is to find, in exchange for giving up the comparatively smaller comfort and inspiration that was the religious placeholder, is so, so much greater than what we got from our delusions. <hl>"
"Much like Richard Dawkins is an inflammatory character, so is the title of his most well known book. <hl> For people such as myself who are not religious, his passion for helping humanity move beyond superstitious dogma so as to allow in a more complex, complete, and exhilarating understanding of the world and universe in which we exist does not appear offensive. However, I can appreciate why people who are of a religious persuasion would feel inclined to steer clear of Dawkins and his writing. Yet, I would encourage those people to cast aside their initial disgust and discomfort with the author and title, because, if one has an open mind this book will provide illuminating intellectual reading, and if one does not yet have an open mind, this is just the sort of reading that may begin to break down the barriers of closed-mindedness.I believe if you are going to get anything out of this book you'll have to read it in order, as skipping around could easily leave you either not understanding things, or upset you to the point of not picking the book back up. If you do choose to read it, and you do read it in order and in full, I don't think you'll be disappointed, and I can almost assure that only the most closed-minded individuals will find themselves upset at what they've taken in.Dawkins will challenge you to think about things in a new way. He'll challenge you to wonder why religious beliefs are not held to the same standards of scrutiny and given more than customary respect. That's the first key. In order to appreciate any of his points you have to be willing to give up the "religious beliefs are not to be questioned, scrutinized, or challenged on grounds that such is disrespectful" attitude. From there you will be challenged to consider the black and white nature with which we have drawn religious arguments. Instead of "believer," "agnostic" and "atheist" he challenges you to rightly think of all people as agnostics, in the sense none of us can know if God is real or not. He'll also try and make you understand that there is a false equivalency pertaining to religious and non-religious beliefs. Religious beliefs are spectacular claims with no supporting evidence, and although they could be true, it's not non-believers job to disprove the non evidentiary based claims of religion, but rather believers job to demonstrate why exactly they say we should believe in these things for which there is no evidence.From there, you will go on a journey of pseudo-evidence. You'll look at all sorts of unscientific claims that religious people hold up as "proof of God." Everything from "the world is beautiful" to "I feel God in my life" to "something so perfect has to be real," to "here's a really smart person who believes," to "our existence is unlikely," etc, etc. Dawkins forces you to think with scientific rationality instead of hopeful dogma. The fact things are perceived as beautiful, improbable, complex, or whatever else doesn't somehow mean that it's more likely for some all powerful deity to exist. We are so conditioned to view anything that is unusually good, bad, confusing, or unknown in both our individual lives and our world, as proof of an arbitrarily presupposed supernatural creator that we never stop to think, "hey maybe things can be really pretty, or really complicated, or whatever else without their being some magical creator."This will transition nicely to when he subsequently talks about how the unknown, which we use as "proof of God," allowed the notion of God to exist in the first place. As a scientist, Dawkins understands that his trade is aimed at finding gaps in our knowledge, and using the scientific method to discover answers to what we previously did not know. Religion is what serves as a placeholder for yet unanswered questions or not fully understood phenomenon. With this understanding in mind, Dawkins proposes that science is viewed as the enemy of religion precisely because it is indeed the thing that kills religion. When you understand how things work, when the question is answered, then the answer can no longer be, "God." He fully acknowledges how some people view science as merely "revealing" the ways of God, but he heavily implies that this is illogical, as the ways of God that religions talk about are very different indeed from the actual answers science ends up providing.Yet, aside from the "filler of holes" concept, Dawkins challenges you to consider where religion comes from. In my opinion he does a poor job of answering this question, which might be explained by the fact he is an evolutionary biologist. He works with how life has evolved, rather than how it started (that will ultimately be the job of chemists as opposed to biologists as he points out). Thus, he makes some very good insights into how religion has spread and why it persists (sort of the evolution of the perpetuation of religion), but he fails to come up with, or really even attempt to come up with, a theory as to where the human desire to create the religions it did originates from. As for how it is perpetuated he talks about the role of parents and other social institutions enforcing religious beliefs as truths in impressionable young minds, such that it becomes cyclical and immune to analytical, scientific reasoning.After considering all this (that religion should be challenged like anything, that agnosticism is false equivalency, that the "proofs" for God are not actually evidence in any kind of scientific, logical, or intellectual sense, and a consideration of where religion came from, with its basic function) the rest of the book focuses on a refutation of religious apologies. Basically, Dawkins points out the obvious (that there is no evidence for God and that it's beyond unlikely one actually exists), but he acknowledges that whether or not God is actually real or not is the improper question to ask of most people. For most people it is not "is God real?" but rather, "ought we believe in God, real or not?" He'll talk about morality and how so many people assume it takes religion to instill and enforce a sense of right and wrong in people. Yet, he understands that scientifically this is not so, due to his background in evolutionary psychology. He understands that what we know as right and wrong is a byproduct of the sort of personality traits that were chosen during the course of sexual selection to help our intelligent, social species better survive. In other words, people who are alive today had the ancestors whose personalities saw right and wrong in the way most all people today do, and they survived because their social moral codes worked out best for humans. Ironically, this concept of "natural law" (i.e. we all have this fairly uniform sense of morality) is often used by religious people as proof of God. (basically, hey if we all have this sense of right and wrong there must have been a deity that put this sense in all of us....you can see why creationists and people who understand and accept the science of evolution have such problems with each other) The implications of our morality coming from our DNA rather than from an adherence to religious texts is, to Dawkins, (and to many such as myself) the sort of proof that, yes, everyone will be just as good without religion.Expanding off of this concept, Dawkins will go on to describe how social memes (basically the zeitgeist) evolve in an inevitably progressive direction over time (overall, as there can be temporary setbacks along the overall progressive trend). It is for this precise reason, he asserts, that more and more of things like the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran are no longer adhered to today. Our morality exists because of