Michael Shermer says the human tendency to believe strange things -- from alien abductions to dowsing rods -- boils down to two of the brain's most basic, hard-wired survival skills. He explains what they are, and how they get us into trouble.
▶ Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deception. A questioning approach to a range of strange beliefs that get into our heads. Shermer's explanation of these is that we are pattern seeking creatures who tend to invest our patterns with supernatural agency...
The Baloney Detection Kit: A 10-Point Checklist for Science Literacy
10-Points: How reliable is the source of the claim? Does the source make similar claims? Have the claims been verified by somebody else? Does this fit with the way the world works? Has anyone tried to disprove the claim? Where does the preponderance of evidence point? Is the claimant playing by the rules of science? Is the claimant providing positive evidence? Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory? Are personal beliefs driving the claim?
Kay H. wrote: Michael Shermer. Anything that asks you to deny demonstrable fact, to force yourself into ignorance, to accept a lie in place of truth, is not a smart move. No wonder violence, crime, neglect, and abuse are so often correlated with religious fervor. The very basis of religious indoctrination, of faith, is forcing a person to deny what is natural, truthful, and human.