Why People Believe Weird Things – September 2015

About This Project

Selected by Helder GuimarĂ£es


“The mechanisms that make people believe in things that are not true or do not exist has always fascinated me. Understanding the part that turns something unreal into something real is very useful for a magician to use in order to create stronger moments with the audience. Michael Shermer explores this in a fascinating way using examples from many different areas like paranormal, religion and pseudoscience. And if you think really smart people cannot fall into this trap, read the section where Voltaire Pangloss makes his appearance. An interesting and also funny journey that will make you go a little bit deeper into the believing factor of the human mind. Don’t let yourself be fooled by this book, but let it tell you how you can be self-deceived.”
– Helder GuimarĂ£es


About the Book
The book covers a wide range of subjects. ESP, UFOs, Psychics, and Fire Walking are analyzed and debunked. The longest sections of the book take on more substantive issues like creationism. The Holocaust denial is also analyzed, as well as the reasons people show the “facts” that best suit them. The book was originally published in 1997, and Michael Shermer gives a powerful argument that deserves to be carefully read and studied. Skeptics and critical thinkers can learn something from it. But more importantly, it’s a book to give those who maybe aren’t as skeptical as you, those who need some clear and reasonable arguments to gently push them in a more critical direction and into viewing the world in a more analytical way.


About the Author
Michael Brant Shermer is an American science writer, historian of science and founder of The Skeptics Society which is devoted to investigating pseudoscientific and supernatural claims. The Skeptics Society currently has over 55,000 members. Shermer also likes to engage in debates on topics pertaining to pseudoscience and religion in which he emphasizes scientific skepticism and analytical thinking. In TV, he is also the producer and co-host of the 13-hour Fox Family television series Exploring the Unknown. Since April 2001, he has been a monthly columnist for Scientific American magazine and is also a scientific advisor to the American Council on Science and Health. He was once a fundamentalist Christian, but ceased to believe in the existence of God during his graduate studies. He also describes himself as an advocate for humanist philosophy as well as the science of morality. His TED Talks are widely popular and focus on the same theme as the book, and also on “the pattern of self-deception.”