evolution, which also means it's always evolving (it's why we have the evolution of the zeitgeist). Of course, this, despite making very good sense, is a problem for religious people, as social memes become more progressive as humanity grows and matures with evolution, despite religious writings remaining fixed in the less mature, less progressive times they were written. A conflict erupts between those people that want to continue to adhere to larger amounts of various religious writings based on a whimsical assumption they are a sort of absolute truth with a capital T, and the rest of people who will allow our moral evolution to continue to improve with time and experience as a species. As impolite as it might sound (since we are accustomed to giving religion such high levels of respect and insulation from scrutiny) belief in the perfection of scripture creates an obstacle for the evolution of humanity's moral progress.To really drive home the point that our morality comes from ourselves rather than some scriptures attributed to some deity, Dawkins talks about how things we today see as the "good parts" of something such as the Bible, like "love thy neighbor" or "thou shall not kill," are actually just as misleading as something like "we the people" in our Constitution. Things like thou shall not kill were meant to say "thou shall not kill Jews" much in the way "people" used to mean only white male property owners. Yet, today religious people interpret these Biblical rules to be more inclusive and tolerant. They do this not because the meanings of the Bible suddenly changed, but because the people reading them did. We evolve, our morality evolves, and it improves. Which is precisely why it is ridiculous that we hold up a book like the Bible that talks about ritual human sacrifices, stoning of women, killing people who work on Sunday, giving your daughter's virginity to as retribution to save a man from being anally raped, etc, etc, as some sort of "code of our morality." The fact we can pick and choose the "good" and "bad" parts is demonstrative that it's been us, humans, not some divine intervention all along.From there, Dawkins will talk about what he perceives as the damage religion creates. He basically subscribes to the idea that good people will be good and bad people bad with or without religion, but only with religion will good people do bad. I and others aren't so sure of that, although there is a strong circumstantial case to be made. However, I do regret that Dawkins goes on such a lengthy, albeit incredibly well articulated bashing of his perceived horrors of religion, as I feel it will turn too many otherwise open intellectual, scientifically minded people away from the larger message of the book, which is that freedom of thought should always trump dogma. Obviously he jumps into the homosexuality thing, as it really is one of those things no one would be against if not for religion. Yet, I find this part of the book, at least given what the book's larger objective is, to be rather unnecessary. The discussion of the religious objection to abortion is more interesting; although still not something I would have gone after if I were attempting to do what Dawkins was. The notion of consequentialism (what are the consequences of permitting or not permitting this action) vs. the notion of absolutism (this action shall be permitted or not permitted based on an absolute, predetermined labeling of the thing as "good" or "bad" based on my religion) is a riveting one, but I think it is only such if you are already intellectually enlightened prior to the picking up of Dawkins' writing. I further believe he makes a mistake in demonizing "moderate" religion, and nearly suggesting that it is as much not a real thing as "50/50 agnocisticsm" is. Moderate religious belief may not be any less scientifically implausible and ridiculous than extremist religious belief, but if we are truly asking ourselves if we ought to be militant atheists or atheists with a religiously libertarian attitude to the unenlightened world, I think a consideration of the lesser damages of moderate religion should be better considered (he seems to view people like Ted Haggard as "moderate" by American standards, perhaps a disillusioned view of the extremeness of American religiosity coming from a Brit that thinks we are worse than we really are)After taking this detour to talk about the bad of religion, Dawkins comes back to a far more convincing "ought we to" argument. The question is whether we ought to raise children religiously (which is basically a form of indoctrination, no matter how mild the upbringing may be). He points out the absurdity of labeling kids by their parents religion (you would never do that with their parent's political or economic opinions). He also points out that while physical abuse is horrible, abuse of the mind leaves far longer lasting scars. I think the way in which he makes the point is very sloppy and perhaps even unknowingly offensive, as he compares the Catholic priest scandal to indoctrinating of minds and calls the latter worse (as well as discussing the story of a woman who said she had been more traumatized as child by thinking her dead friend was burning in hell for being the wrong religion than she was by being sexually abused by a priest). Overall, I'm not sure I can come to think of any form of religious indoctrination as worse than sexual exploitation of minors, but I can appreciate that even when a household is open minded and intellectual and the parents fully accepting of whatever their children end up believing later on (as was the case with mine) being raised religious still leaves you with a nasty feeling that you've done something wrong, that you failed your parents, that they'd be happier if they you had turned out as they intended, or even that somehow you are indicating to them you don't think of them as good people since you ended up believing in different things than they did.On a tamer note, Dawkins goes on to make the distinction between teaching about religion and teaching religion. Much as we learn of Greek and Roman mythology so that we may understand the literary gems of the day, Dawkins asserts that we do need to explore contemporary western religious for literary purposes. Yet, he couples this with a harsh discussion of how trying to teach religious dogma in place of or in refutation of sound science is perhaps the worst form of intellectual child abuse.The book concludes with an examination of the most powerful "ought we" question. Even if it's beyond unlikely there is a God for which there is no sound evidence, ought we to believe in it, or at least socially protect the belief in such, not because it will save our morality, or because it fails to harm, or because parents should be left to teach their kids as they choose (religion does not make our morality, it's not without harm, and parental indoctrination is, in fact, one such harm), but rather because it provides an ability to comfort, console, and inspire humanity? In trying to answer this question Dawkins first concedes that the notion of God does comfort, console, and inspire people. By doing this, he appears to unknowingly answer the question he earlier failed to answer (from where does religion come?). Religion, it would seem comes from adults who couldn't give up the security of an unconditional, loving, helpful friend that always has time to be there for you. In other words, as impolite as it sounds, religion allows adults to have that imaginary friend when times call for it. Dawkins speaks of a story of a woman who says she had an imaginary friend as a child who she later had a dream about as an adult where the friend (a sort of Barney-like purple creature) was giving her advice as to how to navigate a crisis in her life. He quite profoundly postulates that this adult extension of childhood friends is at the essence of belief in deities.So, then the question becomes whether or not we can be consoled and inspired while acknowledging that our adult imaginary friend known as God is just as unlikely to exist as any childhood imaginary friend. He suggests we most certainly can and invokes quantum mechanics and an unnamed reference to biocentric perception as the reason why. Basically, we evolved to perceive the world as we do because that's what we needed to perceive in order to successfully navigate it. Yet, there is much in this universe, and other proposed universes that is far too small, too large, too fast, too slow, and whatever else for us to perceive let alone understand. The world we see is such a tiny bit of reality and such a limited understanding of all there is to understand. With science, we can discover realities in which we do not exist and come to understand all the things within our reality that we do not perceive. He uses the amazing analogy of a woman in a burka with only the slit where her eyes are being exposed. He instructs us to imagine that the woman and the burka covering her are miles upon miles tall/long. Because modern science has begun to discover both how long the burka of reality really is and also figuring out ways to understand the rest of the burka, the tiny slit humanity has previously been confined to perceive things from is rapidly opening up. Thus, it becomes apparent to us readers that we can very much be inspired by all these new components of vast, vast reality that there is to be investigated, and we can very much be comforted by increasing our understanding of this vast reality. We can obtain this inspiration and comfort by using science, which yes, does destroy old superstitious dogmas we found comforting in the face of uncertainty from the slit of the burka, but what there is to find, in exchange for giving up the comparatively smaller comfort and inspiration that was the religious placeholder, is so, so much greater than what we got from our delusions. <hl>"
"Much like Richard Dawkins is an inflammatory character, so is the title of his most well known book. <hl> For people such as myself who are not religious, his passion for helping humanity move beyond superstitious dogma so as to allow in a more complex, complete, and exhilarating understanding of the world and universe in which we exist does not appear offensive. However, I can appreciate why people who are of a religious persuasion would feel inclined to steer clear of Dawkins and his writing. Yet, I would encourage those people to cast aside their initial disgust and discomfort with the author and title, because, if one has an open mind this book will provide illuminating intellectual reading, and if one does not yet have an open mind, this is just the sort of reading that may begin to break down the barriers of closed-mindedness.I believe if you are going to get anything out of this book you'll have to read it in order, as skipping around could easily leave you either not understanding things, or upset you to the point of not picking the book back up. If you do choose to read it, and you do read it in order and in full, I don't think you'll be disappointed, and I can almost assure that only the most closed-minded individuals will find themselves upset at what they've taken in.Dawkins will challenge you to think about things in a new way. He'll challenge you to wonder why religious beliefs are not held to the same standards of scrutiny and given more than customary respect. That's the first key. In order to appreciate any of his points you have to be willing to give up the "religious beliefs are not to be questioned, scrutinized, or challenged on grounds that such is disrespectful" attitude. From there you will be challenged to consider the black and white nature with which we have drawn religious arguments. Instead of "believer," "agnostic" and "atheist" he challenges you to rightly think of all people as agnostics, in the sense none of us can know if God is real or not. He'll also try and make you understand that there is a false equivalency pertaining to religious and non-religious beliefs. Religious beliefs are spectacular claims with no supporting evidence, and although they could be true, it's not non-believers job to disprove the non evidentiary based claims of religion, but rather believers job to demonstrate why exactly they say we should believe in these things for which there is no evidence.From there, you will go on a journey of pseudo-evidence. You'll look at all sorts of unscientific claims that religious people hold up as "proof of God." Everything from "the world is beautiful" to "I feel God in my life" to "something so perfect has to be real," to "here's a really smart person who believes," to "our existence is unlikely," etc, etc. Dawkins forces you to think with scientific rationality instead of hopeful dogma. The fact things are perceived as beautiful, improbable, complex, or whatever else doesn't somehow mean that it's more likely for some all powerful deity to exist. We are so conditioned to view anything that is unusually good, bad, confusing, or unknown in both our individual lives and our world, as proof of an arbitrarily presupposed supernatural creator that we never stop to think, "hey maybe things can be really pretty, or really complicated, or whatever else without their being some magical creator."This will transition nicely to when he subsequently talks about how the unknown, which we use as "proof of God," allowed the notion of God to exist in the first place. As a scientist, Dawkins understands that his trade is aimed at finding gaps in our knowledge, and using the scientific method to discover answers to what we previously did not know. Religion is what serves as a placeholder for yet unanswered questions or not fully understood phenomenon. With this understanding in mind, Dawkins proposes that science is viewed as the enemy of religion precisely because it is indeed the thing that kills religion. When you understand how things work, when the question is answered, then the answer can no longer be, "God." He fully acknowledges how some people view science as merely "revealing" the ways of God, but he heavily implies that this is illogical, as the ways of God that religions talk about are very different indeed from the actual answers science ends up providing.Yet, aside from the "filler of holes" concept, Dawkins challenges you to consider where religion comes from. In my opinion he does a poor job of answering this question, which might be explained by the fact he is an evolutionary biologist. He works with how life has evolved, rather than how it started (that will ultimately be the job of chemists as opposed to biologists as he points out). Thus, he makes some very good insights into how religion has spread and why it persists (sort of the evolution of the perpetuation of religion), but he fails to come up with, or really even attempt to come up with, a theory as to where the human desire to create the religions it did originates from. As for how it is perpetuated he talks about the role of parents and other social institutions enforcing religious beliefs as truths in impressionable young minds, such that it becomes cyclical and immune to analytical, scientific reasoning.After considering all this (that religion should be challenged like anything, that agnosticism is false equivalency, that the "proofs" for God are not actually evidence in any kind of scientific, logical, or intellectual sense, and a consideration of where religion came from, with its basic function) the rest of the book focuses on a refutation of religious apologies. Basically, Dawkins points out the obvious (that there is no evidence for God and that it's beyond unlikely one actually exists), but he acknowledges that whether or not God is actually real or not is the improper question to ask of most people. For