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Why people believe weird things : pseudoscience, superstition, and other confusions of our time

Author: Michael Shermer
Publisher: New York : W.H. Freeman, 1997.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
"In Why People Believe Weird Things, science historian Michael Shermer explores the very human reasons we find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing. The editor of Skeptic magazine and the director of the Skeptics Society, Shermer shows how the eternal search for meaning and spiritual fulfillment often results in our thinking being led astray by extraordinary claims and controversial  Read more...
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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Michael Shermer
ISBN: 0716730901 9780716730903 0716733870 9780716733874 9780965594875 0965594874
OCLC Number: 36260669
Description: xii, 306 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Contents: I. Science and skepticism. I am therefore I think : a skeptic's manifesto --
The most precious thing we have : the difference between science and pseudoscience --
How thinking goes wrong : twenty-five fallacies that lead us to believe weird things. II. Pseudoscience and superstition. Deviations : the normal, the paranormal, and Edgar Cayce --
Through the invisible : near-death experiences and the quest for immortality --
Abducted! : encounters with aliens --
Epidemics of accusations : medieval and modern witch crazes --
The unlikeliest cult : Ayn Rand, objectivism, and the cult of personality. III. Evolution and creationism. In the beginning : an evening with Duane T. Gish --
Confronting creationists : twenty-five creationist arguments, twenty-five evolutionist answers --
Science defended, science defined : evolutionism and creationism at the Supreme Court. IV. History and pseudohistory. Doing Donahue : history, censorship, and free speech --
Who says the Holocaust never happened, and why do they say it? : an overview of a movement --
How we know the Holocaust happened : debunking the deniers --
Pigeonholes and continuums : an African-Greek-German-American looks at race. V. Hope springs eternal. Dr. Tipler meets Dr. Pangloss : can science find the best of all possible worlds? --
Why do people believe weird things?
Responsibility: Michael Shermer ; foreword by Stephen Jay Gould.

Abstract:

A survey of a range of irrationalisms, with explanations of their empirical and logical flaws. The book describes the differences between science and pseudo-science, and goes on to describe and  Read more...

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    schema:reviewBody ""In Why People Believe Weird Things, science historian Michael Shermer explores the very human reasons we find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing. The editor of Skeptic magazine and the director of the Skeptics Society, Shermer shows how the eternal search for meaning and spiritual fulfillment often results in our thinking being led astray by extraordinary claims and controversial ideas - particularly in the realms of superstition and the supernatural." "But Shermer also reveals the darker and more fearful side of wishful thinking, including Holocaust denial, creationism, the recovered memory movement, alien abduction experiences, the satanic ritual abuse scare and other modern witch crazes, extreme Afrocentrism, and ideologies of racial superiority. As Shermer investigates these movements and the people behind them, you'll be introduced to the strange debating tactics of creationist Duane T. Gish as he goes toe-to-toe with the author over evolutionary theory; the apocalyptic visions of a leading racial pseudoscientist; ESP adherents who claim they've proved the power of thought-control; the "magical" techniques a famous psychic uses to fool his audiences; and the leaders of the Holocaust denial movement and their views on Nazis, freedom of speech, and future goals." "A compelling, and often disturbing, portrait of our immense capacity for self-delusion, Why People Believe Weird Things is ultimately a celebration of the scientific spirit - and the joy to be found in exploring the world's greatest mysteries, even if many of the questions remain unanswered."--Jacket." ;
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