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Neither a book for the fun-poking skeptic, nor the agnostic, or even the believer. The author fills his pages with a shockingly dull approach, given the book's fun subject matter. If this dry narrative wasn't bad enough, the author indulges in endless Condescension, NOT Smugness with all the fun that word implies, but the Condescension one expects from a long tenured grade-school teacher. This was so bad that I became so convinced that the publishers forced the writer to include a "How to enlighten people, without talking down" section at the end of each chapter which some times, some how, manages to be worse then the proceeding discussion.
(For the record, I'm a huge fan of Dawkins and Hitchen's books on Atheism. I love books on Skepticism.)
Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, this book will leave you questioning your own decision making ability, but not for the reasons the author hopes.
14 of 19 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True to be better than the print version?
Yes. By listening to the opinions and philosophies of the author, it is possible to engage in conversation, either internally or with others. While there are many beliefs that are based upon popular misconceptions of facts, such as the "fake" moon landing, the author also takes on religion - any religion - and belief in God. He is a died in the wool skeptic, and approaches all topics from the skeptic's point of view. If you like the comedy of Bill Maher on HBO, you will understand the point of view of this author. The good part about listening to the book instead of reading it, I was able to interact with the opinions and statements made by the author.
The reading was very good and matter-of-fact in a way that allowed the author's philosophy to come through rather than the narrator's beliefs. It was an enjoyable read and a good introduction to the world view of others (I am a Christian and so disagree with some of the author's opinions, but did not find them to be objectionable.)
What other book might you compare 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True to and why?
I tend to enjoy listening to books that expand my mind. Freakonomics, How the Mind works, other non-fiction books that allow me to learn are very enjoyable to me. The 50 Popular Beliefs was a very interesting book that, in my experience, revealed much more of the author's philosophy that actual facts - although there are many facts in the book that are irrefutable. I particularly enjoyed his use of the research of Randi ("The Amazing Randi") who has done a lot of research into ESP, Nostradamus, and psychics. Even if you are able to understand that charlatans exist in the paranormal world but think the phenomenon is viable, the research into how a skeptic discounts the experience is perceived by others is terrific. Since reviewing the Randi materials, I have been able to spot the things that psychics do that are not honest.
What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?
I learned a different point of world view, although I disagree with the religious portion of that view.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful
Guy's book was well narrated by Erik Synnesrvedt. I'm sure that if you have some very firmly held beliefs that you'll find some of the chapters challenging or even objectionable. However the author, whilst consistently promoting a scientific and skeptical approach, is nevertheless mindful that his readers may have different views and so he comes across as an educationalist rather than as a pugilist.
I recall that one reviewer felt that Guy's book confirmed his/her distancing from religion, however this really does depend on precisely what your belief system consists of. For example if you believe that Intelligent Design Theory is the last word on our origins then you will find this book most objectionable, if on the other hand you are comfortable with the notion that the Bible addresses the 'why' questions (Why are we here?) and leaves science to answer the 'how' questions (How did we get here?) then you will find this book both stimulating and thought provoking, even if you cannot come to the same conclusions.
Any additional comments?
Very predictable and repetitious, and not even entertaining. Don't waste your money as I did.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful