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Why People Believe Weird Things
Why do so many people believe in mind reading, past-life regression therapy, abductions by extraterrestrials, and ghosts? What has led to the rise of "scientific creationism" and the belief that the Holocaust never happened? Why, in this age of supposed scientific enlightenment, do we seem to be more impressionable than ever? With a no-holds-barred assault on popular superstitions and prejudices, science historian Michael Shermer debunks these extraordinary claims and explores the very human reasons we find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing. But Shermer also reveals the more worrisome side of wishful thinking, including the recovered memory movement, satanic rituals, and other modern witch crazes, and ideologies of racial superiority. Compelling and often disturbing, Why People Believe Weird Things is not only an insightful portrait of our immense capacity for self-delusion but, ultimately, a celebration of the scientific spirit.
The Moral Arc: How Science Makes Us Better People
Bestselling author Michael Shermer's exploration of science and morality that demonstrates how the scientific way of thinking has made people, and society as a whole, more moralFrom Galileo and Newton to Thomas Hobbes and Martin Luther King, Jr., thinkers throughout history have consciously employed scientific techniques to better understand the non-physical world. The Age of Reason and the Enlightenment led theorists to apply scientific reasoning to the non-scientific disciplines of politics, economics, and moral philosophy. Instead of relying on the woodcuts of dissected bodies in old medical texts, physicians opened bodies themselves to see what was there; instead of divining truth through the authority of an ancient holy book or philosophical treatise, people began to explore the book of nature for themselves through travel and exploration; instead of the supernatural belief in the divine right of kings, people employed a natural belief in the right of democracy.In The Moral Arc, Shermer will explain how abstract reasoning, rationality, empiricism, skepticism--scientific ways of thinking--have profoundly changed the way we perceive morality and, indeed, move us ever closer to a more just world.
The Science of Good & Evil: Why People Cheat, Share, Gossip, and Follow the Golden Rule
Psychologist and science historian Shermer explores how humans evolved from social primates to moral primates, how and why morality motivates the human animal, and how the foundation of moral principles can be built upon empirical evidence.
Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia
A scientific exploration into humanity’s obsession with the afterlife and quest for immortality from the bestselling author and skeptic Michael ShermerIn his most ambitious work yet, Shermer sets out to discover what drives humans’ belief in life after death, focusing on recent scientific attempts to achieve immortality by radical life extentionists, extropians, transhumanists, cryonicists, and mind-uploaders, along with utopians who have attempted to create heaven on earth. For millennia, religions have concocted numerous manifestations of heaven and the afterlife, the place where souls go after the death of the physical body. Religious leaders have toiled to make sense of this place that a surprising 74% of Americans believe exists, but from which no one has ever returned to report what it is really like.Heavens on Earth concludes with an uplifting paean to purpose and progress and what we can do in the here-and-now, whether or not there is a hereafter.
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