Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why People Believe Weird Things

Michael Shermer

Belief – be it in the supernatural or in the merely mundane – is often an individual and deeply personal endeavour. In other words, our beliefs matter greatly to us. Unfortunately, not all of those beliefs are as logically sound as others. In fact, some of them are just plain weird.

In Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of our Time, American science writer and long-time skeptic Michael Shermer delves into the world of ESP, Alien Abductions, Holocaust Denial, and much more. He pits reason and science against our most bizarre popular beliefs, and offers a frequently meticulous breakdown and analysis of those beliefs and their respective movements.

Some readers may be surprised by the similarities that Shermer draws. After all, it’s not every day that someone compares creationists to Holocaust deniers. Still, Shermer’s arguments are always respectful and well-conceived, and never vindictive or petty.

If Why People Believe Weird Things has any drawback, it’s that its writing is sometimes dense, making it occasionally slow going for readers new to the science and philosophy genres. Make no mistake, this is no light bathroom reading material – thinking caps are required. But maybe that’s the point: weird beliefs come easily; sound judgement and critical thinking, on the other hand, take work. And in the case of Why People Believe Weird Things, that work is equally compelling and thought provoking.

While a glass cutter by day, by night Z.S. Roe spends his time writing fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.  His writings have appeared in various publications, including the Cambridge Times, The Silhouette, and The Toronto Sun, among others.  Most recently, his short story “Peeping Tara” appeared in issue 13 of Dark Moon Digest.  You can visit his blog at www.zsroe.com

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