Friday, August 7, 2020

Book Report- Why People Believe Weird Things

While reading the book "Why People Believe Weird Things" by Michael Shermer, there seemed to be one main reoccurring theme throughout the book. Real science is backed up and proven with facts while pseudoscience is completely based on belief. One thing important thing you learn while reading the book is that you need to be able to determine the difference between something scientifically proven true and a pseudoscience. Without knowing the difference you might believe a pseudoscientific belief, as they use imprecise, scientific-sounding language. They also use terms that are illogical and incorrect as a way to seem credible to an average person. Science uses laws and theories, theories can be unproven and then are expanded upon. This allows for growth and improvement over time as our technology continues to get better. However, pseudoscience does not involve any laws or theories. Pseudoscience is based completely on belief and since you can't technically disprove someone's subjective belief it is hard to make new findings. In addition, pseudosciences don't progress due to the fact that they can never be proven wrong or right. 
Another big theme covered in the book was that divination was not real. Psychics can seem pretty accurate at first, but in reality they are just using tricks to fool their audience. One particular trick they use is a cold reading, where they try to guess details about someone's life. This may seem difficult, but by using really vague guesses and reading body language is actually fairly easy. A hot reading is where a psychic researches a client's life ahead of time, usually done during a show to try to impress the audience. 

The general overview of the book is trying to explain why even today people still hold beliefs that are outdated, weird, or just make no sense. My favorite part about the book is debunking the psychics because since I was a kid I've known that it was not really the person's ability. I always knew there was a trick, but actually reading and learning about how they do it was interesting. This relates to a class because it is basically a pseudoscience as the psychics are using language and tricks to deceive you. Overall, this book was filled with interesting knowledge and an enjoyable read. 

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