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

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

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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 Things helps the reader develop the skills needed to tell the true from the false and the reasonable from the unreasonable.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 163 x 231 x 15mm | 447g
  • MCGRAW-HILL Professional
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 7th edition
  • 7 Illustrations, unspecified
  • 0078038367
  • 9780078038365
  • 437,453

Table of contents

FOREWORD viiPREFACE ixChapter 1Introduction: Close Encounters with theStrange1THE IMPORTANCE OF WHY 2BEYOND WEIRD TO THE ABSURD 4A WEIRDNESS SAMPLER 6Notes 13Chapter 2The Possibility of the Impossible14PARADIGMS AND THE PARANORMAL 15LOGICAL POSSIBILITY VERSUS PHYSICAL IMPOSSIBILITY 16THE POSSIBILITY OF ESP 22THEORIES AND THINGS 24ON KNOWING THE FUTURE 25Summary 29Study Questions 29Evaluate these Claims 30Discussion Questions 30Field Problem 30Critical Reading and Writing 31Suggested Readings 31Notes 32Chapter 3Arguments Good, Bad, and Weird33CLAIMS AND ARGUMENTS 34DEDUCTIVE ARGUMENTS 39INDUCTIVE ARGUMENTS 42Enumerative Induction42Analogical Induction46Hypothetical Induction (Abduction, or Inference to the Best Explanation)47INFORMAL FALLACIES 49Unacceptable Premises49Begging the Question49False Dilemma 49Irrelevant Premises50Equivocation50Composition50Division51Appeal to the Person51Genetic Fallacy51Appeal to Authority51Appeal to the Masses 52Appeal to Tradition52Appeal to Ignorance52Appeal to Fear53Straw Man53Insufficient Premises53Hasty Generalization53Faulty Analogy54False Cause 54Slippery Slope54STATISTICAL FALLACIES 55Misleading Averages55Missing Values55Hazy Comparisons56Summary 56Study Questions 57Evaluate these Claims 58Discussion Questions 59Field Problem 59Critical Reading and Writing 60Suggested Readings 60Notes 61Chapter 4Knowledge, Belief, and Evidence62BABYLONIAN KNOWLEDGE-ACQUISITION TECHNIQUES 63PROPOSITIONAL KNOWLEDGE 64 REASONS AND EVIDENCE 65EXPERT OPINION 71COHERENCE AND JUSTIFICATION 74SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE 75THE APPEAL TO FAITH 77THE APPEAL TO INTUITION 79THE APPEAL TO MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE 81ASTROLOGY REVISITED 84Summary 90Study Questions 91Evaluate these Claims 91Discussion Questions 91Field Problem 91Critical Reading and Writing 92Suggested Readings 92Notes 93Chapter 5Looking for Truth in PersonalExperience96SEEMING AND BEING 97PERCEIVING: WHY YOU CAN'T ALWAYS BELIEVE WHAT YOU SEE 99Perceptual Constancies99The Role of Expectation100Looking for Clarity in Vagueness101The Blondlot Case105 "Constructing" UFOs 107REMEMBERING: WHY YOU CAN'T ALWAYS TRUST WHAT YOU RECALL 111CONCEIVING: WHY YOU SOMETIMES SEE WHAT YOU BELIEVE 118Denying the Evidence118Subjective Validation120Confirmation Bias126The Availability Error130The Representativeness Heuristic134Anthropomorphic Bias136Against All Odds 139 ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE: WHY TESTIMONIALS CAN'T BE TRUSTED 142The Variable Nature of Illness144The Placebo Effect146Overlooked Causes147SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE: WHY CONTROLLED STUDIES CAN BE TRUSTED 148Summary 150Study Questions 151Evaluate these Claims 151Discussion Questions 152Field Problem 152Critical Reading and Writing 152Suggested Readings 153Notes 153Chapter 6Science and Its Pretenders158SCIENCE AND DOGMA 159SCIENCE AND SCIENTISM 160SCIENTIFIC METHODOLOGY 161CONFIRMING AND REFUTING HYPOTHESES 166CRITERIA OF ADEQUACY 171Testability172Fruitfulness174Scope177Simplicity178Conservatism180CREATIONISM, EVOLUTION, AND CRITERIA OF ADEQUACY 181Scientific Creationism183Intelligent Design191PARAPSYCHOLOGY 197Summary 211Study Questions 212Evaluate these Claims 213Discussion Questions 213Field Problem 213 Critical Reading and Writing 213Suggested Readings 214Notes 215Chapter 7Case Studies in the Extraordinary220THE SEARCH FORMULA 222Step 1: State the Claim223Step 2: Examine the Evidence for the Claim223Step 3: Consider Alternative Hypotheses 224Step 4: Rate, According to the Criteria of Adequacy, Each Hypothesis 225HOMEOPATHY 227INTERCESSORY PRAYER 231UFO ABDUCTIONS 234COMMUNICATING WITH THE DEAD 247NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES 252GHOSTS 267CONSPIRACY THEORIES 275Summary 287Study Questions 288Evaluate these Claims 288Field Problem 289Critical Reading and Writing 289Suggested Readings 290Notes 290Chapter 8Relativism, Truth, and Reality295WE EACH CREATE OUR OWN REALITY 297REALITY IS SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED 301REALITY IS CONSTITUTED BY CONCEPTUAL SCHEMES 306THE RELATIVIST'S PETARD 311FACING REALITY 313Summary 315Study Questions 316Evaluate these Claims 316Discussion Questions 316 Field Problem 316Critical Reading and Writing 317Suggested Readings 318Notes 318CREDITS C-1INDEX I -1
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About Theodore Schick

Theodore Schick received his B.A. in philosophy from Harvard University and his Ph.D. from Brown University. He is currently professor of philosophy at Muhlenberg College where he has served as Director of Academic Computing, Director of Freshman Seminars, Director of the Muhlenberg Scholars Program, and Chair of the Philosophy Department. He is the author of Doing Philosophy: An Introduction through Thought Experiments, the editor of The Philosophy of Science: From Positivism to Post-modernism, and has published articles in several fields of philosophy including: philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, philosophy of language, meta-philosophy, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics. He has also contributed to a number of volumes in Open Courts Philosophy and Popular Culture series as well as Blackwells Philosophy for Everyone series.



Lewis Vaughn is the author of numerous textbooks in philosophy, critical thinking, and ethics, including The Power of Critical Thinking, sixth edition (2019); Concise Guide to Critical Thinking (2017); Philosophy Here and Now, third edition (2019); Living Philosophy: A Historical Introduction to Philosophical Ideas, second edition (2018); Doing Ethics: Moral Reasoning, Theory, and Contemporary Issues, fifth edition (2019); Beginning Ethics: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy (2015); Bioethics: Principles, Issues, and Cases, third edition (2017); and Writing Philosophy, Second Edition (2018).
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Rating details

493 ratings
3.99 out of 5 stars
5 38% (187)
4 33% (161)
3 23% (111)
2 4% (22)
1 2% (12)
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