Maybe you know someone who swears by the reliability of psychics or who is in regular contact with angels. Or perhaps you're trying to find a nice way of dissuading someone from wasting money on a homeopathy cure. Or you met someone at a party who insisted the Holocaust never happened or that no one ever walked on the moon.
How do you find a gently persuasive way of steering people away from unfounded beliefs, bogus cures, conspiracy theories, and the like? Longtime skeptic Guy P. Harrison shows you how in this down-to-earth, entertaining exploration of commonly held extraordinary claims.
A veteran journalist, Harrison has not only surveyed a vast body of literature, but has also interviewed leading scientists, explored "the most haunted house in America," frolicked in the inviting waters of the Bermuda Triangle, and even talked to a "contrite Roswell alien."
Harrison is not out simply to debunk unfounded beliefs. Wherever possible, he presents alternative scientific explanations, which in most cases are even more fascinating than the wildest speculation. For example, stories about UFOs and alien abductions lack good evidence, but science gives us plenty of reasons to keep exploring outer space for evidence that life exists elsewhere in the vast universe. The proof for Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster may be nonexistent, but scientists are regularly discovering new species, some of which are truly stranger than fiction.
Stressing the excitement of scientific discovery and the legitimate mysteries and wonder inherent in reality, Harrison invites listeners to share the joys of rational thinking and the skeptical approach to evaluating our extraordinary world.
"A much needed tour through common delusions about reality. Harrison writes clearly and succinctly about beliefs that are not supported by science or logic. However, he does so with sympathy and understanding for the reasons so many people find comfort in the irrational." (Victor J. Stenger, author of the New York Times best seller God: The Failed Hypothesis and The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning)
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Skepticism, so Dull & Condescending
- Mr Conway
Be prepared to Question Your Beliefs
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.)
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.
I learned a different point of world view, although I disagree with the religious portion of that view.
- R. Zapor