most people it is not "is God real?" but rather, "ought we believe in God, real or not?" He'll talk about morality and how so many people assume it takes religion to instill and enforce a sense of right and wrong in people. Yet, he understands that scientifically this is not so, due to his background in evolutionary psychology. He understands that what we know as right and wrong is a byproduct of the sort of personality traits that were chosen during the course of sexual selection to help our intelligent, social species better survive. In other words, people who are alive today had the ancestors whose personalities saw right and wrong in the way most all people today do, and they survived because their social moral codes worked out best for humans. Ironically, this concept of "natural law" (i.e. we all have this fairly uniform sense of morality) is often used by religious people as proof of God. (basically, hey if we all have this sense of right and wrong there must have been a deity that put this sense in all of us....you can see why creationists and people who understand and accept the science of evolution have such problems with each other) The implications of our morality coming from our DNA rather than from an adherence to religious texts is, to Dawkins, (and to many such as myself) the sort of proof that, yes, everyone will be just as good without religion.Expanding off of this concept, Dawkins will go on to describe how social memes (basically the zeitgeist) evolve in an inevitably progressive direction over time (overall, as there can be temporary setbacks along the overall progressive trend). It is for this precise reason, he asserts, that more and more of things like the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran are no longer adhered to today. Our morality exists because of evolution, which also means it's always evolving (it's why we have the evolution of the zeitgeist). Of course, this, despite making very good sense, is a problem for religious people, as social memes become more progressive as humanity grows and matures with evolution, despite religious writings remaining fixed in the less mature, less progressive times they were written. A conflict erupts between those people that want to continue to adhere to larger amounts of various religious writings based on a whimsical assumption they are a sort of absolute truth with a capital T, and the rest of people who will allow our moral evolution to continue to improve with time and experience as a species. As impolite as it might sound (since we are accustomed to giving religion such high levels of respect and insulation from scrutiny) belief in the perfection of scripture creates an obstacle for the evolution of humanity's moral progress.To really drive home the point that our morality comes from ourselves rather than some scriptures attributed to some deity, Dawkins talks about how things we today see as the "good parts" of something such as the Bible, like "love thy neighbor" or "thou shall not kill," are actually just as misleading as something like "we the people" in our Constitution. Things like thou shall not kill were meant to say "thou shall not kill Jews" much in the way "people" used to mean only white male property owners. Yet, today religious people interpret these Biblical rules to be more inclusive and tolerant. They do this not because the meanings of the Bible suddenly changed, but because the people reading them did. We evolve, our morality evolves, and it improves. Which is precisely why it is ridiculous that we hold up a book like the Bible that talks about ritual human sacrifices, stoning of women, killing people who work on Sunday, giving your daughter's virginity to as retribution to save a man from being anally raped, etc, etc, as some sort of "code of our morality." The fact we can pick and choose the "good" and "bad" parts is demonstrative that it's been us, humans, not some divine intervention all along.From there, Dawkins will talk about what he perceives as the damage religion creates. He basically subscribes to the idea that good people will be good and bad people bad with or without religion, but only with religion will good people do bad. I and others aren't so sure of that, although there is a strong circumstantial case to be made. However, I do regret that Dawkins goes on such a lengthy, albeit incredibly well articulated bashing of his perceived horrors of religion, as I feel it will turn too many otherwise open intellectual, scientifically minded people away from the larger message of the book, which is that freedom of thought should always trump dogma. Obviously he jumps into the homosexuality thing, as it really is one of those things no one would be against if not for religion. Yet, I find this part of the book, at least given what the book's larger objective is, to be rather unnecessary. The discussion of the religious objection to abortion is more interesting; although still not something I would have gone after if I were attempting to do what Dawkins was. The notion of consequentialism (what are the consequences of permitting or not permitting this action) vs. the notion of absolutism (this action shall be permitted or not permitted based on an absolute, predetermined labeling of the thing as "good" or "bad" based on my religion) is a riveting one, but I think it is only such if you are already intellectually enlightened prior to the picking up of Dawkins' writing. I further believe he makes a mistake in demonizing "moderate" religion, and nearly suggesting that it is as much not a real thing as "50/50 agnocisticsm" is. Moderate religious belief may not be any less scientifically implausible and ridiculous than extremist religious belief, but if we are truly asking ourselves if we ought to be militant atheists or atheists with a religiously libertarian attitude to the unenlightened world, I think a consideration of the lesser damages of moderate religion should be better considered (he seems to view people like Ted Haggard as "moderate" by American standards, perhaps a disillusioned view of the extremeness of American religiosity coming from a Brit that thinks we are worse than we really are)After taking this detour to talk about the bad of religion, Dawkins comes back to a far more convincing "ought we to" argument. The question is whether we ought to raise children religiously (which is basically a form of indoctrination, no matter how mild the upbringing may be). He points out the absurdity of labeling kids by their parents religion (you would never do that with their parent's political or economic opinions). He also points out that while physical abuse is horrible, abuse of the mind leaves far longer lasting scars. I think the way in which he makes the point is very sloppy and perhaps even unknowingly offensive, as he compares the Catholic priest scandal to indoctrinating of minds and calls the latter worse (as well as discussing the story of a woman who said she had been more traumatized as child by thinking her dead friend was burning in hell for being the wrong religion than she was by being sexually abused by a priest). Overall, I'm not sure I can come to think of any form of religious indoctrination as worse than sexual exploitation of minors, but I can appreciate that even when a household is open minded and intellectual and the parents fully accepting of whatever their children end up believing later on (as was the case with mine) being raised religious still leaves you with a nasty feeling that you've done something wrong, that you failed your parents, that they'd be happier if they you had turned out as they intended, or even that somehow you are indicating to them you don't think of them as good people since you ended up believing in different things than they did.On a tamer note, Dawkins goes on to make the distinction between teaching about religion and teaching religion. Much