Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudo-Science, Superstition, and Bogus Notions of Our Time

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudo-Science, Superstition, and Bogus Notions of Our Time

Article excerpt

Michael Shermer. Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudo-Science, Superstition, and Bogus Notions of Our Time. New York: MJF Books, 1997.

The answer to why people believe weird things is spelled out in chapter three of this book, titled "How Thinking Goes Wrong: Twenty-five Fallacies That Lead Us to Believe Weird Things." Among the fallacies listed are the following:

1. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc: The fact that two events follow each other in sequence does not mean they are connected causally.

2. Ad hominem and Tu quoque: Literally "to the man" and "you also," these fallacies redirect the focus from thinking about the idea to thinking about the person holding the idea.

3. Either-or: The tendency to dichotomize the world so that if you discredit one position, the observer is forced to accept the other.

4. Anecdotes do not make science: Without corroborative evidence from other sources, or physical proof of some sort, ten anecdotes are no better than one.

5. Circular reasoning: This occurs when the conclusion or claim is merely a restatement of one of the premises.

6. Effort inadequacies and the need for certainty, control, and simplicity: Most of us, most of the time, want to control our environment, and want nice, neat, simple explanations. …

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