Why People Believe Weird Things

Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

Michael Shermer; Foreword by Stephen Jay Gould

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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.

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Book Excerpts

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PART 1SCIENCE AND SKEPTICISMScience is founded on the conviction that experience, effort, and reason are valid; magic on the belief that hope cannot fail nor desire deceive.—Branislaw Malinowski, Magic, Science, and Religion, 19481I Am Therefore I ThinkA Skeptic’s Manifesto



On the opening page of his splendid little book To Know a Fly, biologist Vincent Dethier makes this humorous observation about how children grow up to be scientists: “Although small children have taboos against stepping on ants because such actions are said to bring on rain, there has never seemed

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Reviews

Praise for Why People Believe Weird Things

"This sparkling book romps over the range of science and anti-science."
--Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel

"Splendid."
--Vanity Fair

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About the Author

Michael Shermer; Foreword by Stephen Jay Gould

Michael Shermer is the author of The Believing Brain, Why People Believe Weird Things, The Science of Good and Evil, The Mind Of The Market, Why Darwin Matters, Science Friction, How We Believe and other books on the evolution of human beliefs and behavior. He is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, the editor of Skeptic.com, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University. He lives in Southern California.

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Available Formats and Book Details

Why People Believe Weird Things
Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time
Michael Shermer; Foreword by Stephen Jay Gould

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Henry Holt and Co.
Holt Paperbacks
September 2002
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780805070897
ISBN10: 0805070893
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 384 pages, Includes twenty-five black-and-white illustrations
$18.99

Abridged Digital Audio

Abridged  Digital Audio
Macmillan Audio
March 2003
Abridged Digital Audio
ISBN: 9781593972929
ISBN10: 159397292X
Audio Run Time: 3:00
$8.99

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Henry Holt and Co.
Holt Paperbacks
September 2002
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429996761
ISBN10: 1429996765
384 pages, Includes twenty-five black-and-white illustrations
$9.99
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