Revised and Expanded Edition.
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.
Michael Shermer, Ph. D., is the founding publisher of "Skeptic" magazine (www.skeptic.com), the director of the Skeptics Society, the host of the Skeptics Lecture Series at the California Institute of Technology, and a contributing editor and monthly columnist for "Scientific American." He is the author of "How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science, Denying History" and "The Borderlands of Science."
Why do so many people believe in mind reading, past-life regression therapy, abductions by extraterrestrials, and ghosts? What has led to the rise of "scientific creationism" and the belief that the Holocaust never happened? Why, in this age of supposed scientific enlightenment, do people seem to be more impressionable than ever?
With a no-holds-barred assault on popular superstitions and prejudices, science historian Michael Shermer debunks these extraordinary claims and explores the very human reasons people find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing. But Shermer also reveals the more dangerous side of such thinking, including the recovered memory movement, satanic rituals, modern witch crazes, and ideologies of racial superiority.
Shermer concludes by describing his own confrontations with those who take advantage of people's gullibility to advance their own, often self-serving agendas. In a brand-new chapter to this 2002 edition, he explores the trend among major, respected researchers to corrupt the scientific process in support of their own nonscientific belief systems. "Why People Believe Strange Things "is not only an insightful portrait of our immense capacity for self-delusion but, ultimately, a celebration of the scientific spirit. "Brilliant, informed, and incisive dissections of bogus science and history are a major contribution to what one dares hope is a backlash against the still-rising tide of New Age nonsense and public gullibility."--Martin Gardner, author of "Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus"
"For a very soundly documented and reasoned set of specifics, I know of no better single volume than this one. Give it to everyone you know whose head and heart you respect, but who is flirting with irrationality."--"The Baltimore Sun"
""Why People Believe Weird Things "is a tour de force and a literary delight, and it should be required reading for anyone who celebrates intellectual integrity."--Frank Sulloway, author of "Born to Rebel"
"Brilliant, informed, and incisive dissections of bogus science and history are a major contribution to what one dares hope is a backlash against the still-rising tide of New Age nonsense and public gullibility."--Martin Gardner, author of "Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus"
"This is a book that deserves to be widely read. Skeptics and critical thinkers can learn from it, but more importantly, it's a book to give those who maybe aren't as skeptical as you, those who need some clear and reasonable arguments to gently push them in a more critical direction. Read this book yourself: buy it for someone whose mind you care about."--"Independent Thinking Review"
"Shermer equips you with a valuable antidote to the waves of irrationality that come drifting in your windows or onto your television set."--"Orange County Register"
"This sparkling book romps over the range of science and anti-science."--Jared Diamond, author of "The Third Chimpanzee"
"This book is a ray of light in a nation befogged by pseudoscience and psychobabble."--Carol Tavris, author of "The Mismeasure of Woman"
"The perfect handbook to thrust on anyone you know who has been lured into the comforting paranoias that circulate amid the premillennial jitters."--"Los Angeles Times Book Review"
"Shermer makes clear that virulent credulousness is more on the march in our world than virulent skepticism, and shows that his chosen profession is a valuable one."--Brian Doherty, "Reason"
"This sparkling book romps over the range of science and anti-science." --Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel
"Splendid." --Vanity Fair This sparkling book romps over the range of science and anti-science. Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel
Splendid. Vanity Fair
" This sparkling book romps over the range of science and anti-science. Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel
Splendid. "Vanity Fair"" "This sparkling book romps over the range of science and anti-science." --Jared Diamond, author of "Guns, Germs, and Steel" "Splendid." --"Vanity Fair"
|Foreword: The Positive Power of Skepticism|
|Introduction to the Paperback Edition|
|Prologue: Next on Oprah||p. 1|
|Science and Skepticism||p. 11|
|I Am Therefore I Think: A Skeptic's Manifesto||p. 13|
|The Most Precious Thing We Have: The Difference Between Science and Pseudoscience||p. 24|
|How Thinking Goes Wrong: Twenty-five Fallacies That Lead Us to Believe Weird Things||p. 44|
|Pseudoscience and Superstition||p. 63|
|Deviations: The Normal, the Paranormal, and Edgar Cayce||p. 65|
|Through the Invisible: Near-Death Experiences and the Quest for Immortality||p. 73|
|Abducted!: Encounters with Aliens||p. 88|
|Epidemics of Accusations: Medieval and Modern Witch Crazes||p. 99|
|The Unlikeliest Cult: Ayn Rand, Objectivism, and the Cult of Personality||p. 114|
|Evolution and Creationism||p. 125|
|In the Beginning: An Evening with Duane T. Gish||p. 127|
|Confronting Creationists: Twenty-five Creationist Arguments, Twenty-five Evolutionist Answers||p. 137|
|Science Defended, Science Defined: Evolution and Creationism at the Supreme Court||p. 154|
|History and Pseudohistory||p. 173|
|Doing Donahue: History, Censorship, and Free Speech||p. 175|
|Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened, and Why Do They Say It?: An Overview of a Movement||p. 188|
|How We Know the Holocaust Happened: Debunking the Deniers||p. 211|
|Pigeonholes and Continuums: An African-Greek-German-American Looks at Race||p. 242|
|Hope Springs Eternal||p. 253|
|Dr. Tipler Meets Dr. Pangloss: Can Science Find the Best of All Possible Worlds?||p. 255|
|Why Do People Believe Weird Things?||p. 273|
|Why Smart People Believe Weird Things||p. 279|
|Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.|
Number Of Pages: 349
Published: 1st September 2002
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 20.4 x 13.5 x 2.6
Weight (kg): 0.34
Edition Number: 1