by Stephen Law - £15.99 Prometheus Books (2011)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781616144111 | ISBN 10: 1616144114
Members of the Heaven’s Gate suicide cult believed they were taking a ride to heaven aboard a UFO. Muslim suicide bombers expect to be greeted after death by seventy-two heavenly virgins. Significant numbers of people believe that aliens built the pyramids, that the Holocaust never happened, and that the World Trade Center was brought down by the US government.
Like the black holes of outer space — from which nothing can escape — our cultural landscape is riddled with intellectual black holes. Philosopher Stephen Law suggests these self-sealing bubbles of belief can trap even the most intelligent of us, and that some of the world’s greatest thinkers have been sucked in, never to escape. With a witty, insightful critique, Law identifies eight key mechanisms that can transform a set of ideas into a psychological flytrap. He discusses the dangers black holes can pose, exploring scientific reason, religion, relativism, brainwashing, button pushing, bias and presupposition, and the power of anecdote, among others.
With clear and honest critique, Believing Bullshit helps immunize us against the wiles of cultists, religious and political zealots, conspiracy theorists, promoters of flaky alternative medicines, and proponents of other crackpot theories by setting out the tricks of the trade by which such insidious belief systems are created and maintained.
(Price & availability last checked: April 2019)