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Hoaxes, Myths, and Manias: Why We Need Critical Thinking

Overview

Thinking is an innate ability that most people take for granted. But like writing well or speaking effectively before the public, thinking well is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice. In this unique introduction to critical thinking, Robert Bartholomew and Benjamin Radford first lay out the principles of critical thinking and then invite readers to put these principles to the test by examining a series of unusual and challenging case studies. Assembling a wide range of bizarre but actual ...

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Hoaxes, Myths, and Manias: Why We Need Critical Thinking

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Overview

Thinking is an innate ability that most people take for granted. But like writing well or speaking effectively before the public, thinking well is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice. In this unique introduction to critical thinking, Robert Bartholomew and Benjamin Radford first lay out the principles of critical thinking and then invite readers to put these principles to the test by examining a series of unusual and challenging case studies. Assembling a wide range of bizarre but actual incidents from many cultures and various time periods, they demonstrate how the tools of critical thinking can help to unravel alleged paranormal events and seemingly mysterious behavior.
What factors led to the "Martian panic" of 1938? Why did many people conclude that an alien spaceship crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947? How do we explain the panic expressed by otherwise normal Southeast Asian men who came to believe that a contagious disease was causing their genitals to shrink, or the frenzied dance manias that captivated thousands of Europeans during the Middle Ages? Bartholomew and Radford show that reality is very much a social construction, that cultural assumptions play a large part in our judgments about what is normal and what is deviant, and that the use of critical reasoning is our best means of ensuring an objective perspective.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
This book will fit into libraries whose patrons can't get enough of the titles on urban legends. Bartholomew and Radford begin with an academic essay on critical thinking similar to what might be found in a textbook. This may put a damper on the wish to be titillated by unsolved mysteries. The authors cast their critical eye on events (or supposed events) that have worked their way into folklore, taking on what everyone believes to be true because the events have long been reported with a certain interpretation. They examine the Martian panic of 1938, the Roswell flying saucer crash of 1947, the press creation of an imaginary criminal, the mad gasser of Mattoon, and England's great airship hoax. Then they devote chapters to discussions of what is normal and how false beliefs come into being. They take a worldwide, historical look at mass delusions that have taken hold of people in times past and explore how it is that this happens; what kinds of needs the delusions fill. Sometimes they posit explanations that make use of today's knowledge to explain mysteries of the past. Review questions and source notes after each chapter may turn off the general reader but make the book useful in the classroom. Good for researching the many term papers that revolve around this kind of subject. KLIATT Codes: SA;Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Prometheus, 229p. bibliog. index., Boardman
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591020486
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 6/28/2003
  • Pages: 218
  • Sales rank: 1,432,115
  • Product dimensions: 5.39 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert E. Bartholomew, Ph.D. (Whitehall, NY), is an independent scholar, freelance writer, and the author (with George S. Howard) of UFOs and Alien Contact, among other books and articles.
Benjamin Radford (Amherst, NY) is the managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine and the author of numerous articles on critical thinking, hysterias, and urban legends.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2003

    Psychology Today endorsement

    '...you are certain to be amused and amazed in equal parts...an entertaining and enlightening book.' --Professor Robert J. Sternberg, President of the American Psychological Association, writing in Psychology Today, March/April 2003, pages 79-80.

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