- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages; 4 edition (August 5, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 007287953X
- ISBN-13: 978-0072879537
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.7 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,319,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age 4th Edition
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Put best in their own words on page 2, the authors state:
"You hear a lot of `whats', but seldom any good `whys'. You hear the beliefs, but seldom any solid reasons behind them - nothing substantial enough to indicate that these assertions are likely to be true. You may hear naiveté, passionate advocacy, fierce denunciation, one-sided sifting of evidence, defense of the party line, leaps of faith, jumps to false conclusions, plunges into wishful thinking, and courageous stands on the shaky ground of subjective certainty. But the good reasons are missing. Without good `whys', our beliefs are simply arbitrary, with no more claim to knowledge than the random choice of a playing card. Without good `whys' to guide us, our beliefs lose their value in a world where beliefs are already a dime a dozen."
While this thinking may not resonate with everyone, the reality is that it should. If society as a whole shifted to more rational thought and a consistent standard of scrutiny among all beliefs, there would be a lot less friction on this planet and a lot more level headed views. How to Think About Weird Things offers a comprehensive overview of rational thinking aimed at causing such a positive shift, and thus I recommend this book to any serious thinker.
My wife is a believer in all things paranormal, and I am a true skeptic with an education in experimental psychology. We have a shaky truce in our house about these issues, and I have developed an intense interest in the claims made in astrology, channeling, ESP, NDE and the like.
This book lays out the logic for analyzing claims made in the name of science or the paranormal. We are told first of all that knowledge without evidence is not knowledge; it may constitute a belief, but it is not knowledge. What is reliable evidence? What is objective truth? What is the value of anecdotal evidence? What are the criteria of adequacy for a hypothesis? How is a scientific study properly set up? What sort of studies can establish the effectiveness of a medical treatment beyond a reasonable doubt?
The author discusses all of this and more as he applies the logic learned to medicine, dowsing, astrology, ESP, Channeling, and even UFO abductions. Its an informative, entertaining book that will educate without boring you or even making your poor brain work overtime. If nothing else you can read the book, and impress (or bore) your friends by telling them you just read a book on applied epistemology.
The authors do a pretty good job of giving each of these issues a fair treatment. E.g. they don't claim that UFOs are non-existant, or impossible to exist. They just claim that for the set of phenomena reported as UFOs, there are other, simpler, explanations.
Somewhere in the book it says "The more a theory contradicts your existing beliefs, the more suspicious you should be of it" (paraphrasing). What I'm driving at is that if you have a lot of beliefs about weird things, like ESP, etc. you will find a lot of the things in this book hard to swallow. If you're already a skeptic you'll be nodding your head a lot.
However, if you believe in something and are trying to convince someone else to believe it too, the tools in this book are probably the only ones that will accomplish the deed.