The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: How to Know What's Really Real in a World Increasingly Full of Fake


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An all-encompassing guide to skeptical thinking from podcast host and academic neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine Steven Novella and his SGU co-hosts, which Richard Wiseman calls "the perfect primer for anyone who wants to separate fact from fiction."

It is intimidating to realize that we live in a world overflowing with misinformation, bias, myths, deception, and flawed knowledge. There really are no ultimate authority figures-no one has the secret, and there is no place to look up the definitive answers to our questions (not even Google).
Luckily, The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe is your map through this maze of modern life. Here Dr. Steven Novella-along with Bob Novella, Cara Santa Maria, Jay Novella, and Evan Bernstein-will explain the tenets of skeptical thinking and debunk some of the biggest scientific myths, fallacies, and conspiracy theories-from anti-vaccines to homeopathy, UFO sightings to N- rays. You'll learn the difference between science and pseudoscience, essential critical thinking skills, ways to discuss conspiracy theories with that crazy co- worker of yours, and how to combat sloppy reasoning, bad arguments, and superstitious thinking.

So are you ready to join them on an epic scientific quest, one that has taken us from huddling in dark caves to setting foot on the moon? (Yes, we really did that.) DON'T PANIC! With The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, we can do this together.

"Thorough, informative, and enlightening, The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe inoculates you against the frailties and shortcomings of human cognition. If this book does not become required reading for us all, we may well see modern civilization unravel before our eyes." — Neil deGrasse Tyson
"In this age of real and fake information, your ability to reason, to think in scientifically skeptical fashion, is the most important skill you can have. Read The Skeptics' Guide Universe; get better at reasoning. And if this claim about the importance of reason is wrong, The Skeptics' Guide will help you figure that out, too." — Bill Nye

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781538760536
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 10/02/2018
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 296,801
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Dr. Steven Novella, host and producer of the SGU, is an internationally recognized science educator. He brings his academic credentials and long history as a dynamic speaker and educator to the show. Dr. Novella is an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine, where he is known for his dedication to excellence in teaching. When not podcasting, he also authors the popular and award-winning NeuroLogica blog, is senior editor of Science-Based Medicine, and makes regular appearances on radio, podcasts, and tv promoting science. He is also the author of two courses for The Great Courses on medical myths and critical thinking.

He is joined by his co-writers, Bob Novella, Cara Santa Maria, Jay Novella, and Evan Bernstein, each of whom bring their own personality and knowledge to the show and this book. Together they create a dynamic and engaging group of friends who like discussing cutting-edge science, philosophy, and controversial topics.

Table of Contents

Introduction xiii

Section I Core Concepts Every Skeptic Should Know

1 Scientific Skepticism 3

Neuropsychological Humility and Mechanisms of Deception

2 Memory Fallibility and False Memory Syndrome 9

3 Fallibility of Perception 19

4 Pareidolia 28

5 Hyperactive Agency Detection 33

6 Hypnagogia 36

7 Ideomotor Effect 40


8 Dunning-Kruger Effect 45

9 Motivated Reasoning 50

10 Arguments and Logical Fallacies 57

11 Cognitive Biases and Heuristics 86

12 Confirmation Bias 94

13 Appeal to Antiquity 106

14 Appeal to Nature 109

15 Fundamental Attribution Error 114

16 Anomaly Hunting 118

17 Data Mining 129

18 Coincidence 134

Science and Pseudoscience

19 Methodological Naturalism and Its Critics 144

20 Postmodernism 152

21 Occam's Razor 157

22 Pseudoscience and the Demarcation Problem 161

23 Denialism 181

24 P-Hacking and Other Research Foibles 193

25 Conspiracy Theories 204

26 Witch Hunts 219

27 Placebo Effects 225

28 Anecdote 231

Iconic Cautionary Tales From History

29 The "Clever Hans" Effect 238

30 The Hawthorne Effect 242

31 Cold Reading 248

32 Free Energy 257

33 Quantum Woo 263

34 Homunculus Theory 270

35 Intelligent Design 275

36 Vitalism and Dualism 284

37 N-Rays 298

38 Positive Thinking 305

39 Pyramid Scheme 308

Section 2 Adventures in Skepticism

40 Motivated Reasoning About Genetically Modified Organisms 317

41 Dennis Lee and Free Energy 336

42 Holly-woo 342

43 The Singularity 348

44 The Warrens and Ghost Hunting 357

45 Loose Thinking About Loose Change 367

Section 3 Skepticism and the Media

46 Fake News 375

47 False Balance 384

48 Science Journalism 387

49 Enter the Matrix 393

50 Microbiomania 398

51 Reporting Epigenetics 402

Section 4 Death by Pseudoscience

52 Death by Naturopathy 409

53 Exorcism: Medieval Beliefs Yield Medieval Results 415

54 Death by Denial 419

55 Suffer the Children 425

Section 5 Changing Yourself and the World

56 Being Skeptical 431

Epilogue 445

Bonus Chapter. Global Warming 447

Acknowledgments 459

References 461

Index 481

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