Why People Believe Weird Things
by Michael Shermer
W.H. Freeman and Company
The subtitle of this one says it all: “Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time.” Gird your loins for battle, boys and girls, we’re gonna tilt with the kooks and whackos. This thing comes complete with a foreword by Stephen Jay Gould and a dedication to the memory of Carl Sagan. Impeccable credentials, if I do say so myself.
Chapter titles like: The Normal, the Paranormal, and Edgar Cayce.
Ultra well researched.
Zillion neato examples of how critical thinking goes wrong and how to defend against it. Cool tidbits like Hume’s Maxim, and stuff like “Twenty-five Creationist Arguments, Twenty-five Evolutionist Answers.”
And yet, despite all the lovely things I’ve said about it so far, I’m guessing that I’m gonna be the only kid on my block who ever reads the damn thing. I’m pretty sure that Why People Believe… is gonna silently sink beneath the waves and disappear.
And why, you might ask, would such a wonderful resource against the forces of bunkum and propaganda die an unheralded death? Easy. This thing is as dense as lead! Just as thick and heavy as hell in fact. Now for my own part, I like thick, dense books just as much as I like easy reading. But I know that I’m in a small minority of readers who do. Most everybody else is gonna wade into this thing, discover the lay of the land, and then get the hell outta there pronto.
Fucker has TOO MUCH information. All of it’s just as good as it can be, but it’s a major fucking overdose. Enough already, sit down and shut up. I’m supposing that MS, in attempting to defuse all the bewildering array of loony ideas that are out there, decided he had to tackle each and every one of ’em, using specific examples and rebuttals, and include ’em in this book. Too much, goddamnit. WAY too much.
But go ahead and get this thing anyhow. It’s too good to pass up. Just don’t sit down and attempt to wade all the way through it in one go. Fuck that shit. Instead, just set it over on the shelf and pretend it’s an encyclopedia. A reference manual. Something you pick up and read to answer a specific question that might have popped into your head, or perhaps came knocking at your front door, bible in hand.