Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer

Why People Believe Weird Things

Revised and Expanded Edition.In this age of supposed scientific enlightenment, many people still believe in mind reading, past-life regression theory, New Age hokum, and alien abduction. A no-holds-barred assault on popular superstitions and prejudices, with more than 80,000 copies in print, Why People Believe Weird Things debunks these nonsensical claims and explores the very human reasons people find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories,...


Details Why People Believe Weird Things

TitleWhy People Believe Weird Things
ISBN9780805070897
Author
Release DateSep 1st, 2002
PublisherHolt Paperbacks
LanguageEnglish
GenreScience, Nonfiction, Psychology, Philosophy, Skepticism, Religion
Rating

Reviews Why People Believe Weird Things

  • Petra CigareX
    2016-04-16
    I finished this book and came to the conclusion, the same as the Amish have, if you get someone young enough and you deny them a scientific education they will believe almost anything. In other words, brainwash them young when they don't know the difference between reality and fantasy and the big frightening man that will come and get them if they bite their nails is as real in their heads as their mother or father.Not that you can't brainwash ad...
  • Manny
    2016-06-18
    Like many people, I could hardly believe my eyes when Donald Trump, in the wake of the Orlando shooting, actually went as far as to insinuate that President Obama could in some way have been complicit in causing this appalling hate crime and act of terrorism. The idea is so offensive and absurd that you hardly know where to start. A common reaction has been to point out that, if Obama is on the side of the terrorists, you'd have to explain why he...
  • Lena
    2007-07-26
    Having spent a fair amount of time on my spiritual path believing things that at best had no evidence and at times were quite outrageous, I’ve become very interested in the question that forms the title of this book. A former born-again Christian who is now head of the Skeptic society, Michael Shermer has written a very readable and compelling exploration of the cognitive thinking errors humans regularly make that support belief in ideas that c...
  • Anna
    2018-08-01
    Έλα μου ντε.... Γιατί άραγε??? Μέσα στο βιβλίο σας περιμένουν κάποιες απαντήσεις, αλλά ταυτόχρονα και πολλές περιγραφές θεωριών που πιστεύουν μεγάλες ομάδες ανθρώπων (για να σκεφτείτε ότι τελικά κάποιοι άνθρωποι είναι τελείως θεότρελοι). Δυστυχώς ...
  • Trevor
    2008-08-18
    This guy is in Australia at the moment for Science Week and I was thinking of going to see him, but this is not really a week in which I can engage in such optional behaviours – so, I thought I’d get out one of his books instead.And look, it was very good and if it had been the first book I’d ever read on scepticism (which I think it was written to be) than I really would have been impressed. But it wasn’t the first book I’d read on thi...
  • Eric_W
    2008-11-22
    This is a joint review of this book and How We BelieveShermer postulates that humans have evolved a belief module that helps us find patterns in what appears otherwise to be a meaningless universe. (Why we feel compelled to find meaning in everything continues to puzzle me.) Until about four hundred years ago, when the process of science gave us a method to determine the difference between patterns that are real and those that are mere illusion, ...
  • Ian D
    2018-07-31
    Μέντιουμ, ύπνωση, επιθανάτιες εμπειρίες, απαγωγές από εξωγήινους (ο αγαπημένος μου Neil deGrasse Tyson προτείνει να τους κλέψεις ένα τασάκι όταν δε βλέπουν και να το φέρεις στη γη για μελέτη), αρνητές της εξέλιξης και του Ολοκαυτώματος. Γιατί υπάρχουν εν έ...
  • Christopher
    2016-01-21
    Audiobook - Abridged - 3.5 hours-- Note this is not the Revised and Expanded edition (if there even is one for audio). I listened to the original audio from '98.Shermer is the founder of The Skeptics Society and Editor in Chief of its magazine Skeptic. He knows his stuff. In this book, he explores alien abductions, Holocaust denial, the legal history of creationism in science classrooms, and some other things. These are all interesting and covers...
  • Marvin
    2012-07-26
    I have read many of Shermer's articles for Skeptics Magazine but this was the first book by him that I've read. It was probably a good one to start out with. He appears to be setting out his basic ideas on why people often lean to unscientific and illogical beliefs. He goes through these reasons and also describes the basis of scientific inquiry well. However he also gives specific examples of pseudo-science and outright erroneous thinking includ...
  • Jason
    2007-11-06