as we learn of Greek and Roman mythology so that we may understand the literary gems of the day, Dawkins asserts that we do need to explore contemporary western religious for literary purposes. Yet, he couples this with a harsh discussion of how trying to teach religious dogma in place of or in refutation of sound science is perhaps the worst form of intellectual child abuse.The book concludes with an examination of the most powerful "ought we" question. Even if it's beyond unlikely there is a God for which there is no sound evidence, ought we to believe in it, or at least socially protect the belief in such, not because it will save our morality, or because it fails to harm, or because parents should be left to teach their kids as they choose (religion does not make our morality, it's not without harm, and parental indoctrination is, in fact, one such harm), but rather because it provides an ability to comfort, console, and inspire humanity? In trying to answer this question Dawkins first concedes that the notion of God does comfort, console, and inspire people. By doing this, he appears to unknowingly answer the question he earlier failed to answer (from where does religion come?). Religion, it would seem comes from adults who couldn't give up the security of an unconditional, loving, helpful friend that always has time to be there for you. In other words, as impolite as it sounds, religion allows adults to have that imaginary friend when times call for it. Dawkins speaks of a story of a woman who says she had an imaginary friend as a child who she later had a dream about as an adult where the friend (a sort of Barney-like purple creature) was giving her advice as to how to navigate a crisis in her life. He quite profoundly postulates that this adult extension of childhood friends is at the essence of belief in deities.So, then the question becomes whether or not we can be consoled and inspired while acknowledging that our adult imaginary friend known as God is just as unlikely to exist as any childhood imaginary friend. He suggests we most certainly can and invokes quantum mechanics and an unnamed reference to biocentric perception as the reason why. Basically, we evolved to perceive the world as we do because that's what we needed to perceive in order to successfully navigate it. Yet, there is much in this universe, and other proposed universes that is far too small, too large, too fast, too slow, and whatever else for us to perceive let alone understand. The world we see is such a tiny bit of reality and such a limited understanding of all there is to understand. With science, we can discover realities in which we do not exist and come to understand all the things within our reality that we do not perceive. He uses the amazing analogy of a woman in a burka with only the slit where her eyes are being exposed. He instructs us to imagine that the woman and the burka covering her are miles upon miles tall/long. Because modern science has begun to discover both how long the burka of reality really is and also figuring out ways to understand the rest of the burka, the tiny slit humanity has previously been confined to perceive things from is rapidly opening up. Thus, it becomes apparent to us readers that we can very much be inspired by all these new components of vast, vast reality that there is to be investigated, and we can very much be comforted by increasing our understanding of this vast reality. We can obtain this inspiration and comfort by using science, which yes, does destroy old superstitious dogmas we found comforting in the face of uncertainty from the slit of the burka, but what there is to find, in exchange for giving up the comparatively smaller comfort and inspiration that was the religious placeholder, is so, so much greater than what we got from our delusions. <hl>"
"adce34cb08e89253cad1f815ab9e976d"
2
2
"books"
"the action is super-fast paced and action packed"
"question: Does its contains a lot of action?, context: Like all Dan Brown's Robert Langdon books, the action is super-fast paced and action packed. His works remind me a lot of Alistair McLean or Desmond Bagley books in their formula.As mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed this book right up until about the point, where I couldn't put it down for fear of losing the thread of all the different plot lines. It just got too busy.Great book, but it could have done with 1 or 2 less twists.This is another great book from Brown, but some advice? When to go to read it, I'd really suggest you clear a day and just go at it. It deserves your undivided attention.Basic premise - Langdon wakes up in a small Italian Hospital with no knowledge of how he got there and just get's swept along in his struggle to make sense of it all. SPOILER alert:What he finds is that some madman or group is planning to poison the world population in some misguided save the planet type environmental mission. "
"Does its contains a lot of action?"
"Like all Dan Brown's Robert Langdon books, the action is super-fast paced and action packed ."
"Like all Dan Brown's Robert Langdon books, the action is super-fast paced and action packed. His works remind me a lot of Alistair McLean or Desmond Bagley books in their formula.As mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed this book right up until about the point, where I couldn't put it down for fear of losing the thread of all the different plot lines. It just got too busy.Great book, but it could have done with 1 or 2 less twists.This is another great book from Brown, but some advice? When to go to read it, I'd really suggest you clear a day and just go at it. It deserves your undivided attention.Basic premise - Langdon wakes up in a small Italian Hospital with no knowledge of how he got there and just get's swept along in his struggle to make sense of it all. SPOILER alert:What he finds is that some madman or group is planning to poison the world population in some misguided save the planet type environmental mission. "
"Like all Dan Brown's Robert Langdon books, <hl> the action is super-fast paced and action packed <hl> ."
"Like all Dan Brown's Robert Langdon books, <hl> the action is super-fast paced and action packed <hl>. His works remind me a lot of Alistair McLean or Desmond Bagley books in their formula.As mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed this book right up until about the point, where I couldn't put it down for fear of losing the thread of all the different plot lines. It just got too busy.Great book, but it could have done with 1 or 2 less twists.This is another great book from Brown, but some advice? When to go to read it, I'd really suggest you clear a day and just go at it. It deserves your undivided attention.Basic premise - Langdon wakes up in a small Italian Hospital with no knowledge of how he got there and just get's swept along in his struggle to make sense of it all. SPOILER alert:What he finds is that some madman or group is planning to poison the world population in some misguided save the planet type environmental mission. "
"<hl> Like all Dan Brown's Robert Langdon books, the action is super-fast paced and action packed . <hl> His works remind me a lot of Alistair McLean or Desmond Bagley books in their formula. As mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed this book right up until about the point, where I couldn't put it down for fear of losing the thread of all the different plot lines. It just got too busy. Great book, but it could have done with 1 or 2 less twists. This is another great book from Brown, but some advice? When to go to read it, I'd really suggest you clear a day and just go at it. It deserves your undivided attention. Basic premise - Langdon wakes up in a small Italian Hospital with no knowledge of how he got there and just get's swept along in his struggle to make sense of it all. SPOILER alert:What he finds is that some madman or group is planning to poison the world population in some misguided save the planet type environmental mission."
"353cab235dd73dad932e7fa45da273a0"
1
1
"books"
"I know because it took all of my self"
"question: Do you know the book?, context: Wow! Talk about a thrill ride! If you're looking for a book that you cannot put down, The Maze Runner is what you need. You will start reading The Maze Runner and forget to eat, bath, or feed your cats. You will not be able to put the book down until the very last page. I cannot stress this enough. I know because it took all of my self-control to take breaks from reading. The Maze Runner had everything that I love in a good science fiction novel, thought provoking scenarios, engaging characters, and a suspenseful plot.The voice of Thomas sucked me into the story from the very beginning. I wanted to find out what was going to happen to him. Why are all these boys trapped in a maze? What does it all mean? Who put them there? I felt like I was standing right beside Thomas while he was trying to figure all of these things out. I also thought that the secondary characters were vivid and believable. Chuck in particular was one of my other favorite secondary characters. I hate to use the word secondary to describe Chuck, because he was such a huge part of the story. I just loved him though.The fast pace of The Maze Runner kept me rapidly turning to pages. The half animal half technology Grievers scared the bejesus out of me! As I read along each new discovery left me feeling shocked, disturbed, and very often both.The ending just about killed me. I'm dying to get my hands on the sequel now to find out what happens. Some big questions are unanswered, but most are not. I might have to camp outside James Dashner's home until he throw a manuscript out to me.I would recommend The Maze Runner to anyone who loves thrilling science fiction novels. "
"Do you know the book?"
"I know because it took all of my self -control to take breaks from reading."
"Wow! Talk about a thrill ride! If you're looking for a book that you cannot put down, The Maze Runner is what you need. You will start reading The Maze Runner and forget to eat, bath, or feed your cats. You will not be able to put the book down until the very last page. I cannot stress this enough. I know because it took all of my self-control to take breaks from reading. The Maze Runner had everything that I love in a good science fiction novel, thought provoking scenarios, engaging characters, and a suspenseful plot.The voice of Thomas sucked me into the story from the very beginning. I wanted to find out what was going to happen to him. Why are all these boys trapped in a maze? What does it all mean? Who put them there? I felt like I was standing right beside Thomas while he was trying to figure all of these things out. I also thought that the secondary characters were vivid and believable. Chuck in particular was one of my other favorite secondary characters. I hate to use the word secondary to describe Chuck, because he was such a huge part of the story. I just loved him though.The fast pace of The Maze Runner kept me rapidly turning to pages. The half animal half technology Grievers scared the bejesus out of me! As I read along each new discovery left me feeling shocked, disturbed, and very often both.The ending just about killed me. I'm dying to get my hands on the sequel now to find out what happens. Some big questions are unanswered, but most are not. I might have to camp outside James Dashner's home until he throw a manuscript out to me.I would recommend The Maze Runner to anyone who loves thrilling science fiction novels. "
"<hl> I know because it took all of my self <hl> -control to take breaks from reading."
"Wow! Talk about a thrill ride! If you're looking for a book that you cannot put down, The Maze Runner is what you need. You will start reading The Maze Runner and forget to eat, bath, or feed your cats. You will not be able to put the book down until the very last page. I cannot stress this enough. <hl> I know because it took all of my self <hl>-control to take breaks from reading. The Maze Runner had everything that I love in a good science fiction novel, thought provoking scenarios, engaging characters, and a suspenseful plot.The voice of Thomas sucked me into the story from the very beginning. I wanted to find out what was going to happen to him. Why are all these boys trapped in a maze? What does it all mean? Who put them there? I felt like I was standing right beside Thomas while he was trying to figure all of these things out. I also thought that the secondary characters were vivid and believable. Chuck in particular was one of my other favorite secondary characters. I hate to use the word secondary to describe Chuck, because he was such a huge part of the story. I just loved him though.The fast pace of The Maze Runner kept me rapidly turning to pages. The half animal half technology Grievers scared the bejesus out of me! As I read along each new discovery left me feeling shocked, disturbed, and very often both.The ending just about killed me. I'm dying to get my hands on the sequel now to find out what happens. Some big questions are unanswered, but most are not. I might have to camp outside James Dashner's home until he throw a manuscript out to me.I would recommend The Maze Runner to anyone who loves thrilling science fiction novels. "
"Wow! Talk about a thrill ride! If you're looking for a book that you cannot put down, The Maze Runner is what you need. You will start reading The Maze Runner and forget to eat, bath, or feed your cats. You will not be able to put the book down until the very last page. I cannot stress this enough. <hl> I know because it took all of my self -control to take breaks from reading. <hl> The Maze Runner had everything that I love in a good science fiction novel, thought provoking scenarios, engaging characters, and a suspenseful plot. The voice of Thomas sucked me into the story from the very beginning. I wanted to find out what was going to happen to him. Why are all these boys trapped in a maze? What does it all mean? Who put them there? I felt like I was standing right beside Thomas while he was trying to figure all of these things out. I also thought that the secondary characters were vivid and believable. Chuck in particular was one of my other favorite secondary characters. I hate to use the word secondary to describe Chuck, because he was such a huge part of the story. I just loved him though. The fast pace of The Maze Runner kept me rapidly turning to pages. The half animal half technology Grievers scared the bejesus out of me! As I read along each new discovery left me feeling shocked, disturbed, and very often both. The ending just about killed me. I'm dying to get my hands on the sequel now to find out what happens. Some big questions are unanswered, but most are not. I might have to camp outside James Dashner's home until he throw a manuscript out to me. I would recommend The Maze Runner to anyone who loves thrilling science fiction novels."
"bdea057842baaec4cf59881628aee0cd"
4
4
"books"
"This book is so much and i love it"
"question: What is your feeling about this book?, context: This book is so much and i love it!! The book punched me right in the feels! I am 10 years old and love this book!! "
"What is your feeling about this book?"
"This book is so much and i love it !!"
"This book is so much and i love it!! The book punched me right in the feels! I am 10 years old and love this book!! "
"<hl> This book is so much and i love it <hl> !!"
"<hl> This book is so much and i love it <hl>!! The book punched me right in the feels! I am 10 years old and love this book!! "
"<hl> This book is so much and i love it !! <hl> The book punched me right in the feels! I am 10 years old and love this book!!"
"3c9f476246e3c10a068bf2df38d896c2"
1
1
"books"

