Thursday, August 6, 2020

Flim-Flam! Book Report

For the book report, I decided to read Why People Believe Weird Things: Psudo Science, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer. Michael Shermer is the President of The Skeptics Society and editor in chief of a magazine entitled Skeptic, which focuses on psudoscientific claims. Shermers book is divided into five sections, each of which focus on tackling the main question tackled in the title of the book. In the first section, he primarily talks about the importance of skeptisicm, and why it plays out in understanding what psudoscience is. This comes into play with analyzing the scientific method as well. The second section of the book touches on paranormal instances and many psudoscientific concepts associated with it. He points out that many of these occasions are linked wih cultural connections. The third section talks about creationalism and its impact on the United States. More specifically, he tackles how it has becomer so prominent and a primary counter argument to Darwinsism. In the fourth section Shermer goes in depth and writes about Holocoust deniers, and how their view of this is mainly incorrect. Finally in the fifth section, Shermer ties it all together by saying that even the smartest individuals can be fooled by psuedoscience and false claims. 
Personally, my favorite part of the book was the second section of the book, more specifically when he discussed the out of body experiences. He discusses how trauma, environment, and predisposed ideas can influence how an “out of body experience” can become something that immediately seen as fact or truth. Additionally, many of the things that were talked about in the second section can be viewed in correlation to cultural impacts and beliefs. Based on my own family culture and traditions, I dont believe that out of body experiences would be something that is immediately believed, but I can understand how other cultures could openly adopt this. For example, astral projection is an out of body experience that many religions and cultures identify with, and has recently seen a surge in interest on various platforms of social media. Astral projection involves an individuals “soul” leaving its physical body and entering an astral plain where the soul can temporarily roam freely in search of enlightenment. Since it was trending so heavily on social media at the time when I was reading this book, I found it even more immersing to read page by page. 
The concept of astral projection closely ties with dualism, which is a topic that we discussed in class. Dualism is the belief that the physical body and the spiritual being, or soul, are two different ideas and can be separated. Many believed this ideology and even to this day religions and certain individuals freely believe this idea to be true to its fullest extent. Part of believing in OBE is also believing in dualism, which I found to be very intriguing because I know some people who don’t particularly believe in the concept of dualism but do believe in OBE. 
I think about OBE and what Shermer talked about in his book and I apply it to my personal viewpoints and experiences. I personally have experienced one “OBE” that I firmly believed was one, but upon further thinking knew that it was not. It involved playing this strange game called red door, yellow door. In this game you’re supposed to visualize yourself going specified doors in order to open “the doors of your mind.” When I was young I played it with a friend, and got spooked when I “saw” something scary. The more I think about it though the more I realize it was more than likely me projecting my thoughts into a visualization in my head, rather than a OBE in itself, which at the time I thought it was. 
Below I found a video of Shermer himself attempting a “God Helmet” experiment in Canada. At the time of the video, it was believed that this simulated an OBE, but it was ultimately debunked in 2008.

What many perceive OBE to look like.

1 comment:

  1. I love this report. I was thinking of choosing this myself for my book report but went in a different direction. Very insightful and full of great information. I learned a lot and now I want to know more! Thank you!