Michael Shermer: Why people believe weird things
Michael Shermer - Skeptic
Michael Shermer debunks myths, superstitions and urban legends -- and explains why we believe them. Along with publishing Skeptic Magazine, he's author of Why People Believe Weird Things and The Mind of the Market. Full bio
director of the Skeptics Society,
and claims of all kinds between,
and non-science and junk science,
bad science, non-science,
which is kind of a negative term.
of the police departments out there --
the Ralph Naders of bad ideas,
with good ideas.
by NBC Dateline to test.
Corporation of West Virginia.
administrators for $900 apiece.
Shack antenna attached to it.
to dowse for marijuana
is you go down the hallway,
toward a particular locker,
so we'll do a controlled experiment.
your pockets, please, sir?
find marijuana in students' lockers?
if you open enough of them, yes.
of the misses, not just the hits.
to my short talk here:
tarot card readers and so on.
and forget the misses.
of hits somehow stands out
you'd expect by chance.
marijuana, and one with nothing.
with a coin-flip model.
here of the sorts of things we do.
Each one has a particular theme.
because of the business I'm in,
are getting smarter.
as a thing, or science as a thing.
and plumbing compatible?
explanations for all phenomena.
or multi-dimensional beings
of interstellar space
field in Puckerbrush, Kansas
of "Skeptic" did this with Photoshop?
is out of this world,
that it's not in this world.
in his run for the governorship,
makes stuff up?
here in this Sidney Harris cartoon.
it says here: "Then a miracle occurs.
explicit here in step two."
the intelligent design arguments.
anything or offer anything.
for intelligent design creationists.
terms out as linguistic place fillers --
something like that --
we'll call it this.
chain for science.
it's the end of the chain.
what's more likely?
cognitive mistakes, or even fakes?
in Altadena, California,
hubcap, it's because it is.
or high-tech equipment,
Kodak Instamatic camera.
with a hubcap ready to go.
that most of these things are fake
and that some of them are real,
are fake, like the crop circles.
we're looking for a balance
he had two problems
theory of planetary rings.
was grainy and fuzzy,
what he was looking at.
planet has three bodies."
concluding that he saw.
rings and with only grainy data,
that catalogs all the mistakes
what was going on with Saturn.
and how the solar system operated,
more fine-grain data
as the Earth is going around faster --
than Saturn, then we catch up with it.
at different angles, there.
it may be loaded with cognitive biases.
why people believe weird things
to get NASA to photograph that area
architecture made by Martians.
the quality of your data.
you'd still see the face,
by evolution to see faces.
faces of all kinds are easy to see.
perhaps they'd see Kermit the Frog.
to come see the nun bun
from Mother Teresa's lawyer.
Lady of Watsonville, just down the street,
because it's nice and grainy, branchy,
get the pattern-seeking --
of a glass window in Sao Paulo.
her appearance on a cheese sandwich --
hold in a Las Vegas casino --
on eBay for the cheese sandwich.
The Virgin Mary?
puckered lips, 1940s-era look.
and crutches, and so on.
me and The Amazing Randi,
two and a half story-sized image.
people had lit in tribute to this.
to see what was going on.
a sprinkler head and a palm tree,
which they started to wipe off.
one miracle per building.
or is it a miracle of Marge?
with another example of this,
with Michael Keaton,
to the dead is not that big a deal.
back that's the really hard part.
are hidden in electronic phenomena.
where I downloaded this stuff.
of all of these.
of the very famous song.
don't be alarmed now.
for the May Queen.
can go by, but in the long run,
the road you're on
messages that are supposedly in there.
part of your brain
to hear, and then hear it again.
when I tell you what's there.
with a positive, nice little story.
good things that people do.
in England today, Katie Melua.
"Nine Million Bicycles in Beijing."
of the Norah Jones of the UK --
bicycles, and so forth.
light-years from the edge
At least she got it close.
"We're 6,000 light years from the edge."
physicist now turned science educator,
"The Big Bang," and so on,
to promote good science.
in "The Guardian" about Katie's song,
how far from the edge.
and it's not a guess.
error bars how close it is.
true, it's pretty close to being true.
after this op-ed piece came out, and said,
I was in the astronomy club.
with well-defined error bars.
About the speaker:Michael Shermer - Skeptic
Michael Shermer debunks myths, superstitions and urban legends -- and explains why we believe them. Along with publishing Skeptic Magazine, he's author of Why People Believe Weird Things and The Mind of the Market.
Why you should listen
As founder and publisher of Skeptic Magazine, Michael Shermer has exposed fallacies behind intelligent design, 9/11 conspiracies, the low-carb craze, alien sightings and other popular beliefs and paranoias. But it's not about debunking for debunking's sake. Shermer defends the notion that we can understand our world better only by matching good theory with good science.
Shermer's work offers cognitive context for our often misguided beliefs: In the absence of sound science, incomplete information can powerfully combine with the power of suggestion (helping us hear Satanic lyrics when "Stairway to Heaven" plays backwards, for example). In fact, a common thread that runs through beliefs of all sorts, he says, is our tendency to convince ourselves: We overvalue the shreds of evidence that support our preferred outcome, and ignore the facts we aren't looking for.
He writes a monthly column for Scientific American, and is an adjunct at Claremont Graduate University and Chapman University. His latest book is The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. He is also the author of The Mind of the Market, on evolutionary economics, Why Darwin Matters: Evolution and the Case Against Intelligent Design, and The Science of Good and Evil. And his next book is titled The Moral Arc of Science.
Michael Shermer | Speaker | TED.com