The short answer to the question in the title is: There is no essential reading list for non-believers. While many might argue the books by Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris are indispensable, atheists reading about atheism is merely an exercise in availability cascade (in the same way Christians reading about Christianity is an exercise in availability cascade). The shorter answer to the question, however, is: Everything!!!
Personally, I’ve been blessed with lifetime subscriptions to practically every academic journal available through digital means, but not everyone is so lucky. Therefore, I’m providing my readers with a short multidisciplinary list of peer-reviewed journal articles that serve two purposes: 1) To expand their knowledge base, and 2) to give them something to talk about with their friends over drinks. This brief bibliography is not the product of my access to scholarly journals. This list is actually the product of using an invaluable reference tool available to everyone with Internet access: Google Scholar. Several of the articles are freely available. Just click the PDF!
First, for those of you left scratching your heads over “availability cascade,” I should define it. Availability cascade, or the illusory truth effect, is a cognitive bias fallacy wherein the believer assumes a statement or belief to be true because s/he has been repeatedly exposed to it. Google Scholar has a great article about an experiment using availability cascade:
- Dissociation of Processes in Belief: Source Recollection, Statement Familiarity, and the Illusion of Truth
The remainder of this post will be in titled bulleted list form.
More on availability cascade
- fMRI Evidence for the Role of Recollectionin Suppressing Misattribution Errors: The Illusory Truth Effect
- Misattribution Errors in Alzheimer’s Disease: The Illusory Truth Effect
- Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation
- Inelastic Scattering Time for Conductance Fluctuations
- Information theory and statistical mechanics
- Information theory and statistical mechanics, II
Self-immolation (my specialty)
- Self-immolation a common suicidal behaviour in eastern Sri Lanka
- Buddhist self-immolation in medieval China
- Self-perception: An alternative interpretation of cognitive dissonance phenomena
- On the motivational nature of cognitive dissonance: Dissonance as psychological discomfort
- The value of believing in free will encouraging a belief in determinism increases cheating
- The free will theorem
- Free action and free will
- Unconscious cerebral initiative and the role of conscious will in voluntary action (perhaps the most important study on free will to date)
- Why Iran should get the bomb: Nuclear balancing would mean stability
- The Origins of War in Neorealist Theory
- Anarchy is what States Make of it: The Social Construction of Power Politics
This list is not even the tip of the available iceberg. Although without subscriptions you won’t get the latest, most up-to-date articles in science, Google Scholar is a wonderful tool for the inquisitively minded. I urge all non-believers (and believers too) to abstain from reading too much about atheism (perhaps this blog included) and focus your attention on the fruits of hundreds of years of scientific discovery. Besides, I’m sure your believing friends and family are tired of hearing about what you don’t believe. Why not discuss science instead of religion sometimes? Head over to Google Scholar (or send me hate mail if you can’t find something. I’ll try to find it and send it to you) and have a blast!!