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Knowing & Not Knowing

The willing suspension of disbelief takes over Shermer’s brain

I confess — when it comes to writing a film review I’m not much of a skeptic. I wrote my first review about the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still for Scientific American, a film I really enjoyed … until all my science fiction friends and scientist colleagues told me that they thought the filmed sucked! Wow, how did I miss that? The answer: the willing suspension of disbelief.

When it comes to films and television movies, I suspend my skepticism in order to enjoy the experience. When I watch movies with my daughter she’s constantly pointing out scenery inconsistencies, plot anomalies, and the like, and I’m always telling her that I don’t want to know because it takes me out of the scene and plops me back into my living room, which tends to be a far less interesting place than being on the bridge of the Titanic, inside the pod trying to get HAL to open the pod bay doors, or face to face with Gort the robot, trying desperately to remember what it was I am suppose to tell him so that he doesn’t zap me with his lazar helmet. For the record, it’s “Gort, Klaatu Barada Nikto,” which I translated as “Gort, Klaatu says don’t destroy Earth just yet … and come get me and bring me back to life, because these idiot humans shot me again.” (continue reading...)

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The Belief Trilogy

This is a brief video introduction to the power of belief through the three books of my trilogy: Why People Believe Weird Things, How We Believe, The Science of Good and Evil, and (pace Douglas Adams) volume 4 of the trilogy, The Mind of the Market. The first volume is on science and pseudoscience and, as the title says, why people believe weird things. Vol. 2, How We Believe, is on why people believe in God (but the publisher didn’t want to call it that so they went with the more generic title on belief). Vol. 3 is on why we are moral, but since the book deals more than with the evolutionary origins of morality, they once again went with the broader title. Vol. 4, then, expands on the theme of belief in the realm of economics, and why people believe weird things about money and why markets seem to have a mind of their own.

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Is Religion a Force for Good or Evil in the World?

Michael Shermer and Dinesh D’Souza go toe-to-toe on some of the greatest issues related to science and religion: is there evidence for God’s existence, what is the proper relationship between science and religion, and has religion been a force for good or evil in the world? (continue reading…)

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