Dataset Card for "lmqg/qg_subjqa"

Dataset Summary

This is a subset of QG-Bench, a unified question generation benchmark proposed in "Generative Language Models for Paragraph-Level Question Generation: A Unified Benchmark and Evaluation, EMNLP 2022 main conference". Modified version of SubjQA for question generation (QG) task.

Supported Tasks and Leaderboards

  • question-generation: The dataset can be used to train a model for question generation. Success on this task is typically measured by achieving a high BLEU4/METEOR/ROUGE-L/BERTScore/MoverScore (see our paper for more in detail).

Languages

English (en)

Dataset Structure

An example of 'train' looks as follows.

{
  "question": "How is book?",
  "paragraph": "I am giving "Gone Girl" 3 stars, but only begrudgingly. In my mind, any book that takes me 3 months and 20 different tries to read is not worth 3 stars, especially a book written by an author I already respect. And I am not kidding, for me the first half of "Gone Girl" was a PURE TORTURE to read.Amy Dunn disappears on the day of her 5th wedding anniversary. All gradually uncovered evidence suggests that her husband, Nick, is somehow involved. Did he kill her? Was she kidnapped? What happened to Amy? One thing is clear, Nick and Amy's marriage wasn't as perfect as everybody thought.The first part of the novel is all about the investigation into Amy's disappearance, slow unraveling of Nick's dirty secrets, reminiscing about the troubled history of Nick and Amy's marriage as told in Amy's hidden diary. I strained and strained my brain trying to understand why this chunk of Gone Girl had no appeal to me whatsoever. The only answer I have is this: I am really not into reading about rich white people's problems. You want to whine to me about your dwindling trust fund? Losing your cushy New York job? Moving south and "only" renting a mansion there? Being unhappy because you have too much free time on your hands and you are used to only work as a hobby? You want to make fun of your lowly, un-posh neighbors and their casseroles? Well, I am not interested. I'd rather read about someone not necessarily likable, but at least worthy of my empathy, not waste my time on self-centered, spoiled, pathetic people who don't know what real problems are. Granted, characters in Flynn's previous novels ("Sharp Objects" and "Dark Places") are pretty pathetic and and at times revolting too, but I always felt some strange empathy towards them, not annoyance and boredom, like I felt reading about Amy and Nick's marriage voes.But then second part, with its wicked twist, changed everything. The story became much more exciting, dangerous and deranged. The main characters revealed sides to them that were quite shocking and VERY entertaining. I thought the Gillian Flynn I knew before finally unleashed her talent for writing utterly unlikable and crafty women. THEN I got invested in the story, THEN I cared.Was it too little too late though? I think it was. Something needed to be done to make "Gone Girl" a better read. Make it shorter? Cut out first part completely? I don't know. But because of my uneven experience with this novel I won't be able to recommend "Gone Girl" as readily as I did Flynn's earlier novels, even though I think this horror marriage story (it's not a true mystery, IMO) has some brilliantly written psycho goodness in it and an absolutely messed up ending that many loathed but I LOVED. I wish it didn't take so much time and patience to get to all of that...",
  "answer": "any book that takes me 3 months and 20 different tries to read is not worth 3 stars",
  "sentence": "In my mind, any book that takes me 3 months and 20 different tries to read is not worth 3 stars , especially a book written by an author I already respect.",
  "paragraph_sentence": "I am giving "Gone Girl" 3 stars, but only begrudgingly. <hl> In my mind, any book that takes me 3 months and 20 different tries to read is not worth 3 stars , especially a book written by an author I already respect. <hl> And I am not kidding, for me the first half of "Gone Girl" was a PURE TORTURE to read. Amy Dunn disappears on the day of her 5th wedding anniversary. All gradually uncovered evidence suggests that her husband, Nick, is somehow involved. Did he kill her? Was she kidnapped? What happened to Amy? One thing is clear, Nick and Amy's marriage wasn't as perfect as everybody thought. The first part of the novel is all about the investigation into Amy's disappearance, slow unraveling of Nick's dirty secrets, reminiscing about the troubled history of Nick and Amy's marriage as told in Amy's hidden diary. I strained and strained my brain trying to understand why this chunk of Gone Girl had no appeal to me whatsoever. The only answer I have is this: I am really not into reading about rich white people's problems. You want to whine to me about your dwindling trust fund? Losing your cushy New York job? Moving south and "only" renting a mansion there? Being unhappy because you have too much free time on your hands and you are used to only work as a hobby? You want to make fun of your lowly, un-posh neighbors and their casseroles? Well, I am not interested. I'd rather read about someone not necessarily likable, but at least worthy of my empathy, not waste my time on self-centered, spoiled, pathetic people who don't know what real problems are. Granted, characters in Flynn's previous novels ("Sharp Objects" and "Dark Places") are pretty pathetic and and at times revolting too, but I always felt some strange empathy towards them, not annoyance and boredom, like I felt reading about Amy and Nick's marriage voes. But then second part, with its wicked twist, changed everything. The story became much more exciting, dangerous and deranged. The main characters revealed sides to them that were quite shocking and VERY entertaining. I thought the Gillian Flynn I knew before finally unleashed her talent for writing utterly unlikable and crafty women. THEN I got invested in the story, THEN I cared. Was it too little too late though? I think it was. Something needed to be done to make "Gone Girl" a better read. Make it shorter? Cut out first part completely? I don't know. But because of my uneven experience with this novel I won't be able to recommend "Gone Girl" as readily as I did Flynn's earlier novels, even though I think this horror marriage story (it's not a true mystery, IMO) has some brilliantly written psycho goodness in it and an absolutely messed up ending that many loathed but I LOVED. I wish it didn't take so much time and patience to get to all of that...",
