Why People Believe Weird Things

  • by Michael Shermer
  • Narrated by Michael Shermer
  • 3 hrs and 0 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

UFO abductions, television psychics, paranormal phenomena, skeptics and believers alike, find themselves debating truths and lies in the strange web of pseudoscience and the occult. With everyday normal life moving too fast to comprehend, people are turning to the bizarre and wacky for comfort. Now, director of the Skeptics Society Michael Shermer explores the very human reasons why we find other worldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing. The eternal search for meaning and spiritual fulfillment leads us astray by extraordinary claims and controversial ideas, particularly those in the realms of superstition and the supernatural. This celebrates the scientific spirit and the joy to be found in rationally exploring the world's greatest mysteries.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

No Why, not Know Why

I was very interested in this topic, as a research psychologist who knows quite a bit about the depth of studies that examine the biases in how people make inferences. I found this book immensely disappointing. It "reads" (listens) much more like a diatribe against specific beliefs some people hold than any reasoned explanation in depth about "why" people believe what they believew when others do not, and when much evidence is to the contrary.

I did find the section on the holocost deniers interesing, but the book could have just as well been all about that (which is what the author really seemed mostly to want to write about). I could say so much more, but the key is that he focuses on the weird things far far more than anything about the "why," where there could have been so much more depth--which does not seem to exist in his examination.
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- Quotes&More

This book sadly misses the point.

When I brought this book, I was expecting an audiobook focused on the philosophical and psychological causes of false beliefs. Instead, this book is just a long skeptic diatribe directed towards fraudulent psychics, creationists, UFO abductees and holocaust deniers. The author even took the time to launch himself in a poorly and bitter attack on Ayn Rand that, in my opinion, reeks of personal bitterness. The last ten minutes are dedicated, almost as an afterthought, to summarily explain the "excuses" humans use to believe in "Weird Things".

I was expecting something close to Malcom Gladwell, Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins. Mr. Shermer fell short.

If you want a book to refute Creationism, Holocaust Denial or encounters of the third kind, this Audiobook is pure ammunition for your cause. If you REALLY want to know why people believe in real things, please invest your credit/money elsewhere.
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- Luc

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-24-2000
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio