Sunday, August 5, 2018

Book report

The book I read for class was “why people believe weird things” by Michael Sherman,  a book covering the strange new fades and beliefs that seem to be covering the world. From debunking the methods of psychic readings to the belief in alien encounters Sherman covers it all with detail and grace. The book is 18 chapters broken up into five parts with a index for further explanation for the reader. Sherman uses personal encounters and experiences making the novel more personal and easier to read.

Diving into the idea of self-delusion of people and answering the question on why there are still so many believers of the paranormal. Breaking down each claim with commentary and thoughts from each side of every question. Between getting into details of why some join cults and why others deny history Sherman writes a compelling and informative argument. Truly a new look into some interesting beliefs and obsessions.

Part two of “Why People Believe Weird Things” talks about several topics that can be related to our lectures but my personal favorite can be found in chapter seven. This chapter is purely dedicated to moments where a large group of people tick themselves into a case of mast hysteria, something we learned about in of final lecture. We learned about the Salem Witch Trials but there was a second mass hysteria surrounding witches later in 1980s known as the Satanic panic. Sherman delves deep into this phenomenon with explanations on why or how this mass hysteria came to be.

There are a lot of stories and ideas in this novel that can relate to our lectures, one of them being the event or idea of alien abductions. Oddly enough know skeptic Michael Sherman shares his own personal experience of being abducted by alien, a story that Sherman has told on multiple tv shows and live audiences. Sherman ends his story with explain he believes that it was a hallucination due to lack of sleep and extreme mental and physical stress caused by his participation in the inaugural 1982 race. WE also leaned from our lecture that those who reported their alien abduction took place while they slept or being deprived of sleep.

 I was able to find a short video of Sherman talking about his abduction here:

And a video where Sherman explains their reasoning behind people believing in god, listen closely you might hear something familiar:

To be completely honest this is the first time I’ve read a book of this nature. I don’t consider myself a skeptic nor do I consider myself a believer of the paranormal what I do believe in facts. In a way this book has challenged others beliefs and options based on them not begin able to provide proof or factual statements. Before reading this book a made an assumption that it would only be about peoples belief in superstitions and was pleasantly surprised when it held so much more. It also left me with a lot of unanswered questions, like what type of event can be defined as a ‘mass hysteria’ or if a topic is known to be false why are statements or articles still allowed to be published? Overall it was a good read and very educational.

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