The author suggests that, like the black holes of outer space, from which nothing, not even light, can escape, our contemporary cultural landscape contains numerous intellectual black-holes—belief systems constructed in such a way that unwary passers-by can similarly find themselves drawn in. While such self-sealing bubbles of belief will most easily trap the gullible or poorly educated, even the most intelligent and educated of us are potentially vulnerable. Some of the world’s greatest thinkers have fallen in, never to escape.
This witty, insightful critique will help immunize readers against the wiles of cultists, religious and political zealots, conspiracy theorists, promoters of flaky alternative medicines, and others by clearly setting out the tricks of the trade by which such insidious belief systems are created and maintained.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
1 Playing the Mystery Card 33
2 "But It Fits!" and The Blunderbuss 65
3 Going Nuclear 97
4 Moving the Semantic Goalposts 113
5 "I Just Know!" 135
6 Pseudoprofundity 159
7 Piling Up the Anecdotes 171
8 Pressing Your Buttons 195
The Tapescrew Letters 225
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A thoughtful, stimulating book deserving of a universal audience. Should be compulsory reading in elementary schools. Should replace the Bible, etc. as the most influential book in the lives of billions. The book a god would write (or inspire) if one existed.
A very lively introduction to the mistakes we make in our beliefs and thoughts. The author identifies eight intellectual "black holes" that a person can fall into when they have a cherished belief they are trying to defend, and demonstrates how to avoid getting sucked into those black holes. A couple of weak spots were in his definition of science (he seems to be one of those who defines science as what scientists do, requiring all sorts of special skills and equipment) and in his concept of evidence, which seemed very strange indeed, since he ruled out as evidence things that were, in fact, very much evidence. Other than that, a very strong defense of critical thinking. This should be read widely by the very people who are the least likely to read it.