Goodreads Review: Why People Believe Weird Things

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our TimeWhy People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I grabbed this book, expecting it to explore and debunk (or confirm) some of the weird things that people let cross their minds in the dark hours of the evening; even the chapter headings seemed to imply that would be the result.
What I found instead is a fascinating, psychology-lite explanation of just how people come to some of these conclusions. It may not have been the book I thought I was getting, but it was certainly interesting.
Providing a bit of insight into the why of how we think rather than just the what of it, the book provides rational explanations for such things as ghosts and flat earth logic, including discussions of what about such things provides comfort and logic to minds that desperately need it.
On closing the book, the only thing I felt could have been done better was the presentation of the weird beliefs themselves; while the book does a decent job of explaining why people cling to these beliefs, even in the face of evidence or when presented with potential alternative explanations, it frequently begins each chapter by presenting the “weird thing” as being utterly ludicrous and overblown, lacking any sense of nuance and leading the reader to genuinely believe in the insanity of anyone who actually believes it.
To be fair, I do tend to think a lot of those folks are crazy, but coming out of the gate swinging when you haven’t even presented the theory seems a little extreme, in my book.
Overall, worth poking at if you have an interest in psychology or the rationales that lead someone to potentially illogical beliefs, but less so if you’re actually looking for weird things.

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