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Why People Believe Weird Things

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  • Full Title: Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time
  • Author(s): Michael Shermer, foreword by Stephen Jay Gould
  • Year Published: 1997 (original edition), 2002 (revised edition)
  • Publisher: W.H. Freeman and Company (original edition); Henry Holt and Company (revised edition)
  • Publication Type: Academic
  • ISBN-10: 0-7167-3090-1 (hardcover original edition), 0-7167-3387-0 (paperback original edition), 0-8050-7089-3 (paperback revised edition)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-7167-3090-3 (hardcover original edition), 978-0-7167-3387-4 (paperback original edition), 978-0-8050-7089-7 (paperback revised edition)
  • Description: This book is a collection of essays, most of which have nothing specific to do with Objectivism or Ayn Rand. Shermer is director of the Skeptics Society and the publisher of Skeptic magazine. The majority of the book is about things like UFOs and Holocaust deniers, with just one chapter accusing Objectivism of being a cult. A new papaerback edition with addtional material was issued in 2002.


Chapters significantly related to Ayn Rand or Objectivism are indicated in bold.

Part 1: Science and Skepticism

  1. I Am Therefore I Think
  2. The Most Precious Thing We Have
  3. How Thinking Goes Wrong

Part 2: Pseudoscience and Superstition

  1. Deviations
  2. Through the Invisible
  3. Abducted!
  4. Epidemics of Accusations
  5. The Unlikeliest Cult

Part 3: Evolution and Creationism

  1. In the Beginning
  2. Confronting Creationists
  3. Science Defended and Science Defined

Part 4: History and Pseudohistory

  1. Doing Donahue
  2. Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened, and Why Do They Say It?
  3. How We Know the Holocaust Happened
  4. Pigeonholes and Continuums

Part 5: Hope Springs Eternal

  1. Dr. Tipler Meets Dr. Pangloss
  2. Why Do People Believe Weird Things?
  3. Why Smart People Believe Weird Things [revised edition]

Related Links

Reviews, Criticism and Analysis

The following perspectives on this book are available online:

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