1 of 2
1
Book criticism
Posted: 20 October 2010 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29

Does anybody know of a website that would list praises and criticisms of books? Say, if you like Dawkins, and he wrote a praise for “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” there is a good chance you would like that book. That is at least what I have been noticing when I get a book that was recommended by a person who’s ideas or books I enjoy.

Have you ever come across anything like that?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 October 2010 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  637
Joined  2010-07-01

Amazon is about as close as you can get to that. They’ll have ratings for books and recommend books based on the ones you’ve been looking at. Personally, I find the ratings to be a bit 5 star heavy.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 October 2010 11:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3063
Joined  2010-04-26

Personally, I find the ratings to be a bit 5 star heavy.

And mostly written by semi-literate insane people.

[ Edited: 20 October 2010 12:02 PM by Dead Monky ]
 Signature 

“In the end nature is horrific and teaches us nothing.” -Mutual of Omicron

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 October 2010 12:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2425
Joined  2007-07-05
ExMachina - 20 October 2010 11:56 AM

Personally, I find the ratings to be a bit 5 star heavy.

The problem is the star rating is not multi-dimensional enough.  We need to specify multiple characteristics and rate them separately.  Like the entertainment value and scientific validity and intellectual depth of a science fiction book should be rated separately.

You might try this:

http://www.gnooks.com/

It is amusing but not sufficiently informative.  There is significant variation in books by the same author.

psik

 Signature 

Fiziks is Fundamental

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 October 2010 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Jr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  96
Joined  2010-09-10

Yeah… since I only recently started getting interested in skeptical topics, I find it hard to know what to look for, Dr. Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Richard Feynamn are good, but there are several books that look and sound interesting… but amount to bupkiss.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 October 2010 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7684
Joined  2008-04-11

The other problem with Amazon reviews is that people with an agenda tend to swamp the reviews to reflect their point of view without reading the book.  The subjects most likely to have this problem are skeptical subjects and poorly written creationist books.

 Signature 

Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 October 2010 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3063
Joined  2010-04-26

You forgot about books by L. Ron Hubbard.

 Signature 

“In the end nature is horrific and teaches us nothing.” -Mutual of Omicron

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 October 2010 01:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29

I have personally never found the people’s reviews on Amazon as a reliable indicator to help me select books. Too many people, too many opinions. It is very helpful, however, to listen to opinions of people I know. And sometimes even in the opposite direction.

Tell me what books you like, Malcolm Gladwell, to make sure I don’t read them.  cheese

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 October 2010 01:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15433
Joined  2006-02-14

Well, I don’t find individual book reviews on Amazon to be useful, but in aggregate they can be. If you have a large number of reviews and the book gains nearly five stars (isn’t five the maximum? I forget) then it’s probably at least a very fine, readable book to its intended audience. Also, although individual book reviews aren’t useful, you can get a good idea by reading through a bunch of them, or skimming them. Some reviews are also clearly better thought out and expressed, and often do include useful information about the book, whether or not the reviewer liked it. E.g., if I’m looking for something fast paced and I’m seeing a lot of people say it’s a slog to read, that’s good data for me.

Of course, looking for a perfect reviewer is a fool’s game. Everyone’s different. But on average we can get some decent clues here and there.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 October 2010 01:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7684
Joined  2008-04-11

I usually read the one and two star reviews to read the objections. I can usually figure out who actually read the book and find the legitimate criticisms there….then I go to the 4 and 5 star reviews to see what they have to say, and figure out who actually read the book..and who is jumping on the bandwagon. Then I make a decision as to whether to buy or not.

 Signature 

Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 October 2010 06:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2425
Joined  2007-07-05
dougsmith - 20 October 2010 01:51 PM

Well, I don’t find individual book reviews on Amazon to be useful, but in aggregate they can be. If you have a large number of reviews and the book gains nearly five stars (isn’t five the maximum? I forget) then it’s probably at least a very fine, readable book to its intended audience.

This book has a peculiar rating:

http://www.amazon.com/Quarter-Share-Nathan-Lowell/dp/0982514549/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287668065&sr=1-1

49 5-stars and 4 4-stars

I checked it out because of the peculiar rating and only listened because it was free as an audio book.  If I had to read the first two I would never finish them.  I don’t really regard them as science fiction but less interesting than Star Wars.

One of the 1-star ratings was more accurate. 

This was anything but Sci Fi. Just because it is set in space doesn’t make it science fiction.

We need something better than this 5-star system.  And all of these computers has changed book production since the 60s.  Novels were commonly 150 pages back then.  Now 300 pages is short.  Dune was huge with 400 pages in 1966.

psik

 Signature 

Fiziks is Fundamental

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 October 2010 08:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
psikeyhackr - 21 October 2010 06:47 AM

We need something better than this 5-star system.

Well, in reality Amazon ratings are much more than just a “five-star system.” There is a psychologist hidden in each one of us, and we probably first try to identify with the reviewer(s) before anything else. Say, if I suspect that a number of reviewers who like the book have higher intelligence than those who dislike it, I might not care what the overall rating is. However, that is probably only possible when there are no more than a couple of dozen of reviews.

If we all had our IQ number printed on our forehead (and on our Amazon account), along with some measurement of our “Big Five” personality traits, life would be much simpler.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 October 2010 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1423
Joined  2010-04-22
asanta - 20 October 2010 01:37 PM

The other problem with Amazon reviews is that people with an agenda tend to swamp the reviews to reflect their point of view without reading the book.  The subjects most likely to have this problem are skeptical subjects and poorly written creationist books.

Not just the negative trend.  Besides the controversial stuff, only people who like a given work tend to rate it - so you also get mediocre stuff that has disproportionately high ratings.

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 October 2010 03:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7684
Joined  2008-04-11
George - 21 October 2010 08:32 AM

If we all had our IQ number printed on our forehead (and on our Amazon account), along with some measurement of our “Big Five” personality traits, life would be much simpler.

Unfortunately, that would not be nearly enough. I know a lot of people who have a high IQ, but the common sense of a lead balloon. Not only are there plenty of ‘high IQ’ people who firmly believe in nonsense, they use their intelligence to defend the belief.

 Signature 

Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 October 2010 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5551
Joined  2010-06-16

And how many of our members here are you referring to, Asanta???  LOL

Occam

 Signature 

Succinctness, clarity’s core.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 October 2010 03:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7684
Joined  2008-04-11
Dead Monky - 20 October 2010 01:44 PM

You forgot about books by L. Ron Hubbard.

OH, yes! Multiply my response by 10. Scientologists are looney!

 Signature 

Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1