    This book seems to hold great promise from the outset. It's a book (as the author would confess) that values reason, science, knowledge and the examination of beliefs. Nothing wrong with that. However, the book seems to ramble on a bit and takes on the feel of the author's personal musings instead of objective examination of the material. A couple of the chapters could be condensed into one chapter that contains more focus and sticks to the topic...
  • Tyler
    2013-07-28
    There have been enough positive reviews of this book that I'm sure it won't hurt the author's self-esteem if I say this: This book is dumb. It was on my to-read list forever, so maybe my expectations were a little high. But fair warning to anyone planning to read this, it's not what you think it is. It doesn't even address the question in the title directly until a final chapter, which I gather was added after the first edition was published.If y...
  • Stela
    2018-03-23
    Nu-mi place să încep proiecte marțea. Bat în lemn să alung ghinionul, da’ nu în masă că se potrivește. Nu pun niciodată paharul jos fără să beau din el, după ce am dat noroc. Am o ușoară stare de neliniște existențială în zilele de 13 (mai ales dacă-i și marți). Nu mă duc la biserică, da’ nici nu îndrăznesc să mă declar atee – dacă Dumnezeu există totuși și mă aude? Nu mă miră deci că, de-a lungul între...
  • Anna
    2015-04-19
    Why People Believe Weird Things is a meticulously researched and presented deep-dive into the causes and explanations of human irrationality. It probably deserves four stars but I'm leaving it at three because it's easily the most depressing book I've ever read (and there's no way to "really like" that). Shermer explains that our brains are hardwired to look for patterns as a way of making sense of our world. Sometimes the patterns we detect are ...
  • David
    2007-07-19
    Michael Schermer is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and a contributing editor of Scientific American. In this book, an update of an earlier version, with a foreword by Stephen Jay Gould, he takes on a number of worthy targets, including:* believers in the paranormal and extra-sensory perception (ESP)* near-death experiences and those who channel "past lives"* alien abductions* witch-hunting and the recovered memory movement* Ayn Rand a...
  • King Ævil
    2011-01-03
    Why People Believe Weird Things is kind of a modernistic blend of Martin Gardner’s pioneering Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science and Carl Sagan’s masterpiece, The Demon-haunted World. Author and prominent skeptic Michael Shermer begins with a recollection of his own conversion from evangelical Christian to skeptic, and generalizes from his personal experiences in an overview of the difference between science and pseudoscience/superstit...
  • Raghu
    2012-09-24
    The final four pages of the book summarizes why people believe in weird things quite well. Funnily, the other 270-odd pages deal argues in an orthogonal manner to these propositions made by the author himself. Let me elaborate in my own words.The author says that as a culture, we seem to have trouble distinguishing science from pseudo-science, history from pseudo-history and sense from nonsense. He gives the underlying motivations for this shortc...
  • Bettie☯
    2018-02-20
    Description: In this age of supposed scientific enlightenment, many people still believe in mind reading, past-life regression theory, New Age hokum, and alien abduction. A no-holds-barred assault on popular superstitions and prejudices, with more than 80,000 copies in print, Why People Believe Weird Things debunks these nonsensical claims and explores the very human reasons people find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so ap...
  • Tanja Berg
    2011-12-10
    Michaels Shermer is my favorite skeptic - I've been reading his column in "Scientific American" for years and years. Only lately have I discovered that he has written books as well. I don't know where I've been. Sadly a whole book of Shermer so far hasn't been as astute and to the point as his columns generally are. I'm still not quite sure what to think of this. The basic point can be summed up in one sentence though: "Smart people believe weird...
  • Mike Jensen
    2012-09-20
    This is a good book and is probably worth your time, but I hoped for more, that more being subjects that Shermer leaves out. The weird things covered are the ravings of Edgar Casey and his followers, near-death experiences, alien encounters, literal witch hunts, Ayn Rand and the cult of Objectivism, Intelligent Design, Holocaust denial, and those who claim that physics prove the existence of one god or another. This is a lot of subjects, but ther...
  • Scott Lerch
    2007-02-09
    This book helped me understand why there are so many people in the world that believe creationism, ESP, ghosts, UFOs, and other supernatural phenomena, and most importantly, why normal intelligent people will believe these weird ideas. After this book and Shermer's subsequent books I began to solidify my scientific worldview, and why I only accept naturalistic explanations. I became a skeptic and learned to truly question everything, but still ho...
