Why People Believe Weird Things Book Summary - Why People Believe Weird Things Book explained in key points

Why People Believe Weird Things summary

Michael Shermer

Pseudoscience, Superstition and Other Confusions of Our Time

3.7 (36 ratings)
16 mins
Table of Contents

    Why People Believe Weird Things
    Summary of 9 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 9

    Science is based on facts – pseudoscience is based on belief.

    What separates real science from pseudoscience? Pseudosciences like astrology or creationism claim to be “scientific,” but they actually reject scientific laws and methods.

    Science is based on laws that can be measured. A scientific law describes an action in nature that can be proved by tests. Once we’ve determined a certain law, we can use it as a basis for further theories and research.

    Consider the law of gravity. We can test it again and again, and confirm that it’s always true. Scientists can research the physical world further, knowing that the law of gravity will always be a part of it.

    A scientific theory can also be tested, but it’s different from a law, because it’s possible to prove a theory wrong. The fact that theories don’t have to be correct is actually one of science’s greatest strengths. Anyone can research a theory, and correct and improve it if necessary.

    Pseudoscientific theories, however, aren’t based on facts. They’re based on belief, which also means they can’t be proven wrong, because you can’t disprove someone’s subjective belief.

    Unlike science, pseudosciences don’t involve any sort of laws or evidence. Instead, they’re based on intangible ideas or assumptions.

    Divination, for instance, is based on the assumption that certain people have innate psychic powers. Yet throughout human history, no one has ever been able to prove that psychic powers exist. Because divination isn’t based on evidence, it can’t be tested.

    Ultimately, pseudosciences can never be proven wrong – or right – which is where they differ from science. A scientist would say, “x is true because I can prove that x is true,” whereas a pseudoscientist would say, “x is true because you can’t prove that x is wrong.”

    Want to see all full key ideas from Why People Believe Weird Things?

    Key ideas in Why People Believe Weird Things

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Why People Believe Weird Things about?

    Why People Believe Weird Things provides an overview of the most common pseudoscientific and supernatural theories. It’ll teach you why so many people believe in them, why they’re wrong, and what methods proponents of pseudosciences use to assert their incorrect theories. It also offers both rational arguments for science, and rational arguments against pseudoscience.

    Who should read Why People Believe Weird Things?

    • Anyone interested in science or psychology
    • Anyone who wants to learn about incorrect but widely held beliefs
    • Anyone interested in the difference between science and faith

    About the Author

    Michael Shermer is a science journalist, historian and founder of The Skeptics Society – a non-profit organization of over 55,000 members that promotes scientific skepticism and fights pseudoscience. He’s the editor in chief of Skeptic, and writes monthly for Scientific American. He’s also published many other books, such as Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design and The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share and Follow the Golden Rule.

    Categories with Why People Believe Weird Things

    Books like Why People Believe Weird Things

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    27 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial