Thursday, August 6, 2020

Book Report on “Why People Believe Weird Things” By Michael Shermer

I suppose I should begin with an admission of guilt. I am guilty of giving my hard-earned dollars to psychics and tarot card readers in the past. I find myself, now, realizing that I could have been considered a “believer”. I wanted to believe the great things I was being told. Looking back, I am trying to remember the psychics using what has been described in this book as “tells” or subconscious indicators used to obtain information from me. The book’s section where psychics, or mentalists, were debunked caused a sense of embarrassment for me.

The most relatable section of the book for me, which was my favorite part, was chapter 3 because it was an opener for me. I am, without a doubt, a skeptic in relation to the Roswell NM alien incident. I find it astonishing that there were/are so many believers in this “discovery”. The number of things that disprove this alien landing far outweigh any supporting information. I see the same level of belief in false or incredible stories on social media on nearly a daily basis. People are so easily led to believe claims of miracle weight loss scams or political hoaxes. Social media seems to have no standard of factual information to adhere to. It is evident to me that people choose to believe what makes them hopeful or agrees with their personal beliefs. For example, a person committed to a political party will be more likely to think slanderous statements of “fact” by the opposing party.

People tend to believe what they see online as fact. This can relate to the lecture about the Jersey Devil and the people who believe the folk tale from the newspapers and the “witness”. I wish that the masses would look at information with a more analytical mind. It would be easier to change a skeptic’s mind on a topic than a believer’s mind. This relates to the “witnesses” of the Jersey Devil and the difference between the people who do not believe in it. It is easier to convince someone. A skeptic will look at the facts and probability of truths, but a believer seems to accept simply. I am, after years of education and disappointments in my personal life, a skeptic.

By - Victoria Wolford

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