Friday, May 1, 2020

Book Report- Why People Believe Weird Things

At the beginning of this semester, I chose to read the book Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer. The book talks about Shermer questioning the ideas of others because he is a skeptic. He talks about the way he thinks compared to others and tries to use his thoughts to challenge the ways of science. He dives into research and his own experiences about pseudoscience to explain to the audience about how slow thinking is the right way to go about any decision you could make. Shermer uses all that he can to describe his ways of thinking to the reader and how to go about thinking that way in order to believe in the right ideas.

One of the chapters from Why People Believe Weird Things that interested me was chapter 3. In this chapter, Michael Shermer discusses 25 different ways that people think to lead them to believe in weird things. He labels the first 3 ways as the "Problems in Scientific Thinking". These ideas explain how there are different inputs that influence a person's way of thinking in order to make it seem right. The next set of ways is titled "Problems in Pseudoscientific Thinking". This section talks about how there are certain things said that do not make a claim true. These such things include scientific language, heresy, and rumors. The following set of ways is titled "Logical Problems in Thinking". This section discusses false dilemmas, redundancy, and absurdum. Lastly, Shermer ends off the chapter talking about "Psychological Problems in Thinking". This last section deals with problem-solving and effort inadequacies. It explains the way that people rely on fast thinking rather than slow thinking to solve problems. People need to slow down and really think about something before they come to a conclusion.

Another chapter that I enjoyed was chapter 6. This chapter talks about encounters with aliens and abductions. Shermer even talks about his own experience of being abducted. He claims that while he was riding his bike late at night in Nebraska, he was abducted by aliens who looked like his bike support crew. He talks about how tired and sleep-deprived he was from riding his bike all day with little rest. He completely believes that he had this experience because of the lack of sleep he was getting. He says that he had slipped into an altered state of consciousness. Shermer knows that this encounter was not because of real aliens, rather he was just overly sleep-deprived. Shermer says that there is a perfect explanation as to why people think they have been abducted by aliens. It always has to do with a person's mind and mental state at the time of the abduction and gives reasons as to how he can explain any occurrence.

Lastly, my other favorite chapter had to be chapter 10. Chapter 10 discusses the theories behind evolution and creationsim. Shermer provides 25 arguments from creationists along with answers from 25 evolutionists. This chapter can be very controversial to some, but Shermer does his best to explain both sides of each argument in a very understanding way. In these arguments, Shermer uses his knowledge of science to prove what is correct in any way. By doing so, he is opening up the ideas from himself to others. In order to successfully argue his point, he gives examples and provides great detail in his answers.

In conclusion, Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer was a very interesting book to me. I found it opened up my mind to many different ways of thinking in order to solve problems and answer questions. It taught me how being a skeptic can be a very good thing for your mind. The book can be confusing at times with how the chapters are structured, but overall it was a good read and something I will remember for a long time.

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