  "paragraph_answer": "I am giving "Gone Girl" 3 stars, but only begrudgingly. In my mind, <hl> any book that takes me 3 months and 20 different tries to read is not worth 3 stars <hl>, especially a book written by an author I already respect. And I am not kidding, for me the first half of "Gone Girl" was a PURE TORTURE to read.Amy Dunn disappears on the day of her 5th wedding anniversary. All gradually uncovered evidence suggests that her husband, Nick, is somehow involved. Did he kill her? Was she kidnapped? What happened to Amy? One thing is clear, Nick and Amy's marriage wasn't as perfect as everybody thought.The first part of the novel is all about the investigation into Amy's disappearance, slow unraveling of Nick's dirty secrets, reminiscing about the troubled history of Nick and Amy's marriage as told in Amy's hidden diary. I strained and strained my brain trying to understand why this chunk of Gone Girl had no appeal to me whatsoever. The only answer I have is this: I am really not into reading about rich white people's problems. You want to whine to me about your dwindling trust fund? Losing your cushy New York job? Moving south and "only" renting a mansion there? Being unhappy because you have too much free time on your hands and you are used to only work as a hobby? You want to make fun of your lowly, un-posh neighbors and their casseroles? Well, I am not interested. I'd rather read about someone not necessarily likable, but at least worthy of my empathy, not waste my time on self-centered, spoiled, pathetic people who don't know what real problems are. Granted, characters in Flynn's previous novels ("Sharp Objects" and "Dark Places") are pretty pathetic and and at times revolting too, but I always felt some strange empathy towards them, not annoyance and boredom, like I felt reading about Amy and Nick's marriage voes.But then second part, with its wicked twist, changed everything. The story became much more exciting, dangerous and deranged. The main characters revealed sides to them that were quite shocking and VERY entertaining. I thought the Gillian Flynn I knew before finally unleashed her talent for writing utterly unlikable and crafty women. THEN I got invested in the story, THEN I cared.Was it too little too late though? I think it was. Something needed to be done to make "Gone Girl" a better read. Make it shorter? Cut out first part completely? I don't know. But because of my uneven experience with this novel I won't be able to recommend "Gone Girl" as readily as I did Flynn's earlier novels, even though I think this horror marriage story (it's not a true mystery, IMO) has some brilliantly written psycho goodness in it and an absolutely messed up ending that many loathed but I LOVED. I wish it didn't take so much time and patience to get to all of that...",
  "sentence_answer": "In my mind, <hl> any book that takes me 3 months and 20 different tries to read is not worth 3 stars <hl> , especially a book written by an author I already respect.",
  "paragraph_id": "1b7cc3db9ec681edd253a41a2785b5a9",
  "question_subj_level": 1,
  "answer_subj_level": 1,
  "domain": "books"
}

The data fields are the same among all splits.

  • question: a string feature.
  • paragraph: a string feature.
  • answer: a string feature.
  • sentence: a string feature.
  • paragraph_answer: a string feature, which is same as the paragraph but the answer is highlighted by a special token <hl>.
  • paragraph_sentence: a string feature, which is same as the paragraph but a sentence containing the answer is highlighted by a special token <hl>.
  • sentence_answer: a string feature, which is same as the sentence but the answer is highlighted by a special token <hl>.

Each of paragraph_answer, paragraph_sentence, and sentence_answer feature is assumed to be used to train a question generation model, but with different information. The paragraph_answer and sentence_answer features are for answer-aware question generation and paragraph_sentence feature is for sentence-aware question generation.

Data Splits

name train validation test
default (all) 4437 659 1489
books 636 91 190
electronics 696 98 237
movies 723 100 153
grocery 686 100 378
restaurants 822 128 135
tripadvisor 874 142 396

Citation Information

@inproceedings{ushio-etal-2022-generative,
    title = "{G}enerative {L}anguage {M}odels for {P}aragraph-{L}evel {Q}uestion {G}eneration",
    author = "Ushio, Asahi  and
        Alva-Manchego, Fernando  and
        Camacho-Collados, Jose",
    booktitle = "Proceedings of the 2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing",
    month = dec,
    year = "2022",
    address = "Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.",
    publisher = "Association for Computational Linguistics",
}
Downloads last month
296
Edit dataset card
Evaluate models HF Leaderboard

Models trained or fine-tuned on lmqg/qg_subjqa