Controversial book  

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This is a list of controversially debated non-fiction books aimed at the general reader which discuss controversial issues, or have been (or were at the time of writing) controversially discussed for other reasons. For controversial fictional books, see list of banned books.

This list is alphabetical by topic, and books should be ordered by publication date within topics

Criteria for inclusion:

  • This list is intended to be selective, not exhaustive.
  • The standard for books written in the last 40 years is necessarily weaker than that for older books, as there is no way of knowing whether these books will be as highly regarded (or reviled) in the decades to come. Their topical nature makes them important, and so they should be included here.
  • verifiable references for the existence and size of the controversy must be provided




Artificial intelligence and the nature of consciousness


Business and bureaucracy


Drug culture



Hirsch proposed that Romanticized, anti-knowledge theories of education prevalent in America are not only the cause of America's lackluster educational performance, but were also a cause of widening inequalities in class and race. Hirsch portrays the focus of American educational theory as one which attempts to give students intellectual tools such as "critical thinking skills", but which denigrate teaching any actual content, labeling it "mere rote learning". Hirsch states that it is this attitude which has failed to develop knowledgeable students. The book was answered by those supporting the status quo, including The Schools Our Children Deserve by Alfie Kohn and The Schools We Deserve by Diane Ravitch.


Malthus promoted a view of the lower classes as being an economic burden rather than a resource, and predicted that their population growth could lead to catastrophic food shortages. This adversely affected British social legislation at the time, but also prompted the first census, inspired movements promoting contraception, and contributed to both Darwin and Wallace's formulation of a theory of natural selection.
This book popularized environmentalism by exposing to the public the dangers of chemical pesticides, and accusing the chemical industry of unethical behavior. This led to a subsequent ban of the pesticide DDT, however some claim that this ban is responsible for a worldwide resurgence in malaria and millions of human deaths.


Morgan's Aquatic ape hypothesis challenges the theory that early humans evolved on the savannah, and argues that several human characteristics which are uncommon to mammals can be better explained by a semi-aquatic environment. The book is popular among feminists because it emphasizes the role of reproductive traits in human evolution.

Feminist theory





Philosophy of science

Popper refuted the classical observationalist-inductivist account of science, and put forth falsifiability as a criterion of demarcation for proper scientific theories.

Kuhn reformulated the conception of scientific progress, resisting the formalization of a "scientific method", arguing instead that scientific theories are accepted and rejected based on their explanatory power within their historical context. He coined the term "paradigm shift" to describe this process. Postmodernists interpret the book as undermining the scientific establishment, but Kuhn himself was a firm believer in scientific progress.

Feyerabend advocated theoretical anarchism, arguing that many instances of scientific progress have violated established criterion for "good science". Falsificationism and consistency he claims, as well as any methodology, will limit science, and thus "anything goes" is the best ideology.

Political theory

Contemporary politics


Race and intelligence



Alphabetical list

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See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Controversial book" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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