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50 popular beliefs that people think are true
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Library Journal Review
This book will blow readers' minds (and it should) by making them realize how easy it is to hold a strong belief without applying either critical thinking or skepticism. Harrison (Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know About Our Biological Diversity) pokes gaping holes into common beliefs in the supernatural (e.g., ghosts, horoscopes, angels, and miracles) and the tendency to believe that only personal religious tenets are correct despite total ignorance about other religious doctrine. Along those lines, for example, he debunks reincarnation by pointing out that over 100 billion people have lived on Earth but only 7 billion live today-and therefore, because of the shortage, people must be sharing bodies. Harrison guides us gently but firmly along an explorative path of our collective illogic, strong tendencies toward easy answers and magical thinking, and susceptibility to confirmation bias. He doesn't judge readers for buying into beliefs that have no real basis in fact and science, but instead asks them to second-guess the tendency to readily accept the unproven and the illogical as true. VERDICT An outstanding book that is required reading no matter what you believe.-Judith A. Matthews, Michigan State Univ. Lib., East Lansing (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Prometheus, the premier publisher of skeptical literature, here issues a book that deserves to be shelved alongside the works of such giants of the field as Randi, Shermer, Kurtz, and Nickell. Combining lively prose and keen analytical reasoning, its author examines some of contemporary culture's most commonly held beliefs. From the seemingly mystical (psychics; the predictions of Nostradamus) to the patently ludicrous (vaccines cause autism; NASA faked the moon landings), not to mention the just plain silly (the Bible Code; astrology is based in science), commonly held beliefs are given the critical once-over. Harrison shows how belief in the unsupportable is frequently the product of gullibility, lack of logical reasoning, and wishful thinking. There's also confirmation bias, the very common tendency to remember things that seem to confirm one's belief, such as a hit by a psychic during a cold reading, while forgetting everything that contradicts the belief, such as all the wild (and wildly incorrect) guesses the psychic also threw out. The book is sure to anger believers, but, as Harrison reminds us, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and the proof to support these commonly held beliefs just ain't there. A valuable, not to mention very entertainingly written, addition to the literature of skepticism.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist
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