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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Fun
It's such a joy to read fine minds analyzing the WHY of so many culteral phenomena. This was an extra credit book for a class but I couldn't sell it back to the bookstore. Keep it and read it and you'll see why we believe the way we do.
Published on July 9, 2003 by Laurel Renee Henson

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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How about less generalizing?
When I learned that Prometheus Press had published a book about critical thinking written by two well-known skeptics, I didn't have a very difficult time imagining what the book would be like, how the authors' attitude towards alleged paranormal phenomena would manifest itself, and even guess what their conclusions would look like.

My guesses were these: they...
Published on November 29, 2005 by Stefan Isaksson


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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How about less generalizing?, November 29, 2005
This review is from: Hoaxes, Myths, and Mayhem: Why We Need Critical Thinking (Paperback)
When I learned that Prometheus Press had published a book about critical thinking written by two well-known skeptics, I didn't have a very difficult time imagining what the book would be like, how the authors' attitude towards alleged paranormal phenomena would manifest itself, and even guess what their conclusions would look like.

My guesses were these: they would present several different paranormal and hard-to-explain cases, both famous and not so famous ones; they'd be extremely skeptical to everything in their path while furiously debunking everything they could lay their hands on; and reach the conclusion that true science is the only way to go and that pseudo science is a poison that must be eliminated at any cost.

Not very surprisingly, I was right. Does that mean the book is boring and predictable? No, absolutely not. It's book that's truly worth reading, and that goes for skeptics and believers alike. But how is that?

Well, because the book is really a somewhat easy-to-understand introduction to the idea of critical thinking. What is critical thinking, how do you do it, and perhaps most important of all, WHY do you do it? Everyone is born with the ability to think, but this ability can be exercised and improved. And the better one is to use this magnificent brain of ours, the better the chances are of succeeding in life. Also, if you happen to be one of the "believers", then Hoaxes, Myths, and Manias is still an interesting book to buy, since you'll easily learn how the "enemy", i.e. the skeptic movement, thinks and acts.

But, the book does have one huge weakness. The authors aren't afraid to generalize. And this generalization results in their conclusions to very complex phenomena being based on very sparse evidence. For instance, the entire UFO phenomena, more or less, is discarded by quickly explaining how the famous Roswell incident in 1947 had nothing whatsoever to do with extraterrestrials and how the airship sightings in early 20th century America simply were fakes. So since Roswell and the airships had natural explanations - UFO phenomena is no mystery at all.

This arrogance is extremely unfortunate, because the authors write in a very, VERY fascinating way about how reality is very much a social construction, and how cultural conditions to a very large extent affect how and what we see as normal and not normal.

And in this era, characterized as it is by social anxiety and cultural antagonism, more people ought to know about that.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Fun, July 9, 2003
This review is from: Hoaxes, Myths, and Mayhem: Why We Need Critical Thinking (Paperback)
It's such a joy to read fine minds analyzing the WHY of so many culteral phenomena. This was an extra credit book for a class but I couldn't sell it back to the bookstore. Keep it and read it and you'll see why we believe the way we do.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How about less generalizing?, November 22, 2005
By 
This review is from: Hoaxes, Myths, and Mayhem: Why We Need Critical Thinking (Paperback)
When I learned that Prometheus Press had published a book about critical thinking written by two well-known skeptics, I didn't have a very difficult time imagining what the book would be like, how the authors' attitude towards alleged paranormal phenomena would manifest itself, and even guess what their conclusions would look like.

My guesses were these: they would present several different paranormal and hard-to-explain cases, both famous and not so famous ones; they'd be extremely skeptical to everything in their path while furiously debunking everything they could lay their hands on; and reach the conclusion that true science is the only way to go and that pseudo science is a poison that must be eliminated at any cost.

Not very surprisingly, I was right. Does that mean the book is boring and predictable? No, absolutely not. It's book that's truly worth reading, and that goes for skeptics and believers alike. But how is that?

