Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

UFO abductions… television psychics… creationism… Holocaust denial. Faced with the rapid changes and anxiety of modern life, many people are turning to the alluring comforts of pseudoscience and the occult. In Why People Believe Weird Things, science historian Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine and director of the Skeptics Society, explores the very human reasons we find supernatural phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing. Shermer also reveals the darker and more fearful side of wishful thinking, including Holocaust denial, creationism, the recovered memory movement, alien abduction experiences, the satanic ritual abuse scare and other modern witch crazes, extreme Afrocentrism, and ideologies of racial superiority. A compelling and often disturbing portrait of our immense capacity for self-delusion, Why People Believe Weird Things celebrates the scientific spirit and the joy to be found in rationally exploring the world’s greatest mysteries even if many of the questions remain unanswered. Foreword by Stephen Jay Gould.