Believing Bullshit

Believing Bullshit

How Not to Get Sucked Into An Intellectual Black Hole

Book - 2011
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This book identifies eight key mechanisms that can transform a set of ideas into a psychological flytrap. The author suggests that, like the black holes of outer space, from which nothing, not even light, can escape, our contemporary cultural landscape contains numerous intellectual black-holes--belief systems constructed in such a way that unwary passers-by can similarly find themselves drawn in. While such self-sealing bubbles of belief will most easily trap the gullible or poorly educated, even the most intelligent and educated of us are potentially vulnerable. Some of the world's greatest thinkers have fallen in, never to escape.

This witty, insightful critique will help immunize readers against the wiles of cultists, religious and political zealots, conspiracy theorists, promoters of flaky alternative medicines, and various other nutcases by clearly setting out the tricks of the trade by which such insidious belief systems are created and maintained.
Publisher: Amherst, NY : Prometheus Books, 2011
ISBN: 9781616144111
Branch Call Number: 165 LAW
Characteristics: 271 p. ; 23 cm

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n
naturalist
Apr 21, 2016

look for
“Cults of Unreason”
by Christopher Riche
Farrar Straus & Giroux; 1st American Edition, 1974, hc, ISBN-10: 0374133247, ISBN-13: 978-0374133245

roaddogg09 Nov 02, 2011

Law details the way of not being sucked into intellectual black holes. As he describes, he isn't attacking the beliefs themselves, but the methods people use to defend the beliefs against criticism. These defenses, as he shows, do not hold up to scrutiny and are not intellectually honest. Many of the examples he uses are from a religious context, but not exclusively.

My favorite chapters had to be "I Just Know!" and "Piling Up the Anecdotes". In "I Just Know," Law describes how people justify belief by saying that they just know it is true. Law will have nothing of this, and shows how saying "I just know" does not hold up against the eye of reason. "Piling Up the Anecdotes" shows how personal experiences are not good evidence for a claim.

There were a few things Law talked about that I didn't totally agree with, but that doesn't mean I didn't learn a thing or two. I also would've liked a little more depth to some of the discussions. The things he should of elaborated on would've been beyond the scope of the overall book, but should've been included for completeness.

Other than those two criticisms, Law's book was fun to read and shed light on how not to be sucked into an intellectual black hole. I plan on handing this out to a few friends who buy into the nonsense spread by works like, "The Secret"

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