Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Book Report for Why People Believe Weird Things

The book I picked at the beginning of the semester was “Why People Believe Weird Things.” I picked this book because based on the reviews and description, it seemed very interesting. This book starts off with Shermer discussing his ideas on skepticism. This beginning part of the first was aimed at the science aspect of pseudoscience. He also stated his ideas about the science and the theories and if he agreed with them or not. He also contradicted them. He then goes into detail about paranormal thinking about how people believe things without evidence. This gets more into the “pseudo” aspect of pseudoscience. In my opinion, this is where it got a lot more intriguing.
My first favorite part of the book was section 2. This section was named pseudoscience and superstition. This is where he goes deep into paranormal thinking. I liked this better because it was less science. He mentioned Edgar Cayce as one of his examples. I enjoyed how he brought in other people and their perspectives because it helps you understand more about where Shermer is coming from. In this section, he included a lot of images and graphs which also helped put his words into perspective. In chapter 5 of section 2, he mentions a near-death experience. He started to go in-depth about what people actually believe they see when they have an NDE. I know many times I thought I had one, but after reading that, I completely contradicted myself.
My second favorite part was section 3. This is because this is where he starts to go in-depth about debates. I found this interesting because you got an inside look at how people contradict other scientists evidence and prove them wrong, and how they come up with an overall theory or solution together. He had several debates with Duane Gish, and Shermer used his own evidence to prove his point. Chapter 10 was dedicated to him confronting creationists. He provided all the arguments and all the answers to claims and theories. This was the most interesting chapter. 
My third favorite section was part 4. This section went into history and the holocaust. My favorite chapter in this section was 14. This is about how we know the holocaust actually happened. He mentions all the written documents, photographs, physical evidence, and demographics found from that time. Surprisingly, there are holocaust deniers that ignore all of this information and still believe it didn’t happen. I honestly didn’t think anyone would believe it didn’t happen until I read this book. He also mentions all of the blueprints of the gas chambers. I didn’t even know that kind of evidence was presentable. I learned the most from this chapter and this section out of the whole book and I was the most surprised and interested in it.
I personally didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. It was more scientific-based and factual based. To me, it felt like I was reading a textbook which really made me bored at a lot of points of reading it. I wouldn’t recommend this book, because I believe some of the other options presented in class are better. It had good and bad parts. What I liked the most was the history part of it and how he related everything to the holocaust. What I liked the least was the first section, because it was so scientific I couldn’t understand and comprehend what I was reading. Like I said, it felt like I was reading from a textbook. 

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