9780078038365

How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age

by ;
  • ISBN13:

    9780078038365

  • ISBN10:

    0078038367

  • Edition: 7th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1/28/2013
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education

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Summary

This concise and engaging text teaches the basic principles of good reasoning through an examination of widely held beliefs about the paranormal, the supernatural, and the mysterious. By explaining what distinguishes knowledge from opinion, science from pseudoscience, and evidence from hearsay, How to Think about Weird Thingshelps the reader develop the skills needed to tell the true from the false and the reasonable from the unreasonable.

Table of Contents

FOREWORD vii

PREFACE ix

Chapter 1 Introduction: Close Encounters with theStrange 1

THE IMPORTANCE OF WHY 2

BEYOND WEIRD TO THE ABSURD 4

A WEIRDNESS SAMPLER 6

Notes 13

Chapter 2 The Possibility of the Impossible 14

PARADIGMS AND THE PARANORMAL 15

LOGICAL POSSIBILITY VERSUS PHYSICAL IMPOSSIBILITY 16

THE POSSIBILITY OF ESP 22

THEORIES AND THINGS 24

ON KNOWING THE FUTURE 25

Summary 29

Study Questions 29

Evaluate these Claims 30

Discussion Questions 30

Field Problem 30

Critical Reading and Writing 31

Suggested Readings 31

Notes 32

Chapter 3 Arguments Good, Bad, and Weird 33

CLAIMS AND ARGUMENTS 34

DEDUCTIVE ARGUMENTS 39

INDUCTIVE ARGUMENTS 42

Enumerative Induction 42

Analogical Induction 46

Hypothetical Induction (Abduction, or Inference to the Best Explanation) 47

INFORMAL FALLACIES 49

Unacceptable Premises 49

Begging the Question 49

False Dilemma 49

Irrelevant Premises 50

Equivocation 50

Composition 50

Division 51

Appeal to the Person 51

Genetic Fallacy 51

Appeal to Authority 51

Appeal to the Masses 52

Appeal to Tradition 52

Appeal to Ignorance 52

Appeal to Fear 53

Straw Man 53

Insufficient Premises 53

Hasty Generalization 53

Faulty Analogy 54

False Cause 54

Slippery Slope 54

STATISTICAL FALLACIES 55

Misleading Averages 55

Missing Values 55

Hazy Comparisons 56

Summary 56

Study Questions 57

Evaluate these Claims 58

Discussion Questions 59

Field Problem 59

Critical Reading and Writing 60

Suggested Readings 60

Notes 61

Chapter 4 Knowledge, Belief, and Evidence 62

BABYLONIAN KNOWLEDGE-ACQUISITION TECHNIQUES 63

PROPOSITIONAL KNOWLEDGE 64

REASONS AND EVIDENCE 65

EXPERT OPINION 71

COHERENCE AND JUSTIFICATION 74

SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE 75

THE APPEAL TO FAITH 77

THE APPEAL TO INTUITION 79

THE APPEAL TO MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE 81

ASTROLOGY REVISITED 84

Summary 90

Study Questions 91

Evaluate these Claims 91

Discussion Questions 91

Field Problem 91

Critical Reading and Writing 92

Suggested Readings 92

Notes 93

Chapter 5 Looking for Truth in PersonalExperience 96

SEEMING AND BEING 97

PERCEIVING: WHY YOU CAN’T ALWAYS BELIEVE WHAT YOU SEE 99

Perceptual Constancies 99

The Role of Expectation 100

Looking for Clarity in Vagueness 101

The Blondlot Case 105 “Constructing” UFOs 107

REMEMBERING: WHY YOU CAN’T ALWAYS TRUST WHAT YOU RECALL 111

CONCEIVING: WHY YOU SOMETIMES SEE WHAT YOU BELIEVE 118

Denying the Evidence 118

Subjective Validation 120

Confirmation Bias 126

The Availability Error 130

The Representativeness Heuristic 134

Anthropomorphic Bias 136

Against All Odds 139

ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE: WHY TESTIMONIALS CAN’T BE TRUSTED 142

The Variable Nature of Illness 144

The Placebo Effect 146

Overlooked Causes 147

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE: WHY CONTROLLED STUDIES CAN BE

TRUSTED 148

Summary 150

Study Questions 151

Evaluate these Claims 151

Discussion Questions 152

Field Problem 152

Critical Reading and Writing 152

Suggested Readings 153

Notes 153

Chapter 6 Science and Its Pretenders 158

SCIENCE AND DOGMA 159

SCIENCE AND SCIENTISM 160

SCIENTIFIC METHODOLOGY 161

CONFIRMING AND REFUTING HYPOTHESES 166

CRITERIA OF ADEQUACY 171

Testability 172

Fruitfulness 174

Scope 177

Simplicity 178

Conservatism 180

CREATIONISM, EVOLUTION, AND CRITERIA OF ADEQUACY 181

Scientific Creationism 183

Intelligent Design 191

PARAPSYCHOLOGY 197

Summary 211

Study Questions 212

Evaluate these Claims 213

Discussion Questions 213

Field Problem 213

Critical Reading and Writing 213

Suggested Readings 214

Notes 215

Chapter 7 Case Studies in the Extraordinary 220

THE SEARCH FORMULA 222

Step 1: State the Claim 223

Step 2: Examine the Evidence for the Claim 223

Step 3: Consider Alternative Hypotheses 224

Step 4: Rate, According to the Criteria of Adequacy, Each Hypothesis 225

HOMEOPATHY 227

INTERCESSORY PRAYER 231

UFO ABDUCTIONS 234

COMMUNICATING WITH THE DEAD 247

NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES 252

GHOSTS 267

CONSPIRACY THEORIES 275

Summary 287

Study Questions 288

Evaluate these Claims 288

Field Problem 289

Critical Reading and Writing 289

Suggested Readings 290

Notes 290

Chapter 8 Relativism, Truth, and Reality 295

WE EACH CREATE OUR OWN REALITY 297

REALITY IS SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED 301

REALITY IS CONSTITUTED BY CONCEPTUAL SCHEMES 306

THE RELATIVIST’S PETARD 311

FACING REALITY 313

Summary 315

Study Questions 316

Evaluate these Claims 316

Discussion Questions 316

Field Problem 316

Critical Reading and Writing 317

Suggested Readings 318

Notes 318

CREDITS C-1

INDEX I -1

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