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Why People Believe Weird Things

Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

By Steven Jay Gould,Michael Shermer,Michael D'Antonio

(26)

| Paperback | 9780805070897

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Book Description

In this age of supposed scientific enlightenment, many people still believe in mind reading, past-life regression theory, New Age hokum, and alien abduction. A no-holds-barred assault on popular superstitions and prejudices, with more than 80,000 cop Continue

In this age of supposed scientific enlightenment, many people still believe in mind reading, past-life regression theory, New Age hokum, and alien abduction. A no-holds-barred assault on popular superstitions and prejudices, with more than 80,000 copies in print, Why People Believe Weird Things debunks these nonsensical claims and explores the very human reasons people find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing. In an entirely new chapter, Why Smart People Believe in Weird Things, Michael Shermer takes on science luminaries like physicist Frank Tippler and others, who hide their spiritual beliefs behind the trappings of science.Shermer, science historian and true crusader, also reveals the more dangerous side of such illogical thinking, including Holocaust denial, the recovered-memory movement, the satanic ritual abuse scare, and other modern crazes. Why People Believe Strange Things is an eye-opening resource for the most gullible among us and those who want to protect them.

4 Reviews

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  • 2 people find this helpful

    Una sana ración de escepticismo

    Un libro hecho por un escéptico para generar escepticismo. Ofrece herramientas para desarrollar el pensamiento crítico y explicaciones al por qué somos tan tendentes a creer en verdaderas sandeces. No es el mejor libro que he leído sobre el tema (qui ...(continue)

    Un libro hecho por un escéptico para generar escepticismo. Ofrece herramientas para desarrollar el pensamiento crítico y explicaciones al por qué somos tan tendentes a creer en verdaderas sandeces. No es el mejor libro que he leído sobre el tema (quizá porque repite consideraciones sobre aspectos ya tratados en otros libros de similar pelaje) pero es entretenido y aclaratorio, escrito con un lenguaje mundano sin perderse en tecnicismos ni jerga cientificista. Muy recomendable.

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    pacoHS said on Mar 6, 2011 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Imprescindible

    Un repaso a las supersticiones más frecuentes de nuestro tiempo y a los argumentos para desmontarlas. La parte del negacionismo se hace un poco larga, y de vez en cuando carga excesivamente las tintas con algún personaje excéntrico. No obstante, es u ...(continue)

    Un repaso a las supersticiones más frecuentes de nuestro tiempo y a los argumentos para desmontarlas. La parte del negacionismo se hace un poco larga, y de vez en cuando carga excesivamente las tintas con algún personaje excéntrico. No obstante, es un ensayo entretenido, agradable y ligero, hecho con mucho sentido del humor, y con respuestas a algunas preguntas clave sobre por qué creemos lo que creemos o, más importante aún: por qué nos resulta tan difícil dejar de creerlo.

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    Mellamopersona said on Sep 19, 2010 | Add your feedback

  • 5 people find this helpful

    il fatto è che abbiamo imparato a mettere in relazione gli eventi. un esempio: mi metto sottovento -> il bisonte non scappa -> io me lo mangio. il problema è che tendiamo a mettere in relazione anche eventi non significativi. un esempio: vedo u ...(continue)

    il fatto è che abbiamo imparato a mettere in relazione gli eventi. un esempio: mi metto sottovento -> il bisonte non scappa -> io me lo mangio. il problema è che tendiamo a mettere in relazione anche eventi non significativi. un esempio: vedo un gatto nero -> mi slogo una caviglia -> il gatto nero porta sfortuna. da qui, fondamentalmente, discendono molti errori, dalla superstizione alla credulità nei confronti di santoni e maghi, fino al negazionismo di chi non "crede" all'olocausto e alle posizioni più o meno sfumate di chi avversa l'evoluzionismo. chi scrive è abituato a partecipare a discussioni di livello più o meno alto con fervidi credenti di ogni genere, e avverte: attenzione a non scivolare nell'eccesso opposto, una religione dello scetticismo - consiglio che trovo assolutamente ragionevole.è un libro interessantissimo, pieno di considerazioni illuminanti. dovrebbero leggerlo tutti, purché pronti a mettere in discussione le proprie convinzioni: il che, sorprendentemente, riesce più difficile alle persone particolarmente brillanti, perché sono più abili delle altre nel trovare argomenti a favore di ciò che sostengono. provocatorio.

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    terra said on Sep 7, 2010 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Erbarme Dich

    In my neighbourhood and around the world on Easter Sunday men in cassocks and dark suits (and some women) promoted the idea that a son of the supreme being cum trained carpenter had come to earth, died a gruesome death for our sins to be forgiven by ...(continue)

    In my neighbourhood and around the world on Easter Sunday men in cassocks and dark suits (and some women) promoted the idea that a son of the supreme being cum trained carpenter had come to earth, died a gruesome death for our sins to be forgiven by that same supreme being, and had then resurrected from the grave to wander the Holy Land and to inspire some 12 men and a few women. This story inspired Bach to some of the most beautiful music ever written, and that one of my neighbours was singing in the street on that same day. It inspired me to read this book.

    Michael Shermer is a born-again professional skeptic from the United States. Don't expect this book to cover "scientific socialism", Taoist sexual practices or other un-American beliefs, but rather closer-to-home idiosyncrasies from the 1990’s like alien encounters, Ayn Rand, and creationism. These and other examples and their rebuff take up all but the last four pages of the book.

    Ever the optimist, I had hoped that ignorance of proper scientific reasoning among much of the populace would be a major reason. Mr. Shermer acknowledges this point, but comes to rather more profound reasons like "credo consolans": it is comforting, a bad reason is better than no reason, a comforting sign better than no sign. This is very plausible (even in the business world I regularly see this), but dedicating just half a page to it is rather limited. Simplicity and instant gratification are two reasons given, but seem to be two sides of the same coin. The last reason, morality, may apply to religious beliefs, but how does that apply to Holocaust denial? I can think of other reasons, like the difficult outcome of group negotiations, or the product of good rhetoric, as the author shows in one of the examples.

    So as an analysis the book disappoints. I would say it would serve you even better for showing the mechanics of how to make people believe weird things, without explaining exactly how the process works on the receiver side.

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    Hermes said on Apr 15, 2010 | Add your feedback

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