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Why People Believe Weird Things; Pseudoscience, Supersition, and Other Confusions of Our Time
     

Why People Believe Weird Things; Pseudoscience, Supersition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

3.5 2
by Michael Shermer, Stephen Jay Gould (Foreword by)
 
With his no-holds-barred assault on popular myths and prejudices, Shermer debunks psychobabble and extraordinary, nonsensical claims. 20 illustrations.

Overview

With his no-holds-barred assault on popular myths and prejudices, Shermer debunks psychobabble and extraordinary, nonsensical claims. 20 illustrations.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
YADedicated to Carl Sagan, with a foreword by Stephen Jay Gould, this book by the publisher of Skeptic magazine and the Director of the Skeptics Lecture Series at California Institute of Technology, has the pedigree to be accepted as a work of scholarly value. Fortunately, it is also readable, interesting, and well indexed and provides an extensive bibliography. The author discusses such topics of current interest as alien abduction, near-death experiences, psychics, recovered memories, and denial of the Holocaust. Never patronizing to his opponents, Shermer explains why people may truly believe that they were held by aliens (he had a similar experience himself) or have recovered a memory of childhood satanic-ritual abuse. He clearly explains, often with pictures, tables, or graphs, the fallacy of such beliefs in terms of scientific reasoning. While teens may find the first section of the book about "Science and Skepticism" a bit too philosophical and ponderous, the rest of it will surely captivate them. Read cover to cover or by section, or used as a reference tool, this book is highly recommended for young adults.Carol DeAngelo, Garcia Consulting Inc., EPA Headquarters, Washington, DC
Booknews
In league with Carl Sagan, who touted the scientific method as baloney detector, and with foreword author Stephen Jay Gould (on "The Positive Power of Skepticism"), the Skeptics Society director draws on Skeptic magazine essays to deconstruct the pseudoscience of creationism, recovered memories, and UFOs as well as the pseudohistory spewed by Holocaust deniers. Cogita tute, think for yourself, despite a mind evolved to discern causal patterns lurking everywhere. Cloth edition reviewed July 1997. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Richard Bernstein
"A useful antidote to the nonesense that surrounds us." -- New York Times
Todd Gitlin
"The perfect handbook to thrust on anyone you know who has been lured into the conforting paranoias that circulate amid the premillennial jitters." -- Los Angeles Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780716733874
Publisher:
Freeman, W. H. & Company
Publication date:
09/01/1998
Edition description:
REV
Pages:
306
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.17(h) x 0.90(d)

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Why People Believe Weird Things; Pseudoscience, Supersition, and Other Confusions of Our Time 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
NPmairead1 More than 1 year ago
I found it very appropriate that Shermer had Gould write the foreward. I thought that his writing style was similar to that of Shermer's, and I believe that he did a good job setting the scene for the book. (I was later personally drawn in with the Prologue being about the United States fasination with Oprah Winfrey. Although I am a fan, it's interesting how persuasive she is towards America, and the world.) One thing that I particulsrly liked about Shermer was his qoute that part one was based off of, when Shermer stated "I think Therefore I am." I like that qoute and the power that it holds. It speaks of the power of knowledge and how important it is to think for yourself, and not just "go with the flow" of others opinions and ideas. Obviously it is good to collaborate, and just beacuse you may agree with someone does not mean that you are unoriginal. In fact it shows that you or the other party has the ability to open others minds to a similar way of thinking and comprehension. In part four, there is a section that speaks of "free speech." This reminded me of an essay that was once read in class about the "controversy" of free speech. Do we provide the right of free speech because we actually care about what everyone else has to say, or do we just want the opportunity to speak when we see fit? Causing us to only "tolerate" what everyone else speaks of. I believe that Shermer's novel on skepticism is interesting, controversial, but most importantly and productivily allows the reader to think-and hopefully think for him/herself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The title caught my eye at first, but I was hooked when I browsed the chapter on the 25 fallacious and supposedly-logical arguments people use to provide a basis for belief. It has an excellent synopsis of the Creationism/Evolution debate and a more-or-less objective analysis of Objectivism. I'd highly recommend this book for people who've got the will to think for themselves. I have only two suggestions to improve the book. First, Mr. Shermer establishes his credibility as an authority on skepticism by using a tactic normally employed by the religious right in their publications. Essentially, he says, 'I used to believe in all sorts of crazy stuff. Now I don't. Here's why.' A number of Christian fundamentalist publications use the same approach when trying to convince us that we should follow Jesus. It sounds contrived in both cases. And secondly, the chapter on Holocaust deniers came across to me as a rogues' gallery of revisionists. Perhaps this chapter should be called 'Which People Believe Weird Things?'