Why People Believe Weird Things Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

ISBN-10: 0805070893
ISBN-13: 9780805070897
Edition: 2nd 1998 (Revised)
List price: $19.99 Buy it from $3.00
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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  More...

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Book details

List price: $19.99
Edition: 2nd
Copyright year: 1998
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Publication date: 9/1/2002
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 384
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 0.990
Language: English

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 appealing. In an entirely new chapter, Why Smart People Believe in Weird Things, Michael Shermer takes on science luminaries like physicist Frank Tippler and others, who hide their spiritual beliefs behind the trappings of science.Shermer, science historian and true crusader, also reveals the more dangerous side of such illogical thinking, including Holocaust denial, the recovered-memory movement, the satanic ritual abuse scare, and other modern crazes. Why People Believe Strange Things is an eye-opening resource for the most gullible among us and those who want to protect them.

Michael Shermer is the director of the Skeptics Society and the host of the Skeptics Lecture Series at the California Institute of Technology. He teaches science, technology, and evolutionary thought in the Cultural Studies Program at Occidental College.

Born in New York City in 1941, Stephen Jay Gould received his B.A. from Antioch College in New York in 1963 and a Ph.D. in paleontology from Columbia University in 1967. Gould spent most of his career as a professor at Harvard University and curator of invertebrate paleontology at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. His research was mainly in the evolution and speciation of land snails. Gould was a leading proponent of the theory of punctuated equilibrium. This theory holds that few evolutionary changes occur among organisms over long periods of time, and then a brief period of rapid changes occurs before another long, stable period of equilibrium sets in. Gould also made significant contributions to the field of evolutionary developmental biology, most notably in his work, Ontogeny and Phylogeny. An outspoken advocate of the scientific outlook, Gould had been a vigorous defender of evolution against its creation-science opponents in popular magazines focusing on science. He wrote a column for Natural History and has produced a remarkable series of books that display the excitement of science for the layperson. Among his many awards and honors, Gould won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His titles include; Ever Since Darwin, The Panda's Thumb, Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes, Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory and Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin. Stephen Jay Gould died on May 20, 2002, following his second bout with cancer.

Foreword: The Positive Power of Skepticism
Introduction to the Paperback Edition
Prologue: Next on Oprah
Science and Skepticism
I Am Therefore I Think: A Skeptic's Manifesto
The Most Precious Thing We Have: The Difference Between Science and Pseudoscience
How Thinking Goes Wrong: Twenty-five Fallacies That Lead Us to Believe Weird Things
Pseudoscience and Superstition
Deviations: The Normal, the Paranormal, and Edgar Cayce
Through the Invisible: Near-Death Experiences and the Quest for Immortality
Abducted!: Encounters with Aliens
Epidemics of Accusations: Medieval and Modern Witch Crazes
The Unlikeliest Cult: Ayn Rand, Objectivism, and the Cult of Personality
Evolution and Creationism
In the Beginning: An Evening with Duane T. Gish
Confronting Creationists: Twenty-five Creationist Arguments, Twenty-five Evolutionist Answers
Science Defended, Science Defined: Evolution and Creationism at the Supreme Court
History and Pseudohistory
Doing Donahue: History, Censorship, and Free Speech
Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened, and Why Do They Say It?: An Overview of a Movement
How We Know the Holocaust Happened: Debunking the Deniers
Pigeonholes and Continuums: An African-Greek-German-American Looks at Race
Hope Springs Eternal
Dr. Tipler Meets Dr. Pangloss: Can Science Find the Best of All Possible Worlds?
Why Do People Believe Weird Things?
Why Smart People Believe Weird Things
Bibliography
Index

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