Michael Shermer iterates his feelings of skepticism in Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time. Shermer sets out to educate the reader, and provide concise explanations as to why people believe “weird things” to be true. He utilizes his personal experiences, and creates alternating perspectives for his audience: causing them to examine their own beliefs and ideas.
The first chapter (part) of the book establishes an awareness of skepticism and science, and the functional differences of the two. Shermer details how it is easy for people to be influenced by mainstream, easy to comprehend ideas, which may be misconstrued. He creates a list of “Twenty-Five Fallacies That Lead Us to Believe Weird Things”, in which he details specific thoughts that can direct one’s mind into assuming something to be truthful. Throughout the book, Shermer details many questionable beliefs, ideas, issues, and past arguments he has had with leaders/believers/deniers of the real, and pseudo world. Shermer closes with valid arguments as to why people are inclined to believe, and explains how some are more easily moved.
My favorite part of this book was reading about the twenty-five fallacies, each one really made me question some of my general beliefs, even in unrelated topics. Having read the fallacies in the beginning of the book had me thinking skeptically from the start, it set up a tug-of-war throughout the remaining chapters. I feel one of the fallacies, “Coincidence”, relates greatest to the class. In the book Shermer explains the importance that coincidences have, and the weight they carry within the para-pseudo world. The problem with that is, and as I learned throughout the class, a vast majority of the para-pseudo beliefs people have, are simply products of coincidence (Ex. The Mozart Effect). In my life I have always believed experience and exposure create knowledge, and generally speaking I will always believe that, however knowledge can be subjective, and more than one identical events can occur. So for those reasons, after taking this class, and reading this book, I feel like I will always be thinking a little more skeptically to some degree in everything I encounter.