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Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Handle With Some Caution...

... like an aggressive but delicious hot dog, this book takes some muscling around to subdue and digest in its entirety. It is a great find for scholarly readers looking for fistfuls of deep material (and size 10 font) per page! Shermer has definitely done his homework ...
... like an aggressive but delicious hot dog, this book takes some muscling around to subdue and digest in its entirety. It is a great find for scholarly readers looking for fistfuls of deep material (and size 10 font) per page! Shermer has definitely done his homework here; there are plenty of citations to good sources for his work, and he has the personal experience of a rennaissance man. He is not afraid to admit that he has dabbled in a belief of "weird things" himself before becoming a skeptic.
One caution I would render is that it is not a casual or light read. And even if you are interested in the material, it is so dense that reading goes slowly. It is a good book to read in as much as it is a good area of science and human nature to be acquainted with and knowledgeable about. It does a great job analyzing rhetorical argument strategies and fallacies. However, it could be made easier for a high school senior (like me) to absorb by rewriting it with coherent, flowing chapters and a theme. It sounds like it should be a collection of schloarly theses or essays. Of course, like Freakonomics, it IS non-fiction and the topic is not exactly captivating, so all Mr. Shermer can really be blamed for is his somewhat dry narrative voice.
A good challenge and a good read, all in all!

posted by Alex_APLit on May 4, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Why People Believe Weird Things

Michael Shermer's book, Why People Believe Weird Things, delves into an interesting topic, which debunks skeptics, and leaves you wondering who or what to believe. Shermer takes examples from his life and pop culture ranging from everything from ghosts and skeptics to t...
Michael Shermer's book, Why People Believe Weird Things, delves into an interesting topic, which debunks skeptics, and leaves you wondering who or what to believe. Shermer takes examples from his life and pop culture ranging from everything from ghosts and skeptics to the holocaust. I found the topic interesting, but at times it seemed like Shermer was just filling space when talking about the scientific method. The book got good when Shermer began proving all the myths wrong, but overall it didn't seem to have enough of a cohesive thread. I had high expectations and unfortunately they weren't completely fulfilled. I expected something interesting and controversial, which this book was at times, but there was too much on what constitutes a skeptic and unnecessary information that was erroneous. In fact I would not recommend anyone to read this book unless they are interested in skepticism AND the scientific method. Someone needed to go through the book and cut out the fat so we could get to the good stuff. I think about this book like I think about a nice prime rib. A lot of times there's fat on the meat and the outside is too well cooked. I have to cut away a lot of stuff that no one wants in order to get to the good juicy center. In this books case it's about 100 pages of boring nothing. Plus how can you read an entire book which disproves myths and not think that the book itself could be wrong.

posted by Jacquisha on May 5, 2009

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