Michael Shermer: Why people believe weird things

This is an interesting talk, but before I pose any more questions I want to mention a few of the things he talked about.

He said people are getting smarter by an average of 3 IQ points per decade. I did some more research and found that different sources will give you various answers. Due to this, it leaves it up to the person interpreting the data to believe whatever they want to believe is true about the world. As Michael Shermer took a few shots at various groups that foolishly believe differently than him, I too would also like to take a moment to appreciate a visual displaying how certain races naturally have lower relative IQs:

As you can see, people who sometimes disagree with me are stupid

He also said that posing the question of whether religion and science are compatible is like asking if science and plumbing are compatible because they are just two different things.

Science and religion ARE two different things, but is there really no overlap?

I believe that science and religion are different lenses for viewing and interpreting the world. I also believe that any logic should be applied consistently to all areas, so let’s zero in on a shot he took against creationists.

“This single slide completely dismantles the intelligent design argument”

Shermer states that a “miracle” doesn’t explain anything, and it is thus “the end of the conversation for intelligent design.” He then states that when scientists do it they are merely putting down placeholders to be added to in the future, but for intelligent design it is the end of the chain.

Theist or Atheist, you probably believe in miracles in some form or another.

And I’m not talking about calling something “dark matter” because there must be more matter than we can see with instruments to explain the gravitational forces we can observe and measure.

I’m talking about gaps in why we exist at all.

One of the arguments you hear frequently in logical debates over the existence of God is how impossible it is for every anomaly necessary for humans to exist (each with an astronomically small chance of occurring correctly) must happen in perfect sequence for us to exist.

I won’t delve into all of these arguments, but here is a video talking about one of such arguments for why we shouldn’t exist.

There are certainly are flaws in the way the arguments are presented in this video, but it does open a few doors of inquiry

Everyone in some way needs a miracle. Where atheists may say,

Extremely improbable events given an infinite amount of time and chances, eventually become certain

Christians and other theists say,

God did it

Both of these groups’ arguments can be simplified to:

Then a miracle occurs

Whenever there is a gap in explanations in which we can’t account for something, theists and atheists will default to these arguments. Both groups assume that because something did happen, either God did it, or it just happened because it must happen somewhere in one of the universes at some point in existence.


Why do people believe weird things?

Shermer justifies rationality and skepticism very well in this video, but his only explanation he explores is that humans evolved to see patterns where there aren’t any. This is definitely a good explanation, but I was expecting a combination of good explanations, maybe because I don’t think there is only one explanation that fits every case that explains why anyone ever believed anything weird. But that’s just me.

I think in some way or another we all have some kind of self-righteousness and a presupposition that everything we think is correct and every time someone disagrees it’s because, ultimately, they’re stupid. I jokingly address that issue with my IQ and Race image. I wish Shermer had acknowledged that bias that we all have as well.

I think people ultimately will believe whatever they want, and everything they see will be molded into their narrative that supports their view, whatever that may be. Sometimes our opinions can change, but the basis of all of our logic more often than not will remain consistent our entire lives.

I guess as far as explanations go, that makes two.

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