  • Shhhhh Ahhhhh
    2018-10-10
    This is a good book but I wish the author had not injected quite so much of his personal beliefs into it. He follows the trope of the wounded believer, someone who was once fully into a poorly supported belief or system of belief and, upon being disabused of that illusion, became somewhat irrationally skeptical. I say this because, though his reasoning generally seems sound, he has closed himself off to understandings of certain practices as some...
  • Caitlin Bronson
    2018-07-10
    In my head, I've been a skeptic for a while but in my heart, I've always looked at skeptics as a bunch of humorless buzzkills. Michael Shermer's book didn't completely alleviate that, but he makes a pretty stirring defense of skepticism as both a desirable personal attribute and a worldview. He explains the methodology of science and skepticism and then spends each chapter debunking a particular "weird" belief, pointing out how various inputs and...
  • Amy
    2017-08-09
    Why People Believe Weird Things is a great introduction to the cognitive psychology of beliefs. Even 17 years after this book was originally published, the core concepts explained by Shermer are still fascinating and relevant. A lot of it is somewhat depressing (it would have pleased me more to hear about how culture is moving away from pseudoscience, even if that's not happening) or frustrating (the entire section on the Holocaust deniers), but ...
  • Kevin
    2017-04-13
    This is a starter book for anti-supernatural beliefs. Talks a tiny bit about the wide range of types of beliefs, the arguments they use for them, the reasons the author thinks they are wrong, and some personal stories thrown in there too. All in all, not a bad book. Just doesn't really hold its own against the heavier works put out by the Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and the like. My issue with this book is that I read i...
  • Peter
    2017-02-26
    I picked up this book a few years ago, but just started reading it. I wanted a better understanding of how people can believe in certain things such as creation-science, but then deny other phenomena such as climate change. The author does a good job discussing how cults gain popularity, and how pseudoscience and pseudo-history are perpetrated. In light of today's hype of "alternative facts", and fake news, this book underscores the ever-growing ...
  • Leah
    2012-02-07
    I enjoyed this book, but with a few qualifications. To start, the book should perhaps be titled, "Some of the Weird Things People Believe," since the book doesn't really get into *why* people believe the things they do. With that caveat, I did enjoy the book for the most part.The author's central premise is to apply scientific or logical reasoning to some of the more well-known fringe beliefs in the US/Europe. If a fringe belief system calls itse...
  • Mark Hartzer
    2017-06-23
    As much as I liked this book, I can't give it a full 5 star review because it is too dated. Yes, 'holocaust denial' folks are pretty much a fringe idiot band, but that was a long time ago comparatively speaking. There is nothing about global warming whatsoever. Nor is there anything about "Scientology". This is not to say this book is not worthwhile. It is. I'm afraid it is difficult to keep up with the various crackpot things with our ratings dr...
  • Celena O'brien
    2014-06-29
    “Why People Believe Weird Things” by Michael Shermer is a primer on skepticism, written by an author whose once strong religious faith, gave way to down right dubitation. Shermer does his best to explain why people have the propensity to believe in things that cannot be proven (alien abductions, ghosts), and others that can be proven but are controversial such as holocaust denial, repressed memories, and psychic powers. His third chapter “H...
  • Marnie
    2010-06-02
    I have always felt like the books I read intertwine themselves into my memories of that point in my life, but this book, more than any other, stands out as one that isn't just a part of my experience in a time and place but a book that actually changed how I think and view the world, in a meaningful way. Why People Believe Weird Things is a great first book for exploring the basics of critical thinking and gives one a chance to see real life exam...
  • Fabrizio
    2016-10-21
    Por qué la gente cree cosas raras. La pregunta por sí sola ya me parece interesante y Shermer creo que la consigue responder con una serie de argumentos desde su reconocida trayectoria como férreo escéptico, siempre apuntando a lo verificable, lo tangible y lo científicamente comprobable.Es un libro lleno de anécdotas, casos, reflexiones y comparaciones que intenta explicar el porqué la gente cree desde cosas como ver el futuro o los alien...