Sunday, 23 December 2007
The Skeptics Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions by Robert Todd Carroll
I just picked it up to look up one thing, and then had a bit of a browse, and then ended up reading the thing cover to cover.
This resource gives you loads of background facts to back up the claims and assertions it makes (unlike most of the kinds of woo it examines) and as such rises above most popular books which cover far less subject matter far more sensationally.
You will learn about the way thinking can go wrong with common logical fallacies and ways that people fool themselves, all covered in a very general sense, but then lots of details of the many fads, cults, cons, quacks, conspiracy theories and charismatic nut jobs which have more or less succeeded in the world are piled up for your digestion. You may start by sitting like me thinking how clever you are for not falling for them, until you come across things which you either have been taken in by, or, if you are honest, may well have flirted with if you encountered them in the wild. The whole read then becomes even more rewarding as you do now realise that you are arming yourself against woo for the future (bearing in mind you now know you are a poor human idiot like everyone else) and not just laughing at the poor human idiots who have fallen for it before.
I particularly loved the occasional bit of desiccated humour which is lightly sprinkled throughout.
A unique reference for anyone who prefers to live in the real world and plans on not being duped by woo.
4 out of 5 stars.