Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Book Report | Why People Believe Weird Things

 Why People Believe Weird Things » Michael Shermer

                       Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer is a book full of skepticism as he talks about his personal experiences with the world’s fascinations with the different types of Pseudosciences. Because he is a skeptic, he investigates the popular pseudoscience theories out there that are things such as superstitions, conspiracy theories, and beliefs in the paranormal phenomena. While doing this, he gives you an unbiased opinion/analysis on the outcomes that he has experienced or knowledge he has obtained divided into five topics/segments. Shermer debunks theories from UFO sightings, alien abduction, holocaust denial, ritualized cults, & etc. 
                For the first segment in the book, Shermer describes the meaning of skepticism. He promotes everyone to have a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to life when taking in many things in life and speaks on the scientific method as the base for understanding observed facts in life/nature. Since scientists rely heavily on self-correction and duplicated proof in order to make their claims a fact. The process helps to stimulate your mind to producing questions about everything / every aspect in life. 
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                In the second section of the book, Shermer talks about the “Twenty-five Fallacies that Lead Us to Believe Weird Things.” Since this segment focuses on paranormal theories, he feels that people who strongly believe in miracles, monsters, and mysteries are not crazy, but normal. However, he thinks that their normal thinking has gone wrong in some way. He goes on to explain how people grasp on to the beliefs that they can not prove and lack scientific evidence such as UFO sightings, alien abductions, near death experiences, witch-hunts, and ESP are examples of the difference between scientific fact and false belief. Lastly, he links those beliefs to what he calls “cultural influences.” He stated, “Humans are experiencing fantasies and interpreting them in the social context of their age and culture. 
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                In the third segment, Shermer goes after religious creationism. He tries to prove a point by bringing up multiple debates that he has had with a high-ranking believer in creationism. He mentioned twenty-five different creationist claims that are out there and attempted to debunk each one with the backing of his own research findings and mentions the actual consequences that may occur based on a person’s belief system.
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                The fourth segment of the book talks about people who deny the Holocaust even happening for a while. Shermer has found his own evidence of ideal reasons for the deniers to refuse the scientific evidence that he has formed/found as a counter argument. While this debate goes on with him and the Holocaust deniers, he gets really person and shoots down their theories and comes off as impassioned. This is due to him feeling very strongly on this topic.
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                   In the last segment, Shermer addresses how even the smartest individuals can psyche themselves out to believe anything or things that are not true. He implies that people gravitate towards believing in weird things because of the feeling of excitement or rush that they feel when they believe it to be true. 

                   I personally did not enjoy the book because in the beginning, I had the impression that he would speak on a more psychology level as to why people believe in weird things because of whatever cognitive reasoning. Instead of that happening I felt as if he just kind of took the fun out of some of the theories mentioned. After reading, I perceived the book was just about Shermer talking about debunking different beliefs.
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