Free Thought Discussion

The Group meets almost every Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., at various locations in, around or near Palo Alto, Mountain View and Sunnyvale. For more information contact Please check the Humanist Community Meetup Group at for furthur information.

Strictly speaking, this is not a “book group,” since we devote one Wednesday of each month to discussion of current news events, and, on the other evenings, discussions tend to be wide-ranging, centered about, but not exclusively about, the chosen book.  The word “group” is often used but does not imply that you have to join formally in any sense. Visitors are welcome. Just show up—the more the merrier!

The Current book we are reading is:The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe: How to Know What’s Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake”, by Steven Novella, 2018, 445 pages.

Book Description

An all-encompassing guide to skeptical thinking from podcast host and academic neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine Steven Novella and his SGU co-hosts, which Richard Wiseman calls “the perfect primer for anyone who wants to separate fact from fiction.”

It is intimidating to realize that we live in a world overflowing with misinformation, bias, myths, deception, and flawed knowledge. There really are no ultimate authority figures-no one has the secret, and there is no place to look up the definitive answers to our questions (not even Google)……………  For more info: See this Amazon Link

About the Author

Steven Paul Novella (born July 29, 1964) is an American clinical neurologist and assistant professor at Yale University School of Medicine.[1] Novella is best known for his involvement in the skeptical movement.

He has a podcast “The Skeptics Guide to the Universe. When asked about the purpose of the podcast Novella said,

We deal primarily with controversial topics or topics on the fringe of science, although sometimes we do just straight up really interesting science news stories, whatever captures our interest. But we deal with the paranormal or conspiracy theories, or health fraud, consumer protection type of issues. And our goal is to give our listeners the tools to look at science in the news, science in society and have some way of navigating through all of the claims and all of the hype and basically have the tools to figure things out for themselves more than anything else.

See Wikipedia for more info

From Amazon Reviewers:

“This is without a doubt one of the most important books anyone can read right now, regardless of how knowledgeable of Scientific Skepticism they are. A spiritual successor to Carl Sagan’s “The Demon Haunted World”, this book does an astounding job of showcasing and justifying a rational, methodical worldview.

If I could snap my fingers and have everyone in the world read a single book, it would be this one.”

Next Readings

Mar 27 – We will read the Introduction (Pages Xi to XVIII) and first chapter (Scientific Skepticism) About 26 Pages by my reckoning. This is a 445 page book, so we may need to increase the readings per week.

Apr 3 – 7:30 PM – Freethought Discussion at Scott’s Wakefield’s Home (Send EMail to for address) Bring you ideas to talks about.

Apr 10 – 6:30 PM – Mitchell Park Library, Midtown Room, We will read Chapters 2 (“Memory Fallibility and False Memories”) through 11 (“Cognitive Biases and Heuristics”). Pages 9 through 94, about 85 Pages over two weeks.

Apr 17 – 7:30 PM – Book Discussion at Scott’s Wakefield’s Home. (Send EMail to for address) Apr 17 – 7:30 PM – We will read Chapters 12 (“Confirmation Bias”) through 18 (“Coincidence”). Pages 94 through 143, about About 49 pages over one week. About an average of 7 pages per day. This is a 445 page book, so we are pacing about 40 pages per week. Doing a few more this week.

Apr 24 – 6:45 PM – We will read Chapters 19 (“Methodological Naturalism”) through 23 (“Denialism”). Pages 144 through 192, about About 49 Pages over one week. About an average of 7 pages per day. This is a 445 page book, so we are pacing about 40-50 pages per week.

May 1 – Freethought Discussion – Bring your ideas to discuss

May 8 – 7:30 PM – We will read Chapters 24 (“P-Hacking and  …”) through 34 (“Homonculus Theory”). Pages 193 through 275, about 82 Pages over two weeks. About an average of 6 pages per day. This is a 445 page book, so we are pacing about 40-50 pages per week.

May 22– 6:30 PM – We will read Chapters 40 (“Motivated Reasoning”) through 44 (“The Warrens and Ghost Hunting”). Pages 311 through 366, about 55 Pages over one week. About an average of 6 pages per day. This is a 445 page book, so we are pacing about 40-50 pages per week.

Some previously read books

Our customs on book nominations & voting