Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Book Report- Why People Believe Weird Things

"Why People Believe Weird Things" by Michael Shermer is a book for anyone who wishes to understand more about, as the title says, why people believe weird things. He used science and critical thinking to debunk pseudoscience throughout the book. One chapter I found most interesting was chapter 14, How We Know the Holocaust Happened. He explains that holocaust deniers have methodology for their reasons. Even though there were written letters, eyewitness testimony, photographs, and physical evidence from the Holocaust, holocaust deniers ignore it. They will cherry-pick anything that could be used in their explanations. Here we go back to fast thinking. It is like mental gymnastics. This chapter is full of dialogue from an interview with Michael Shermer and holocaust denier, David Irving, along with text from other books regarding the denial of the holocaust. What I like about the chapter is how despite clear evidence, and just when you think the denier is backed into a corner, he pushes onward. That chapter among others give an idea of how to be ignorant in general if you want to annoy people.

Those who want to develop better slow thinking skills would benefit from this book. I this book ties in a number of topics we discussed as part of this course. Alien abductions, out of body experiences, psychics, supernatural powers and miracle products are all discussed and he debunks all of them. Obviously, this book could be used to explain other phenomena not discussed since it is over twenty years old, like the flat earth conspiracy. Whether it is flat earth or holocaust denial, those who defend it will still use the same conceptual arguments like "he was coerced" or "if that's true, then why...". If this book were to be published tomorrow, it would still be relevant as it were in 1997. With the internet becoming more solid in society, weird ideas have emerged. The topics have changed, but the concepts of why people believe in the paranormal or the unexplained have not changed. (Couldn't figure out how to embed a video on blogger)

Image result for ignorance is bliss then

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