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Why People Believe Weird Things - WhiteFox

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September 16th, 2011

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06:51 am - Why People Believe Weird Things
I'm currently reading Why People Belive Weirrd Things by Michael Shermer.  As a whole it's a very enjoyable read, and I totally agree with the base line phelosophy of the book.  The idea that humans are inharently programed to believe, but are not inharently programed to be skeptical.  I also firmly believe that to truely understand the world around us skepticism is required.  However, I find some of his arguments down right foolish, and some of his statistical analysis to be seriously lacking.  He has a nasty habbit of ignoring the background of beliefes.

One example of his foolishness:  "Shouldn't we know by now that ghosts cannot exist unless the laws of science are faulty or incomplete?"  Yep, I do know that.  I also know that the laws of science are indeed incomplete.

Another is a poll of supposedly foolish things people believe amoungst which are:  Witches, The lost continent of Atlantis and Noah's flood

Ok, I know several people that would self identify as witches.  So, witches do indeed exist.

The lost continent of Atlantis is likely a volcanic island in the medatraining.  The archilogical remnants indicate that before the island was distroyed it was home to a culture that was at the cutting edge of technilogical advancement for the era.  And Noah's flood was almost certainly a story based on the orriginal flooding of the dead sea.  I don't believe in every detail of these stories, but I do believe they were based on real events.  And my belief is based on scientific information (NOVA did great documenteries on both). But I could say the same thing for the Apollo moon landings.  I firmly believe they happened, but I don't nessasarely believe every detail of the "offical" history of them.

I'm sure as I read on I will find many more examples of this kind.  But to me it doesn't really take away from the core message.  Be skeptical, do not believe because you are told to, believe because you have a reason to.

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