Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time - Michael Shermer (Audiobook and E-book)

"Michael Shermer, as head of one of America's leading skeptic organizations, and as a powerful activist and essayist in the service of this operational form of reason, is an important figure in American public life. This book on his methods and experiences and his analysis of the attractions of irrational belief provides an important perspective on the needs and successes of skepticism."
Stephen J. Gould

Few can talk with more personal authority about the range of human beliefs than Michael Shermer. At various times in the past, Shermer has believed in fundamentalist Christianity, alien abductions, Ayn Rand, megavitamin therapy, and deep-tissue massage. Now he believes in skepticism, and his motto is "Cognite tute--think for yourself." This updated edition of Why People Believe Weird Things covers Holocaust denial and creationism in considerable detail, and has chapters on abductions, Satanism, Afrocentrism, near-death experiences, Randian positivism, and psychics. Shermer has five basic answers to the implied question in his title: for consolation, for immediate gratification, for simplicity, for moral meaning, and because hope springs eternal. He shows the kinds of errors in thinking that lead people to believe weird (that is, unsubstantiated) things, especially the built-in human need to see patterns, even where there is no pattern to be seen. Throughout, Shermer emphasizes that skepticism (in his sense) does not need to be cynicism: "Rationality tied to moral decency is the most powerful joint instrument for good that our planet has ever known." Amazon

Also read: Quantum Leaps in the Wrong Direction - Charles M. Wynn

E-book [pdf/epub/mobi - 7 MB]
http://www1.zippyshare.com/v/79332767/file.html
or
http://www.ulozto.net/xc8sPnS/michael-shermer-why-people-believe-weird-things-rar

Audiobook [65 MB]
http://www56.zippyshare.com/v/62699233/file.html
or
http://www.ulozto.net/xkxKdhP/michael-shermer-why-people-believe-weird-things-audiobook-rar

[Buy the book]

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Regarding Shermer's view on Ayn Rand and objectivism, and as a student of objectivism, I have to admit that the absolutist tone of the whole movement can be seen to hang on the tipping point of a slippery slope towards cultish adoration of Ayn Rand. It is tempting to suspend thought and accept objectism without question. But objectivism requires you to question everything, even objectivism itself, in my opinion.

I find I disagree with a few select points: the gold standard thing(I lean more toward the milton friedman ideas), the need for a minimal social safety net (they might actually act as a benefit to capitalism via automatic fiscal/monetary stabelizers), and a few other less central premises.

But I do feel compelled personally to "spread the word". I can see how some people could fall into the cult of personality. But then they would be failing to question objectivism itself. And since its an individual thing, groups are nice but not necesary. I meet with my 3 objectivist friend seldom over lunch and dont subcribe to any publication.

But I still consider myself a student of objectivism and do admire (not adore) Ayn Rand.

Andrew Clunn said...

Bah, Shermer's fundamental criticism of Objectivism stems from him being a moral relativist. he jumps from saying that we cannot know absolutely what morality is, to saying that there is no absolute morality. He then makes the argument that morality must somehow exist within the fabric of the universe to be absolute, and that it's stemming form humanity is a clear indicator that it is relative.

He clearly does not understand Objectivism and its assertion that value (and therefore morality) are founded not in the universe, or in humanity, but in life. So that morality exists as an absolute for life. And further, that morality for humanity can then only change as the nature of humanity changes. Then furthermore, Objectivism is the sound morality of a rational individual who seeks to live of their own free will and self-direction.

Further, the cult thing is a misnomer, as a philosophy must be held its own merits as it's not the fault of any current Objectivist what occurred regarding Objectivism in its infancy.

Peter Davis said...

how can morality be founded in life? the word moral could confuse people i think.. i think some things would work out good for more living things if they did things certain ways.. but that doesn't mean those things are morally correct.. unless it does..

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