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Why People Believe Weird Things | [Michael Shermer]

Why People Believe Weird Things

UFO abductions, television psychics, paranormal phenomena, skeptics and believers alike, find themselves debating truths and lies in the strange web of pseudoscience and the occult. Now, director of the Skeptics Society Michael Shermer explores the very human reasons why we find other worldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing.
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Publisher's Summary

UFO abductions, television psychics, paranormal phenomena, skeptics and believers alike, find themselves debating truths and lies in the strange web of pseudoscience and the occult. With everyday normal life moving too fast to comprehend, people are turning to the bizarre and wacky for comfort. Now, director of the Skeptics Society Michael Shermer explores the very human reasons why we find other worldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing. The eternal search for meaning and spiritual fulfillment leads us astray by extraordinary claims and controversial ideas, particularly those in the realms of superstition and the supernatural. This celebrates the scientific spirit and the joy to be found in rationally exploring the world's greatest mysteries.

©1998 by Michael Shermer; (P)1998 by Audio Renaissance, an imprint of Renaissance Media, Inc.

What Members Say

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  •  
    Lance Wahl 07-24-15
    Lance Wahl 07-24-15 Member Since 2012
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    "great read"
    What made the experience of listening to Why People Believe Weird Things the most enjoyable?

    I like all of Michael Shermer's books. He makes science understandable for non science people like me.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert A. Lime 05-25-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Great but maybe not what you think"
    Any additional comments?

    Nice, short read/listen, although the book is not exactly what I thought it would be. Perhaps a more appropriate title would be "Weird Things People Believe" as it was more or less an exploration of common fallacious beliefs, not a theory or explanation as to why people believe them. I guess I expected more of a Chris Mooney approach - an exploration into the psychology of why people believe weird things. Nonetheless, I don't feel that 1 second was wasted in reading/listening to this book and I would highly recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martin Chavez Burlingame, CA United States 01-22-05
    Martin Chavez Burlingame, CA United States 01-22-05 Listener Since 2001
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    "Not what I expected"

    I believe the title might be a bit misleading. I expected a more psychological/scientific approach to this book. The author, who is also the reader, mentions the scientific method [and what it is] with no actual examples or case studies of his work. His personal experiences, on Opera, don't go into detail as to the psychological aspects of why one believes wierd things. He speaks until he has something to say.

    I don'trecommend this book if you're looking for case studies, or actual psychological/scientific data. Borrow it from a friend or go to a book store an scan through it, then decide.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Westland, MI, USA 12-09-05
    Michael Westland, MI, USA 12-09-05
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    "Author with an Axe to Grind"

    Seems that author / narrator Michael Shermer has an axe to grind. And, well, listening to him grind it doesn't make for much entertainment. I was hoping to hear myths debunked and/or an explanation of the psychology of the paranormal. Instead, it seemed to be the same few concepts repeated ad nauseum with plenty of digs towards spirituality. If you're looking for someone to say, "The holocaust took place" (duh) and "Creationism can't be proven" a few dozen times, buy it.

    2 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Danny J. Lesandrini Tucson, AZ 09-26-06
    Danny J. Lesandrini Tucson, AZ 09-26-06
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    "Read the reviews ..."

    Why didn't I read the reviews? Wasted a credit on this book. The other reviewers nailed it: Michael Shermer has an axe to grind. I wanted to be entertained, not listen to Shermer drone on about his personal opinions.

    Worse yet, in addition to talking off the top of his head (he don't need no stinkin' research), Shermer fails to apply the rules to his own cherished beliefs.

    For example, he describes the odds against alien abduction as astronomical. (For the record, I don't subscribe to ailien abductions.) I doubt he understands the term "astronomical" (1 chance in 10 to 50th power) because he easily accepts evolution, which requires belief in an incredulous 1 chance in 10 to the 117th power for the formation of the simplest protein, let alone animated life. (By the way that's not twice as unlikely, but rather 67 magnitudes less likely.)

    Go ahead, believe in evolution if you must, preach it if you want, but don't try to justify your religion by invoking the virtues of math. (All praise be to Darwin! Darwin saves!)

    Save you money and your credits! It's not even entertaining.

    5 of 48 people found this review helpful

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