Well, because the book is really a somewhat easy-to-understand introduction to the idea of critical thinking. What is critical thinking, how do you do it, and perhaps most important of all, WHY do you do it? Everyone is born with the ability to think, but this ability can be exercised and improved. And the better one is to use this magnificent brain of ours, the better the chances are of succeeding in life. Also, if you happen to be one of the "believers", then Hoaxes, Myths, and Manias is still an interesting book to buy, since you'll easily learn how the "enemy", i.e. the skeptic movement, thinks and acts.

But, the book does have one huge weakness. The authors aren't afraid to generalize. And this generalization results in their conclusions to very complex phenomena being based on very sparse evidence. For instance, the entire UFO phenomena, more or less, is discarded by quickly explaining how the famous Roswell incident in 1947 had nothing whatsoever to do with extraterrestrials and how the airship sightings in early 20th century America simply were fakes. So since Roswell and the airships had natural explanations - UFO phenomena is no mystery at all.

This arrogance is extremely unfortunate, because the authors write in a very, VERY fascinating way about how reality is very much a social construction, and how cultural conditions to a very large extent affect how and what we see as normal and not normal.

And in this era, characterized as it is by social anxiety and cultural antagonism, more people ought to know about that.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Up the Garden Path, September 22, 2010
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This review is from: Hoaxes, Myths, and Mayhem: Why We Need Critical Thinking (Paperback)
We can all learn and practice to be skeptical. Consider all the information being given and then analyse it critically. Hoaxes, Myths and Manias is a good exercise book to train one to think critically with the aid of real case studies.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critical thinking, mysteries analyzed, May 12, 2003
This review is from: Hoaxes, Myths, and Mayhem: Why We Need Critical Thinking (Paperback)
A very good book on critical thinking, the book covers interesting topics like the Monkey Man panic, the Roswell UFO crash, and other lesser-known mysteries. The book also gives good tips for critical thinking and how to approach unexplained mysteries from an analytic point of view.
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3.0 out of 5 stars It was not what I thought. I was epecting ..., September 26, 2014
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It was not what I thought. I was epecting a broad research about the most important myths and hoaxes in history. On the contrary, it is a discussion of several particular situation case studies, which I believe are not so crucial for mankind nor interesting.
Nevertheless, it is well written and enjoyable.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Worrisome when the authors make unsubstantiated conclusions, February 24, 2013
This review is from: Hoaxes, Myths, and Mayhem: Why We Need Critical Thinking (Paperback)
I began this book with such enthusiasm, but found it difficult to read past this paragraph early on:

"Possession of emotions is one of the things that defines us as people. While other animals may be said to have moods, instincts, or even thoughts, the human animal is the only one with true emotions as we know them. We experience avarice and anger, joy and jealousy, hatred and love...."

For such thoughtful authors, who are attempting to raise the bar on critical thinking and ensure that readers learn to distinguish fact from opinion and make reasoned arguments, to make such an unsubstantiated, and really quite ridiculous assertion (particularly when it doesn't even advance their thesis), undermines their ability to do the job their book demands and diminishes their credibility. Too many sociologists, psychologists, cognitive scientists and others feel compelled to insert false and regularly debunked (and practically always different) claims about human uniqueness, even when entirely misplaced to advance their larger argument.

Ironically, in this case, their statement actually stands in opposition to most of the false claims about human and nonhuman animal distinctions, which argue that animals may have emotions (one need not look far to witness jealousy, joy, and love among other species, not to mention fear) but cannot think.

I am trying to not judge the entire book by such an early statement, but it casts doubt on the authors' own ability to think critically, not a good sign in a book on critical thinking.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as expected, May 28, 2004
By 
T. O'Neil "a reader" (Camillus, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hoaxes, Myths, and Mayhem: Why We Need Critical Thinking (Paperback)
My only quarrel with the book is that they don't go as in depth into the case studies as you think they would. The description on the back cover is a little misleading. The authors average about 7 pages for each case study.
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Hoaxes, Myths, and Mayhem: Why We Need Critical Thinking
Hoaxes, Myths, and Mayhem: Why We Need Critical Thinking by Robert E. Bartholomew (Paperback - February 21, 2003)
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