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50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are…

50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True

by Guy P. Harrison

Other authors: Kevin Hand (Illustrator), Phil Plait (Foreword)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 5 of 5
A good reference of commonly held beliefs and refutations of said beliefs.
I actually had an experience with one of his chapters; regarding Holy Relics. Comic Con (a convention of Science-Fiction, Fantasy and Comic Book fans) cameto my local area this past weekend. The lines of people waiting for hours to lay down their hard-earned money for an autograph or the chance to speak to an actor from their favorite TV show or movie never ceases to amaze me. (Full disclosure: I was one of those people, too. I waited in line for almost an hour to get a photo of me and Norman Reedus autographed by Mr. Reedus.) These photos and signatures are the Holy Relics of our time. "This Action Figure was signed by the actor himself!" "I got to HUG Kevin Sorbo!" "Eliza Dushku liked my T-shirt!" All these are similar to Rosaries blessed by a Pope, a vial of "saint's blood" or even slivers of the True Cross. We hope that some of the actor's talent, luck, or charisma will transfer by osmosis to us and make our lives better or make people think better of us in some way- Fame by Contact. ( )
  DeborahJ2016 | Oct 26, 2016 |
Critical thinking written so that people can understand it without a philosophy vocabulary - in short, a book I could give to my freshman students without worrying they would get lost because they haven't learned the language yet. The author covers a wide range of subjects (50, to be exact) but he groups them in like categories, so all the cryptozoological claims are in one place, ghosts and haunted houses together, etc. He doesn't shy away from exploring religious claims, either. Two minor issues I have: the constant reminder of how he is respectful to people with irrational beliefs begins to get very wearisome, especially if you don't agree that all of these beliefs are worthy of being treated respectfully; also, toward the end, it appears the editor began dropping off to sleep occasionally, with the last third of the book more erratically edited than the rest, leading to some strange uses of commas and some sentences that contradict themselves by leaving one letter off a crucial word. Otherwise, well written, well researched, and worth the time. ( )
1 vote Devil_llama | Aug 10, 2014 |
Skeptical journalist Harrison writes fifty short essays on different things that are widely believed but are unsupported by scientific evidence. He covers a range of topics, from Magical Thinking (mostly paranormal ideas), various alien-related topics, science and medicine (global warming, "Biological Races are Real," "No Vaccines for my Baby!"), religion, bizarre beings (ghosts, Bigfoot), weird places (Bermuda Triangle), and the end of the world.

I've enjoyed reading this book over the last six months, picking it up and reading an essay or two at a time. I think reading it all at once would be too much and it would get annoying. The whole book can basically be condensed down to: "using the scientific method, there is no evidence to support ______ belief." That doesn't make this book unnecessary or useless, as it's a good example of using critical thinking skills in a variety of situations. Also, I found specific essays very helpful--the one that stands out the most is "A Psychic Read My Mind," because I have too many friends who have actually paid money to psychics and think they provide a valuable service. This essay shows how psychics are 100% scammers, but now I have information to back up what I felt in my gut.

Overall, I found Harrison's tone kind and respectful, unless he's talking about people who murder children in Africa because they believe them to be witches, or televangelists who fly on private jets while taking money from poor people. And he shows how even intelligent and educated people can be led into believing things that make no sense. So, in the end, a worthwhile read, but not one to take in one big gulp.

Recommended for: I think this might be one of those books that appeals most to the already-skeptical reader, but I hope not. I hope that someone who believes "Astrology is Scientific," will read this too. And I highly recommend it if you're tired of hearing your Uncle Len tell you that the moon landing was faked, or you have a co-worker who tells you that they found Noah's ark (again), or your best friend from grade 8 keeps posting stuff about aliens in Area 51 on your Facebook feed. ( )
4 vote Nickelini | Jul 1, 2013 |
A quick tour through a wide range of subjects, this is actually a whole lot more enjoyable to read than it looks. (It's let down mostly by the dated book design.) None of the chapters are particularly comprehensive, but that's not really the point; this is a primer for further reading. Not mindblowing, but certainly worth flicking through. ( )
2 vote madcurrin | Jun 18, 2012 |
In his book, 50 Popular Beliefs that People Think are True, author Guy P. Harrison attempts to dispel many everyday myths prevalent in our current American culture. He addresses common “untruths” such as the theory that the moon landing was a hoax, or that the Mayans predicted the end of the world simply by the abrupt end to their 5000-year-old calendar.

50 Popular Beliefs is an interesting book because so many of the stories are topical and relevant to today. Harrison tackles organized religion, the existence of UFO’s, the vaccination of children, etc. He also provides recommendations for further reading for those who want to explore the topics in further detail. Where Harrison misses the mark with his book is his voice. While his myth-busting arguments are sound, his delivery often comes across as preachy or condescending to his audience. For example, in a chapter about the existence of heaven, the author concludes: “Now if only we can find a way to direct all that post-death goodwill toward the Earth and the living, we might get somewhere.” If you can look past Harrison’s disdain for “believers,” the book is a good read. ( )
  cjwedwin | Jun 4, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Guy P. Harrisonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hand, KevinIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Plait, PhilForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sommer-Lecht, NicoleCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Stressing the excitement of scientific discovery and the legitimate mysteries and wonder inherent in reality, Harrison invites readers to share the joys of rational thinking and the skeptical approach to evaluating our extraordinary world.

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