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]

Audiobook [65 MB]

[Buy the book]

Saturday, October 20, 2007

National Geographic: Is It Real? - UFOs

Throughout human history, they have descended from the sky, bearing wisdom and superior technologyor so it's said. Their ships have been apparently caught on film, again and again. According to the thousands of Americans who have been abducted, those devious aliens are snatching citizens of the Earth and doing unspeakable things to them. Are aliens really interfering with human affairs and even interbreeding with us? Examine the most compelling evidence with believers and skeptics alike.

File Name ..........: National.Geographic.-.Is.It.Real.-.Ufos.avi
Total Size (MB) ....: 358,16 MB
Video Length .......: 00:47:00


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Many early science fiction films are now, quite inadvertently (and in most cases undeservedly), objects of camp attention: we laugh at the silly makeup, tin-can special effects, and the naive "high-tech" dialogue. Planet of the Apes is no such film. Its intelligent script, frightening costuming, and savagely effective conclusion (which needs no big-budget special effects to augment its impact) remain both potent and relevant. When Colonel George Taylor (the fabulous Charlton Heston) crash lands his spacecraft on what seems to be an unfamiliar planet, he is captured and held prisoner by a dominant race of hyperrational, articulate apes. However, the ape community is riven with internal dissention, centered in no small part on its policy toward humans, who, on this planet, are treated as mindless animals. Befriended and ultimately assisted by the more liberal simians, Taylor escapes--only to find a more terrifying obstacle confronting his return home. Heavy-handed object lessons abound--the ubiquity of generational warfare, the inflexibility of dogma, the cruelty of prejudice--and the didactic fingerprints of Rod Serling are very much in evidence here. But director Franklin Schaffner has a dark, pop-apocalyptic sci-fi vision all his own, and time has not dulled the monumental emotional impact of the film's climactic payoff shot. If you don't know what I'm talking about here, you owe it to yourself to check out this stone classic, and even if you do, see it with fresh eyes; and don't be surprised if you get the chills all over again... and again... and again. Amazon

Screen Caps:

File Info:

Total Size CD 1 (MB) ....: 687,87 MB
Total Size CD 2 (MB) ....: 688,74 MB
Video Length CD1 .......: 00:56:56
Video Length CD2 .......: 00:50:35
Video Codec Code ...: XVID
Video Codec Name ...: XviD MPEG-4 codec
Video Bitrate ......: 1305 KB/s
Resolution .........: 720 x 288
Framerate ..........: 25 FPS
Color Depth ........: 24 Bits
Audio Codec Code ...: 8192 (0x2000)
Audio Codec Name ...: FAST Multimedia AG DVM (Dolby AC3)
Audio Bitrate ......: 384 KB/s (CBR)
Channels ...........: 5 Ch
Sampling Rate ......: 48000 Hz

[Buy Planet of the Apes - The Legacy Collection]



Richard Dawkins' Lecture in Lynchburg

Richard Dawkins reads excerpts from The God Delusion and answers questions at Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Virginia on October 23, 2006. (App. 2 hours.)

File Size: 307 MB


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Genius - Charles Darwin (2001)

Featuring specially-commissioned footage shot at Down House, the home of Charles Darwin, this fascinating documentary tells the story of an extraordinary man who re-shaped scientific thinking and left the world an invaluable legacy. The program explores Darwin’s personal life, looks at the impact of his work in his own time and on the modern world, and shows how both his life and work were profoundly influenced by his surroundings.

File size: 350 MB


[Buy it]

Friday, October 5, 2007

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Jesus Camp (2006)

The feverish spectacle of a summer camp for evangelical Christian kids is the focus of Jesus Camp, a fascinating if sometimes alarming documentary. (Shortly after its release, the movie gained a new notoriety when Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, who appears near the end of the film, resigned his post amid a male prostitute's allegations of drug use and sexual misconduct.) For most of the film, we follow a charismatic teacher, Becky Fischer, as she trains young soldiers in "God's Army" at a camp in North Dakota. Some of the kids emerge as likable and bright, and eager to continue their work as pint-sized preachers; elsewhere, the visions of children speaking in tongues and falling to the floor in ecstasy are more troubling. Even more arresting is the vision of a generation of children home-schooled to believe that the Bible is science, or Fischer's certainty that America's flawed system of democracy will someday be replaced by a theocracy. (In one scene, a cardboard cut-out of George W. Bush is presented to the children, who react by laying their hands on the figure as though in a religious procession.) Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady maintain neutrality about all this, maybe too much so (they throw in some interviews with radio host Mike Papantonio to provide a liberal-Christian viewpoint) and one would like to know more about the grown-ups presented here. Power broker Haggard is the creepiest person in the film, an insincere smooth talker whose advice to one of the young would-be campgoers comes across as entirely cynical. Time will tell whether the film's Christian soldiers will be marching onward. Amazon

File Name ..........: Jesus.Camp-Soldado.de.Dios[Dual.English-Spanish].avi
Total Size (MB) ....: 781,86 MB
Video Length .......: 01:24:45
Language: English, Spanish (Dual Audio)



[Buy it]
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